Friday, May 31, 2013

The Final Straw


fantastic student film...

Making Glass Cows


ummm, woah

Twisted People - 001


 
LOL!
Short Clip directed and animated by Sylvain Delcourt and Julien De Man (2013)
music: "Cowboy" by Vengeance

Despicable Me 2 – Clips


 This one made me laugh so hard...


 

HOW DO YOU REALLY FEEL ABOUT THE VFX/ANIMATION INDUSTRY?


This is your chance to share your personal views on the current state of our industry: the 
5-minute survey designed by Jay Van Bavel, Director of the Social Perception and Evaluation Lab at New York University.

The results will be presented at the VFX Town Hall: Collider 2013, a free event going live Monday, June 10 at 6pm EST at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. 

You are invited to attend the Town Hall in person or participate in the live stream at: http://collider.circles.io/

Deadline for completing the NYU/Collider Survey: Midnight PST, Sunday, June 9.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY


Disney & Pixar announce dates for the next 15 films


Disney & Pixar announce the release dates for the next 15 animated films until 2018 with 2 movies a year and 3 in 2013/16 and 18 . See below for the full list of dates: Pixar’s Monsters University in 3D – June 21, 2013 - via Spline Bomb
Disney’s& Planes in 3D – August 9, 2013
Disney’s Frozen in 3D – November 27, 2013
Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur in 3D – May 30, 2014
Marvel’s Big Hero 6 in 3D – November 7, 2014
Pixar’s Inside Out in 3D – June 15, 2015
Pixar’s Finding Dory in 3D – November 25, 2015
Disney Untitled Animation in 3D – March 4, 2016
Pixar Untitled Animation in 3D – June 17, 2016
Disney Untitled Animation in 3D – November 23, 2016
Pixar Untitled Animation in 3D – June 16, 2017
Pixar Untitled Animation in 3D – November 22, 2017
Disney Untitled Animation in 3D – March 9th, 2018
Pixar Untitled Animation in 3D – June 15, 2018
Disney Untitled Animation in 3D – November 21, 2018

How to Create a Great Demo Reel



What goes into a great demo reel? The answer is - only your very best work. Better a short reel with excellent work than a long one with mistakes which need fixing. Employers and clients will look for mistakes, errors, and unfinished work - these are red flags which suggest a digital artist who doesn't complete, or who might flounder under pressure.

Which brings us to the single most important rule of demo reels:

A Demo Reel should be Entirely Free of Mistakes.

What do I mean by that? I mean that there should be nothing obviously wrong with any of your work on your reel. If any part of your work is still a work-in-progress, then don't include it. Or, rather, include it, but only once it's finished.

The best way to judge your reel is to see it through the eyes of other people. Show it to your friends, your colleagues, people whose view you respect. Ask them what they think. Do they understand what you did? Did they like the work? Are there things which confused them?

A demo reel is the single most important weapon in your arsenal when it comes to finding work. Make sure it's the best work you are capable of.

The video above was recorded for my online animation school, Animation Apprentice. It runs about 15 minutes, and covers most of the steps towards putting together a great reel.

Any questions - feel free to add them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer!

----Alex

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bucks Animation Show - Private View on Friday 7th June 6.00 – 9.00 pm


Come and check out the work of our awesome graduating students on the Animation, Games and Interactive Media degree course. The show forms a part of the ‘Bucks Eyes’ Degree show, and will showcase the very best student work done over the past year. Come and see the next generation of digital artists strut their stuff.

What:  Private View of Animation, Games and Interactive Media
When: Friday 7th June - 6.00 – 9.00pm
Where: TV Studio 2 in the Gateway Building

And it's not just animation. You can also see the work done by

Fine Art
Jewellery
Silver
Textiles and Surface Design
Graphic Arts
Advertising: Creative
Foundation Studies in Art, Design and Media
Spatial Design
Product Design
Furniture Design
Furniture Conservation and Restoration.

Here is a useful link for more information.

Come along on Friday and enjoy the show.

---Alex

How to Get a Job in the Animation, Games & VFX Industries



For all our graduates who will soon find themselves seeking work, here is a short video on finding a job - and keeping it - with a special focus on jobs in the Animation and VFX Industry. Remember the 5 key ingredients for finding work:
  1. Talent
  2. Opportunity
  3. Timing
  4. Luck 
  5. Persistence
Talent is necessary - without this no-one has a chance. But if you've made through 3 years of undergraduate study you will have this, else you would not have made it through the course.

Opportunity means seizing chances in life. Scan the notice boards and look for vacancies. Create your own chances by offering to work for free, or at very low rates. We can't create jobs from thin air but we can hunt down the ones that do exist.

Timing is vital because even the best graduates won't find a job at a company that isn't hiring. Media companies expand and contract according to their projects and their order books. Knowing who is hiring and when is all part of winning the game.

Luck is about being in the right place at the right time. And, of course, making your own luck wherever possible.

Persistence. Of the five, the last is probably the most important. Stick-to-it-ness is vital; don't give up. Keep practicing, working, and getting better at what you love doing, and you will be rewarded.

---Alex

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Student Showcase - Mike Swan's graduation year project

Bucks student Mike Swan has just completed an ambitious project for his final year - the modelling, texturing and lighting of an Aston Martin sports car. We asked him a few questions about his project and how he put it all together.

Bucks: You have just completed a modelling project as part of your final year assessed work. Tell us about how the project came about.

Mike: I knew I wanted to do something big. It needed to be the flagship final piece of my time I've spent at University. I already had other projects completed throughout the year that covered Architectural Visualisation work, so I wanted to focus on a Product Visualisation piece. What better product than a car?

Bucks: What were the biggest challenges you faced in getting it right?

The whole project was intensely challenging. I viewed a friends DB9 and took near 150 photos of it; without doing this the project would have of been impossible to complete as the point of it was to make it recreate it exactly in 3D. The biggest challenge would probably be keeping everything perfect, because it had to be. Anyone could look at the photos and compare them to the renders, so it had to be same.

Bucks: What sort of work are you hoping to do in the industry?

Mike: I thoroughly enjoy creating both Architectural and Product visualisations.


Bucks: What advice would you give to anyone starting at Bucks, so that they can make the very best use of their time on the course?

Mike: My top tips would be these:
  • Learn in your spare time
  • Constantly play around with your software.
  • Learn to manage and balance your projects, time keeping is important.
  • Problem solving. The chances are that someone has had the same problem before - look online!
  • If you can't fix it yourself, ask your lecturers, they are there to help.
Bucks: What software did you use to create the Aston? 

Mike: I used Autodesk 3DS MAX for the modelling, lighting, texture creating and rendering. Then I used Adobe Photoshop for the post production work such as colour correction, compiling the various different passes etc.

(Editor's Note: You can see more of Mike Swan's work at his website here.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Visualising The Rite of Spring

May 29 marks the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."  That's a piece that should be familiar to animation professionals and fans as it was one of the segments in Disney's Fantasia.

The above video is by Stephen Malinowski, a musician and computer programmer who has been attempting to visualize complex musical scores.  Watch it full screen for the best effect.

Here is an NPR interview with Malinowski, where he talks about his process.
"People usually respond to sound in a unitary way. It's the reason why you can't follow more than one conversation at a time at a party, for example. But with vision, your brain is trained to comprehend multiple things at once: you can take in many more elements simultaneously. In music, there's often much more going on than you can grasp in that moment of hearing. When you have a visualization, your eyes lead your ears through the music. You take advantage of your brain's ability to process multiple pieces of visual information simultaneously."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

VFX/Anim/CG Labor issues Q & A



As a follow up to my previous post asking questions regarding the trade association and union the "Scott's" (Scott Squires and Scott Ross) are trying to build...

I have created a second posting here with a simplified Q & A using the comments and responses from Scott Squires for easy reading.  

I originally posed these questions in a way to make it easy for someone to offer some real answers and change people's minds on the topics.  

Here I have trimmed out any of the discussion about the current state of affairs (which we all understand) and only put the factual answers as responses, below.  If you would like to read the correspondence in it's entirety, click here.

This Q & A does not directly answer every question, but at least when I sit at a table full of artists, producers and tool makers who are discussing the current situation, I am armed with some answers and accurate information.



Angie Jones - How can a union for VFX be effective when VFX/CG/Anim facilities are located all over the world and have their own rules regarding creating or developing unions? 

Specifically, I would like to know how a union here in the US could compete with studios overseas who may or may not have unions who hire non-union workers for their shows?

Scott Squires - Yes, facilities are all over the world. The only rules governing the unions are government rules, not rules from the studios or facilities.

A guild will not fix those problems. Those are issues controlled by governments. The guild can provide more protection for the workers so they don't get dropped without pay and some of the other things have been happening in vfx.





Angie Jones - How can a trade organization enforce any regulations when an American movie studio can simply incorporate overseas to avoid any American laws or taxes against runaway production?  Even better, American movie studios could just buy cruise ships and sail to wherever the money is... and incorporate there.

Scott Squires - The Trade association is for the vfx companies. What if all the top vfx companies companies agreed on a given business model? Such as cost plus? Then the companies no longer have to underbid and go out of business. With a majority of the companies on board where are the studios going to go for their tentpole movies? They can't simply farm it all out to 10 man crews around the world. And that's a different solution/issue than subsidies.

Angie Jones - Not really an answer here and a lot of "what ifs..." Maybe Scott Ross can offer more on this Q one day?



Angie Jones - Even if a union were to succeed somehow (see Q #1) what exactly would this union do about the 1,000's of workers who are no longer employed and cannot join the ranks because they are not working as a formal employee at a facility.  

How do you create a solidarity of  a work force when no one is working... or worse, those working are forced to take jobs as mis-classified contract freelance workers for smaller studios because those are the only studios hiring domestically?  

BTW, if you are not a legal employee, you cannot join a union.  I would say 75-80% of my colleagues are freelance contractors and although employed, are not a w-2 employee of any facility.  Where is the workforce?

