Archive for January, 2013

This was a really nice little treat for me, finding a post on the BBC news website, of Andy Sirkis giving a little tour of his motion capture studio Imaginarium. It believe it was in response to the recent release of The Hobbit with Gollum played by Sirkis.


My chat with Jane (PPP3- Engage)

Jane is a lovely enthusiastic lady and gave me some great advice about all sorts. So I am just going to write up the notes I made.

  • Look for jobs I’m my current league – Digital Clean up, VFX masking
  • nice close ups of some of my assets I have made, E.g close up on my punch bag, nice 360 with a nice light.- from light to dark and bring up the environment.
  • Think about putting poly count and poly model so they can see if its clean and done well.
  • Put the best stuff at the beginning of your show reel as they might not watch through to the end.
  • Be able to engage in conversation, so try and keep up to date about whats going on, who’s who, so your able to hold an intelligent conversation. Learn some about the history of… who are the 7 old men of Disney?
  • Look up Richard Williams, Windsor Makey
  • Look up A.W.N Animation World Network, (why haven’t I come across this already!?)
  • a few of Jane’s thoughts on motion capture, Threatens actors, character animators, to expensive, labor intensive. but she does like it…
  • look up Sigraff
  • In terms of photoreal, do small mini projects, basic photoreal, put a CG coke can in a scene and make the VFX invisible. mentioned a video of a fountain pen as an example. Could be this video.
  • Get used to working quickly for fast deadlines and a fast paced industry
  • Think about having multiple showreels, e.g one general, one specified.
  • Print off some nice renders of work, for a physical portfolio.
  • Be prepared when you go to a meeting, it could be in a bar or coffee shop, so wise to take a laptop to play it on, a DVD  in case there is no internet to go to your website, hard copy of some of your best work. Take a card and CV relevant to the company you are meeting. Put your self in the employers shoes.
  • Dont discuss contracts, get a lawyer to do it for you, to make sure you are getting what you are worth and to run through it. Get an accountant that knows the industry.

I have been in regular contact with Jane and feel really comfortable, asking her questions and discussing my work with her. We are hoping to meet up for another chat soon.

I have found this useful tool in finding out where game developers can be found all over the world, Gamedevmap.

On the website there is a giant map and if you click on a red square location, it will bring up the names and websites of all the game developers in that area.

So in the midlands it comes up with a few that are close by to Leeds. This makes it much easier to find out what companies are out there and with the information about them right there for you.


There is even two in Honolulu Hawaii! I wounder if I can get a placement there!?

You could spend days going through them all!

I was doing a bit of surfing over the weekend and feel upon this little gem. Games Job Board, a website for jobs in the game industry, for positions all over the world! A lot of them seem to be Senior positions with several years of experience but it doesn’t stop me look in at what skills are required for different positions within the games industry.

There are positions like;

  • Animator
  • VFX Artists
  • Environment/map artists
  • Games designer
  • lots of programming positions

and those are just the type of things available at the moment. I have set up E-mail alerts of jobs that get posted on a daily bases, may as well start looking at what prospects I have.

While watching the specials of District 9, the Image Engine came up for the company responsible for the Visual Effects. These guys were the lead visual effects company for District 9. They have also got some other titles under their belt, such as;

The Thing (2011)

Immortals (2011)

Twilight: Eclipse (2010)

and Breaking Dawn part 1

Their most recent being the EPIC visuals in Battleship. I will be looking closer at this movie in a separate blog post.

They are a Canada Based VFX studio, in the city of Vancouver. They are highly specialized in creature and character development and seem to have big praise for their R&D department. Something that was interesting to read was that they themselves always come across new challenges that they need to develop solutions for. The example being, developing fur for the wolves of Twilight :Eclipse and the hair for the characters digital doubles.

“Because we built solid libraries we were able to build a fur system in ninety days with one and a half people; traditionally speaking, you could easily spend six months on a fur system with two or three people.
This demonstrated the practicalities of focusing R&D development on our libraries, so that we could accelerate project-specific R&D needs.”

I myself, love the R&D stage, so much comes together and give you so many exciting new possibilities and ideas to a project.

