Monday, 1 June 2015

Third Year Show Reel (2014-2015) and final thoughts

This is a compilation of my work completed during my third and final year at university. 

There are still a few things that I think I may go back to tweak and polish or even just re-render but for now, this is my final reel. 

'Final major project' were pretty intense but I had a lot of fun animating new things like the dancing on 'Project Dance' and playing with new original rigs on 'Alpha'. 

It was a crazy three years and I am proud with how far I have come. I could have never imagined being able to not only animate but co-direct a CG animated short film before starting uni. But now it is done and I am officially a graduate.... now onto the real world. Ooo this should be fun. 

I am of course going to continue to post here ( even if this was originally for university) I have a fair few personal projects planned and hopefully I will find somewhere willing to pay me to animate for them (which still seems crazy) ahhh into the unknown I go! 

ps. watch 'Over the Garden Wall' ^^

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Oysterworld Games

As well as Framestore, this week we also had an industry talk from Oysterworld.

Oyterworld are an independent games company based in Wales. They have been growing in size and success over the last few years and plan to continue to grow the company. Oysterworld produce games mainly for the casual games market targeted towards children such as 'Garden Party'. They also are working on 'hidden object' games which are very popular with 30+ females.

It was really interesting to be able to see the process of making one of these games. We were shown both the Art and Animation side of their creation process, each with their own required skills. The over-arching advice for us was to practice practice practice! Keep striving to get better and better. As well as practicing, self teaching was also pushed by them This shows you have the drive to learn more about what you do and the initiative to do it yourself.

We were also informed and given some great advice for applying for a job at Oysterworld. Part of the process for animators is that we would be given a character to rig and then animate a few tests with it. The tests include a walk and a jump. This is to further gauge the talents of the individual and also to judge their attitude to work. I found it very interesting that these tests were also to judge the applicants personality. When an applicant is lazy, it shows through in the work they produce, its obvious if you cut corners or do not properly read the brief.

As well as the tests we were informed on interviews. The main advice was to 'be a nice person'. I was surprised to hear they have interviewed people who have come across as rude. If you are at an interview stage, the likelihood is they want to hire you, but they need to know if you are a person they would want to have on their team.

The people from Oysterworld were lovely and their talk was really useful. They came across as a great bunch of people and an awesome company to work for. They all have a lot of enthusiasm for what they do. The talk was packed full of all sorts of advice, but my favorite was that if you dont feel that you are good enough for the job or industry then go away and work as hard as you can till you are.

Also a great parting advice was "SLEEP!",  that is something that I definitely need to work on.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Framestore are an award winning visual effects company based in London. They have worked on many successful films including 'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Dracula Untold' and 'Paddington'. They also work in many other areas such as television and advertising.

Today, we were lucky enough to have two members of Framestore come to our university to give us a talk. The talk was about Framestore as a company and about getting into the animation industry in general.


Toyah Middleton - Recruitment Manager

Toyah talked to us about Framstore as a company and how they work. She discussed the best routs to get into the company and what Framstore are looking for when they have a job opening.

We were told that for them, it is important to specialize. They do not higher generalists often, they want you to be the best at waht you do. It is good to work on your skill and make it the best it can be. 

Framestore tend to promote people from within their company, this is why it is often the case you will have to work your way up to where you want to be. To do this, Toyah mentioned two main options. The first would be to get hired as an intern. Interns get the chance to work on shot for film as well as work on a personal project with a mentor. I like the face that you have the chance to work on your own project within the company as its a chance to do what you want to do and get professional advice on it. They emphasized the fact that this personal project is also useful so you have something that you can add to your reel at the end as their can be copyright issues with taking and posting film clips. 

The second option presented to us was to start as a runner. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and get a feel for the industry and get to know the people in it. Framestore do not higher runners that do not have a good show reel and show potential. This is because they do like to hire from within the company so you will be hired as a runner with the intention that you will be trained to move up within the company. Learning this has made me much more likely to apply for runner jobs in the future. I think its a great opportunity to get an inside look at the industry and most companies, like Framestore, will higher you will the intent of you moving up. Runners are also provided access to rigs and equipment, they are also able to stay late or come in on weekends to work in the studio which I think sounds amazing. 

