‘Networking’ – Life After College

The other day we had a lady named Patrisha come in to the College for us to talk about networking and developing our understanding of the practical and other uses of the act of ‘networking’. It was an interesting talk filled with discussions about what networking meant and how to network effectively, with development on how to keep calm and what you need to network.
I already had an issue with the idea of this talk from the beginning due to the subject area, as I have developed a dislike for the term ‘networking’ as I don’t feel it’s the correct or appropriate term to use. The talk overall had some useful points and was interesting to see how this is approached from a more business like sense, but I still did not agree with the approach and idea overall. I think it’ the idea that people would simply go to events to hand someone a business card and expect to find a job without any real intention of getting to simply meet more people within the same field. Sadly more times than any I’ve had people just want to give me or seen people give a business card and then leave without much more than a “hi, what do you do?”.

Patrisha did see the idea of networking through the means of getting to know people as well though of course and wasn’t to simply get a job, but the other ideas are still within the teachings. There are too many terminology that have bad connotations to what ‘networking’ is meant to be, looking at it as a means of selling yourself, to get more ‘resources’ and to target people you want to talk to. I have always done a bit of background research on people and wanted to talk to specific people within the after parties of events or other meet ups, but the idea of simply targeting them is somewhat odd and wrong. You could probably see my view of networking from my notes that I made below, but I do understand the importance of talking to other people and getting out there as it has helped me so much through the people I now know, but this is the wrong way to approach that in my mind. I feel as though if I am to attend these events and I want to meet, work with and get to know more people, I aim to talk to people I either really admire and love their work of, not just aim to get work or know someone because they work in the industry. I see it as if I was to talk to someone, it is because I simply want to get to know them and meet more people and not to simply get another contact. I understand that this is only just one approach and it works for some, but this is just my personal take.

We were also given sheets on ‘Making the Most of Networking Events’ and ‘How to Make Networking Work for You’.

BBC

A little while ago now, I had the pleasure of being asked by Annabeth if I wanted to get involved in a project set by the BBC. Of course I didn’t hesitate to say yes to this and from their she had set up a small group of people and we began to develop some very simple ideas and create some content. I had yet to have worked with a small team of people outside of the course, creating this sort of content, so it was interesting to work with others in that aspect.

It was good fun but very short, I had been able to test out some animating ideas through this small task though and it was interesting to be able to work with someone from the BBC. Here are some of the short stings that I had created for the BBC program that was being created as a pilot episode for a new program. The idea of these sings where to be placed in between certain parts as a break for each section. I created the first two on my own using Photoshop but then helped Abi create the third one as we both worked on the idea and I had helped her animate the run.

Antony Ward

Not too long ago we had the very talented and interesting Antony Ward come in to talk to us about his past, his work, being freelance and for general chat about the world of 3D, animating and games developing. I had my laptop out for this talk and was able to get quite a few notes down whilst he was giving the talk.
It was interesting to hear his progress in the game development area as well as hearing the journey he took into freelancing and how that’s turning out for himself. You can never get too much advice and input from someones personal experience, and no more is more interesting and useful than someone such as Antony with so much experience and having had so much diversity in work.

Notes:
Software (previous use)
artist 2 – 2 colours per 8×8 square
DPaint Anim

building on own portfolio within 3DS Max
left first company before collapse

moving to Krisalis software working on the unreleased LEGO Fantasy
not well organised with a lack of direction
sadly closed but then moved onto Gremlin Interactive
creating rigging tool ‘creature tools’ having to deal with rigging 60 characters
MEL scripting

Moved into EA as associate character animator
re-using past systems and tools created
working on untouchables which was unreleased due to the similar game coming out, ‘Need For Speed’

due to personal reasons, wanted to leave EA and move back to Leeds but was asked to keep working from Leeds
decided to leave because of wanting to go freelance

while at infograms, created a tutorial with character modelling which became quite popular
wanting to show the whole process, created first book ‘Game Character – Development with Maya’
in spare time working on the book whilst being at EA
18 months to complete