Scott Squires - It doesn't make sense for non-employed people to be in a union. Who is the union bargaining with? How are the contributions and benefits being paid for? I also believe there are laws in place that you have to be employed. Not every thing a union does or can do is of their own choosing. There are very specific federal laws about what they can and can not do.


Freelance contractors- Film crews are made up of freelance people. However that doesn't mean they can't unionize. They're all in the union. T
here is no vfx union. There are no companies signed on as union companies for vfx work. If and when vfx workers decide they wish to unionize they could do so. They could freelance and go from job to job and not have to worry about being paid or about benefits.


To go union all you need is for 50% of the workers to sign rep cards (anonymously) . Doesn't matter if the company has 10 people or 1000 people. The ones currently working that would qualify for a vfx union (contractor, w2, whatever) have to sign rep cards. If they had already done so in the number required, the company would be union already. 

Angie Jones - So, if you are unemployed and in between jobs, you cannot sign a card.  Once you are employed again, you can sign a card, even if you are a 1099 freelance contract employee.  I was under the impression for some reason you had to be a legal employee of a facility (read: staff employee on the books) to sign a card.  I know I am not the only one who thought this, so hopefully this helps clear things up.







Angie Jones - How about a breakdown of exactly what people get for signing a card?

Scott Squires -That's all written up in my post on the vfx guild. http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2013/04/visual-effects-guilds.html 

http://vfx.iatse-intl.org 
http://vfx.iatse-intl.org 
http://vfxunion.info 
send in a email to VHoltgrewe@iatse-intl.com for details not found at the sites.

1. People submit signed rep cards.
2. When the union get's a large percentage (60% or more) then they contact management and tell them that the majority of their workers want to be union.
3. Hopefully the company agrees and works out a deal. This deal will involve the people who voted to go union to provide guidance.
4. If not, then by federal law there is a vote.
5. If the vote is yes then the company is union and all working there that can be covered by the union are now union. The union works out a contract with those who voted helping to work out the terms of what they want.
6. Any shop that unionizes, the people currently working there pay no initiation fee.
7. Union people pay their dues (few hundred typically but depends on your category and wages).


If enough workers in vfx unionize then the IA will set up a separate IA local just for vfx. Until that time the closest matching union will be the temporary home. If a new union is formed then members will vote on who to represent them from fellow members.

Angie Jones - I was under the impression Union Dues were two months salary, not a couple hundred dollars... but I guess it's cheaper than I thought?  I paid more than a couple hundred dollars a month to the VES every year and I am not sure what I got for that money.







Angie Jones - - How would a trade organization go about lobbying to get subsidies to end? Specifically, how would they do this?  My father worked in the apparel industry and I listened to his woes at the dinner table as I grew up.  His choice was to create a sourcing company to find companies overseas that could produce garments cheaper than US workers.  Everyone in the apparel industry hated him at first when he started this company, and then later they all wanted to work with him because NAFTA basically did nothing to help the situation.  Sure assets are taxed when they come back into the country, but there are ways to get around that.  Do you tax every asset built for a movie set?  What if there are more revisions?  Do you tax it again?  You cannot find a American company now a days that can sew garments at the same level as India and China, it's a lost art.  How would a trade organization fix the fact that the world is now flat and we are competing globally?

Scott Squires - The Trade org would be global and as such not likely to deal with subsidies. (i.e. some companies will win/lose as subsidies change). Unfortunately the subsidies are a huge problem. vfxsoldier is in the process of trying to get WTO coverage to support their own regulations. Other avenue is to let tax payers know about the cost to them, their loss of money and how politicians are giving their money away to film studios when it could be put for public use. Not sure why ukuncut and orgs have yet to figure this out.

Trade association - it's a changing world. This is much different than the auto or garment industries. Movies are not priced to the consumers based on the work we do. The companies simply allow the studios to make more profits. We do what we can. Realize that all vfx companies around the world are having to jump through the same hoops. The vfx companies have allowed themselves to be in the least leveraged position possible. And vfx workers seem to be intent on helping them do it. As long as vfx companies simply roll over, the worse this will get. Standing up as companies is one of the first steps.

Angie Jones - Again, not really an answer here.  I was hoping the Trade Organization would form a group of lobbyists to work with government to make change.  This is probably the biggest point of contention for most people I speak with working in VFX/CG/Animation is that they feel the ship has sailed and there is nothing we can do about the subsidies, therefore, the US studios have stopped hiring domestically and will continue to form studios overseas and make it a requirement of employment to agree to work overseas.  A race to the bottom.  

I guess we can only hope that taxpayers become more aware of where their tax money is going and figure out the fuzzy math and rise up against these kickbacks.

The main problem is if the subsidies are not dealt with, there is no work force to unionize because they are all overseas or in Canada.