Some final notes form Toyah were to always network. Get to know as many people as you can and show your face at events and lectures as much as possible. This is an industry where the people you know can very much help your chances for success so its important to get yourself out there and make the effort. 


Michael Elder - Animator

Michael talked to us about his own personal experiences in the industry and his own journey to where he is today. We were also told about some general tips for breaking into the industry and what some useful paths are to take. 

Micheal originally started in Sydney working on films as a junior animator. Although it was a 'big job' he said as a young animator, it is often more useful to start off in TV or even games even if getting into films is your goal. Working on films, he said he was not given much responsibility because of the high standards of the studio and his inexperience at the time. Working at a smaller company often means you have more to do and more responsibility. You also will produce more work a lot quicker and more varied. This is useful when you are trying to build up your show reel to showcase your work. He also mentioned that commercials are a good way to get a lot of work out fast as the jobs will only last maybe a few weeks. Again, a good way to strengthen your show reel as a junior animator. 

While working on films, he had a lot a spare time so utilized this to work on a personal project. Michael emphasized the importance of personal projects as its a chance for you to do what you want to and put your heart into something. It is also important to utilize each company you are in, ask for advice and use the resources given to you. Listen to the people who know more then you!

He told us that getting into the industry is probably the most difficult part so don't give up. He gave me a lot of motivation to keep trying and be confident. A lot is to do with luck and timing.


I found this talk incredibly useful and I very pleased we were able to have it. I learnt a lot about the industry and Framestore in particular. I have a lot of respect for the company and would love to work there one day.

I cant wait to see Framestore again at FMX in a few weeks time!

Friday, 6 March 2015

FMP- Alpha (Final Rendered Animations)

Here are the final rendered versions of my scenes from the project Alpha and also a few final thoughts. 

Its really nice to see the whole thing come together and I am really happy we managed to get it finished in time (though it was very close) We ran into a lot of issues throughout but learning to fix them taught us all a lot. 

Its always nice to see the rendered versions of your animation as it adds so much more to the atmosphere of the scene. 

Over all I am pleased with the work here. I enjoyed the pace of this scene, and although not much happens, its really about the subtleties. This scene was about showing her curiosity and thoughtful nature. 
I think at some point when I have the time, I would like to go back and fix the little glitches in the forearm. This was a rig problem that I was unable to fix in the time we had but I feel it distracts from the shot and makes it feel less polished. 

I really enjoyed this creature piece! It was fun and playful even though he was scared and I enjoyed walking the line between him moving like a creature but having a human personality. 
The rig was very challenging to work with because of the unusual shape of his body but I am happy with how it turned out. 
This was my only creature animation for my final major project so I am happy with how it turned out. I would like to get into character animation, so I saw this piece as a character piece rather then just a creature animation. I would like to try more animation like this in the future as I had a lot of fun with it. 

Over all, I am happy with the work I did for this project although there are a couple of tweaks I may make. It was quite hectic being the animation director also, but everything turned out okay in the end. I found it a good challenge to have more responsibility and more control over the final product. 

And if you are interested, here is the final short film in full....

I am really pleased with how everything turned out. There are of course, always things I would change or do differently second time around but I am really proud with our teams achievement.   

Friday, 27 February 2015

FMP- Alpha (Creature Scene)

Just a reminder, here is the animatic for the creature scene...

First Block:

Here we have the first block for the creature scene. This took me quite a long time to get right but I felt that the poses were very important here. I wanted a nice silhouette throughout this piece for the creature and I really wanted to hit those key poses. 
I really struggled with this blocking as the rig was quite challenging to work with. We initially had a lot of issues with some of the controllers and the rig did not like being referenced into Maya 2015 however we got it to work in the end, it just pushed us all back a little time wise. 

