Wednesday, 7 November 2007


And so into the next project - ToonBoom. This is more like it. ToonBoom is software designed to do 2D animation digitally. From what I've seen so far, it's a lot like Flash, but with more animation specific functions and features.

To start off, Ben from Dinamo came in and showed us around the features, and gave us all a week-long brief: this involves animating a scene from a short synopsis, about a junkyard owner who builds a rocket-simulator so that come children can pretend to go into outer space. A week isn't a long time, but then again the scene won't be very long. After playing around with ToonBoom and learning the basics, it seems similar enough to Flash that it shouldn't pose too many problems.

I just can't decide whether to do a cut-out-ish style for the clean up or do it straightforward hand-drawn.....

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Bacon Torpedo

Now we're onto After Effects....
Actually we've been on AE for about two weeks. We spent a week learning After Effects with Matt, but everything I rendered would NOT work... as it turns out there was a problem with my Quicktime settings, but Mike fixed it for me. So, here's a quick video of some of the exercises we did with Matt; he gave us a bunch of resources - videos, music, images - so that we could learn how to do things like masking, effects, compositing, and so on. He didn't give us the music in this video though - I added that to make it more exciting.

It should be noted at this point, that Matt has inhuman levels of patience, matched only by his bottomless and encyclopaedic knowledge of software like Maya and After Effects. If that man has a Twitter account, I'm using Foamee to owe him a beer.


Now, we've received our briefs, and mine and Ben's is from Griffilms. What we have to do is, create a 20 second title sequence for a (fictional) cooking show called The Big Feast; we also have to create 5 second stings for two segments called "Feast Off" and "Feasty-cuffs". I'm not sure entirely what I'm doing yet, but Griffilms said we can use whatever music we want, so I'm going with Eat the Rich by Motorhead..... I've also decided that since it's an entirely fictional programme that I'm going to have Arnold Schwarzenegger presenting it. Yup.

So here we go: first of all, a 5-second sting for "Feast-Off", featuring Jo Brand. know it's not very accomplished, but by this point I was running out of ideas, as well as After Effects know-how!

Here we have the other sting, for "Feasty-cuffs"; a very difficult proposal, this section of the challenges contestants to eat some cream crackers as fast as they can.... in any case, for this one I made a body for Arnold in Flash, then used After Effects CS3's brand new puppet tool to make him move. yes, this was my first time using it, which is why it looks quit iffy lol. I quite like the way that the music synchs up with it though!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Maya Brief: Completed

Yup, believe it or not this took three weeks! Not inlcuding the week we spent cramming Maya information into our brains. Basically there's my little ole granny iMac whinging at the Razr phone. The weird flickering light there is meant to be the TV in question, but I guess that didn't turn out quite right. As for the composition, when I was actually using Maya, everything was in shot; when it was rendered, the top of the computer got cut off a bit. I suppose that's because Maya sucks (it really does).

Monday, 17 September 2007


Yeah so I didn't manage to update at all last week.... Maya is a real bitch. I can never figure out how to do what I need to do when modelling. I'm there, almost, but I still need textures. And now comes the nightmare of animation! And I still need to figure out how th make the lighting look like the glow from a telly.... hmm. Anyhow, the dialogue I'm using is from the old TV show Dinosaurs (I think), and has the grandma character moaning about television to her daughter:

Grandma: "Television is responsible for the utter degradation of our society. We should write letters."
Mother: "Mom?"
Grandma: "What?"
Mother: "Get a life."

So there! Now I shall get back to it, and hopefully get this thang finished by the end of the week! In the meantime, here's a picture I drew....

Friday, 7 September 2007


This heat is killing me!!

Last week (or rather the friday before) we began learning Maya, with the aid of Matt Leonard of Sphere VFX. Let's just say that it's lucky for us he knows his onions.
Anyhow, we started of learning the basics - creating shapes, moving around the workspace, modelling and all that - and spent the week learning a buttload of things that we would surely forget the next day. Nevertheless, Matt provided us with some spiffy notes and books to reference, and this week we were given our industry briefs. This time mine is from Griffilms, and involves animating an inanimate object to some dialogue of my own choosing. This is infinitely more tricky than it sounds. I have chosen my objects, and I am modelling a G4 iMac and a Motorola RAZr because.... why not?

