The World in Review

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Do you ever get the impression you're juggling too many projects at once? Maybe you're the kind of person with a focused mind that knows that the only way to get to Point B from Point A is to not randomly go off on a side-road on the search for Point C.

Yet this seems to be happening to me, like, all the time. Which is why, despite every natural instinct in my body, I'm going ahead with this short film I'm writing, despite something in my brain egging me to ditch it and write a short-form web-sitcom. Because if there's one thing I haven't tried and abandoned yet, it's web sitcoms. I'm also plowing ahead with the webcomic, slowly but surely. I kind of blame the vlogbrothers, especially Hank Green, for this. There's something about their amazingly varied careers and mix of projects - vlogbrothers, Crash Course, SciShow, 2D Glasses, VidCon, that made me want to do everything. I wonder if envy is a good motivator.

But, here, on the horizon, a new project appears! It's called The Asian Cinema Critic, and it's essentially just a review site for films from East Asia. There's not a whole load of content on there yet but I do want it to be a hub for all kinds of films from the region. It sprang up when I was looking for a review of Police Story 2013 and found only one or two. Now that one of my favourite asian cinema review sites, