Thursday, 1 November 2007

Maya Man Ben

Maya animation is cool.

Have spent a month doing Maya cg stuff. A week learning with Matt Leonard was cool, a very patient man who sure does know what he's doing.

I was given a project from the Dinamo studio for which I had to build a character and make him move across a river. When I was given this I really had a panic as I thought that there was no way that I could possibly finish this on time but this is pretty much the way that I react whenever I am given a brief, it is the panic that gets me moving and keeps the work lively and I haven't missed a deadline yet.

The computer continues to trouble me and even though I managed to finish the project I was unable to render it as the computer was taking at one point an hour and a half for each frame when it should have taken about six minutes.

I could have done with the programme at home to work on but I was unable to get it as my operating system was a month too old, this was a pain. Have decided to buy a new apple laptop which will become my Maya machine. This is a big thing for me as I have for such a long time thought of myself as someone who would never get to grips with anything more that clay and pencils.

I will admit that I treated Maya very much like stop motion moving the character frame by frame rather than letting the computer inbetween but this is what I liked about it, stop motion without the mess and the standing under hot lights problem. This is not to say that I will be giving up the claymation I will be combining it with Maya and I will make some great stuff. Also a few years ago I came up with an idea for a film that would have cost me thousands of pounds to make because of the size of the sets, this film is now back on the list of stuff to be made.

In short I like Maya, I like it a lot. Well done Ben you have taken your first steps into a much larger world.

Monday, 30 July 2007

flash animation

Into the great unknown, across the great divide, all around my hat and so on and such....Flash!

I don't know what I'm doing. Never created anything in the computer before. Flash is difficult i have to ask for everything to be shown to me twice or three times. Spent the first evening shouting at my computer because I didn't know what I was doing. It wasn't really the computers fault but must he mock me?
We are to produce a short animation for the eisteddfod. I started of with an idea that was a little too ambitious for my first piece of flash animation and became bogged down with the first shot. Came back with a much more sensible idea on day two. A dragon playing a trumpet to a dragonslayer. I am much slower at animating using this package than the people around me are, this is a concern. My computer is playing up, no sound today. The layers in flash are confusing me.

A troubled week and then...

Friday Flash week 1

Finished the animation just two hours before the deadline I am not sure that I like flash. Quite like the final dragon/ dragonslayer thing but it does seem like a huge amount of effort to produce flash films. This must be easier than it first appears. This will take some hard work and working late into the night.
Have been listening to the reissues of the Travelling Wilburys this week, been waiting for this release for a long time.

Flash week 2

We have each been given a project from three different cardiff based animation studios, I have the project from Calon. The project is to produce a scene for the childrens television programme Bobinogs. The scene is to be one of crime as it involves a monkey stealing a knitting bag belonging to some holiday makers from the front seat of a safari van. The dialogue to sync to is quite annoying when you have heard it twenty or more times. Quite like the clean look of the programme.
I am still struggling with flash and I have decided to allow myself the first week to complete scene A.


Went around to see Mike Price at Calon today to find out how the characters of Bobinogs move. Quite simple movements as this is intended for small children.


Scene one is done. Layers still confusing. The synchronization of moustache with dialogue seems to have gone well but it does seem like everytime I complete one tasks on a scene I mess up what had gone before, it is a worry and on top of this the football season starts soon and I'm an Everton fan and the up and down nature of their form isn't likely to provide a comfortable mindset in which to work.


Scene two was easy. Making characters walk when their walk cycle is already built in wasn't much of a challenge. This last sentence makes me sound quite cocky, I'm not, it is just relief that something has gone well and didn't add to my already greying barnet.
Will spend the weekend getting aquainted with the next scene.

Flash week 3 (Bobinogs week 2)


Rick Villeneuve who is acting as project manager on this bobinogs thing came in today and helped me sort out a timetable for the rest of the project. I am intending to finish everything by next monday giving me a couple of days to make alterations.

