Sunday, December 31, 2017

FAO CAA Year 2 and 3: Term 2 and 3 Timetables are now available.

Week 1 (Above)

Year 2 timetable can be downloaded on MyUCA here

Week 1 (Above)

Year 3 timetable can be downloaded on MyUCA here

*Please note these timetables may be subject to minor changes.

"Happy New Year everyone."

Post With The Most 31/12/17

Welcome to the final Post With The Most of 2017.  It's New Year's Eve.  The house in which I'm writing these opening words is hushed and I'm in a suitably contemplative mood.  It's been a rather strange and unsettling year.  It has felt sometimes as if the world is in reverse.  Real comfort then in taking a few quiet moments at the turning of the great clock to celebrate the achievements of our bright young things and marvel at the huge creative distances they've travelled in so short a time.

The What If Metropolis project is an ambitious one for new-comers to Computer Animation Arts - in simple terms, it requires our first years to envision, design and model a fantastical digital set and adopt unfamiliar ways of looking, thinking, and designing in order to do so.  The project requires them to collaborate with established artists and thus resist any existing stylistic preferences of their own; students need to demonstrate the flex and dexterity to work within the parameters of another person's artistic headspace.  There is real joy in seeing students create work they couldn't have predicted for themselves, witnessing that threshold moment when they realise they can respond, adapt and transform.

Vanlig digital set / Megan Robson

Vanlig / Art Of / Megan Robson

Neemia / Concept painting / Annie Roberts

Neemia / Digital set (ambient occlusion) / Annie Roberts

Neemia / Digital set (UV layout) / Annie Roberts

Neemia / Digital set final render / Annie Roberts

Estrella / Concept painting / Emily Friswell

Estrella / Digital set final render / Emily Friswell

Einheit / Digital set final render / Adri Lopian

Einheit / Art Of / Adri Lopian

Lyris / Digital set final render / Juanjo Estany

Lyris / Art Of / Juanjo Estany

I had the pleasure of attending the Year 2 Collaboration crit presentations in the last week of term. Sometimes these crits can be rather awkward affairs, as hatchets not quite buried reveal their edges and silences speak loudest.  While I'm certain there were a few bruised egos in the room, everyone was professional, supportive and the work on show was a lot of fun with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. I was personally very proud of our Year 2 students - for their maturity in the face of conflict and their commitment to getting their projects over the line.  Enjoy this representative clip from Arrowpark Productions (comprising Anastasija Strelcova, Alex Park and Ellie Row), which gave everyone a bit of a giggle on crit day.

Arrowpark Productions

Worse Response To... / Representative render / Arrowpark Productions

Worse Response To... 'Modern Art' & 'Bad Haircut' / Arrowpark Productions

A Third Year's Christmas is a bit of an odd one - so much still to do in advance of January's deadlines (Minor project & Thesis) and so many reasons not to do it - those mince pies won't eat themselves and granny wants to see you... We hope they've got the balance just about right and judging by the round-up of recent blog updates, our third years have been working hard.  Let me take this moment to wish them all the very best of luck as they power-up for deadline day.

When / Skin Displacement Attributes/Height Map Animation Test / Deanna Crisbacher