Angie Jones - If it has taken 25 years for Scott Ross to organize the VFX facilities - why do you think a trade organization can happen in 6 months?  Why do you think you can now turn this thing around with the complexity of the entire industry moving... not only out of California, but out of the US?  This is a time sensitive issue.  People are losing their houses, their cars, and are faced with leaving the industry entirely to keep their kids in school and food on the table.

Scott Squires - I don't think anyone said 6 months. The point is the at least some companies are starting to realize what's happening. Same as with vfx artists, it seems to take the longest time just to break through with the basic concepts and have people open to considering it. Organizing is a faster process than getting mind share.

Angie Jones - Scott Ross told me it would take 6 months on fb. I am sure he is ideally positive when it comes to this thing and I am a big cheerleader behind his/your efforts. I do hope the "Mind Share" turns around within the next six months because there will be no experienced workforce left to worry about otherwise.  This is a time sensitive issue. I know people walking miles to job interviews because they have lost their car and do not even have money for a bus ride.  It's really bad.






Angie Jones - What is the schedule to make all of these "solutions" you propose happen?  Is that schedule going to jive with the fact that it may be a day-late-and-a-dollar-short to make any change?  I would like to see a schedule.  If it doesn't happen in six months to a year... things look dire to most artists working now.

Scott Squires - Timeline. If artists signed rep cards today the union could file to unionize a company tomorrow. Workers control the speed of this. If they truly wish things to change quickly they could do so. But everyone's simply dragging their feet and wringing their hands. The trade assoc is up to how anxious the companies are.

Angie Jones - I honestly know no one dragging their feet.  Only people out of work and frustrated who have signed cards like myself but are not working.  Maybe all of these people you feel are dragging their feet, will change their minds when they read this?  

I sensed irritation with my questions and I apologize if the inquiries came across as redundant. I honestly stopped reading the VFX soldier, VFX Law and other blogs because they come off incredibly angry and ranting and I know I am not the only one.  I am hopeful the positive presentation of information here for artists might clear the air on many topics bothering us all.

I used to think - "Why do I need a union?"  

Now, I am thinking the situation is so messed up, "why not sign a card and see what happens." I am in the fortunate situation that I am teaching mostly now and do not rely on VFX/CG/Anim to pay my rent.  But, that is not the case for most of my colleagues.  Hopefully the people you feel are dragging their feet will take the "why not" attitude now. I mean what has anyone got to lose, now?  

And "Yes," as you state there ARE facilities located here in the US.  However, the only facilities hiring domestically are the tiny boutique commercial houses, because the schedule wouldn't even allow for sending anything overseas.  These houses are doing their best to keep afloat and so they hire mostly 1099 contract workers to avoid paying workers comp and taxes.  

I understand you say the Union will change this, and maybe it will?  I understand your frustration with people not signing cards, but it's up to the Union to explain what signing a card means in simple terms.  More to come on this topic, I am sure.


Everything You Need to Know About Annecy

Annecy is to animation as Cannes is to Film. Like Cannes, there is no particular reason why this small and rather attractive town on a lake in the French Alps should host the world's biggest animation festival - except for the fact that they have always done so. They got there first, and while many towns and cities now have animation festivals, Annecy is the first, the original, the biggest and still the best.

Any animator who wants to make a career in the business needs to go to Annecy. Even if you only go once, go there just to say you have been. Annecy is full of professional animators, studios, recruiters, students, pr folks - in short, everyone in the business.

This year the festival runs from Monday 10th to Saturday 15th June, and the highlights include:
  • Monsters University (the opening film)
  • Get a Horse!
  • Aya de Yopougon
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches, the Movie
  • Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (extracts)
236 films are in competition for the Cristal in categories for features, short films, TV and commissioned films and graduation films. The winners will be revealed on 15th June.

For more information check out their official website here.

---Alex



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Independent Success

The video embedded above has been viewed almost 42 million times. That's a number larger than the population of many countries, including Canada.

If you're not aware of it, Simon's Cat has been around for about 5 years and is a series of cartoons like the above by Simon Tofield on YouTube.  In addition to his animation, Tofield has authored eight books featuring the character.

Now, he has sold worldwide distribution rights to Entertainment One, and their goal is to broadly merchandise the character.

Merchandising has always been gravy money in the animation business.  Somebody pays you to produce products featuring your character.  While there are some costs associated with it, such as quality control, it's less expensive than animation and more profitable.  Licensing a character is as close as you can get in animation to printing money.  (That's why The Simpsons is still on the air even though its ratings have fallen substantially over the years).

 Look at what Tofield has done.  The series is designed to be just linework, no colour or gray tones.  All the films are pantomime so that they can be understood around the world.  There is no music except over the opening and closing credits.  They videos are based on an animal that's familiar to everyone.  The videos are short and there is no standard length, so they are as long as they need to be, not padded like TV animation to fill a predetermined slot.  It's built on a continuing character and the animation focuses on behavior, not stock poses or timing.

Not every idea is going to catch on with audiences, but here is proof that a single person with an idea and the ability to design to fit his production limitations can create a success and keep ownership of it.

