So the past couple of months have flown, as they always seem to be doing.
For the past couple of weeks I've been taking a course in CelAction at ClothCat studios in Cardiff (some results above). Been pretty blown away by this thing. Although it can't make up for being an average animator it certainly makes life easier in a whole lot of ways. Going to keep experimenting with this in the future hopefully.
The character here, I simply call "The Gent" (short for gentleman)
Really wish I'd known more about CelAction last year. Would have been so much nice to use for my final film. Anyone who has the chance to learn it, I highly recommend.
Now onto the last project for BA Animation at Glamorgan (now South Wales)... that'll come very soon I promise.
This year so far though has been a couple of little projects. First was a short Flash production a tutor of mine was making (check out Matt Morgan's "Seeds of Change" artwork here http://www.flickr.com/photos/chocolatesausage/9729800889/). Took a little while to get back into traditional animation after doing symbol stuff for all of this year pretty much, but was refreshing, and a lovely film to work on. Definitely need to improve in this area though.
Next up was After Effects. Something I love.
This has been a great chance to try out new things I've always wanted to do.
Found a lot of really cool things including the Puppet Tools 3 plugin, which vastly improves After Effects' rigging capabilities.
Does get a bit fiddly though
Heres what a puppet looks like with inverse kinematics. A lot of effort for what you get.
Apart from all this I've been dabbling in Cinema 4D. CG is just a whole different world. Respect to all you CGers out there. Here's some tests.
Early days. That's all I can say.
Was making this for an open mic night hosted by my friend James Sarson at Gw Di Hw in Cardiff (he also does a lovely couple of nights every week at Porters on Tuesdays and Thursdays, check it locals).
Ultimately went a different route.
This is the final thing. Most of these objects aren't my creation, I'm starting very slowly. I'm currently exploring the idea of low-poly CG backgrounds for my final film, so I'm trying to weave C4D into work I'm doing at the moment.
Finally as part of the After Effects project I was part of a team including Jake (http://jakeharv.blogspot.co.uk/) and Gregg (http://gwillis1991.blogspot.co.uk/)
We teamed up to create an advert for the national student survey. Still not quite finished to be put up but here's a screenshot of my bit. Was really chuffed with this. Loved working in a team too.
Should've really broken this up into little posts...
My time at dezrez is coming to an end, and my has it flown by.
Since the last video we started work on one last video for the company history, but due to necessary tweaks to other videos, and another swift project which was urgent for them, the timeline video won't be finished (at least for now). You can see the initial tests below
Been a great 10 weeks, and I can safely say I've had enough of After Effects for a while.
Going back to uni will mean a return to more character animation which is something I desperately need to improve upon. I am however glad to know that I can comp any work I do to a high level. Even just a basic knowledge of this, I believe, can make any work look massively better.
So a huge thankyou to everyone at dezrez (and their amazing thai food on Fridays) and to GoWales for the amazing opportunity.
The second video I have made for dezrez. As before there is some dodgy bits of animation, but the entire turnaround for this video (including storyboard, asset creation and screen capturing etc.) was about 2 weeks.
Considering the speed of this I'm starting to try and figure out how much I could achieve with 7 or 8 months...
Soon hopefully there'll be something to show as a taster... hopefully
Still feels like yesterday I clicked render for the final time on "Under the Weather". This summer has passed quickly to say the least, filled with real work days and responsibilities.
I picked up a work placement through Go Wales toward the end of July, which I am now half way through. The company I work for are a Swansea based software development company named "dezrez", and they wanted a series of promotional videos for their various products. Nothing to it :)
Really admire the people here and the way the company goes about it's business. Small-scale and extremely passionate about what they're doing. It's been a joy so far, apart from getting used to the working world on my part. Not sure if people round the office are used to a sleep deprived overly-absorbed-in-work-and-increasingly-succumbing-to-CVS animator/motion designer. After all this isn't a design company. In the wider world they would work with an outside studio, but working in-house has it's perks.
I would like to offer a couple of tips to anyone out there in this line of work though.
1. Iterative Saving
This is something I picked up for my own benefit whilst producing Under the Weather, but it's so much more useful once you start working for a client, and something every professional does anyway.
Save different versions of your work as you go. If you make a significant change, save it as a different file, just in case you or your client wants to back-track to an earlier version. It will save you a lot of work, trust me.
An example from dezrez
This shot originally said "dezrez cloud" at the end, but along the pipeline I was asked to change it to "Azure", the storage platform which the company use.
Upon seeing the final release however there were a few concerns over the fact that Azure is a third party product and that it wasn't based on the cloud platform, and so had to be changed back.