When / Orb transition test / Deanna Crisbacher

When / Room & projection tests / Deanna Crisbacher

Escape Zone 3000 / C-13 3D model #1 / Tom Smith

Escape Zone 3000 / C-13 3D model #2 / Tom Smith

Escape Zone 3000 / C-13 3D model #3 / Tom Smith

Escape Zone 3000 / C-13 3D model #4 / Tom Smith

How To Catch A Fairy / Fairy orthograph / Danielle Gibbs

How To Catch A Fairy / Modelling the Fairy #1 / Danielle Gibbs

How To Catch A Fairy / Modelling the Fairy #2  / Danielle Gibbs

How To Catch A Fairy / Modelling the Fairy #3 / Danielle Gibbs

Lewis Punton

Deformation #1 / Lewis Punton

Deformation #2 / Lewis Punton

Deformation #3 / Lewis Punton

Deformation #4 / Lewis Punton

Mark Bridgland

Sol / Character development / Mark Bridgland

Sol / Sol 3D model (wip) #1 / Mark Bridgland

Sol / Sol 3D model (wip) #2 / Mark Bridgland

Sol / Eye rig test / Mark Bridgland

Loyal readers of the PWTM will now that Red & The Kingdom Of Sound has already been screened for audiences in France and Germany.  On January 18th, the musicians of the Filharmonia Śląska, Katowice, Poland, will be the next European orchestra to accompany Red on his adventure through the Kingdom of Sound.  I'll be flying out to oversee the event - next stop on Red's tour, the Lyon Biennale in March!

Red & The Kingdom Of Sound (2017)
Filharmonia Śląska, Katowice, Poland

The Last Word...

"Happy New Year!"

Thursday, December 21, 2017

CAA One-A-Day: He's Watching

Not sure anything I could write could prepare you adequately for the the seasonal delights of this animated short... 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

CAA One-A-Day: The Star Wars: Concept Trailer

This film trailer was made by a group of graduating students from the DAVE school in Florida. It uses live action and 3D to recreate Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art for 'The Star Wars' (based off of an early draft script written by George Lucas in the early 1970's). Watch and enjoy....and make sure to WATCH THE END CREDITS.

"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away... we might have seen a version of Star Wars that featured a Han Solo with green skin and gills, Stormtroopers with lightsabers, and a female heroine named Luka Starkiller.

Many of these anomalies can be seen in concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie's early illustrations of the Star Wars universe. While looking back at these early paintings we can't help but wonder what Star Wars would have been like had it remained loyal to the concept art and early drafts of the script.

The DAVE School graduating class of August and October 2017 have answered that question by bringing Ralph McQuarrie's paintings to life in a concept trailer for what might have been... The Star Wars."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

FAO 1st years - Good luck in your crit!

For the first time in what feels like forever, I won't be there to cheer you on in my Santa hat... instead I'll be sipping on a Gluhwein in a German Christmas market!
Of course that also means no baking, so I am sending you a virtual mince pie to enjoy, along with best wishes for a happy Christmas :)
See you all in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

FAO Everyone: You're 'Home Alone' Today!

You're 'Home Alone' today as both Alan and myself are elsewhere doing other important stuff.  Alan has asked me to let the second years know that he'll be pretty much welded to his laptop today so should be able to field any last minute queries regarding the collaboration project.  Try not to wreck the place in our absence - and should any bungling comedy crooks try and rob the base room, please follow Kevin's example...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

FAO CAA Year 1: 'WIM?' Submission Checklist & Final Crit Requirements 15/12/2017

What follows are instructions for your crit presentations and reminders of what you need to present and submit. Please use your social network to ensure that everyone has seen this information and understood it. Any queries, please leave a comment and I'll clarify where necessary.

In response to the work, creative methodology and philosophy of your production design collaborator, you are asked to design your own ‘What if?’ metropolis. You are asked to produce a single rendered image of a digital set derived from original production art. Production design for your metropolis should demonstrate clearly your understanding of the principles and processes of production design and the ways in which environments communicate their visual concept through careful consideration of the mise-en-scène. Your digital set must be textured in accordance with the digital set pipeline and incorporate a fully integrated matte painting. Aspect ratio for final scene should be 16:9 (HD 1920 X 1080). 

You are asked to produce a comprehensive blog archiving and annotating your creative development for the duration of the unit. You should use the blog to reflect critically upon your own creative practice and the wider cultural and thematic context of the unit.

Important! Your blog must include:

1) Your final scene.

2) Your What If Metropolis 'Art Of' as Scribd document.

3) Your 16:9 concept art for final scene.

4) Your key assets as production art.

5) Your key assets as orthographic design sheets.

6) Your Travelogue – minimum 1000 words.

7) 100 supporting thumbnails (minimum).

8) Your final matte painting and its development.

9) Animated GIFs of your digital paintings/matte paintings in progress.

10) Your influence maps.

11) Supporting Artist/Designer research presented as a Scribd document.