Sumo Digital
started on ‘Trixter’ and moved onto to other projects
Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast
Broken Sword: The Angel of Death
Sega Superstars Tennis
Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing
made Lead Artist but didn’t feel as though it was the right path
most see moving up ‘the ladder’ as the way to go but the higher he went, the less work he would create
left to pursue a freelance career

2007 onwards – freelance
wanting to experience more within the industry
no regular income
scary move
going freelance meant he had to be prepared to do other things as well
always being open to various jobs
Lloyds TSB
Ragdoll Productions
Sumo Digital
Just add water

next book ‘Game Character Development’
only 6 months to complete within spare time but purely on modelling the character
no point in repeating the whole process again

taking a break from modelling
for Abney & Teal, created a 2D rig to animate in 3D
purely all MEL scripting, easier to script it all than create a rig and do edits and have to make it again

‘3D Modeling in Silo’
Publisher approached him this time

‘Strangers Wrath’
Upgrading 86 characters from original Xbox to PS3
most characters went from 3,000 to 20,000 polys
but had to reuse Maya 4.5 and original rids
went from 3 month contract to 16 months
interesting challenge to think bout all the problems and issues

3D World
looking on Twitter again
went on to do some tutorials covering various topics
– Character Modelling
– Character & Vehicle Rigging
– Dynamics Simulations
– Game Development
– Top Tips Series

Nice being freelance, having the chance to do a lot of different things
when you’re freelance, you don’t have a break
Digital Tutors then found him
approached in Dec 2011
about 8 courses so far – between 2 & 7 hours of video
courses include
– Creating a Cowgirl
– Low Poly Character & Vehicle Creation
– High Poly Aircraft Creation
– Sci-Fi Hero

get use to things not being released
still getting paid and rolled onto another project
always working on your own portfolio
can have some people who are a bit bad on the pay etc
get use to working within a studio first and then perhaps go freelance rather than other way around due to contacts, understanding, learning from the good and bad
a lot of it is ‘who you know not what just you know’
having knowledge in other areas but it is nice to have that specialism
if going freelance, if all they do is one area then they’ll have to narrow the work

never happy with his work and always building upon his own skill and improve
reach out to more clients
using and improving ZBrush
improve drawing skills again
‘getting use to a mouse means you loose out on the 2D drawing skills’

Begin writing for CGTuts+
Creating MiniCrits which last about 5 mins

when started going freelance it went from being online
looking constantly
getting your name out there
getting a website sorted
being at the right place at the right time
online networking
DO MORE ONLINE!

understanding the work in progress, breakdowns and showing the potential to development rather than just having a great looking final piece
learning scripting slightly would be good, dabble in it to understand the basics

Contact info:
ant-online.co.uk
vimeo.com/anchuvi

Exhibitions… engage!

I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible with festivals, meetings and exhibitions. One specific exhibition I had attended with Sacha was the Feast exhibition were we met up with Matt Saunders who was in the exhibition, and quite a lot of it may I add. It was a good afternoon full of events as we had just visited the ‘Mates’ exhibition just before hand. It was interesting to see the method that illustrators present their work and organise and display these events. It was nice to also see some of Amy’s work who I have previously talked too on Twitter, sadly she wasn’t able to make the event. It was really good fun and was hosted at Munroe House, with myself, Sacha and Matt moving to Colours May Vary quite a lot to chat, chill and have a good look around. The exhibition space was great and links to a cafe that I’m sure everyone around Leeds Art College and Leeds University know of.

For those who haven’t been over to ‘Colours May Vary’, it is a lovely little shop based in Munroe House and they house a brilliant collection of design books and journals, contemporary gifts, prints, cards & wrapping. You must check this place out even for a visit as it has some great and inspiring imagery work and is just a good place to stop by.

