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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Timing & Mechanics - Week 11,12 & 13

Our longest project so far, and properly the funniest one. The project it self is like an avanced version of the Pacman project, in which the aim is to further our skills in animation and our understanding of timing within animation.
Our brief was split into three sections, which corresponded with the three weeks of project time:-
  1. Single Objects
  2. Linked Objects (Forward Kinetics)
  3. Linked Objects with Inverse Kinetics

The first week we had to do a series of animations showing acceleration and deceleration. We were given a toy car to animate. It was good that they kept it simple for us, but they wanted us to animate the toy car like a real one which proved to quite a challenge. Though it gave me a good chance to really work with the timing in my animations. Further we got an introduction to the curveeditor within 3ds max, in which we can better control the timing and speed of our animations.
Two very important terms that we had to keep in mind was anticipation and followthrough. Anticipation is about showing a build up before an action, so in the car example the car would oves slightly backwards before accelerating forward. Followthrough is the action that extends the primary action, again in the car example the car would bounce forward when it stops harshly.
Heres a couple of examples of the car animations:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

In my opinion this part of the project wasthe most boring bit. Its very restricting to animate the toy car, because it lack movable parts. Now the second week was a lot more interesting, where we dealt with linked objects with forward kinetics. Forward kinetics is when you move each seperate part individually. In this week we had to put aerials on our cars, then move on to make a swinging pendulum and an swinging arm.
I really liked doing the aerials, which were all about the bounce from the followthrough. I learned that if you get one part of the aerial to work, the rest comes automaticly. The same kind of goes with the pendulum, which is basically an inversed aerial. Now the swinging arm was our first taste of figurative animation, sweeetttt.... The biggest challenge about the swinging arm was not to caricature the movement too much. In animation we have to caricature the movements a bit to get the message across to the audience, but it easily gets too much and controlling this balance is what makes the diffence between animators and NINJA animators (aka briliant animators).
Talky talky, now showy showy:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

I think the pendulum is the worst one of the three. We had to end the animation at some point within a reasanable time frame, and this makes it just a bit unbelievable because a pendulum would properly swinging for quite a long time. The arm is in my opnion a good start on the figurative animation. All ninjas need training before mastering the stuff:-)
Lastly the third week with objects linked with inverse kinetics. Inverse kinetics is when you only have to move the "master joint". In the case of a leg you would only have to move the foot or the torso and the knee would bend accordingly. Whereas compared to forward kinetics where you would have to bend the upper and lower leg to move the foot into the right position. if someone dont understand this stuff, I really wont blame them cause this stuff is even hard to explain as a tutor without showing it. Unfortunately I cant show you it because you have to sit infront of a computer with 3D Studio Max installed.
The character that we made and animated in the third week was a one legged egg with an aerial. Sounds a bit crazy, but heck its animation so you can do what-ever you want:-) Our objective was to animate the egg bouncing across the screen 3-5 times and coming to a stop. At first the IK (Inverse Kinetics) was a pain to animate with, and it still kind of is but Im begining to see the anvantages of it. Lets look at what came out of that week:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Dont pay tooo much attention to the second animation with the egg falling. It was done as a quick reminder of how fun animation can be, when I got a bit tired of the primary animation.
I think I pulled the bouncing off quite well, but the ending is definately something I will get questined on in the critique. I just a hard a really time figuring out how to stop the egg, then spend some time in my room jumping back and forward to get the feeling of the stop. I realised finally that when you have that amount of momentum in you action, you dont stop suddenly. The momentum from the bouncing pulls you forward and to stop you have to do the extra small jump.
The final handed-in video was a compiled version of the best animations, which you can view here:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

In other subjects we handed in our first essay and did our first proper presentation in Contectual Studies. The presentaiton did go that good because I totally ran out of time and hand to rush things a lot. The objectives of the essay was to pick a 40-60 second scene from a movie or animation, indentify the themes and mood and analysize the ways these and conveyed to the audience through the filmic language. I chose the live-action version of Aeon Flux as my film and the final scene in that. It was a good study to get us into the academic way of looking at movies.