As a company they provide a range of services;

  • Character/Creature Animation
  • Character/Creature Design
  • Compositing
  • Digital Doubles
  • Digital Environments
  • Digital Matte Painting
  • Look Development and Concept Artwork
  • On-Set Visual Effects Supervision
  • Post-Production Visual Effects Supervision
  • Postvis
  • Physical Effects and Simulation
  • Previs

So this give me an insight into some other things i would need to be able to do if i were a VFX artist. There is a lot there! but very exciting and appealing stuff.


So I Went a bit crazy with the amazing sale in HMV and bought myself 5 amazing, action packed, VFX movies on Blue-Ray. (yes that’s Crazy for me! lol)

The one I was most excited about was District 9, and I have watched this at least five times on your standard DVD but on Blue-ray it looks amazing! but there is a very slight downfall to having such VFX heavy movies in super quality, it might just be my keen eye, but things look ever so slightly more obviously CG. But it’s only very slight, small things like the lighting may be a few clicks off, or the creatures, sometimes your could tell that the prawns were on a different ‘layer’. 9 times out of 10 the general un-trained public wouldn’t notice, even so it is very difficult to pick fault with the VFX of this movie, Image Engine did a fantastic job.

It can’t have been easy for the VFX team as the director wanted this documentary feel to the movie, which meant a lot of hand held camera shots, so the majority of the shots a back plate wouldn’t have been attainable. So there was a lot of painting out to be done, many the chap in the motion capture suite which turned out to be just for reference for ‘ Rotomation’ (rotoscoping) where they would ‘copy the moments of the actor and not actually use motion capture data. Turns out it was a practical decision, there would be to many cameras on set to capture the data from the suite. So up most respect for the VFX artists!


watching the specials for this was very enlightening to the process and development that goes into making a movie like this. One thing i found interesting was the mention of the movie Halo, based on the video game. From what i can deduce, this movie might not have come about if the production of Halo had not been canned, as it was the Ditrict 9 team crew that were working on it. They decided to keep the creative flow going and put the energy into an idea that Director and writer Neill Blomkamp already had in mind… good choice guys! but there are still a huge amount of fans waiting for a halo movie, so maybe you could pick up where you left off on Halo??

I thought that maybe taking this course would ruin movies like these for me as I would know the tricks of the trade as such, but so far I still go crazy for them.

Doll Face

This is another animation I saw a few years ago and as well as being a eery animation it portrays a very strong message on the effects of the media gaze. The idea I have has a similar message about the control that society has over us, how we have to do what the society and the government dictates we have to do. Especially the state of the economy at the moment brings with it a lot of painful choices that we have no control over.

I believe this animation is by Andrew Thomas Huang a LA film maker and artist.




Die Eierbrecher from Emanuel Strixner on Vimeo.

I came across this animation when I first signed up to Vimeo and it really caught my eye. I really have an interest in weird, bizarre creature designs and need to get back to this side of myself.

This was done by a Emanuel Strixner, I turns out have come across some of his work before and no realised it, taking a look at his portfolio website.

Having a look at his CV on his website, he uses Maya, Z-brush, Photoshop, After Effects and Nuke. So he has experience in the same or similar programs as I do. The only thing i’m not sure about is if he used a muscle system for the models in Die Eierbrecher and how long it took to do. So I am just going to send him a quick E-mail and see if I can find out. (Jan 10 2013)

I received a reply from Emanuel and  he sent me a link to an approach similar to the one he used. .

I’m not sure if I’m going to use muscle systems and such for my FMP a of yet. But it is definitely something I would like to look into at a later date. (Jan 11 2013)


Character Decisions

Initially i wanted her quite emaciated but drawing her i found myself making her less and less appealing. I need to make a decision  make her grotesquely un appealing or more fuller woman with healthy curves but depends what i want the audience to get from the animation. Do i want the audience to be attracted to the character in a sympathetic way. raise that the disabled are still beautiful  do i reflect the miss treatment of this woman through the state of her body? thinking about it they would need her body to be at a certain health level to cope with the experiments.

I think im going to go for practicality, she will be in-between  not emaciated  and not a full healthy woman. this should evoke some sympathy from from the audience.

After explaining the macabre nature of my idea, mary oliver suggested I watch the intro to ‘ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

I really like the oddness, and how its all one tone of grey and black, the quick switching between shots. It has a very S&M dark feel to it. I like the idea of fluids, but if i start going into fluid dynamics, the render time is going to be phenomenal especially in a 2.30 -5 min piece.

I really like the heavy mental music, alo adds a darkness uneasy feeling to the who thing.