• Charlotte Grant

Long time no blog...?

It's been a heck of a long time since I last blogged o-o and a heck of a lot of things have happened in that time, I have life drawing, storyboarding, character designs, some 3D work and another line testing to put up. So instead of putting it all up in one go and ending up with one massive garbled post, i'll seperate it into several posts.

So here goes, I'll start off with talking about Bradford. The last time I posted I was about to set off on a trip to Bradford to attend the animation festival that runs there between the 13th and the 17th December there. I spent the 12th travelling up on the coach with the rest of my class.

I made a ton of notes during this week and got lots of inspiration from the talks there, particularly from the BAF games section which was during the first two days of the festival. So I'll sum up the week below (there is so, so much to talk about, I couldn't possibly write it all, so I'll just do a basic sum up of what I saw each day ect)

Tuesday 13th November 2012
  • Oddworld Inhabitants - A talk by JUST ADD WATER games, the people working on the Oddworld pantology and inparticular those releasing New 'n' Tasty, a re-make of the original Abes Oddysee game. They talked to us a lot about New 'n' Tasty, Munch's Oddysee and explained Digital Distributions current impact on the gaming industry. Steam, PSN and XBLA account for more than 50% of all sales, meaning that Retail sales are a slowly declining form and will probably be phased out completely eventually (except collectors editions for people who want something physical in their collection)

  • CD Projeckt Red - A talk with Tomek Zawada, someone who worked on the game 'The Witcher 2' which was produced and released by CD Projeckt Red. His talk went by the name of 'Choose your destiny, Movies vs Games' and he talked about the pro's and cons of working in the advertising animation and movie animation vs working in the games industry. This talk was somewhat biased but was very interesting. It was nice hearing from someone working in the games industry that was passionate about his job. The games industry is definately my main industry I will be aiming for, as video games are something I am very interested in and passionate about. He gave us some tips on portfolios for the games industry, saying that creativeity is more important than experience in this sector and to show off passion and a positive attitude. He said to try and personalise your CV and portfolio to the company and to keep your portfolio specific to what you're applying to do, not just a mix of random things.

  • Official Selection - Professional 1 - A mix of different short animated films made by professional animators.

  • Nyamyam - A small indie developer working on a game by the name of Tengami. This talk was by Jennifer Schneidereit and Philip Tossell who talked about founding an indie game studio, their reasons behind it and were able to show us some live gameplay of tengami in action. One thing I found particularly interesting was that they set a goal for the studio, a moral to stick by when creating games in the future and something they could use to stay true to themselves when making games. This moral was 'To create beautifully crafted games that express who we are and bring a sense of wonder to the player'. I really liked this idea as it shows they are making games for reasons other than 'it'll sell' so unlike some bigger developers, they're making games for their own reasons rather than making the next Call of Duty or other generic shooting fighter game, just because it is what's popular and is what will make them lots of money. They explained that Tengami is a game that is more about what is means to be human and not just sex and violence as other games have done. Nyamnyam are self funded and self published, have created their own engine and are releasing tengami for the ipad at some point in the future. I found this talk really inspiring as I really love the indie game industry.

  • Sony Entertainment - This talk was primarily about the technology involved in Sony's new gaming add on, the Wonderbook. We were talked to by Joel Smith, someone who worked in the London Sony Studio, a large gaming studio that employs 300+ staff. We were shown many different aspects of the Harry Potter - Book of Spells game, from the concepts to the completion. They shared some of the hurdles they came across when creating it and how the overcame them, so overall it was a very interesting talk and a nice insight into how different studios work.