This wouldn't have been difficult to change anyway, but it saved that little bit of time, and when people want results time is valuable.
2. Listen, listen, listen. Then elaborate.
There's literally no point working for someone if you're just going to go off and do your own thing (unless of course you are asked to).
The folks at dezrez had a very good idea of what they already wanted, and have a plethora of visual assets to go with it. They wanted high-end graphics to outshine competitors. All a very good start.
But you still need to elaborate and bring something to the table. As easy it is for people to see it in their minds, it can be difficult to verbalize.
Being able to listen and come out with an appropriate response is one of the key skills I've picked up over the past few weeks.
3. Plan your time.
Again, something that I picked up during the past 6 months, but never vehemently stuck to until now. This is more for the companies piece of mind so they know that I am on track, and actually doing something rather than getting payed to sit around and doodle. After all they've made a fair investment in me, buying the appropriate hardware/software I need and supplying me with ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF COFFEE (which is always needed with the hour-and-a-bit commute to Swansea everyday).
Apart from giving everyone piece of mind, I've never fully appreciated how much a schedule helps, and how much more productive you become by sticking to your own deadlines. This again is something you get told over and over again by Uni but you don't take as seriously as you should.
With having to plan your time to get optimum results, there will also have to be sacrifices. This kind of corporate marketing uses down-and-dirty animation. The initial sequence with the characters isn't anything to write home about, but it got the job done in a good amount of time. Making the product look good is the main aim at the end of the day, and nobody cares if a walk cycle looks right unless they are another animator. This is not to say I'm dissatisfied with the final outcome at all. Its been a good test to see what I can do when working to a brief on a small time-scale. It's what the client wants which matters, and the feedback has been positive so far.
With all that said, here is the result of about 4 weeks work (with one week spent brainstorming and pinning down visually what dezrez wanted). Excuse the cheesy free-stock music.
Here are a few pre-production shots on a couple of other videos I've begun for dezrez
With all this said and done though, I am hankering to get started on my next and final film at Uni... can't believe it's already 3rd year.
Watch this space for initial teasers (it's going to be a lot different from the last one, I can safely say that)
result of 6 months of work, here is the final thing. Not exactly How I
envisioned but done none the less - special thanks to Daniel Jones for the music, James Sarson for the voices and Peter Smith for sound effects.
Work on the film is running tight with only 4 weeks till deadline. Feeling confident I can finish, but it'll certainly require many more late nights than I'd like. Most of this delay is down to me being pretty seriously ill and bed-ridden for about 3 weeks. Definitely not what you need to get work done.
It was impossible to work in the condition I was in and so I find myself in the position I am in now.
At this point I would have liked to have been over half way done with the film, with little animation left and only post production left. As it stands I have 15 to 20 seconds done with tweaks needed. Still though if I carry on at the work rate I'm at now I can just about finish...
Here's a short 3 or 4 second clip to show how the finished product will look.
Haven't been so up-to-date with updates recently, mostly because I've been going through the rigmarole of preparing each character to be animated in flash. This means I've been staring at Illustrator for the past couple of weeks, separating everything out onto layers and creating hand and mouth shapes...
... things are beginning to progress nicely though, even though time seems to run away from you at every possible occasion.
Tomorrow I shall be recording some voices with an actor and beyond that I hope to get the majority of the animation done within the next 3 to 4 weeks, assuming I won't run into any major obstacles along the way.
A screenshot of how my desktop looks at this moment... for proof
Also here's one last layout test. I'm going to do these after the bulk of the character animation now. The time it takes for each to render is a bit deflating so I'd rather get the characters moving and have static backgrounds if I'm short for time. That shouldn't happen though.
The final animatic is now complete! Took a little too long to figure out the story but it's pretty much set now. In need of music an sound effects now...
Anyone who has known me for a while will know a thing I have for this Cloud character. Something that's been in the pipeline for a while, but never going to return to after this is over (there seems to be an infinite amount of films with cloud characters now that I've looked).
If any aspiring musician or sound technician reading this for whatever reason is interested in producing anything for this film please feel free to message me anytime.
My final film for this year is entitled "Under The Weather" (originally "Blown Away").
The plot of this film will revolve around the two characters pictured above and how they get on each others nerves. There's The Cloud and The Volcano, and needless to say they're not going to get along.
These are the initial character designs and the expressions used in the animatic (soon to be posted).
Last project before starting production, rather rushed character performance. Not exactly proud of this. Didn't get everything done I wanted with it and the lip sync is atrocious. After using flash, going back to traditional cel animation using paper was a bit of a chore.Anyway...