Here’s some pictures from the Feast exhibitions I took on my phone,

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Oliver Jeffers

Whilst walking around the city center not too long ago, I had noticed within Waterstones, a certain artist and writer that I knew Sacha loved very much and thought it would be a perfect break and general day out for her. Trying to keep it a secret as long as I could, I had told Sacha about Oliver Jeffers book signing at Waterstones Leeds. She was of course over the moon and had straight away told Lydia who also loved his work.

We had attended the book signing that day and sadly only had a short talk with Oliver Jeffers but it was great to meet such a talented man. I had only really heard about his work when one of his books ‘Lost and Found’ was made into an animation not too long ago. Since then I’ve really loved his style and approach to illustration that includes a very hand drawn and child like feel which really appeals to me. Something similar to Scott C, both their use of colour and line are things I keep trying to think of within my own work.

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From events like these, I keep seeing the importance of getting out and keeping up to date with events and artists. With realising this, I’ve been very busy recently trying to simply get out and meet as many different and nice people out their in the creative industry. This also comes back to the many hours I have now spent working Creative Network nights at the College meeting and listening to many various creatives throughout the years. It’s become very clear to me that no matter where you are, student or not, it’s the determination, confidence and general nice attitude that gets you through the tough journey to becoming a creative.

Nest II

I was once again involved in the fun and interesting Nest magazine which was ran by Sacha and Kai. A lot of work had gone into the creation of the magazine and I had tried to help out where I could but this time I was only really able to help out with the launch of the second issue.

It was exciting to be part of the magazine once again and do something very different from what I do at the moment. It was a fun night and we had planned a bit more within this launch party which was again set at White Cloth Gallery. The launch was a success once again and everyone that had attended seemed to have a lot of fun with a very different and engaging vibe that I miss from not being able to attend such events. I feel as though being able to be apart of these sorts of things allows me to explore and get involved in much more fun and sociable art events that otherwise I haven’t been able to be apart of. It was nice to be able to also get to know some more different students from other courses as well as make new friends on the night.

Studios

Luckily I came across two very important books, one which I may have mentioned before, which is pretty much the directory to the studios.

scan 4

scan 3

Both books house a large database of various studios and companies that would be of interest to any animator, film maker, game designer or general creative within my area of study. The list of studios and places to keep close watch of are luckily familiar to me but some I need to do more research in. I’ll be going through the lists and lists of studios no doubt to see what studios really excite me and bring in my interest to hopefully aim for one day or at least visit and understand.

Life after graduation

This evening I had gone onto Skwigly’s Animation chat room which was set up by Skwigly’s Steve Henderson just as a means for some of us to chat amongst ourselves on all things animation and general.

It wasn’t a very long chat but it was interesting to hear what everyone was up to, people’s thoughts on living, work and general things around being a creative in animation. I had chosen this as a great time to start asking about some of the points I’ve been worrying about as I am graduating very soon and in short, what to do. I got some great advice and some really good feedback on general stuff with a nice chat, but one gentlemen in particular cleared up a big part of my questions.

Elliot Cowan is an animator and illustrator who use to draw in Australia, then London and now the big apple, New York. He is a lecturer and animator and had sent me a very good link to a blog post he had written for his graduates who had kept coming back to him about what the heck they do after graduating. Some of the points don’t of course specifically apply to myself as I am sadly not anywhere near California and he did confirm how hard it is to get into America!
But non the less, these are great points to think about and utilise and questions I had asked myself many a time before that I think I feel that little bit better about.

http://sandwichbag.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/life-after-graduation.html

Ian Mackinnon in Manchester

Not too long ago myself and Sacha got wind of a certain brilliant creative giving a talk in Manchester at the MediaCityUK area, from a good friend of ours Ellie Ragdale.

It was great fun heading over to Manchester MediaCityUK which I had not actually known about until the trip which I feel very ashamed of. For those who don’t know MediaCityUK within Manchester is the host of one of the BBC studios which hoses some of their studios which record some of BBC’s most favourite TV programs.

Such as Doctor Who at times!