Monkey is stealing the bag from the van. I have made the monkey bounce into shot like an excited idiot, I quite like this. Have had to rebuid one of the layers on the animation because I can't work out how to remove the bag from the van. This causes a little stress and I sit in my studio into the early hours shouting at flash and calling for Jesus to help.


The monkey now has the bag of knitting in his possession and he has legged it.
Filmed my mum knitting last night as reference for the next shot monkeyman must do some knitting.

Have spent the weekend animating the monkey knitting. Thought that I had finished at one point but then realised that the bobinogs sun had stopped moving. Had to go back and mess with this for a bit. I shout at my computer some more. The sun starts moving again around five on sunday I then enjoy a delicious roast dinner with red wine.
I have ordered a Gary Lineker 1986 replica england shirt like the one he was wearing when he scored a hat trick against Poland. Everton have won their first league game of the season.


Add a few final touches to Calon work and all looks good. Talk with Rick about presenting it to Calon which will now take place on Friday afternoon. Have decided to do some lip sync on flash so I will record some dialogue tonight, nothing fancy just a little something funny maybe a quote from a film.


Have started working with some animated fish in a bowl and some dialogue lifted from the Dudley Moore film Arthur. This is one of the first films that I was allowed to stay up late and watch I was also always allowed to stay up and watch the television series of M*A*S*H. Read Alan Alda's biography recently a cracking read. It feels like he hasn't been in a Woody Allen film in ages, I miss this, also miss lovely Dudley Moore and John Candy and Jolly Rancher hard candy and Tab Clear. Punctuation Ben!..?!?...,,,,,another? and a fullstop
Tottenham 1 Everton 3 (I love you Alan Stubbs)

Friday Calon Day

Going to see Mike price today. He was very busy but took time out to look at my work. He liked my knitting action and said that it was as good as what they had come up with, I liked this. He seemed to enjoy the overall monkey work and my interpretation of the character of Ranger Bob. I feel I have learned more than I thought I would learn about flash but it still frustrates me.


Evertons first defeat. Break my phone and bruise my leg. Have a nice roast dinner in a pub. Watch and enjoy Return to Oz (I like the Gnome King's style - a pipe and ruby red slippers "mum I know what I want to be when I grow up") Can't sleep.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Week 3/ week 4 Morris Dancing

Week 3 begins and with it so does our first film making/animation assignment. Digital storytelling using still images and narration to tell a story. The story is to be something from my past. When I was a little chap I was chased by a drunk morris dancer. He chased me around a pub. I am hoping that this project helps me to finally get over it.
I am going to use a combination of still images mixed with a tiny bit of pen on paper animation. Everything will be shot under a digital camera and any camera moves will be done moving the image under the lens. I will say again that I come from a stop motion background and this is very much my way of working. It will be black and white with a flash of colour when needed. Need to find morris dancer music.
Have been pointed in the direction of a website that is nothing but morris dancer tracks, it could easily be the most annoying site that I have ever been on - have found some suitable music though.

WednesdayThursday 19th

Have finally worked out how to get my film from my home computer onto the Cyfle workstation. This is a big thing for me as usually I struggle and struggle then ask someone for help... "I'm getting better and I'm not going to let them take me back to hospital".

Friday 20th July

Haven't been getting a lot of sleep as I have been working really hard on the drawing and filming and all that jazz. Had about forty minutes sleep last night.
A good example of how tired I am....
Whilst waiting for the bus this morning I saw a woman with what I thought was a rather nifty looking bionic hand "Don't stare Ben it's rude!" When she got closer I noticed that it wasn't a bionic hand she was just carrying an umbrella.

Just had a lovely egg and bacon sandwich.
how tired I am

Monday, 9 July 2007

Week2 Dennis Muren week

A note about the end of week one... Six animators, six names in a hat. Pick the name of an animator and a week later complete a presentation on them. Oh lucky man I pick Dennis Muren. This is handy as when I was getting started in animation I would watch the making of Jurassic Park over and over again, whilst I was building my film sets, trying to get a grasp on the principles of animation.