I think Ill stop here, because I WANT HOLIDAY!! So these were the words for this time, I hope you enjoyed the reading... Ill continue again in the new year, where we start on figurative animation!!! wuuuuhhuuuu, looking forward to that...


Saturday, 24 November 2007

Sound Sync. - Week 9 & 10

In the two weeks that's past we have been doing sound syncronisation. This project should give us an understanding of syncronizing our animation to a piece of sound clip. First we got teamed up in groups of three and twos, where after we got a random piece of music-soundclip. Our objectives after that was to;-
  • Visually reprensent the dynamics and characteristics of the sound.
  • Create a short animation based on the an abstract soundtrack.

  • Work succesfully in a team situation.

As you can get from the brief this was our first team based project. The soundtrack was 30 seconds long, and we should split the 30 seconds between the group members. In our group we looked at the flow of the soundtrack and divided the soundtrack at the appropriate times. Luckly the flow of the soundtrack allowed us to split the sound into three parts with approximately 10 seconds each. After that we looked into the characteristics of the sound in our group, trying to find proper research areas and inspirations. With our sound we landed on a very simplified look, with inspiration in geometric shapes and bright contrasting colours. From there on it was every man for him self, with the occationally helping hand.

When I studied my part of the soundtrack (the last part) I somehow saw flashing light in my head. Fortunately I wasn't passing out or going insane, it actually worked for this piece of the soundtrack:-) So my inspiration would also come from neonlights aswell as the geometric shapes. With these things in mind, I continued to sketch down the idea that was forming in my head:-

And for those interested heres the research pages for the project:-

The first thing you have to do whenever you have a piece of sound you are doing an animation to, is to break it down. This is where we got introduced to barcharts. In the animation world barchart consists of bars in which you can indicate a sound, whether its music/beats or speech, on a frame by frame basis. Maybe a bit hard to understand, soo Ill just show it then:-

As you can see in the barcharts I had five beats to syncronize my animation to. I split the cube idea into those five beats, which you can see in the previous sketch. This was actually the hardest part of the project, in my opinion. From there is was just building the cube and setting up the lights and generally organizing my scene for the animation.
The animation part was really just a case of building the first animation then copy/pasting the animation to the appropriate places. This is where the reward comes in, if you did a good job on breaking down the sound. Because you can basically just look at your barcharts and copy/paste the animation in, according to your barchart.

I think this is more than enough talking, time to show the stuff. First video is my individual peice, and the second is the whole teams joint up animations:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

I think the project was really fun. Sure you get very tired of the sound that you got, but when you've successfully broken down the music and you do the animation and it actually syncs up is a great feeling. Though I properly got a bit too overexcited and work through last weekend, so I basically finshed my piece by tuesday. So I went on to start on a personal project of mine; reconstructing Calvin and Hobbes in 3D. Still working on this, and hopefully Ill finish it up soon so I can show it to you guys:-)

Well that was kind of it for this time. Hope you enjoyed the reading, looking forward to coming home for Christmas and New Year!!!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Character Design - Week 7 & 8

The last couple of weeks we have been thrown into the world of character design. This process is very important for the industry. With this process helps the people working on a movie to get a feel of a character within the story. The brief for the two weeks was:-

  • Research, conceptualise and design a character for animation.
  • Construct and moel a three dimensional macquette from a set of design sheets.
  • To understeand the significance of character deisng and realisation in relation to the animation process.

A macquette is basically a sculptured model, made from steel wires (as the core), foam (polstering), and plastasine/clay on top.

