Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Work Experience & Spare Time Work/Learning

Hi people!
I've been quite busy yet again. Here's what I've been up to:

Work Experience!
During March I did four weeks worth of work experience as a Motion Designer for 'Future', a Design/Animation studio based in Warrington, UK:

I figured I should get more experience, see what it's actually like to work in a studio environment with live projects and deadlines, and actually learn a thing or two.
It reminded me of college in a way. It was nice to be back in a creative space, using the Adobe programmes once again. I loved working there so, the time just quickly flew by.

I became re-acquainted with Adobe Illustrator, and I'm glad of it. I forgot how much I loved using the pen tools to ink. I use them a lot in Photoshop, but not so much in Illustrator till now. 

Whilst at Future, I worked on two animations/films.
One was called 'RPAssure' (film), the other 'Cogent' (animation).
My responsibilities consisted of generating illustrated movable components that would later get animated in After Effects.
I also had to tweak shot footage, re-align recorded audio to the footage and add titled text.
There was a fair bit of work involved, but I loved every minute of it. I was practically glued to the computer and reminded a few times that it was lunch, haha! :P

I even got a free mug!
 Before I left, I asked for some feedback on my performance at Future, and my portfolio/website. They were happy with how I worked on the projects and said they were more than happy to be a reference for me when I find a job.
I was advised a great deal of things too, such as:
  • Create a PDF CV - make it look more design like, add my logo, etc.
  • Perhaps get back into Graphic Design - couldn't hurt to.
  • Design wise, keep everything consistent on social platforms - easier to be identified on the net.

Thankyou for everything guys! It was great fun at Future, will miss you all! :D

Spare Time Work/Learning!

After finishing my placement at Future, I returned to my computer and books, trying to tackle Flash again. 
I decided I wanted to make some hand drawn animations in Flash first, before moving on to rigged characters. So I animated myself as a cartoon head, going through a handful of emotions. For me, it's an experimental piece. 
I've not finished it yet, I want to add some sound to it before putting it up fully on my Vimeo/Youtube. I just hope I don't freak people out too much when they watch it. You could say it's a short animation of myself going through PMS, haha! :D

I collated some footage and screen recordings of the cartoon me throughout the process. I should hopefully have a making of uploaded soon.
Like many people, I encountered a problem or two with Flash to begin with. I nearly finished drawing out the outlines when Flash decided to chew up the file beyond repair - making me have to start all over again. I wasn't happy, but it could have been worse. I exported a few copies of what I previously made on video files, basically making me retrace my drawings in Flash. I only found out after my file literally died that I had to save it as a xfl file - not a fl file through online forums. Oh well, can't say I didn't have a learning curve. <:P

At first I REALLY hated Flash. But it seems to be growing on me the more I learn about the programme, so we may yet become friends. I'm enjoying what I do and learn from it though, and I'm aided by a 'Flash for Dummies' Guide, so I shouldn't steer too far wrong. Just need to keep using it.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Mackinnon & Saunders Studio Visit!

A good few hours ago, I visited the Mackinnon & Saunders Studio with my little sisters and friend Charlie.
There we were met by Peter Saunders, who gave us a tour around and showed us some of the puppets.

When he showed us some of the puppets, I asked how long does it take to create them from conception to finished product. He said the process could take months. That finalized character designs need approval before they can begin the process of physically making them. And each character made will need several duplicates.
It's a lengthy but rewarding process. 'There's never a dull moment here'.

 Left: Peter uses a kind of screwdriver/allen key to change Emily's (The Corpse Bride) facial expressions.
Right: Peter asks us if we recognize any of the puppets. We sure did! :)


 Left: Me holding Frank from 'The Koala Brothers'. 
Right: Me holding the original cat from 'Postman Pat'.

Left: Charlie holding Victor from 'The Corpse Bride'. 
Right: My sisters holding 'The Koala Brothers'.

To see the rest of the pictures I took, click this: Mackinnon & Saunders Studio Visit

The visit was fantastic! I'd definitely go back again, my sisters and friend really enjoyed it.
Peter and the staff at M&S were great, they were very funny and entertaining.
Thank you so much for having us guys! :D

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Revamp! Updates of Design Work, etc.

Hello my fellow bloggers/readers! :D

Many apologies for not posting anything in soooo long. I've been working my butt off trying to find a permanent job, update my current portfolio work and revamp my online platforms - [have a consistent colour/design that viewers will recognise as my own work].

Here's the latest work I've been working on:

  •  I have revamped the blog!

As I previously wrote above, I thought the blog could do with a tweak in it's design layout.
I got some really great ideas from the website Beautiful Solutions.
As a result, my blog looks a lot more slicker.

  • I've changed my logo!

    I wasn't entirely happy with the previous design, so I thought I'd change it up a bit, or at least simplify it. I still liked the Pictogramme idea and I wanted to keep the cat theme in it somewhere.
    So I came up with the design above.
    I feel happier with this design. I think it conveys my idea better than the last one.
    Even though I had business cards previously made, I think I should have some more made with this current design.