A lovely talk with Mr Bruce Steele of glassworks the man behind the really cool virgin train advert with the brilliant compositing of Cary Grant, something to tell my mum about as she really likes this advert. The making of the Stella Artois was really interesting because I stupidly didn't realise that any of the planes in the advert weren't real. It is nice to hear from someone who has been part of a project from live action shoots right through to final compositing.


Richard Villeneuve this morning talking about freelance work. thoroughly nice chap. He talked at length about how to survive as a freelance animator... Always have a second skill. Be willing to do anywork to get your foot through the door. Be willing to adapt to the style of a studio. Never concentrate on just the one area of the business as it will be a struggle when a project comes to an end. He also helped with showreel design his main theme being keep it short and to the point.


My second talk with Joanna Quinn in a year(she also gave a talk at the Bristol school of animation). I dig her work, I like old school animation. I like that she is holding on to trditional animation when all around her people are telling her there is a quicker way a way that she knows she would never be happy with. Her studio is very much what I am trying to get going with my work, a small studio taking on the world. Her producer, Les Mills, was a very wise gent with a knack for quipping.


Mike Collins gave a talk about storyboarding and job satisfaction. Having worked at DC and Marvel comics he now works as a storyboard artist for Calon and he also draws the Doctor Who comic that my good friend Andrew likes to read (I must tell him about this meeting). Mike Collins has a real sense of what's important, enough money to live and a little left over for toys. You must enjoy your work! His portfolio was a joy he is clearly a man worth listening to. I think this is probably my favourite talk so far.


The day of the talk. As usual with these things i have had a last minute panic. Have been up most of the night writing and rewriting my talk.
With my Zohoshow slideshow ready I start talking and feel quite unconfortable less for the fact that I am standing in front of the room and sharing my findings but more for the reason that i am being held back by a cold that is blocking my nose and adding an edge of dizzyness to my already fragile stance.
The talk is over. I missed a bit out but managed to come back to it. It's strange I feel I missed out a slide completely. Surely this can't be the case. What did I say when it popped up?.... here is a lovely slide but I must be moving on. I am drifting now.

Friday, 29 June 2007

cyfle week 1

Here we go again! Almost a year to the day that I started on the Bristol animation course, training has commenced on the Cyfle digital animation training scheme.
So far we have been getting to know each other and settling into our new environment.

A general health and safety in the work place workshop with David Ellis Jones was nice and relaxed.

The creative thinking workshop with Barry Michael Jones was interesting in that it was designed to make us think in different ways. How we act/think is based mainly on how our parents act and how we must try and look outside this way of thinking, however, I did have a problem with his theories on banana peeling,

"Why not bite from the other end of the banana as this is where all the glorious sweetness lives, this is how the ape eats it?"

In my opinion the banana has one of natures great handles and it seems to me that there is only one sensible way to get to the tasty fruit. I am not a monkey but I sure do like them.

We have been to Calon studios where we were given a tour of there 3d puppet animation studio and, although I am on a digital course, I can't stop thinking about puppet animation. I think I will have to find a way to incorporate plastercine into my new digital world.


End of the week has come quite quickly. The early mornings are getting a little easier to handle.
Went on an industry visit today to Dinamo Studios and had a splendid talk with Aron and Owain. Interesting to see the amount of work that is expected of an animator in industy. Some great computer animation and live action compositing also nice to see a little corner of 2d traditional animation, we will always need pen and paper... also fishing rods.

Had an introductory talk about computer generated animation today. Had forgotten how much computer animation has in common with puppet animation, really looking forward to getting going with this.
Given first assignment today. We are to give a presentation on a CGI animator. Six names went into a hat, one for each of us, and I managed to draw the one I wanted, good times.

In addition...

Started reading a Charles Hawtrey biography today entitled 'The Man Who Was Private Widdle'. Its quite interesting that such a small man could be such a deviant, I like his style.


Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Benjamin - animator in training


I am taking my first steps into the land of blog. I am a small animator searching for a big animation stick. My name is Ben and I am starting a course with Cyfle. I don't like Morris dancing.