Thanks to the internet, there were no gatekeepers.  There were no broadcasters changing the idea to make it more popular (as if they know how); no studio to take the rights away from Tofield and offer him what's called monkey points.  Monkey points are a percentage of profits, but when the studio is doing the book keeping, somehow there never are profits no matter how successful a property becomes.

Tofield had an idea and a way to get it to the audience.  That opportunity is available to everyone.  While the results will vary, it's more proof that pitching ideas to studios or broadcasters isn't necessary for success.

(Thanks, Paul Teolis)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Animation Tips and Tricks: Michal Makarewciz on Polishing Hands

Pixar Animation vet, Michal Makarewciz chat with Animation Mentor about Polishing your Hand Animation. I think this a an easy thing to overlook in your polish pass that can add a ton of life and appeal.


Enjoy!
JP

The State of the VFX Industry and where do we go from here



The State of the VFX Industry and where do we go from here

I finally got a moment to watch this talk and I think it's great that someone has finally explained the complexity of the issues that lie before all artists working in CG, Animation and VFX.  Especially, someone without a thick Spanish accent, that no one can understand, and two individuals with street cred working in the business for years.  

I would love to hear a talk from these same two guys, that goes beyond the explanation of what is wrong with the industry.  I would love to hear more about their specific solutions, which they seem very determined to make the trade organization and union work, and further explain specifically how these two groups/orgs could even have a chance of working... when it feels to most artists working -  the "ship has sailed (pun intended)."

I would love to have questions like these answered specifically:

1 - How can a union for VFX be effective when studios are located all over the world and have their own rules regarding creating or developing unions? Specifically, I would like to know how a union here in the US could compete with studios overseas who may or may not have unions who hire non-union workers for their shows.

2 - How can a trade organization enforce any regulations when an American movie studio can simply incorporate overseas to avoid any American laws or taxes against runaway production?  Even better, studios could just buy cruise ships and sail to wherever the money is... and incorporate there.

3 - Even if a union were to succeed somehow (see Q #1) what exactly would this union do about the 1,000's of workers who are no longer employed and cannot join the ranks because they are not working as a formal employee at a facility.  How do you create a solidarity of work force when no one is working or worse, those working are forced to take jobs as mis-classified contract freelance workers for smaller studios because those are the only studios hiring domestically?  BTW, if you are not a legal employee, you cannot join a union.  I would say 75-80% of my colleagues are freelance contractors and although employed, are not a w-2 employee of any facility.  Where is the workforce?

4 - How would a trade organization go about lobbying to get subsidies to end? Specifically, how would they do this?  My father worked in the apparel industry and I listened to his woes at the dinner table as I grew up.  His choice was to create a sourcing company to find companies overseas that could produce garments cheaper than US workers.  Everyone in the apparel industry hated him at first when he started this company, and then later they all wanted to work with him because NAFTA basically did nothing to help the situation.  Sure assets are taxed when they come back into the country, but there are ways to get around that.  Do you tax every asset built for a movie set?  What if there are more revisions?  Do you tax it again?  You cannot find a American company now a days that can sew garments at the same level as India and China, it's a lost art.  How would a trade organization fix the fact that the world is now flat and we are competing globally?

5 - If it has taken 25 years for Scott Ross to organize the VFX facilities - why do you think a trade organization can happen in 6 months?  Why do you think you can now turn this thing around with the complexity of the entire industry moving... not only out of California, but out of the US?  This is a time sensitive issue.  People are losing their houses, their cars, and are faced with leaving the industry entirely to keep their kids in school and food on the table.

6 - What is the schedule to make all of these "solutions" you propose happen?  Is that schedule going to jive with the fact that it may be a day-late-and-a-dollar-short to make any change?  I would like to see a schedule.  If it doesn't happen in six months to a year... things look dire to most artists working now.

I ask these questions not to be arbitrary or argumentative.  I ask because these are the questions that are debated at bars and dinner tables by those working in the CG/Animation/VFX industry for years, and we haven't heard any specific answers.

I applaud the ability to finally explain such a complex issue in a clear and concise way, but...
By the time anything gets organized, will there be any creative left wanting/financially able to stay in the industry?

P.S. It might be good to change your graphic representing the people working on these movies from a guy at a workstation to a paint brush, pencil or some other artistic icon.  The biggest problem is neither the audience or the movie studios see VFX workers as artisans or creatives.  Only we can change that.

I also would like to coin the term VFX/CG/Animation Creatives (rather than workers) so we can change the reputation of what we do for film making. And, we should band collectively. There is no VFX only labor issues or any "sister" Animation industry. We are all in this together. Meaning anyone working on something that is not shot in camera. Period.

P.S.S. My animation students have great concerns regarding all of this since they are about to embark on the same journey into Animation and VFX and all worry they are making a bad decision.  My advice to them goes like this... There is a lot of money to be made.  That is apparent at the box office.  It's going to take a good year for everyone to decide how the pie will be split.  And, once the dust settles... I am hopeful about the outcome, but also realistic.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bucks Animation & VFX featured in 3D Artist magazine


We're proud to be featured in the Course Focus section of this month's edition of 3D Artist - you can find a copy of the magazine at a newstand and in our library at Bucks.
3D Artist magazine is full of information about becoming a digital artist. 3D tutorials, tips and tricks, free software; all kinds of stuff for the aspiring digital professional.

At page 103, in their Course Focus section, they have this to say about our new course at Bucks:

"The Bucks New University Animation & VFX Course aims to be nothing less than the best. This is a big aspiration for sure, but the packed curriculum on offer, including animation, modelling and directing, more than prepares students for a job in industry".

We don't disagree!

---Alex

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Breaking Down a Shot: Sandro Cleuzo

Sandro has put a great little post over on his blog Inspector Cleuzo, all about his workflow. He breaksdown a shot from Dreamworks Short Film "The Legend of the Boneknapper". Below is his first pass of the shot.



Legend of the Boneknapper -First pass version from Sandro Cleuzo on Vimeo.

Head on over to the blog for the rest of the post!
Great stuff!
Enjoy!
JP

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Everything You Want to Know About MOOCs


What is a MOOC? The answer is a Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs represent, say many education analysts, nothing less than a revolution in education, a complete re-casting of the way we study. If you believe the hype, education will be transformed in the next decade in the same way that the book business was changed by the launch of amazon.com.

In this excellent article in the New Yorker by Nathan Heller, you can read in detail all about MOOCs, and decide for yourself whether or not they represent the future of education. One of the most interesting aspects of the article is the reluctance of much of the established academic community to embrace open online education. This is an unknown brave new world, with scary horizons. Education for free? What are professors supposed to live on? Book royalties?

After all, what is the point of universities if education is given away for nothing? Certainly, for my subject, Animation and visual effects, there is no substitute for the kind of one-on-one feedback that helps a student practice their skills and raise their game. That's why here at Bucks we believe in blended learning, a mixture of online lectures and tutorials combined with personal classroom tuition, so that our students do the homework in class, under the guidance of expert tutors.

By combining online delivery of lectures with personal feedback and tutorials, we can combine the best of both worlds; the cost savings that come from putting lectures on the web, with the essential feedback and support that comes from knowing your tutor and getting personal help and feedback.

MOOCs will certainly change the world - but traditional classroom study isn't dead yet.

---Alex

(Editor's Note: For more on MOOCs, see our article dated 6th April 2013 here)






Monday, May 13, 2013

Dave Berry talks internships, advertising and jobs


Dave Berry, one of our talented students here at Bucks, recently completed an internship for the advertising company VCCP which, among other projects, did the animated meerkats for "Compare the Market.com". During Dave's time at VCCP he worked on and helped to complete the advertisement for O2 shown above. Here at Bucks we take internships very seriously - placing students in an industry environment is a vital part of learning to become a professional digital artist. We asked Dave to tell us a little about his experience.

Bucks: Tell us about your internship. How did it come about? Did you find it yourself or did the University approach you?

Dave: VCCP contacted the University, requesting an animator for a 2-week internship in London.


Bucks: What did you do, exactly? Just make the tea?

Dave: Not all all. At VCCP I worked alongside two motion graphics designers creating animated 3D assets for their client, O2. I also created some 2D assets in Illustrator, a sound effects library for the commercial, and chose the background music from a royalty free website.

Bucks: Sounds excellent. What would you say you learned from the experience?

Dave: This was my first taste of working within an industry pipeline, and I set myself a goal of understanding how that pipeline works. That is to say, learning who does what, who feeds back to the client and so on. As I was working alongside motion graphics artists, when I came home in the evenings I would open up Digital Tutors and follow some After Effects tutorials in case they needed me to contribute in that area.

Bucks: Nice one - it sounds like you really made the most of it. What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Dave: There were a number of challenges working at VCCP: particularly being a 3D artist in a 2D pipeline. The biggest challenge was creating assets that look 2D: the advert was designed to have a hand-made feel to it. I animated a 3D box unfolding which needed to fit in to the overall 2D look of the project. So the box had to be "toon rendered", to make it look flat.

Bucks: What would you recommend for anyone else doing an internship?

Dave: For others doing an internship, I recommend taking the time to understand the pipeline, and not being afraid to ask questions. Pipeline work can be very intimidating and confusing at first, but your role and what is expected of you becomes much clearer once you understand the whole process.

Bucks: Excellent work! Props to you for going the extra mile to understand the whole pipeline process, and many, many thanks also to VCCP for making it happen. Here at Bucks we hugely appreciate our partnerships with industry and encourage all our students to make strenuous efforts to find an internship that helps you to get invaluable real-world job experience.

---Alex

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Disney Research/Project/HideOut



Seamless interaction between the digital and physical world using specially formulated infrared-absorbing markers – hidden from the human eye, but visible to a camera embedded in a compact mobile projection device. Digital imagery directly augments and responds to the physical objects it is projected on, such as an animated character interacting with printed graphics in a storybook.