The difference between our assignment and the industry's process is the purpose of the character. In the industry the character is made for a motion picture, and conceptualized from the story of the movie. While our character has no concept relation, except for our imagination. This turned out to be the biggest problem!!
To brainstorm an original character from nothing, is harder than you'd think. Actually the idea of a completely original character is impossible. The character will always have some kind of realation to something on this earth, cause this is where our inspiration comes from. The brainstorm consisted of listing columns of form, personality, profession, and time. After this the different elements from the columns gets stitched together randomly, eg. form=lamp, personality=depressive, profession=doorsalesman, time=present day. So that's a lamp that goes around trying to sell light bulbs to people, but cant because he's depressed and doesn't shine himself.
Now these random characters are just to spark some creativity, some do without this and just throws ideas around in a group. The next step is to determine wether the character works, and doing some first concept art on it. This is were my weakness comes in; drawing. Damn that hand-mind coordination, would love the one inventing a pencil you just plug into your mind. Enough selfpetty, practise instead!!
In the process of delevoping the character you'll have to do some research, which could be lamps and doorsales men. Along with the development and research, theres action-, expression-, model- and in situation sheets. All this can be viewed in the final presentation, click the picture to continue to the presentation:-

The design developement was mentally hard work. Creating a background for the character and understanding why the character acts the way he does. All the development work was done the first week, the second week was reserved for the macquette.
Doing the macquette was great fun!!! I really like the sculpting phase, and painting the macquette reminded me of the days when I used to paint Warhammer characters. Funny how all this takes me back to what I did as a child. The drawing, using my imagination, painting is all things I used to do when I was a child, and loved doing it. Though I lost my patience as I grew up, and lost interest in those things. Maybe I'm destined to this line of work, just had little detour of growing up?? Spooky stuff:-)
Aaaahhh, nostalgic and philosophical moments. Moving on to the macquette, heres some picture of finished model:-

Final thoughts on this project is properly that I learned how much I like sculpturing, and will properly invest in equipment to do personal sculptures in the future.

On others things the last two week i got to mention our lifedrawing class in week 8. The class was about artistic inspiration and expression. The teacher (
Nick Price) brought music in, and played different genres for the class. Our assignment was to associate the music with our drawing of the model. This was the most fun lifedrawing class I done so far, and heres some of the best ones I did:-

That was the words for last couple of weeks, hope you enjoyed the reading...

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Painting & Film - Week 5 & 6

As an animator you will have to know how the camera moves. In the understanding of camera movement, you get a better overview of what you are trying to accomplish with your animation. For these last couple of weeks we have been studying camera movements and the way it effects the audience's perception of a piece of film.
The brief for the two weeks was to:-
  • Research, investigate, and interpret a painting
  • Demonstrate storyboarding skills

  • Convey thoughts and meaning through the use of cinematic language

For those that dont know what a storyboard is, here's the wikipedia description; "Storyboards are graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of previsualizing a motion graphics or interactive media sequence, including website interactivity." We had to do a 1 minute film with the painting, where we pan/zoom/cut/etc. between different areas of the painting. And through the camera movement portray the meaning of the painting.

When we got the brief, my initial idea was to do some painting to the song "Pictures" by System of a Down, though the fixation of this song would come back to haunt me. The song has a military feel to it. For that reason I looked for civil war-like painting, those old ones where theres tons of stuff going on. I my search for my painting, I came upon a painter that had the style that I was looking for;
John Singleton Copley. After a lot of searching through paintings by John S. Copley, I finally found the proper painting;-

The Death of Major Peirson

As you can see the painting glorifies the death of Major Peirson. Major Peirson was a young british major that stood against a french invasion of Jersey, though in reality he died before the battle started and so John S. Copley plays with the truth to emphazise that Major Peirson's death contributed to the defeat of the French.
Now if you hear the "Pictures" song and look at the picture, they dont actually fit together very well. I wanted to do something alternative, but this turned out to be too difficult. I worked on the storyboard for the film, with a lot of quick cuts/pans to fit with the song. In the storyboard process I realized that the song and the painting just didn't fit together. Though I liked the painting, so I trashed the song.
The painting is really staged, like a scene in a theater play. This lead me to search in cinematic soundtracks, where I found a song from the film "300". The song is "Immortals Battle" by Tyler Bates. The song has a nice glofying feel to it, which fitted perfectly with the painting. Further the song has a sudden change of pace, which I could use to portray the death of Major Peirson. Thats enough talk, now it time to show. Heres the pages from my polished storyboard:-

This is the final piece I handed in (Warning! There is sound on this video, just if you are a sound-sensitive enviroment):-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Though these two weeks projects have been a little painful because of the struggle with the music, is has been a good lesson in planning. I definately learned how important it is to do the research and planning properly. I must say that I'm happy with the result. I think it captures the feel and mood of the painting pretty well.