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It was a really good short talk by Ian Mackinnon and another animator named Max Hattler. It was really interesting to hear about Ian’ back history and some of the tips and stories he had to tell. I’ve always been interested in Mackinnon and Saunders since I had heard about them a few years ago at Bradford Animation Festival. I had previously tried to see if I could visit or even talk to people at Mackinnon and Saunders but it’s been very difficult because of how much they do and how busy they are. So this was a big surprise and exciting to hear we could meet and learn more about this side of animation and the creative industry.

After the talk I was able to get a close look at the models that Ian had brought it. He mainly brought in work from Frankanweenie and talked about the process and back history of both his work and Mackinnon and Saunders. Having done his talk I was able to catch him for a short chat and feedback on my showreel as well as some of the final major project work I had started on. He was able to give me some great feedback and was really nice about my work, it was fun to get a bit of travelling around Manchester done as well as all the animation meeting fun. From the feedback Ian was able to give me, I’ve been able to sort out some of my final major project as well as my own professional practice. I took some notes over the talk within my sketchbook which I’ve scanned in below.

mackinnon

Reviewing the module

toby

Looking towards the start of the module there was a lot of pressure with looking at both the dissertation and this module. At the time I had thought to myself that I had plenty of time and was much more focused on completing my dissertation than doing my final major project. I have used the research within my dissertation towards this project, but now feel as though I neglected the project too much compared to my dissertation. From the dissertation I was able to learn a lot of the theoretical aspects of animation, as well as beginning to understand the emotional and somewhat romantic connotations of animation and how they are used and produced. There was a lot of research into the process as well as the creation of animation that allowed for a smoother transition from theory to implementation. This was also helped through the lessons I had learned from creating the short pieces of animation within the independent practice module. Within that module I had been able to begin to get a grasp of the amount of planning and organization that is needed within any animation. Although the dissertation did not turn out as well as I’d hoped or thought it did, the actual act of learning it and getting the research paid off far more than the grade. I felt as though I had begun to take my education into my own hands and was able to teach myself and understand aspects of animation that I wouldn’t have learnt or researched into had I of asked those questions. It feels as though this last module and the dissertation where a lot more free and less constricted, having being able to develop them both within my own space and developing my own methods of process and application from all that I have learned over the last three years.

The final piece of work that I will be handing in is not the desired final product of hand in, but the reason I use the term hand in piece is due to the realization I had about this short film within the last two weeks before hand in. I knew that the actual animation would not be able to be finished within the hand in date completely. This comes about from some of the threats pointed out earlier at the start of the project when I had looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the brief I had set myself. It’s clear that certain points had affected the project more than others, these being set around the team and my own organization of the brief. There were several issues that came up when dealing with the various team members.
Ruth Liddell, Level 6 Interior Design, was the first crew member to slowly go off the list of cast. Sadly with Ruth, I had spent a lot of time waiting around for her to come back with references, research and any work to do with the project. At the time of the start of the project she had been incredibly busy with her own work and was travelling around and sadly forgot to inform me of where she was or what she was doing. It was the first minor set back but I had to get the project going so began to work on what I was asking her to help me with. Rachel King, Level 5 Visual Communications, was the second cast member to go off the cast list, as she was too busy to be able to help with any of the colouring or other work. She had informed me that she would try and help where possible, but it was clear to see she had enough work of her own and sadly all the colouring was left to Sacha or myself. This was quite clear at the start of the project as she was unable to attend any meeting although she did come in time to time to check on how we were. There were sadly a few issues here and there with Jade. The issue was she had for some reason not turned up to meetings even though she said she would. Once having done the characters and character sheets, she did complete the character turn around and they looked a lot better.
James Flanagan, Level 6 Graphic Design, was very hard to get hold of throughout the entire project. I could never really find him and waited around for his work a lot, having to ask for help from Liam Rushfirth to find him. When we were able to get the work from James it was very good and interesting. Hannah McCann, Level 5 Visual Communications, was very good at animating and I was pleased to ask her to help me animate, but her own timing and organization of her work has not gone well with the timing of this project. It started off a lot later than I had planned and she had only started animating late, which I had to wait around for once again. Andy and myself had decided to not do the 3D run through, as we didn’t see the need in the end to do so. Andy later is going to hopefully just help with the postproduction again before sending the work off to festivals. Sacha, Abi Sharp, Level 6 Visual Communications, Liam Rushfirth, Level 6 Graphic Design, and Natalie Fyfe, Level 6 Art & Design Interdisciplinary, had all done work on time and as planned otherwise and it was exciting to see the work come together when it did and I was glad about this team coming to together although I would say that they had helped the most. Danny Cooper had come in fairly late due to the animations being completed and laid out fairly late. Although once we had the sound there were just moments when he was only able to do a little bit but he had synced it very well. It was interesting to see the work he had come up with from the descriptions I gave him.