National Scholarship Programme - up to £6,000 for students starting in September


Bucks is a participant in the Government's National Scholarship Programme (NSP). The University is to make available 192 individual scholarships worth up to £6,000 for students starting in year 1 of their course from September 2013.

Recipients will be entitled to a financial support package of £3,000 in their first year of study and £1,500 in each of their subsequent years of study (up to a maximum of three years in total).

There are a limited number of scholarships available and, even if you meet the basic and additional eligibility criteria, this will not guarantee your entitlement to an award.

For more information, go to the official Bucks site here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Eye Direction and Proximity

Great little post over at the Pencils, pixels and pursuit of awesomeness blog about using good eye direction and how it can affect your characters. It is a snippet from Tom Bancroft’s Character Mentor.



Enjoy!
JP

found via slinebomb

How Pixar made Monsters University


How Pixar made Monsters University

Even w/ more than 24,000 cores, 
 it still takes 29 hours to render a single frame of Monsters University.




Pixar Story, Character & Animation Masterclass - New York City 2013

Matthew Luhn  Story Supervisor, Pixar Animation Studios
VanArts is proud to present a masterclass in Story Development, Character Design & Animation, featuring instructors Matthew Luhn (Story Supervisor), Ricky Nierva (Lead Production Designer), and Andrew Gordon (Directing Animator) -- all from Pixar Animation Studios.

Animation competition at Tatty Devine - now welcoming entries


The jeweller Tatty Devine are running an animation competition! The competition is to produce a short animation inspired by their SS13 Hot House Collection. You can download the full brief and images pack here.

Tatty Devine will pick three prize winners who will each have their work shown at the London Short Film Festival in January 2014. It will also be publicised worldwide on their website, and the winners will receive £100 worth of jewellery from the collection.

This is also an opportunity for entrants to get their work out to a large audience, and get feedback from their team of industry judges.

The closing date is midnight Sunday 2nd June.

The person to contact at Tatty Devine for further information is Zoë Fay, head of Graphic Design & Communications.

----Alex

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adobe XD explores the analog future



I adore my Jot Pen, and for the days I can get my ipad away from my boyfriend, I have a lot of fun with it... but, these tools look really fun!  I imagine they only work with the application, but who cares if you have this kind of power.

Animation Test: Even more Smears


Wow! Check this out! From the creators of Salesman Pete, this Animation Test from a new TV show Muffin Jack and Jeremy. Some great Smear Frames


Have fun framing through that.
Enjoy!
JP

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Goshawk hunts in slow motion


Great video reference...

Open Day at Bucks - Wednesday 12th June



Our next Open Day at Bucks is Wednesday 12th June. Open Days are a great way to meet the tutors (for Animation & VFX - that's me and Dave Creighton) here at Bucks, find out about our courses, and also explore our campus. We guarantee you'll be impressed by the state-of-the-art technical equipment we have in the brand new Gateway Building; the result of a £40m investment program completed just a couple of years ago.

Got questions about Animation? Or about and visual effects work? Curious about careers, the kind of jobs available for animators and digital artists? - We have the answers.

Higher education is a big step and it's even bigger now that course fees are going up. We want to make sure that all our students get excellent value for money, and receive an inspiring top-quality training that will ensure a successful career in industry.

So, come along on Wednesday 12th June and find out if Bucks is for you. Check out the video above to learn more. The official page, which has more details, can be found here.

---Alex

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In Praise of the Bucks Media Collaborations Page


Not many universities can claim to offer the kinds of opportunities for collaboration in arts and media that are available at Bucks. Lecturers love it when their students reach out to other departments; it helps foster creative thinking across disciplines, and it make student projects more reflective of real-world problem solving. When you graduate, most of your media projects will be group collaborations, so getting used to working with other artists in teams is part of getting ready for a successful career.

Need a voice actor? A sound designer? A camera operator to shoot green screen for you? Someone to help out with motion capture? A dancer to choreograph a sequence? Look no further than the Bucks Media Collaboration page at Facebook. It's a closed group (as it should be) so you'll have to get invited by a member, but join up and you have access to a whole roster of talent across almost every conceivable media discipline.

Building a successful career in the arts is about inspiring other people to work with you, developing interesting projects and bringing other people on board. You can't be an expert at everything, but you can get to know other students who are experts, who can help you out. Surrounding yourself with talent is what every good director does. Work with people who are better than you - and they make you look good.

So don't delay - join up now.

----Alex

(Editor's note: For more on the Bucks Media Collaborations Page, see this article. To find out more about how to work successfully on group projects, check out this piece. )

RIP Harryhausen


Raymond "Ray" Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013)


Disneyland - 4.25 Excerpt - An Adventure in Art


In my graduate school painting program, we read a lot of Robert Henri.  It's a great read for any artist. If you are working for a studio, style is set out for you... but, if you are working on your own films you have free reign to choose your style as an artist. 


R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen


Details here, here and here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pinocchio (2012) - Pencil Tests

© 2d3D Animations © Cometa Film © Iris Productions © Rai Fiction © Walking The Dog

Animation by Róbert Kádár


Animation by Iulian Grigoriu

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Prince William Scholarships at BAFTA - financial support for your master's degree!


