Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sculpture Workshop

Somewhere at the start of term my tutor held a sculpting workshop to help us to get used to to the techniques used in wet-clay sculpture. These pictures have been sat around for a while now so I thought I should post them on here, hopefully as more posts go up the sculpting will improve!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


The second part of this project required us to photoshop our models onto different backgrounds, creating realistic images or film stills. 

For a first attempt they're not completely unrealistic are they? Are they? They are aren't they?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Time Machine

Our latest project brief was to design and make our own 'time machine' with a specific design context. After looking at a few different areas for inspiration, I finally decided on the 1950s as my inspiration. The final outcome is heavily influenced by cars which were popular during this era - in particular the Studebaker. I have given the 'car' jets/propellors instead of wheels and decided to make it look old and rusty after a 'weathering' workshop with my tutor.

Main car body and seat made using blue foam. Front detail, headlights, rear lights and propellors sculpted and cast using fast cast resin.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Totally Unrelated

I know that this has nothing to do with SFX in any way but I thought I'd share a few images which I've been obsessing over for the past few hours. These are pieces by the designer Scott Ramsay Kyle, one of the fashion lecturers here and they are absolutely incredible. Its all good stuff but I only picked a few of my favourites, theres a lot more on his website www.scottramsaykyle.com...well worth a look

Definitely need this shirt

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

I wanna see your Peacock! - Faberge Egg Project

This project involved designing and making our own version of a Faberge Egg, using a variety of processes such as vacuum forming, silicon casting and casting in fast cast.

My chosen theme was Art Nouveau - I'm not sure how obvious this is from the end result but all of the patterns which I used were taken from Art Nouveau patterns at the V&A Museum. The gold studs and heart at the bottom of the egg were both made using a silicon mould and fast cast. 

Part of the project was also to make an object to sit inside the egg. After carrying out my research, I discovered that a common theme with Art Nouveau were animals such as butterflies, dragnoflies and peacocks. I decided to make a small peacock out of Sculpey to fit inside the egg and which can be removed to keep as a separate object. 

Not sure about the pattern on the outside of the egg, however, I do think that the MDF base works well. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

This week's blog is a bit of a follow-on from last week's so I apologise if I repeat myself at all. I seem to be apologising at least once every blog post - think that says a lot about how unsure I am of all this blogging. Anyway...
Bill began the lecture by presenting us with the idea that the technology used in art progresses in a linear fashion, whilst art itself does not. I'm not sure if I agree entirely with this statement because however much art may look back to previous works, it is only to take inspiration for new ideas to form. Surely art itself is always progressing just as much as the technology which is used to create it? There is a very strong possibility that I might have got entirely the wrong end of the stick there.
It would be very difficult for me to write a post based on animation without mentioning the following 

I'm pretty sure that everyone in the entire universe knows what this symbol represents, and if you don't then shame on you. It is, of course, the incredible Pixar! The 'chief creative director' of Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter's career really took off after the production of a short film which was shown to us in the lecture, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B' (1984). I can't say that I was blown away by this short, but this just goes to show how far animation has advanced even in the last 20 years. Bill explained that this film was the first to use motion blur techniques and 'teardrop' animation which meant that the characters were able to bend and move in a realistic manner, unlike previous animations which were much more rigid. 
This really set the wheels in motion to develop more and more techniques which allowed longer and more impressive animations to be made, leading up to the release of the first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story. 
The most significant short which Pixar produced has to be Luxo Jr. (1986). It is difficult for me to say how different this animation must have been to anything similar at the time, but even today it is still impressive to watch how something as insignificant as a desk last can be made into such a lovable and funny character. The president of Pixar Animation studios said about this iconic animation
Luxo Jr. sent shock waves through the entire industry - to all corners of computer and traditional animation. At the time, most traditional artists were afraid of the computer. They did not realise that the computer was merely a different tool in the artist's kit but perceived it as a type of automation that might endanger their jobs. Luckily, this attitude changed dramatically in the early 80s with the use of personal computers in the home. The release of our Luxo Jr. reinforced this opinion turnaround within the professional community

Every last detail in this animation was considered; the way that the light moved as the lamp did, the shadows it cast, the wood grain on the table, even the way in which the cord moved after the lamp has been considered.  It is this attention to detail which we take for granted that really sets Pixar leagues above other animation studios. I remember being absolutely fascinated by the way in which Pixar had managed to make Sully's fur move so realistically in the film Monster's Inc, and the incredibly realistic water in The Incredibles.