I shall reveal my chosen dialogue.... next week!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Playing Catchup

Been a while since I've shown my face on here!

Okay, week before last Tim Allen came in. No, not the unfunny actor from such (s)hits as Home Improvement and The Santa Clause, but another graduate of GCADT who has worked on such shows as Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, and Creature Comforts. Not only that, but he was one of the lead animators on Corpse Bride! Oh yuss. Off the top of my head, he's done the scene with the long table when Barkiss is making his speech and the dead start turning up; in fact I think he was the main animator for Barkiss altogether.

So a few of us have met him twice before; once when he did a talk at GCADT and once when he did a talk at a WAG meeting, so we'd seen a lot of his stuff before. This time thouhg he brought a DVD packed with bunches of other stuff, including recent showreels, his student work, and bits from TV shows like Creature Comforts and El Nombre, and an animated version of Peter and the Wolf. He also had a lot of solid advice to offer on acting in animation, because he's a very good character animator and is known for being able to put a lot of subtlety into his work. he is also, by the sound of it, one of the hardest working animators in animation! I say this based on the amount of time he spent travelling to different companies and looking for work when he started out, going all over the country and arranging interviews with bunches of companies in the same areas! All in all it was a good morning, and he even brought some artefacts from stuff he's worked on like scripts and production scrap books and the like. Hopefully he'll be coming back in the not too distant future

Monday, 20 August 2007

Dinamo Flash Brief

Okay, this is the result of the Dinamo Flash brief that I've been doing. Kind of.

When I tried exporting it as a .swf file, it kept putting one of the sound effects out of place; then I had trouble publishing it as a .avi, but when i finally did, it seems to have put some of the animation out of place (as it is here). I guess I need to try exporting it on my home computer. Anyway, have a look and see whatcha think.

This morning we had to pop over to Dinamo and present our aniamtion to the fellows in the studio, namely Aron and Ben. They seemed quite pleased with what we had produced, although Ben was somewhat confused becasue he had written the brief believing that everyone would be doing it, rather than the setup we had where 2 people worked on one of 3 briefs. We left the Flash files with them so they could have a look at our file and layer organisation and naming (oh bloody hell mine is gonna give them a headache) and they should be in touch soon.

Friday, 17 August 2007

A Digital Pimp of Some Sort

Cyfle now has all our videos - the Digital Storytelling ones anyway - on a single channel on You Tube. So if yez wanna see our work, that's the place to see it.

Monday, 13 August 2007


I have started animating on the Dinamo brief. Or trying to. I always find it a bit difficult animating if I haven't done so for quite a while; with the added complication of graphics within graphics within graphics within graphics, my mind is starting to slowly unravel. The feeling may best be described as "cruntpiscule".

Friday, 10 August 2007

The Moose Style: Charcter Designs

Progress on the Dinamo Flash brief continues. Here's the character designs I've done, I've just finished some lip synch and now I have to continue making body shapes in the library before animating. So much do, so little time (one more week to be precise)...

Monday, 6 August 2007

Magic of The Moose

Ryan Neal at Dinamo told me to check out Chris Phillips, yet another GCADT graduate, upon whose style the Moose is apparently based. Anyway, it's all very good, so GO LOOK NOW.

Picture by Chris Phillips:

Friday, 3 August 2007

Dinamo: Week 1

Bit of a late update I'm afraid.