BAFTA has just announced three annual Prince William Scholarships (applications for which opened yesterday) which are intended to assist talented arts and media students in need of financial support.

The scholarships are for study at a post-graduate course in film, TV and games. Successful applicants will each receive up to £10,000 to cover their course fees and receive mentoring support, free access to BAFTA events around the UK, and a funded work placement within the Warner Bros. group of companies.


This partnership between BAFTA and Warner Bros. is all about investing in future talent. According to BAFTA, the Prince William Scholarships form "a key part of Warner Bros. Creative Talent, a multi-layered nationwide investment programme in skills and training for the UK’s creative industries".

Applications for the Prince William Scholarships in Film, Television and Games, supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros., are now being accepted here: BAFTA Scholarships Application.

The deadline is Monday 17 June 2013.

It goes without saying that any Bucks student who wants to go on to further study in one of the creative industries should go ahead and apply. Even if you don't win, the discipline imposed by making these sorts of applications is a useful skill in itself, and will help prepare you for other scholarships in the future.

Apply today!

----Alex

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bing Crosby's 110th Birthday

May 3 is Bing Crosby's 110th birthday.  While most people these days only know Bing Crosby for singing "White Christmas" or the duet he did with David Bowie, he was unquestionably one of the leading figures of popular culture for a good 30 years.  He was a success in recording, radio, movies and TV.  He was parodied in animation in cartoons like Bingo Crosbyana, Swooner Crooner, and Catch as Cats Can, but he lent his voice to animation on several occasions.  He sang for Paul Whiteman in the animated segment of the feature King of Jazz in 1930.  As well, he narrated Disney's version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and as spokesman for Minute Maid orange juice he voiced an animated caricature of himself.

More on Smear Frames with Andy Conroy

Lead Animation Faculty over at AI of Salt Lake and Head of Long Winter Studios, Andy Conroy just released a tutorial over at Digital Tutors that is all about Smear Frames!



I learned a ton about Smears from Andy while we worked together and have been able to carry that with me through my career. I highly recommend you check it out even if you think you know a bunch alreay cause it's always worth gaining some more knowledge.

Enjoy!
JP

Mrs. Wilkinson

Our esteemed ballet teacher.  She's a bit jaded by now, sees dozens of would-be's every season.

But on the rarest of rare occasions, she delights in finding some real talent!

Allen Stroud's Kickstarter-funded project needs you!


Allen Stroud is one of our most entrepreneurial lecturers here at Bucks, running the highly successful  Film & TV department. He has recently raised enough money at Kickstarter to make a short film based on the 1980's cult video game ELITE. Short films require collaboration across many disciplines, and Allen needs animators!

Space ships, space stations, monsters, aliens - this could be an awesome opportunity to work on a live science fiction project, with an actual budget and a broad audience. ELITE was huge back in the '80s and the film can count on support from a wide fan base.

If you are interested, Allen is holding a general planning meeting on Wednesday of 8th May at 12 noon in OH2. He will be looking to discuss crew roles and initial location planning. So if you want to get involved (or know others who want to be involved), make sure you send your contact details to Allen before you (or they) leave for the summer.

Live projects like this are a great way to polish your skills, and also to wind up with professional, polished work on your demo reel - which is what you need to get a job in the industry. Allen is one of our most dynamic tutors here at Bucks - don't miss this opportunity.

And you can check out Allen's page here for further details on the project.

---Alex
 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Calling all animators - the Animation Talent Award wants your submissions!


The Animation Talent Award 2013, a short film competition with a focus on combining animation with music, has just launched. It takes place this summer in Halle, Germany, and you have until June 2nd to submit a project "in concept".

The Animation Talent Award is a short film competition that offers rising animation stars the chance to win a real production budget and create an animated short film. The competition has a distinct focus on music and animation.

Here's how to enter:

1. Register. Registration is now open at www.animationtalentaward.com. Don't delay - there are only 100 slots available.

2. Pick your music. Participants must select the music for their Short Film Project from among five pieces of music of different genres and styles presented on the contest’s website.

3. Start drawing. To, enter the contest, you only need a good concept - not a completed film. The submission deadline is June 2, 2013 - exactly one month from today. Concepts can be submitted in various forms such as sketches, descriptions of ideas, or storyboards

 4. Win money and prizes! (hopefully)
The successful participants will be selected by a jury, and can earn production money via crowdfunding at “startnext” and compete for an additional production budget of €2.500,00 (around £2,300) sponsored by ARTE Creative! Other prizes include a one year ADOBE Creative Cloud membership & a WACOM Inkling.

Any student at Bucks who wants to enter - come and talk to me, and we'll make a plan.

---Alex

PS This kind of project is especially highly recommended for 2nd and 3rd year students, looking to jump-start their careers by entering (and hopefully winning) international competitions. Even if you don't win, what you learn by taking part is almost inevitably a huge benefit in itself.