Tuesday, 12 August 2014

3rd and Final Year pt_01

Judging by the recent hurricane and the daily rain showers it seems that summer is in full swing here in England. But once it's over I'll be thrust back into school to start my 3rd and final year of my degree course and my final year project will begin.

I say begin, I've actually done a fair amount of planning for this project so before it really kicks off I'd like to share with you my idea and what I've been doing recently.

Back To The Start

When I started the course I wasn't quite sure what it was that I wanted to get out of it. I knew I wanted to work in animation but I didn't know exactly what as. I was fairly confident that I wanted to focus on the ideas side, the writing, story boarding etc and I was also pretty certain that I wanted to work in 2D.

Well that changed. After getting a taste of all aspects of animation from 2D to 3D and pre-production to post I fell in love with animating. Until I started the course I had never actually animated anything, I had never experienced the joy of bringing something to life and seeing my drawings move. As well as hand drawn I was also introduced to 3D animation in Maya which, when I got over my fear of the software and interface, I decided was the path for me.

Unfortunately the course itself hasn't really catered for a 3D character animator and the majority of our projects have been design based or 2D so most of my CG animation until now has been done in my own time and if I'm honest I've been a bit slack with it. However towards the end of year 2 I started working a bit harder on my animation and I started seeing results. I'm still behind where I would like to be but I'm progressing and, last month I even landed my first 3D animation job for a games company based here in Cornwall called Anti-Matter Games. At Anti-Matter I'm working on a first person shooter game and I'm the weapons animator, so basically any time a gun moves in a game be it a reload action, a rifle stab or just a simple shot that's me making it happen!

The project

So this leads me onto my 3rd year project. As I'm fortunate enough to know exactly what I want to do, which is to become a feature film animator, and having listened to every podcast and read every article about how to get to where I want to be I decided my best option for a major project would be a demo reel. A chance for me to practise, and hone my animation. I basically want to spend every minute of my final year animating. I want to leave the course ready, or at least as ready as I can be after 3 years.

My idea was met with some disapproval from my tutors at first and I had to work hard to try and bring them round to the idea, which if I'm honest pissed me right off. I felt like I spent most of my time arguing my point rather than getting on with work and being aided by them. I don't know why they were so against it but in the end I think their attitude actually had a positive effect on me and just gave me a bit of drive to work hard and win them round (prove them wrong).

I began work on the project last year, spending many hours trawling through film clips and TV shows trying to find good sound clips to animate to. I don't know exactly how many I ended up listening to but it was in the hundreds. I decided (eventually) on 5 clips totalling 1 minute and 30 seconds worth of animation.

These are the five clips:

Audio Clip 01:

Audio Clip 02:

Audio Clip 03:

Audio Clip 04:

Audio Clip 05:

These aren't my original 5 clips, over the last month or so I have chopped and changed a bit in what I'm trying to achieve. This is partly because I can never make up my mind and I over think things but mainly because of things that I have read and heard about what people look for in a reel. I've tried to choose clips that not only have subtext and give the audience a chance to see a character have to think but also clips that take the characters on a journey. I've also tried to find clips with comedy. I love comedy and I want my animation to have a comedic element. Although the main reason behind my choice of clips is that these are the kind of clips that I not only want to animate to, but want to see myself.

No I in Team

As my goal is to spend the whole of my final year animating I would have no time to make my shots look pretty. I don't want to spend my time modelling or lighting my scenes so I'm teaming up with 2 fellow students who have similar ambitions to me for this project as in they want to focus on specific jobs and finish them to the highest possible standard for their reels. On board is Oly, who is interested in modelling and texturing and Matteo who wants to focus on effects, lighting and rendering. Together we hope to achieve 5 professional looking scenes.

So far we have only met a few times to nail down the plan so there isn't much to show yet. But what we've decided on is:

Audio Clip 01: This is set on a deserted dock late at night, a big scary zombie jumps out on a lone sailor and the sailor tries to talk himself out of trouble.

Audio Clip 02: This will be set underwater in a kind of creature comforts documentary style. The character talking is a great white shark and he discusses his favourite foods to an interviewer off screen.

Audio Clip 03: This scene takes place deep in the jungle. An explorer tries to keep his cool in front of his young attractive assistant.

Audio Clip 04: A man tries to seduce a woman he meets in a library but it doesn't take much for her to talk him out of it. Much to her dismay.

Audio Clip 05: This is set in deepest darkest hell as Satan tries to get himself a place in Heaven.

As I said, still early days but we're all excited to get working on this. Apologies for all the words. Hopefully my next update will have some artwork and storyboards.  

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