Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Life Cycle of the Mushroom - A New Short Film

In my first year as a CG student I made a short film about the life cycle of mushrooms. It was the first time I really started working on an animated narrative. It is still a short that I am very proud of, despite the lack of technical ability and art style, it remains something I find quite moving in spite of its subject matter. I have been thinking about remaking the short for a while now, and after some meetings with some other interested parties, I am happy to announce that in the next couple of months, I will be documenting my process of remaking the film.

Concept Art - Mushrooms in the Glow
Preproduction on the film is already underway and I am looking to really push the painterly, emotive quality of my texture painting. I am fortunate enough to be working alongside a very talented musician and project manager Laura Callaghan, who will be providing a the moving soundscape for the short. Whilst also conferring with Dr Peter Klappa from the University of Kent to make sure this is a short that will resonate within its educational role.

There are a few key goals for the project but a real focus is to push my directorial skills in making a successful short animation with a professional level of finish and technical ability. This is a piece of work that I've always felt had an impact, and it has always been a shame that it lacked the finish of my more recent works. This will be a filmic and intelligent remake of my original film, with far more attention paid on the cinematography, camera work and colour.

Concept Art - The Development of Mycelia
The concept art for this project demonstrates the new style I wish to follow. There is something very alien about the minutia of nature, and it is this concept that drives the art style. I wish for this film to be far more alien in it's microcosms and more bold in its use of colour, whilst maintaining the moonlit quality of my previous work. The landscapes need to feel both magical and mystical, which will be emphasised by the soundscape surrounding the world.

Concept Art - The Basidium Field
All of my student work lacked the cinamtic quality that feels so present naturally in film. This will be a chance to change that, with a very thought out approach to camera work that both captures the scene but also heightens the qualities therein. Use of colour will also play a vital role in aiding the narrative. The piece will have little or no text but must still be of use to educational outlets so it will be important to provide memorable and distinct environments.

Concept Art - Nuclei Fusion
Now that I've gotten my head around the project, and organisation has been put in place, production will begin. I will be forming an animatic / previs as I begin modelling etc, but things will start to kick off within the next week. The project will be produced over the next couple of months and distribution and showings announced as things fall into place. Keep checking back on my site as I document the process throughout.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Letter to the Lost

Tomorrow will mark a deadline for many students, artists, designers and creatives. These deadlines are solid dates ingrained in minds, the last day in a calender that has a firm end. They represent the end of an era, when you worked like hell and tried to create something honest. It will have certainly involved passion, heartache, loss and joy, a spectrum of emotion in the attempt to create something. You may have quarms about your own work, it will not reach your high standards, it will not be perfect, but it will be the start of something. I'd like to address students and soon to be graduates of creative courses across the country. In particular, the students of CG Arts and Animation, UCA. This is a short piece about my year since graduation and how it may help you in some small way...


"All you have been doing for four years is look at this, like this close...you can't see anything else. You don't even see the mistakes any more." 
                                                           Phil Fish

Today, my graduate film "The Minor Key" was kindly featured on a great website devoted to animated shorts. Showmetheanimation.com regularly promotes and features the work of student and graduate artists, as well as featuring some of the most inspirational creatives in the industry. It is an honour to be featured on another site with such a love for the artform and it feels particularly poignant considering that the Minor Key project came to a close this time last year.


A lot has happened in the year since then, with freelance work and personal projects driving me forward, as well as working with some superbly talented students at the University for the Creative Arts as the Graduate Teaching Assistant. It's been a strange journey, but one that feels completely necessary. My work has evolved a lot since then. The year has largely consisted of a diverse set of freelance projects. From animated children in a sea of fire to photo realistic lemons and door handles  It's been a pleasure to work with such a great group of artists and designers, all of which have been kind and welcoming to a graduate animator. More importantly, it has inspired me to move forward as a film maker. The Minor Key represented my departure from the CG Arts and Animation course and in truth, it was a project of self discovery. It demonstrated that I could use the software correctly, I could tell moving narratives and that I could bring a world to life. It was of course limited by time, technical ability and confidence, but it was definitely the start of something interesting. It made me realise that if I keep doing this, I think one day, I could do something that could be fucking good.


After a year spent exploring new techniques and ideas, I'm ready to start something big. That "something" is currently a bit of a secret and I won't be revealing too much until after the summer. But it's safe to say that it will be the most interesting and exciting piece of work I have yet been a part of. My passion has always been film and film making. It is part of me that feels so deeply certain and concrete that there are no other options in my life. I love what I do, I love creating work that moves people. My graduate film was my first step to achieving that dream and now I'm ready to make the next big step along that path. For myself, this is an independent step. It is a scary thought but it feels like exactly what I need to do next.


I knew my graduate film had it's problems. You will be thinking the same about your own work. It can never live up to your own high standards or ideals, but it is the first step forward. You will worry about what others think and explain away the mistakes. But this graduate film is more important than glossy visuals and perfect renders. This is the first step towards something far more special. Part of that is finding a voice and a passion.

"Things that are personal have flaws, they have vulnerabilities."
                                                                                 Jonathan Blow

You have had 3 years to learn new software, skillsets, artforms and a new lifestyle. That may seem like a long time but in reality it is such a small part of the whole. You are more developed and confident than when you started. You now know stuff that always seemed impossible. These are important steps in a long and difficult journey. What becomes important is that you still love what you do. You may feel lost in a world of business and career. But that is superficial. Many will wonder why they should listen to me. I have no real signs of success, whatever these are. I do not work for the best company in the world, nor do I own an loft apartment in Manhattan  Instead, I live in a grey industrial town and make animation. To many, that sounds kind of pathetic, but to me, that's kind of the fucking dream. All I can really say is, stay in love with what you do. Try to avoid ever ruining that. The world needs more people with ambition, you are most definitely one of those important people. Be honest in everything you do. If you do that, you can never really be ashamed about your choices.

"Say who you are! Really say it, in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won't be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can't help but be. But more importantly, if you are honest about who you are, you will help that person be less lonely in their world. Because that person will recognise him or herself in you. And that will give them hope...Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world."

                                                                                               Charlie Kaufman

Congratulations on making it, you've come a long way. You have a long way to go, but if you continue to work this hard and continue to care this much, you'll make a difference in the world. That is really what it is all about.