    • Uploaded my first freelance animation work!

    The day after I graduated from University in July 2013, I began my first freelance job for a company called 'Linked Training Solutions'.
    They wanted some animations that made viewers aware of child grooming and exploitation.

    I could only show 30 seconds of each animation. But to view the work fully, the company will put it on their' website. As to when that will be, I'm not sure yet. I'll try to find out at a later date.

    Overall Experience:
     It has been an interesting experience working with LTS.
    The staff there are some of the nicest people you could ever hope to work with.
    With this being my first animation job, I agreed to do the work for a fixed price. I also needed the experience at the time.
    It has felt a little strange in some ways too. I might see them once in a blue moon to discuss the briefs and work in the office. The rest of the time I have worked from home.
    I think it was strange because I'm normally used to working with tight deadlines, but these animation works have had relaxed deadlines.

    • I've updated my showreel.

    I wanted to tweak the previous video and add the latest work I did for LTS.
    I also changed the background audio to incompetech, as I didn't have permission/rights to use the previous song. It was used temporarily and I didn't fancy getting into trouble :/
    You can use most of the audio from incompetech as long as you credit the artist: Kevin MacLeod.

    • My puppy video blew up big!

    I posted of my English Bull Terrier and her puppies on YouTube a couple of months ago, and it got a load of over 20,000 views!! O_O
    I never thought it would get so much attention. Unfortunately, my other animation videos don't seem to fair much with views.
    But I'm not entirely happy with them anyway. I've been meaning to pull them down and update them with my latest logo. If anything, this is something I wish YouTube would do with it's videos. Let users replace the files like one would do with Vimeo files. That way likes, views and comments aren't forever lost. There isn't that nonsense of deleting and re-uploading.
    Getting back to my animation videos, perhaps I've not advertised them well enough online? - Like sharing them on the right website platforms?

    I guess I'll figure it out sooner or later.
    I never seem to have much time on my hands lately, always busy working it would seem <:P

    Monday, 24 June 2013

    All done...What's next?

    Hey people!
    Many apologies for not writing on here sooner. Been more than a busy bee.
    I'm gonna sum up what I've been up too.

    First off, my blog needed least I think it needed it. I'm trying to maintain a consistent look throughout what mediums I use on the net, like twitter and cargo [Twitter still needs changing].
    That way, I reckon people will be able to identify me more easily when web browsing.
    The only themes that were the same were the colour tones I chose: black, white and green.

    Also, I have made my business cards now. I had to get them ready for my degree show a few weeks ago. I wanted a simple concept that [again] people can identify [and hopefully relate it back to me].
    I did something similar with the sticker name tags you get at networking events. Instead of writing my name, I drew a crude-looking flat cat head and people found it amusing.

    My business card concept. Just wanted something simple.

    The degree show took some time to set up, more or less for others depending on what they had to do.
    During this time, I had a week left to finish:
    •  My Red Riding Hood 'Sainsbury's Advert' - FMP [Final Major Project].
    • A video of the 'making of' Red Riding Hood 'Sainsbury's Advert' - FMP.
    • A showreel to sum up my best work.
    • Hand in three other separate animation projects from this/previous two years. These would be featured in the degree show.
    • Cut out, Photoshop and print off the character design concepts I made for my FMP.
    Thankfully, I managed to finish these before the deadline. Any spare time I had was used to help out with anything else for the show. As usual, some people were stressed or worried, but everything turned out great or 'Ripe' in the end. The show proceeded without a hitch and everyone had a brilliant time.

    Images of what and where my degree show was about in college.
    The show is now being moved to MadLab in Manchester for two days, opening this Thursday and Friday [I believe]. At first I was worried that my work wouldn't make the cut, because I went to Ireland with some of my family last week. It was a pre-planned trip arranged months ago [I'll write more about it in another post].
    Thankfully when I went into college today, I was told my work can still be featured in the show. So that'll keep me a bit busy this week.

    After this, all I need to really think about aside from finding a job, is graduation. This will take place next month and I can't wait. Something tells me there will be laughter and tears, at least a few anyway.

    Overall Thoughts about finishing college/uni
    It just feels surreal at the moment. You could say I feel like I've woken up in someone else's life.
    All the stress of trying to finish my college work was like having 'tunnel vision'. Once I finished it all, the stress dissipated. But as this weight leaves my shoulders, another seems to fall on them. Though I've [will] gained a degree, the uncertainty of getting a job scares me a little. With the way things are at the moment, I think it will be utter luck finding a job that I'm qualified to do.
    I am without a safety net for the first time in a long time.
    I'm also excited, because of the prospects that are out there. I'll just have to keep looking and see what is ideal for me.