Disney were the first to bring this level of detail into their animations, with characters being studied in great depth before the film-making process has even begun. I was really surprised to hear that Bambi  was made in 1942 because to me it seems just as good, if not better, than current Disney animations. Walt Disney's strive for perfection and realism meant that animators spent a year studying and drawing deer and other woodland creatures before production of the film itself. 

The brilliant Walt and the real deer that were studied for Bambi. N'awww.
Whilst researching the processes that Disney used to make such a successful film I found some fantastic pieces of Bambi trivia that I thought I'd share with all of you lovely blog-readers.

  • The animators found it extremely difficult to render in human terms as their eyes are on either side of their head, their mouth does not lend itself to speech and they don't really have a chin. Ultimately, this problem was solved by combining the traits of the deer with a human baby
  • No matter how skilled the animator, the Disney cartoonists could not draw Bambi's father's antlers accurately. This was because of the very complicated perspectives required. To get round this difficulty, a plaster cast was made of some real antlers which were then filmed at all angels. This footage was then rotoscoped onto animation cels. 
  • Bambi was originally meant to return to his mother after she was shot and find her in a pool of blood. The idea was scrapped (thank god) 
  • "Man" the hunter who shoots Bambi's mother was ranked #20 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest heroes and villains - the only character on the list not to appear on screen 
Obviously, anthropomorphism had been used long before Disney arrived on the scene, but I think that it is safe to say that nobody does it in quite the same way. Disney's ability to create characters which have such a huge impact on children and adults alike is second to none, this being the reason why they will never become outdated. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


This week we looked at animation - a subject which I am fascinated by but know very little about. As much as I enjoy seeing the latest animated film, I have no idea about how they are made or any kind of historical background, something which is probably quite important when my ultimate dream would be to work for Pixar (not in the animation department, obviously). Bill began with the quote

Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but rather the art of movements-that-are-drawn. What happens between each frame is more important than what happens on each frame      - Norman McLaren
This is a good starting point with this subject, because as enjoyable as it is to sit back watch even the shortest of all animations, it is easy to forget how much time, effort and technology has been put into it. I remember going to see Toy Story 3 and being completely blown away (and almost in tears) by the short animation Night & Day before the film began. As the huge list of credits went up when it finished, including names of animators controlling 'shading' and 'vegetation' my friend turned to me and said "I thought that would have just been one person's project". I think that this quite nicely demonstrates my point. We are so used to these incredible animations that we forget the huge amount of processes involved in their making.

Day & Night (2010) - Pixar

The making of Day & Night 

It is easy to forget that animation is still a medium which is very much in its infancy. It has only been around for about 100 years, making the developments which have been made during that time even more phenomenal. 
We were shown a few examples of early animation, including the 1933 version of Snow White, which was then remade 5 years later by Disney. It becomes very clear when discussing animation that there is a big divide between Disney and, well, pretty much everyone else. Bill explained that Walt Disney ran a very tight ship in order to make Disney Studios take first place in 'The Golden Age of American Animation'. Disney studios were often the first to use new animation techniques such as multi-plane camera shots which can be seen in The Old Mill (1937). The main difference between Disney animations and what I have seen of other early short films is that they tend to have much more of an engaging narrative, something which children in particular could really be taken in by. As technically impressive as other narrations such as the original Snow White may have been for its time, I found it difficult to keep focused on what was actually happening in the story (maybe this is just me?)

Snow White 1933
 Today, animation has progressed to the point where it is not just being used for entertainment purposes. It is being used more and more frequently to realistically demonstrate things that have cannot been seen in our lifetime, making it useful to historians or scientists. For example, the documentary Attenborough's First Life uses animation to demonstrate how the first ever sea creatures would have looked and moved. The animation is so realistic that I found it difficult to believe that it wasn't actual footage. 

Stills from Attenborough's First Life (2010)
For programmes like these, along with documentaries such as Walking with Dinosaurs the use  of animation has really helped to illustrate the point that they are trying to get across. However, when used for entertainment instead of educational purposes, using the latest technology does not always automatically lead to better results. From the perspective of a physical modeller, I think that CGI can sometimes take the believability out of human characters. During the seminar, Ivan pointed out that when characters are stylised and draw attention to themselves - like those in Toy Story it works extremely well, however when characters masquerade as human they can become corpse-like and frightening. This is something which John Lasseter discovered after making the short animation Tin Toy in 1988, where they tried to make a human baby as realistic and 'cute' as possible.

I think that it is pretty safe to say that this didn't go exactly according to plan. If we skip forwards a few years, we can see that Pixar have recognised that their strengths lie in making their own versions of reality, instead of trying to make an exact replica of what already exists. 

Good old Pixar