On Monday we got our Flash briefs for the next three weeks. The Bobinogs brief from Calon was assigned to Mike and Ben; Griffilms gave Kei and Gary a brief based on Mr. Stunt Butt; and Jen and I got an animation test brief from Dinamo.
Of the three, ours was the loosest; we were given a 19 second piece of dialogue, to shich we have to animate, and the only direction we have is that it is to be in the style of The Moose. So far I've done some charcter design (although after feedback from Ryan Neal I have to adjust them somewhat to fit in with the style), and I'm doing an animatic in Flash. Actually, I've started making my library too - for it must be kinda cut out animation - which I'm not scheduled to do until next week. So... back to work!

Monday, 30 July 2007

Busy Busy Busy

I haven't posted anything for a few days because I've been so involved with getting this Eisteddfod animation finished. In the end, a group of staff from Cyfle and S4C got together to decide which animation they were going to use. They chose mine.

This was quite surprising, considering it's rather cheap-looking and features a one-eyed alien (not the first thing you'd associate with Wales, but there you go). So over the weekend I've been tweaking the animation and grabbing some simple sound effects to use. Now I've given Mike the .fla files, and it's up to him to come up with a t-shirt image. Me, I'm just happy because over the weekend I found my DS, and we saw the Simpsons film yesterday; it was freakin' sweet.

Thursday, 26 July 2007


Like I said, we're meant to be doing animation for these mobisodes: 3 segments of 10 second animation that link up sequentially. I don't really know what's going on regarding the finished animation; we're all kind of working separately on different things at the mo'. Here's one of my little bits of animation (the second one). It's pretty poor, because I went with using graphics and stuff (why not eh?) rather than drawing each frame and because it's on 12 frames a second, in order to be used for mobile phone downloads.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Er, okay. It's wednesday and the middle of the week, and on Monday we started this Flash project to create 'mobisodes' for the Eisteddfod and whatnot. I'm okay with Flash - that is, I know how to do drawn animation, and I know my way around the software quite a bit, and when putting the two together I can usually come up with something decent. I'm not so hot, though, at using shapes and tweens and graphics and other such things of that nature. That's where Marc Lewis comes in: another ex-GCADTer, he knows his Flash. He went through some basics of using graphics and mask and paths and things with us, which is great because now I'm starting to fill in some blanks with using the software. Yesterday we got to grips with some lip sync, but I've done lots of that already and I used some sound from my Digital Storytelling Project, so I don't think I'll bother putting that up anywhere. Anyhow, I shall continue with the Flash stuff now, we're meant to be putting these things together by the end of the week.
Finally, seeing as I like to accompany as many posts as I can with at least one picture or video, I've uploaded a bit of some test I've done; they're utterly pointless, this was just me getting to grips with using nested graphics and tweens.

In any case, here's the finished digital storytelling:

Monday, 23 July 2007

Digital Storytelling Stills

Here are a few stills from the project. The whole thing qas done on my laptop - which is at home - so I've grabbed a bunch of images. I will upload the finished video when I've got the audio levels adjusted properly.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Fight Through The Pain

I've just about done my digital storytelling project, though I had to stay up till 5am to work some stuff out (plus my computer sucks). I just thought I'd stick up a sample of some of the limited animation that I've included in the project.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Weird 3D avatars at

Work in Progress 2

Starting to make progress with the digital storytelling; now editing sound and producing finished Flash images. Here a a few of them.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Work In Progress

Alrighty then, here's a few development sketches for my digital storytelling project, together with a sample of what the finished style should look like.

Hooray for Polls!

Last week Blogger added a polls feature to Blogger In Draft. And after almost seven days of eager anticipation, I was finally able to add my own poll! You can see it on the right hand side of this blog.

.....Hell's teeth, I'm such a geek.

The Sheer Unmitigated Horror

Oh hells. We've just had our audio recordings back from Gareth, and Oh My Shits. I know people generally don't like the way their own voice sounds when it's recorded, but mine is particularly bad. I should be used to this, because I've done plenty of voice overs and voice acting, but my normal voice, in playback, is horrific. Having said that, I look forward to haring everyone else's recordings, though I'm sure everyone else will be cringing too.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


It's just occurred to me that I haven't put up any animation on this blog. So here's my most recent showreel, which I used to apply for Cyfle.