  • Bethesda - This was a talk by Lucas Hardi from Bethesda games, it was an incredibly useful and interesting talk as he went very indepth about working in the games industry and the game creation process as a whole. During the talk, he made points about Graphics VS art style making reference to The Style Triangle by Scott Mccloud and the theory of the uncanny valley. He explained and pointed out the trend of games going towards achieving realism with the intention that 'the more real it looks the more real it feels' and is this really the case a lot of the time? Does better graphics and a more real looking game really make you more immersed than a game heavily influenced by art? and isn't gameplay the most important thing of all. Some other really interesting points he made were the differences between environments in films and environments in animations and games. In film you can caprure lifes natural processes automatically wheras in games and animation this must be done by hand. Modeling the environment, texturing it to add colour and detail, lighting it to draw the eye where needed, shading to show how surfaces react to light, the animation of the camera to mimic the way a film camera would move or to move the player around in the game and finally simulating the eye (bloom and visual colouring such as moonlight looking more blue to the eye). How animation and artstyle can be applied to games was also talked about, such as games animation not being able to follow the rules of anticipation as the player will expect movement as soon as they press. Hardi explained that the fundamentals of becoming good at game design is to establish a style as soon as possible and once established, stick to it. To draw, draw, draw. To use trial, error and discovery and finally to remember that 'great games are played, not made', get a prototype working as soon as possible in the creation process to see if it actually works.

Wednesday 14th November 2012
  • Brutal Bus - The speaker for faceware, our first talk was stuck in traffic, so Christine Phelan who was set to speak to us later as the Valve talk talked a little about a bus, based on brutal legend that a small group of people, including herself made for the Los Angles Soap Box Race. It was really interesting to hear about how they made and tested this and it ended up looking really good and getting them a win! I found this talk really interesting and it was nice to know more about what animators did in their spare time.

  • Faceware - This talk was held by David Bennet, CEO of the company 'Face Ware'. Faceware is a tool used for animating facial expressions. David explained that whilst working at Sony Imageworks, he became interested in facial animation and how it doesn't seem quite realistic enough. He mentioned the term 'dead, eyes' during this, which is when human facial expressions and eyes in CG just don't feel real and may seem even creepy. The films 'The adventures of TinTin (2011) and The Polar Express (2004) are two CG films that are often critisized for having these 'dead eyes'. David told us that body language is something we are conciously all doing, without being aware of it and the facial and eye movements can be so minor that it's hard for animators to pick up on what to add during production, thus producing the 'dead eye' look. This facinated David, causing him to work on facial animations for many games whilst working at Sony. He was able to really focus on facial animation whilst working at New Zealands Weta Digital, on Avatar. This was where 'Face Ware' really began, when he experimented by mounting a camera onto a helmet, suspended infront of an actor. This could then be imported into Facewere where points could be set onto a 3D character, each point would have to correlate to the point on the face of the actor that was moving. For example, the pupil of the actor to the pupil of the model. After this short manual process, the program would then animate the face, exactly as the actor acted it. This program allowed you to add very detailed facial movement with very little effort and the could add very small detailed movements into the eyes, making the characters of Avatar seem more alive. After the production of Avatar, David moved on to where he is now, pioneering his own company FaceWare and leading the art of facial motion capture in CG. Since then, Faceware technology has been used in over 50 video games and a good handful of films.

  • Valve - This was an amazing talk given by Christine Phelan, an artist and animator currently working at Valve. She gave us a massive insight into the video games industry, telling about her carrer, experiences at other video games companies as well as giving us an insight of what it's like to work at Valve, telling us how to improve our showreels and giving us tips on how we can get into the industry. She started by telling us about her career, she took a masters degree in animation

  • Amanita Design

  • Bioware

Thursday 15th November 2012
  • Double Negative

  • Official Selection: Short Shorts

  • Professional Panorama 2

  • Official Selection: Student 1

Friday 16th November 2012
  • Bridging the gap from university to professional animator

  • Animation and Games for new platforms

  • Mark Shapiro LAIKA Studios

  • ParaNorman

  • Official Selection Music videos and Commercials

Saturday 17th November 2012
  • Brave

  • Will Becher Aardman Animations

  • The Pirates! An adventure with scientists

  • BAF Awards Ceremony