12) Your Production Designer Profile as a Scribd document.

13) Reviews of the Space Oddities film programme. Please note – in addition to and support of your own critique, your reviews must include a minimum of 3 quotations from 3 different published reviews + poster art + supporting stills. Please note - Harvard Method must now be used for all quotations and all illustrations to be referenced correctly. Reviews are to include bibliography and illustration list.

14) Your digital set pipeline : Pre-Viz, Wireframe Model, Untextured Model, UV Maps, Texture Maps, Textured Model, Lighting Tests, Rendering Passes (Beauty, Ambient Occlusion, and Effects).

15) Your final submission must include a short reflective statement. A reflective statement is a statement in which the student considers their experience of a project. Reflective statements are used to understand past events, learn lessons and identify best practice.

You will present on crit day from a blog-embedded Scribd document (not your Art Of!) that should, in terms of structure, follow the order of pages as given below.
  1. Title page, giving your name, unit title and date of presentation.
  2. Name of your city & collaborator. 
  3. One short extract from your travelogue (a key description).
  4. Definitive production design influence map.
  5. Final concept art (environment).
  6. Final production art (key assets).
  7. Orthographic drawings (key assets).
  8. Matte painting.
  9. Final WIM render.
  10. Build-up (digital set pipeline)
  11. Final WIM render.
We expect a high level of professionalism from our students, so please give the preparation of your crit presentation the requisite care and attention. Your presentations should be branded, spell-checked and polished. Think creatively about your crit presentation, but don't clog your content with unnecessary typography etc. Avoid complex backgrounds.  Avoid unreadable typefaces.  Your presentation should serve your content sympathetically. Keep it simple - only include what you've been asked to include.

Important: please note, your WIM crit starts at 10am sharp*. Latecomers will not present their work. You need to be in Lecture Theatre 1 by 9.45am.  The order in which you'll be presenting your work will be randomised, which means any one of you may be presenting first!

If circumstances beyond your control** prevent you from attending on time, you must contact Hazel Searles before 10am.  Please prepare for your crit as you would for an interview or pitch. For some 'Rough Guide' style advice re. the stuff of engaging crit presentations, please go here.

Important! Please note this is a summative assessment. 

Unauthorised non-attendance at final crit = non-submission = Fail = Resit in June.

And finally...

*And a note to any 2nd/3rd years - your input on crit day, as always, is welcome (as long as you're wearing your santa hat obviously!).

**But not issues in regard to last-minute technical problems - or oversleeping! Thursday is your deadline, not Friday.

FAO CAA Yr 1: Problems With Turnitin - It's Not You... It's myUCA!

I know you're all stressing about submitting your Contexts assignment to Turnitin on account of an error message you keep getting... Rest assured it's us not you and I have made the powers-that-be aware of the problem.  I'm awaiting confirmation that the glitch has been sorted and I'll get the message out - probably via Twitter - when it's sorted.  If the problem persists and we can't fix it for tomorrow's submission, just hand-in your paper-copy to Campus Registry as per the instructions and this will be fine.  Short version - stop stressing!  We know what's going on, and we know it's out of your hands.  Breathe!

FAO CAA Year 2: Collaboration and Toolkit 2 Submission Checklist

Collaboration: Thursday 14th December

As a group...

1) An animated short: Show this first before giving your presentation.
2) A presentation (crit): Nominate one studio member to be your 'professional' spokesperson.
3) A making of document: You can use this to present from if necessary or create a more bespoke presentation document.
4) A studio blog: Up to date and containing all of the groups work.
5) Basecamp: Please make sure your Basecamp is up to date, contains your animated short, making of document, and any other materials you think are relevant for assessment. 

Note: Please, do not delete or add anything to basecamp or your studio blogs after the final critique.

As individuals...

1) Personal blog: Please make sure your personal blog is up to date and contains your contribution to the Collaboration project.
2) Film reviews: Create a single post on your blog with links to your film reviews. The deadline for the film reviews is Friday 15th December at 5pm (you have an additional day). 