Terminator 4: Rise of the Funk

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Media & Stories

Time for a new post, methinks. Yesterday we popped over to Atticus Media, to have a look at another local company working in graphic and advertising. It was actually a very swich looking place, and apparently they did printing work upstairs (though we didn't see that). We also had a presentation by Richard Webb, from Moseley Webb. Apparently they specialise in making visually arresting presentations, and from what we saw they do a damn good job, too.
So, this week we began our two week digital storytelling; after coming up with ideas for a two minute story about a personal experience, we have to record a voice over and then set it to a sort of comic-book style video thing (it'll make sense when I've done it and uploaded it). To that end, Ian Staples came in, to do a creative writing workshop and help us thrash out some story outlines for our project. It was quite interesting; let's just say that I won't be able to look at Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater in quite the same way again...

There Is No Point To This

But it sure as hell is fun!

Friday, 6 July 2007


Good grief. Yesterday, we went to see Shrek the Third as a group. What a waste of time. Apart from the fact that the Odeon cinema is outrageously over-priced - just because it's in Cardiff Bay - it was one of the most ruthless exercises in sequel cash-inism I've ever seen. I mean, the first Shrek was quite original in it's way, but by the third film the whole 'turn the fairy tales on their head' scenario is a bit stale, and we're left with horrible over-acting, poor characterisation and little to no plot to speak of. So, what about the animation? Well, it was... okay. Apart from the normal CG-looking bouncy unrealistic elasticsm you get whith most CG films, it was pretty decent, but having to gaze at a 20-foot tall cinema screen version of shrek's head, complete with fully rendered eyelashes, pores and stubble, is not an experience I'm keen to repeat. Thats' the trouble with films like this; any sense of artistic style is eschewed in favour of trying to make everything look so damn 'realistic'. For a start, they could have tried looking at the shape of the characters they created - every human character had exactly the same weird long-torso'd proportions, and the same movements. Possibly the only visually interesting characters in the whole thing are the dragon and the donkey. And don't get me started on the 'charcter' voiced by Justin Gimperlake. Ugh.

Having said that, I have to admit that there were moments that really made me laugh (such as Sleeping Beauty attacking the castle guards by falling asleep on the ground and tripping them all up), but they were rather few and far between, and didn't save it from an entirely predictable plot.

Oh, and on top of all that, this afternoon I have to do a presentation on Diana Walczak. Marvellous.


...Just did my presentation. Not bad I thought, just a bit anaemic due to the lack of real information I could find. We're meant to link to these things so.... here it is.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

There's Something About Collins

Exciting day today. Mike Collins, whom a few of us first met at the Glammies recently, came in to talk to us about storyboarding. Although Mike started out doing comics about 20 years ago (which he still does really), and actually has a BSc in politics and history, he managed to get into storyboards some time ago because he "though they were a bit like comics". In fact he's done storyboards for short films like Scratching and On The Beach (which was nominated for a BAFTA apparently), and at the moment does storyboards for Hana's helpline over at Calon. He brought plenty of material for us to pore over as well; big-ass storyboards from Hana's Helpline; folders of pages from various comics he's worked on (including Doctor Who, Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper to name but a few); a bunch of colour illustrations; and a (highly groovy) sketchbook. He talked a lot about working as a storyboard artist, the pros and cons, how he'd like to storyboard for films... but mainly we talked about comcis and the famopus people he knew! He might be coming back soon when we start doing storyboards for our projects.
And later on, we'll be going to see Shrek 3. Yay! I think. It looks pants.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


It's nearly here!


