Saturday, 22 September 2012

"There's quite a lot of people in that lecture theatre!"

Yesterday, I spoke for about 5 -10  minutes in front of the whole of the General Foundation course at Duncan of Jordanstone - that's a LOT of people!! A huge lecture theatre full of people!!
One of my tutors was doing a presentation to the General Foundation students about the animation course and brought along 5 animation students to talk about their own experiences with the course. I was one of them. It was a rather scary experience but I'm so glad I did it! Maybe it will make future talks and presentations seem less daunting... maybe.
Anyway, as I spent a bit of time putting this presentation together, I thought I would post it here. It's actually been good looking back at my journey through uni to 4th year. And I've never posted some of my 2nd year animations onto this blog either, including the finished rendered version of 'Jurassic Jess', so here it is :)


The route I took onto the course was through General Foundation. I decided I wanted to go into animation after trying it out in the last weeks of the course. I’d never done animation before but found that I absolutely loved it, there’s something pretty cool about seeing your drawing comes to life on the screen! So I really only had one piece of animation in my portfolio for applying to the animation course, the rest of it was made up of paintings and life drawing. I think showing an interest in animation, character, story and showing good drawing skills is a plus for your portfolio of work.
In Level 2 animation we learned the basic animation principles through the practice of 2D animation; through projects with bouncing balls, walk cycles, the flour sack, and character performance. There were also lectures on the history of animation. We also had workshops to learn about the 3D computer program MAYA, the compositing and animation program After Effects and general skills with Photoshop and Flash. I think 2nd year was really good for learning the key principles of animating. And learning these key principles through 2D animation allows you to apply them to any kind of animation, including 3D.


In the first Semester of 3rd Year, we worked in groups to produce a fully finished 1 minute film. I was the Director of my project ‘Jurassic Jess’ and I had a team of 5 people.  It was a story about a little girl, by the name of ‘Jess’ who loves dinosaurs and exploring museums and comes across a T-Rex skeleton in a restricted storage area of a museum. It was a 3D project, none of us had had a lot of experience with 3D before and it was quite an ambitious project for the timescale we had. We managed to finish the main bulk of it that semester and took an extra week to render and composite it together, there’s still some things we would have changed, improved, fix some glitches, looking back on it now, but we’re still quite pleased with what we managed to achieve and was so valuable in learning the process for making a short animated film, as there are so many different parts that go into making a film. Even if it is just 1 minute long!


In Semester 2 of 3rd Year we got to work on the pre-production of our final year films. Including character and environment designs, and developing the script and the storyboard. I’m now the Production Manager of a team of 3 for the 3D film ‘Krokodi’. It will be approx 2 minutes in length and is about an arrogant Crocodile Hunter looking for the legendary ‘Krokodi’ swamp creature of Louisiana, to hunt down. This swamp creature turns out to be ‘Dee’ who works in her burger van during the day in the Town of New Orleans, (even a swamp goddess needs to earn her living) and returns to the swamp at night to revert back to her crocodilian self. ‘Dee’ and the Hunter meet and comedic chaos ensues!

Now in 4th year, ‘Krokodi’ is in production and the 3D modelling of characters and environments are underway. In 4th year we have to choose 2 skills to specialize in that we will mainly be accessed on at the end of the year. I’ve picked character animation and rigging. Rigging is where you add the skeleton and controls to a 3D character to enable the character to be animated. I’m looking towards a career in character animation, and having a good knowledge of rigging can be very appealing to potential employers because of its close links with animation. It’s also good at helping improve your own animation skills as you get a better understanding of how a character moves and is controlled. Part of being on the Animation course is having good communication skills and working as part of a team. Not only are we working on our main projects but we’re helping out on at least one other. This allows you to expand your skills and experience through working on a different project and with different people. Also as 4th years, who always have soooo much to do, with such ambitious projects, we try to recruit helpers from 3rd year and 2nd year to do some little pieces of work for us. This not only helps us but allows them to get a good insight and experience into how 4th year works and the production pipeline of working on a film so that when it’s their turn, they already have a bit more knowledge about it all.

I really hope that there were some people in the audience that were inspired by all of our presentations, to investigate animation further or to try it out themselves - because after all - animation is the best! Not biased or anything :p