Could only get one anothers work, which is Leon Roberts;-

Those were the words for this time around... Hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Tasters Week - Week 4


To truely be an animator you will have to have some experience with 2D animation, or thats what the tutors say..

This week all the animation class gets moved around, so that everyone gets a taste of a different kind of animation. Us, the computer animation guys, have to give 2D animation a try, and the 2D guys have to try computer animation. The stop-motion group is doing computer animation aswell.

The brief (assignment) is to make an animation with a tennisball, canonball and a balloon. The animation needs to show the weight of the different balls, by drawing them falling down a staircase. I have never drawn so many drawings in a week before. Allthough the drawings wasn't anything but a circle most of the time, I most have drawn at least 200+ drawings. For a second of 2D animation you will have to draw 12 drawings, so thats means I'm never going to be 2D animator :-) Its such a lot of work, but when you put the drawings together and they start to move it's worth the trouble. As much fun as 2D animation is, I am still a Computer animator by heart.

The experience of 2D animation was really good. I thought it would be a pain to get through, but the resulting product was worth it ( said that twice now:-) In the future, the knowlegde of 2D workflow, is properly going to be beneficial for a career in 3D.

And thats enough talk about it. Time to show the products of the week, I must excuse the poor quality in the bottom-right hand corner:-

Tennis ball

Cannon ball


All copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff school of Creative and Cutural Industries.

The best of the three is in my opinion the balloon animation, cause the timing and spacing of the frames comes pretty close a real balloons movements. The worst of the three is the cannon ball. I dont really know why I dont like that one, maybe it's because I haven't actually seen a cannon ball fall down a staircase. Yep, thats right. They didn't allow us to roll a cannon ball down the stairs. Jeez, the nerve of the tutors. And they expect us to do some proper research ;-)

On the other stuff that animation, I finally got the grant from the Danish government through. So at this point I dont have to worry to much about money, which frees a lot of "thinking" to focus on my animation.
Thats the words from the week, hope you found the reading a bit interesting.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Week 2/3 - Freshers and school start

Now the campus is full.

The freshers (1. years) has moved in, and the campus filled with people. Approx. 1000 people live on the campus. In the school hours over 4000 people wander around the campus, finding the next class, getting fresh air or general socializing. Though I don't really get to see the busy hours, cause I'm not on this campus. I'm on the Glyntaff campus, which is across the valley just 20 minutes walking.

Along with the freshers start, the school starts as well. Or the introduction of the tutors, classmates, courses, and so on. Our introduction with the tutors was pretty fun. The tutors on the animation courses aren't as normal lectures. They all have a background in the industry, and therefore they haven't gotten the "traditional" education. This causes them to be a bit more relaxed in their tutoring.

My timetable is pretty filled compared to other courses on the University. We have school hours from 09:30 to 16:00 every day. This is because we have a lot of practical time, where we work on projects and generally practising. The modules that we are going to cover is very planned out, and it looks nice so far. They have build the course up so you a good foundation in life-drawings and understanding of media. The course is not without any "text work". We'll have to hand in essays, which f.ex. could be an analysis of a movie. Just so people don't think that the course is all practical and no theoretical work.

Our first assignment was to make a series of animations with the characters from the game "Pacman". In the animations we had to cover; acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, showing different of weight and characterisation and emotions. And here's some of the stuff I made.

If you want to see more videos follow the link; All copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff school of Creative and Cultural Industries.
The "Pacman" assignment was to be handed in Friday, and then the tutor are going to examine the animations over the weekend. Tomorrow (Monday) we will have our first critique. So for the first time my life I'm looking for to a Monday..

We also got our first essay brief in Contextual Studies (understanding of media). We have to take 40-60 seconds of an animation, film or computer game, and analyse it. The essay has to be 1500 words long, which at the current moment seems very long for me.

The first week of school also brought on the first Visual studies class, which basically is life drawing. The tutor there seems all right, he definitely wants us to be good and he tries to motivate us as much as possible.