    I will keep writing updates on my blog of what I'm up to, interested in, etc. It has become an integral part of me, being able to express what I know, learn and love in my field of study. I hope to continue this for as long as I can :)

    What else have I been doing? 
    On the 13th of June, I went to a graduate recruitment fair held at the Armitage Center in Manchester Link. I went to see if there were any potential jobs or internships in animation or anything design related.
    Unfortunately there was none.

    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    Noise Festival: Work Experience So Far (Post 2)

    I know I've already posted a version of this out, but that was whilst I've been working there for the first few days. I thought it was important to post a 'here and now' train of thought over my work experience.
    I'm doing another one now (not just for work experience evidence on my blog) because I can now say this information without worrying about spilling any beans. That and I've been really busy with college work.

    I'm really enjoying my time at NOISE, and I intend to keep doing work experience with them for as long as I can, even if it's once a week.
    • They've helped me do some work experience.
    • I've learned what it's like to be in a working environment and how to conduct myself in such.
    • They're great people. I can have a laugh with them over projects, explore different ideas and help create content that is relevant to my study and beneficial for them.
    • As I've mentioned before, I've learned to be more cautious about releasing information relevant to events they host, etc.
    There are times when I'm a little bit left to my own devices, but I can ask for help if I really need it. I think this is good though anyway, as it's taught me to be a little less reliable on others, and be more confident in my own abilities.

     The images below are credits to everyone who has been involved making things happen behind the scenes at NOISE (without trying to blow my horn), including me.

    Wednesday, 1 May 2013

    Hopes and Fears and Opportunities

    In this last year of my course, I have found it to be challenging, stressful and fun.
    It has pushed me out of my bubble a little. I had to find work experience and go to networking gatherings on my own. That was a big thing for me. I guess I was worried about rejection and my work not being good enough.
    I managed to do it somehow, and now I've gained a little more confidence in myself and my practise. My CV has also benefitted from this.

    Aside from our Degree Show coming up, what worries me now is the uncertainty of my future.
    I want to work in a multidisciplinary studio that entails animation, graphic design, photography and so on. I'd like to work somewhere locally to start out with like Manchester, not somewhere miles away.
    I'm not personally ready to uproot to anywhere yet, but I'm not ruling it either. I think I need to gain more experience in the working environment.

    I'm hoping when I've graduated, I can find a work placement/apprenticeship/job in animation/art. If not, have an art related job. I don't want to get my hopes up too much, nor be too choosey about what type of place I work, because of the current economic climate.

    I'm trying to be a dabbler too, in hopes that'll present me more art opportunities. In my spare time, I do photography and try to further develop my photoshop skills. I only got a placement at NOISE Festival, by telling them I did a graphic design course prior to what I'm studying now. They didn't have any animation work for me at first, but now I'm trying to update a video showreel of their's when I'm not working on college projects. It's a good place to work at.

    Since I began going to network gatherings, I have currently compiled 36 connections on Linked In, attained a dozen cards and met some really great people. Also, I think I have some potential freelance work opportunities lined up after graduation.
    I also have a new-found love for traveling. Seeing studios in other countries and learning of different cultures was amazing, I loved every minute of it. Kind of wished I stayed longer.

    I also need to improve my social skills when it comes to presentations, as I can get quite nervous. My confidence dips, I'll stutter a little and mumble. I'm not used to it. I think I prefer working in the shadows.  I guess it's because I have a reserved nature and don't like being in the spot light. I know some practice will address this issue, but I find it hard to speak to people sometimes as it is anyway. This is another reason why I want to get some work experience.

    I hope to continue improving my social and Adobe skills, and become a better, professional animation practitioner.

    Portfolio Review: The Neighbourhood

    A few hours ago, I had a portfolio review at The Neighbourhood (Link) with Junior Designer Steven Swanborough

    My Vimeo: Link

    'BBC Channel Ident' - He liked the different typefaces, thought they were chosen well.
    'When Harry and Jack' - Thought it was funny, that I got the message across.
    'Tree Man' - Asked if I hand drew (with a tablet) every frame in the animation and liked it.
    'YCF Lego Animation' - Asked how and what I used to animate it.
    'Red and Wolf' - Thought it was really good.

    Steve said I have a good variety of work and really liked it.
    That it's good to be a generalist. Overall, he thought I could potentially walk into a job with my current work, but said I should also keep a lookout for freelance/placement work too.

    He gave us a lot of advice, saying we were approaching the Industry in the right way. That we have to really put ourselves out there and work hard to get noticed, really stand out.
    He suggested we could do some more networking before our Degree Show. That studios in Manchester talk to each other, they're a close community. So by getting our name/work around, be it freelance, placement work,etc, we'll really give ourselves a chance/start into this area of work.

    He asked if we would like to work in a studio. I said yes, I would love to! I hope I can when I graduate, or soon after.

    I really enjoyed being there. I wanted to see more of the studio. I had a good laugh with them too. I hope to pop back again soon in the future. Steve said I could send him stuff when we do graduate and that he'll be at our Degree show.
    I'm really happy and thankful for my review.