Day of awesomeage! Joanna Quinn and Les Mills of Beryl Productions came round for a small chatette today, and brought a DVD of Good Stuff and a portfolio of drawings and stills from films and commercials they've done in the past. And what a selection of work! I mean, I've seen some of her drawings before, but this time Joanna had a bunch of painted cels from Girls Night Out, the Whiskas adverts, and stuff like that. The only time I've had anything to do with painting cels was in high school when I inked and painted a bunch of drawings on acetate for my A-Levels... and I hated it. But seeing all this work kinda made me want to trash my computer (metaphorically of course) and go old school again, with pencils and inks and paint and pain, because at Beryl they still hand draw and colour all their animation. It's nice to know that as all media trundles inescapably towards digitisation, someone is sticking their fingers up to the computers and wacoms and scribbling all over their monitors (okay, so they still use computers to composite and edit all the stuff, but that just means they have more time to draw stuff). Oh yeah!!

Pub Shoe Salesman

Okay, so yesterday evening Kei and I went to catch the train, but obviously it was rush hour and the platform was packed. So, we headed to the pub for a drink to kill some time. While there, some random, scruffy scottish-sounding guy came up to our table and asked: "Whut size feet are ye? Eight?"
"Seven?" said I, because although I take sevens or eights, I could see that he had a plastic bag with trainers in, and wanted no part in whatever he was trying to foist upon me. In fact, for a few milliseconds I was afraid he was going to ask for my shoes. As it turned out, he apparently had these "brand new" Nike trainers, worth £120, but he was trying to sell them for 15 quid because he's got a "pregnant wife" to look after. Leaning over me, ginger whiskers brushing my face and trying to entice me into buying apparently legitimate expensive footwear for next to nothing, I attempted to explain that I was broke. This disturbing gentleman moved on to other patrons, continuing his quest to sell some shoes that he probably stole from someone's feet. The bar staff soon clicked, and began following him across the room, whereupon he left. I was able to enjoy my Newcastle Brown unmolested and quickly render this sketch upon the back of a steak menu.

Anyway, here are our cats doing what they do best: stupidity.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Setting the Bait

Hidilee-ho, neighbourinos. This morning we headed out of Mount Stuart Square to visit The Bait, a graphics company whose notable work includes title sequences for Bandit and doing promo work for Gruff Rhys and Super Furry Animals. It was kinda cool, because the work is done in this little studio space thast's like an attic bedroom filled with media and editing equipment, run by two guys. on the one hand it's neat because they're a small independent company, but then again they have to do all the financial stuff themselve (eek).
Later on we had a talk on freelancing by Rick Villeneuve, who some of us know from GCADT. It was a highly informative presentation - he looked at some of our showreels, gave us plenty of advice on getting freelance work, and even gave us some sheets with info on. very cool... although the room is getting ridiculously hot. I think I'm starting to lose weight in here.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Man of Steele

So, today we were visited by Bruce Steele, formerly of Glassworks . The man's a fountain of knowledge when it comes to compositing CG effects and lens sizes - it's actually rather frightening. He showed us a bunch of commercials and stuff done by glassworks (including the Stella Artois pilot one and that weird Sunsilk Monsters thing), which featured "making of" segments for each one. It was pretty informative stuff, and quite daunting. According to Bruce Steele, the way to get into the industry and get ahead is to have, well, balls of steel. He and I were definitely in agreement about one thing though: the CG effects for the Spider-Man stunts in the films were, well... rather poor.

Later on we met a few more important people involved with Cyfle: Delyth from S4C; Iona Williams, Chief Cyfle Executive; Nadine Roberts, the Cardiff office manager of New Entrants; and Gwawr Hughes, Marketing and business development. All in all, it's been pretty intensive with the meeting people today. And now, I must settle down to do some serious research on Diana Walczak for a presentation on friday. It's alright though, because we get to use Zoho Show - a kind of basic online version of Powerpoint - to create these presentations. I just wish it wasn't so flipping hot in this office....

Friday, 29 June 2007

Push comes to shove

Just so no one forgets: Bill Plympton is the Man.