Besides the first week of school not much else has happened. Was out in Cardiff yesterday, which was actually really fun. There was a rugby match on in the stadium; New Zealand v. France. Didn't see the match, but heard it was a good game with a close win to France; 18-20. When there is a rugby match on, the streets are filled with fans and that gives the city a good atmosphere.

That was the words from the last two weeks, hope you enjoyed the little reading.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

International Welcome Week - Week 1


Been planning this for 2-3 months, and now I’m finally here in Pontypridd, Wales. I got accepted at the Glamorgan Centre for Art & Design Technology a month ago. In the meantime I’ve been planning the way over here; student loans, accommodations, student finances from the Danish government, and generally getting geared up mentally and physically.

If I knew the workload that it takes to start at a university abroad, I might have considered it twice. But when your dream-education isn't in your home country, you got to seek else where.

The UK was a pretty easy choice considering two thing; economy and language. There is some excellent universities, with computer animation (or there abouts), in non-English countries, but I’m a language idiot. Except for English, which everybody (in Denmark at least) almost gets in with breastfeeding.

The second factor was the economy in it all. At first I applied to a couple of universities, in the UK as well as the US. The problem with the US is that you can’t get financial support from the Danish government for any of the universities (not yet that is). So the choice landed on the UK.

After some searching I singled out two universities; Glamorgan Centre for Art & Design Technology and University of Cumbria. The initial choice of Glamorgan was a case of taste in course structure and references from former students.

After applying to Glamorgan, I took the chance of going to an interview. I got in, fortunately, but after hearing the prospects of place, I knew that Glamorgan was the right choice. Glamorgan Centre for Art & Design Technology has been bought by the University of Glamorgan, and the whole department is going to transfer to Cardiff. In Cardiff, the university is building a new department. MMMmmmhhhh, prospects of new facilities and new furniture, its always nice to be the first ones to use them. The new department is called Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, so if I in future blogs mix between the two departments names, then you knew why.

I have really been looking forward to start; meeting new people, see how the school/course works, how I match up to the rest of the class, how well I do in a foreign country, and generally starting a new chapter in my life. For those that haven't seen any of my work so far, I might just plug my website: For the non-Danish, don’t worry the site is in English. For those non-English, worry... To reach my personal work, go into the Personal Works category, or just follow the link:

Started the Welcome Week for the International Students, and it is definately recommendable to any one going to University of Glamorgan. Not only do they show you the area and rules of the place, you also get information about the does and don'ts of Wales. And not only that, everything is free in the Welcome Week; Sports activities, informations session, trips. Of course you´ll have to pay the initial rent for the Week, but still its worth it if you go on the trips and activities.

Moving on to the room that I got, which is a standard room (no bathroom), is not too bad. The room is about 14 square meters, with a sink, bed, desk, deskchair and closet. At first it looked really small, but after moving the furniture around you'll get at bit more space. These aren't from my room, but its the same size:-

I am really impressed of all the possibilities that there are on the campus like sport activities and study support centres. The sports center on campus has decent facilities, but they offer a lot of different activities, which are off campus. Like quad biking, which I tried twice during Welcome Week.

Wednesday - Welsh Night. Getting some culture from Wales; food and dancing. Really fun night, where everyone was having fun on the dance floor.

Thurdays - Went to my first rugby game; Wales v. Japan. They played in Cardiff, so it was pretty easy to get to the stadium. I can only say that you have to try to go to Cardiff when theres a rugby game on. The streets near the stadium gets blocked from traffic and gets filled with people thats either pub crawling or going to the stadium. The tickets for the match were quite cheap compared to the view that you get; 16 pounds, and then you'll get a view like the picture. This is something you should do when coming to Cardiff, and its definately not the last time for me.

Saturday - Night Out In Cardiff. The was arranged a night out for all the International students. Again everyone was having a very good time. Theres a lot of pictures in the online album, so I would advice you to go there and have a look;

So these were the first words on my adventure. Ill try and update the blog a couple a times a month depending on the amount of activity, and Ill post all the work Ill be doing here.