Toolkit 2 (check in submission): Friday 12th January

Maya: Pipeline 1 Head modelling (show the final model and mesh)
Maya: Pipeline 1 Body modelling (show the final model and mesh)
Maya: Pipeline 1 UV Layout (show the final model and UV Maps)
Maya: Lighting & Rendering 2 (Tutorials 1 - 13)
Animation: Weightlifting exercise (create a final playblast)
Animation: Animation contribution to the Collaboration project
Drawing: Character design production bible (uploaded as a PDF document)
Drawing: Life Drawing (photographs of your drawings from term 1)

Note: For Toolkit 2, please create one final blog post containing links to the list above (your previous posts).

Good luck everyone.

Friday, December 01, 2017

FAO Everyone: Friday December 15th is 'Santa Hat Friday'!

Friday December 15th is 'Santa Hat Friday'!  What does this mean if you don't know already? It means all CAA students are required to wear some kind of festive headwear or similar accessory, and it also means the course decamps to Wetherspoons, Rochester Highstreet for a seasonal wind-down. For our year ones, this exciting moment of jollity will follow the What If Metropolis crit, so this means the staff will head down for about 5.30pm.  Please spread the word - these things work much better if you actually turn up!  

Post With The Most 01/12/2017

Welcome to the latest edition of the Computer Animation Arts Post With The Most - the last before Christmas incredibly (where did that term go?).  Indeed, the UCA Christmas tree has arrived in our reception and our students have got that far-off gleam in their eye - not dreaming of sugar plum fairies, but rather of the moment when all their project work is done!  Well, we're not there yet and there's lots for them to do, so enjoy this selection of our students' most recent creative endeavours, beginning with the simple expressive pleasures of their life-drawings!

Ellie Row

Ellie Row (detail)

Greta Mongyik

Megan Robson

Rachael Holyhead

The What If Metropolis project challenges our first years to produce their first digital set - which sees them seeking to bend Autodesk Maya to the whims and fancies of their production design.  It's the steepest of learning curves and requires them to learn-on-the-job as very few of them arrived with pre-existing skills in 3D modelling software.  In addition to the task of wrestling Maya into submission, they must also demonstrate the conceptual flex and fleetness of foot to collaborate with another artist - a creative partner from the canon of established artists and designers picked at random from the course's celebrated 'mysterious blue box' and with whom they have to work closely in the imagineering of a fantastical cityscape.

Developmental thumbnails #1

Developmental thumbnails #2

Developmental thumbnails #3

Developmental thumbnails #4

Developmental thumbnails #5

Developmental thumbnails #6

Developmental thumbnails #7

Developmental thumbnails #1

Developmental thumbnails #2

Preparatory painting

Final concept painting

Developmental painting #1

Developmental painting #2

Developmental thumbnails

Concept painting

Concept painting

The season of goodwill to all men is nearly upon us, though it's usually at this time of year on CAA that tempers are fraying, as our Year 2 students experience the highs and lows of working collaboratively.  At risk of speaking too soon, it does appear as if the teeth-gnashing, temper tantrums and blood-letting is at an all-time low this year.  The students are making a series of skits starring a pre-existing 3D character - Moom - who they are accessorising in accordance with the needs of their respective scripts.  Right now, our year 2's are busy blocking their animations, with Moom sporting an impressive array of accessories!

Goth girl at Hogwarts - wip

Cheering audience at Hogwarts - wip

Developing 'The Granny' #1

Developing 'The Granny' #2

Developing 'The Granny' #3

Moom starring as 'The Granny', 'Nervous Guy', 'The Driving Instructor' & 'The Blind Man'

Moom starring as 'The Driving Instructor'

Elderly Bruce Banner getting angry - wip

The Flash & the stairlift - wip

The always exciting thing about year 3 projects is their range and diversity; 3D animation isn't a genre, it's a vast continent comprising a plethora of different approaches to film-making, storytelling  and visualisation. In the mix this year we've got projects harkening back to the rubber hose animations of the 1930s, and avant-garde explorations of the materiality of Autodesk Maya, animated shorts-in-the-offing about friendless jellyfish and Sisyphean escapees, documentaries about airfix kits and battle jackets, and a knock-about, anarchic journey into the pop-cuture-powered imagination of a super-hero obsessed  child.  As per all previous editions of the PWTM, just click on the students' names to access their individual course blogs for a more complete picture of their ongoing creative development.