First Spline: 

Again, first spline is pretty ugly and I think I need to do a lot of work to get some weight into this piece. I have had a lot of trouble with the legs and shoulders when using this rig. The anatomy of the creature means the neck is very large and unfortunately doesn't deform to the nicest shapes. I tried my best to make the poses appealing (with as little clipping and glitching as possible) while still making the movement believable. Hopfully, the more I work into it, the better it will get. 


After the first spline, I moved the landing position of the creature so he covers more ground with his jumps. Getting the last run to look right took me a lot of time playing around. The problem was he is a big creature so if he doesn't cover much ground with each stride, it looks odd. On the other hand, his legs are very tiny, so there is only so far they can stretch before it just looks like im making him fly across the screen. I am quite happy with how it looks now and I am excited to get some nice overlap animation done and really smooth out the curves. 


Here I really tried to work on making his movements fluid but weighted. I had fun adding some character and emotion with his ears. Its a little difficult again as I cant animate the eyes until the body animation is done and I also cant see what the totem glow looks like (the glow of the totem is what scares him away) So its a lot of guess work but I am over all happy with the way it is progressing. 

Facial Anim: 

Finally I got to work on the facial animation and really add some character and expression to the creature. We had a little trouble again with the eye textures as some didnt want to work, so the range of eye animation was quite limited however I still think it works and I am pleased with how they look. 

I will be uploading the finished rendered version in another post once they are done.

Friday, 13 February 2015

FMP- Alpha (Character Scene)

Now to begin animation!! 

Just a reminder, here is the animatic for the character scene...

First Block:

Blocking was fairly simple for this piece, no complex poses and im pretty happy with the timing. 
Note: we are having animated textures for the eyes so they I will have to animate them last. They are pretty intense on the pc and bog down the file and make it pretty impossible to animate so im going to have to get everything for the body done first and then animate the eyes. Its a little different to what im used to but hopefully it will work out. 

First Spline:

This is always the part I hate, so many glitches and nasty floaty bits. I have a lot of smoothing to do and I have to fix that hand but im quite happy with this as a basis to work on. I think i'll be spending a lot of time cleaning up the graph editor with this one.  

Facial Animation:

[Sorry about the curves on show here] This is a different angle to see the facial animation as the render camera it quite far away. Here are the dreaded animated eye textures....they were quite a handful to work with. These took a lot of time to get working and I'm still not entirely sure how they work, however I really like the look of them so I think they were worth the effort. 

Final Shot:

And here we have pretty much the final shot before rendering (you can see all the render cameras here) I had a lot of fun with her bouncy hair and her facial expressions with this shot. We did have a lot of trouble with the rig though and some things (like her bracelet) had to be cut out as they were just not working. A few more tweaks and I think we will be there

I will make a separate post for the final rendered shots of them both, but for now, its out of my hands and off to the techy people to do their magic to make it look pretty.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Final Major Pre-Production: Alpha (Collab) Part 2 [Creature Scene]

This is the second part of my pre-production for Alpha. Just to remind you, here are my scenes again... 

I did some research into the animals most like the creature from Alpha. This was a little difficult as he is a fictional creature but we decided he would have the anatomy of something like an alpaca or a Shetland pony. 

After anatomy and pose research I thumbnailed some variations for the scene and cut them into animatics...

In the end we decided to go for the second one. I liked the curiosity shown with him scratching around the base. I also think that animating him rearing up will be a lot of fun and give me a lot to play with. 

I then drew out the final story board for the creature scene....

And made a final animatic...

I think that this scene is going to be a lot of fun to animate. I think i may have some trouble with the posing as the design of the creature is quite unusual and the large neck and tiny legs may be an issue. Im hoping to get a nice bouncy animation for him running away as I want him to look harmless and cute.

I'm super excited to work on this project and get my teeth stuck into it. It will be nice to have a play with some new custom rigs too!!

As I am a co-director I also made up schedules for the project to keep us on track. Im sure some things wont go to plan but fingers crossed we will get it all done in time.

This will also be my first time being an animation director so Im looking forward to that challenge. Hopefully I will be able to give a lot of useful feedback and keep the animation style consistent throughout the piece.