The team management was slow at first but then it developed well and I think I got a better control over what was going on. It did help with all the research but overall it seemed as though there was just too much work to the number of animators more specifically. The animating took a lot longer than expected with only myself on the animating apart from the yeti. I felt as though I could have done the animating and the short film in general, but having to consider directing and the other areas now, I would re-consider the size for the first thing. I don’t believe I fully understood the workload at the time until much later into the project, but I still felt as though I could and wanted to create the animation. Through out the project I tried many times to cut down the animation, but I was only able to lose certain parts of it. I knew that I had to eventually lose more and more but this also meant I could revisit the story and see what did and didn’t work. I knew that I still wanted to tell an interesting story that doesn’t jump too much and has the energy and interest to keep audience watching. I wanted to keep the style and narrative flowing as I had designed in the start, as well as taking and utilizing the points I’ve learnt within other animations. It was slow at points due to the genuine fear I had over the project, thinking I would be unable to produce what was expected or simply for my own skill. But when I was able to get out of that ‘slump’, it was able to open my eyes too much more interesting, fun and experimental work.

I understand now at the end of the animation, with the short film being aimed towards a degree, it was too much pressure to do it and be in charge of and do so much work was a bad idea. Being able to learn and develop my skills within all aspects of animation though has only come about from this challenge I had set myself. Having challenged myself with every brief before hand, I knew how much stress and work I was bringing upon myself but still wanted that excitement and task. I was able to apply the old techniques I had learned previously and brought them into developing the new skills I now have. I was also able to explore a piece of software I thought I had already known a lot about (Photoshop) as well as develop skills in new areas and establish my skills in animation and other software.
I’ve been lucky to also had a lot of professional practitioners and other people help me develop my professional practice as well as gaining new contacts through this module using my showreel and development work from the short animation as an area for discussion. The idea of a team as well had helped with not just the workload, but also the ability to have many minds working at once with different ideas and specialisms. It was comforting to have someone with a similar passion I have for animation, as his or her respective area of focus. I had learnt more through leadership and the act of working with others, than any other module within the degree course. Having to show everyone the work and keep people up to date whilst always trying to keep the momentum and excitement was a challenging but very good task.

With this project haven taken the best part of 5 months, it seems I was too crazy with the idea that I could complete it within that time. It was too much to do within such a short time although I am happy with just how much I’ve been able to learn and do. It may not seem like a lot to myself at times, but when I consider how much research and development has taken place and how much animating, just myself, have done with the learning of technology and constant development of my professional practice and contacts, it seems like it’s been worth while. I did ask myself a lot near the end of this module, what was I really aiming to achieve? Was the animation just a piece to show off my skills/as showreel content? I considered these questions and brought it down to, I wanted to tell a story and tell it through a traditionally animated story looking at colour, shape and composition to expressively tell the story.
My aim may have slightly changed and it may have been more of a challenge and fun to create something I have yet to have been able to fully finish, but I feel as though this is the only project I’ve been more than willing to keep working on. One major thing I learnt over the project, over all the software skills, production knowledge and analyzing, is that I’ve only had 2 years to properly develop my animation skills and within those 2 years I’ve leapt forward with lots of help and advice. I can only grow more and more and keep having confidence in my work and my self.