Mr Plimsoll developmental sketches #1 / Katie Lima

Mr Plimsoll developmental sketches #2 / Katie Lima

Mr Plimsoll final character design / Katie Lima

Mr Polo developmental sketches / Katie Lima

The Fairy final character design / Danielle Gibbs

The Fairy & The Catcher final character design / Danielle Gibbs

Escape 3000 / Colour script / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Colour script detail #1 / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Colour script detail #2 / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Colour script detail #3 / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Character development  #1 / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Character development  #2 / Tom Smith

Escape 3000 / Character development  #3 / Tom Smith

Love Stung / Jellyfish character development thumbnails #1 / Becky Stapley

Love Stung / Jellyfish character development thumbnails #2 / Becky Stapley

Love Stung / Hermit Crab uv-ed model / Becky Stapley

Love Stung / Hermit Crab textured model (wip) / Becky Stapley

Love Stung / Environment concept painting / Becky Stapley

Love Stung / Colour script / Becky Stapley

The Spitfire / Time-lapse reference footage / Brad King

The Spitfire / Concept painting / Brad King

The Spitfire / Airfix-inspired 3D model #1 / Brad King

The Spitfire / Airfix-inspired 3D model #2 / Brad King

The Spitfire / Maya pre-visualisation  / Brad King

Battle Jacket / Hannah character design development #1 / Hannah Kubias

Battle Jacket / Hannah character design development #2 / Hannah Kubias

Battle Jacket / Hannah character design development #3 / Hannah Kubias

The Jayden Tapes / Animatic / Sam Johnson

In late August 2015, I sat down on an old wooden garden chair at an wooden garden table to begin writing the screenplay for our as then untitled adaptation of Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra.  On November 16th 2017, Red & The Kingdom Of Sound premiered at the Jeu de Paume theatre, Albert, France accompanied by the Orchestra de Picardie conducted by Arie Van Beek.   This performance was followed by another at the Theatre Municipal, Abbeville on November 17th, and then on Sunday 19th, it was screened in Jena, Germany, accompanied by the Jena Philharmonic. 

Rehearsal at Jeu de Paume Theatre, Albert, France #1/ 16th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Jeu de Paume Theatre, Albert, France #2 / 16th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Jeu de Paume Theatre, Albert, France #3 / 16th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Jeu de Paume Theatre, Albert, France #4 / 16th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Theatre Municipal, Abbeville, France #1  / 17th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Theatre Municipal, Abbeville, France #2  / 17th November, 2017

Rehearsal at Theatre Municipal, Abbeville, France #3  / 17th November, 2017

Performance at Volkhaus, Jena, Germany / 19th November, 2017

In the short space of four days, Red & The Kingdom of Sound was seen by nearly 1500 children in two different countries. Loyal readers of the PWTM will know readying our animation for this performances has been a long haul and a testament to the transformative powers of collaboration. The list of people who created this film is long, encompassing CAA teaching staff, alumni and current students and my list of thank yous to them would be considerably longer! Taking the Kingdom Of Sound from 'script-to-screen' has been an epic undertaking - fifteen different worlds and multiple characters brought together in one continuous adventure in classical music!

Red & The Kingdom Of Sound

The Overture

The Flute District

The Oboe District

The Clarinet District

The Bassoon District

The Violin District

The Viola District

The Cello District

The Double-Bass District

The Harp District

The Horn District

The Trumpet District

The Trombone & Tuba District

The Percussion District

The Maestro's Amphitheatre

Red & The Kingdom Of Sound can't be shared on line in its entirety as there are many more live performances of it to come - Katowice, Lyon, Zilina... - so enjoy this excerpt of Red's adventure's in the Kingdom's Percussion District.

Red & The Kingdom Of Sound excerpt / The Percussion District