Good Day Bad Day

Okay, so today we went to visit the ever-snazzy Dinamo studios. This in itself was great, because they're a really strong company and only a few years old, but last night I left my keys at home and was locked out, and had to stay in Cardiff. This morning I had to travel back to Pontypridd to go to the estate agency, get a spare key, pick up my keys and come back down to Cardiff bay, so I was a little late. Still, I seemed to arrive in time for the good stuff, got the tour of the studio and saw some of the work they were doing for Cwm Teg; they've also done three series of CNEX, along with Griffilms. Some of us are already familiar with Aron and Owen and a few of the guys working there - in fact we know most of the animators because they were GCADT graduates! In the latter part of this training scheme we'll be sent to do industry work with either Calon, Griffilms or Dinamo. So far, I'd be happy to be sent to any of them.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

At the Heart of Things

Rounding off day 4 of our first week, we went to visit the Calon studios. Lynne Stockford, studio manager, gave us the tour of the two sites from which they produce their work.

The stop-mo studio was awesome. It was huge, for a start; situated next to an indoor karting centre, in a big industrial looking building, filled with animators and artists working on Hana's Helpline. We got to see the sets and the animators at work, the set building and dressing, the puppet making and even some of the post production work (we even spotted another graduate there on work experience). It was most impressive.

Then we headed over to Mount Stuart Square, to see the other part of the studio, where the 2D and After Effects stuff is done (where we spotted another graduate on work experience), and saw some of the animation and storyboards for Bobinogs. We also and had a look at Andrew Offiler's office - which was quite frankly amazing. Stuffed with books, comics, models and posters, it was a veritable treasure trove of artistic goodness; woe betide anyone who has to sit in that room and have a serious conversation without being distracted by the amassed glory! We came away from there with a mass of postcards and a warm glow from all the animated magnificence (not to mention the multitude of cels from animated films covering the walls).

Monkeys & Nuts

So, who came to visit us today? Why, none other than Barry Michael Jones head of news at BBC Wales! Okay, so I hadn't heard of him before, but he came to do a kind of workshop thing on creative thinking. It was fun, I have to be honest - after introducing ourselves and talking about an object we brought in, we discussed thinking creatively for a while. You know, approaching things from a different angle and what not, not holdingh on to ideas (which is where the graphic story of the monkey with a nut chewing his own arm off comes in). Apparently, the sweetest bit of a banana is at the bottom, so you should eat that bit first and throw the rest away. Which I won't be doing anytime soon.

We also paired off in order to come up with ideas for the ultimate bathroom.... I won't go ino detail, suffice it to say that make up dispensers and toilet made of sand probably won't be revolutonising public restrooms anytime soon. Barry also pointed us towards what he considers to be the ultimate bathroom - but it all seems a little extravagant to me!

Art, The Application Of

These are some images I've uploaded previously on other blogs. I just though I'd stick them here to show that I actually can walk the walk.

Yesterday was fun. After creating our blogs we got to look at the other trainee's previous work, to get to know their style of animation and what they've done. I've seen Kei's and Jen's work before, seeing as I studied at GCADT with them, but it was fun to see Ben, Gary and Mike's stuff for the first time.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


Well, my twelve month digital animation training at Cyfle has begun. It's based in Cardiff Bay, and this is the third day - by now the projector and the PCs/macs have been set up. Not bad so far - mostly it's been signing contracts, health and safety, trainee profiles, that kind of thing. Today we had a visit from Les Orton, who has animated on Soul Music and Under Milk Wood, among other things. He gave us a talk about industry practice, stuff about how to get on in a studio environment and working links. It was good stuff, and he told us about a film he'd recently worked on with Aardman, called The Pearce Sisters. It's an interesting mix of CG and 2D, and from what I've seen of it looks ace. Check it out on Creative Review. Now!

Today we also met Dan Thomas and Adam Partridge from Film Agency Wales, who talked about film funding and stuff, Sioned from Griffilms, and Gwawr Hughes from Skillset, the organisation involved in accrediting training courses and universities. So far, it's all good!

Greetings From Cyfle

This is me, I am Ash, one of the trainess on the Cyfle Digital Animation Training Scheme. We've been asked to set up blogs to relate the events and niceness of Cyfle and the animation world. So here I am. More from me soon!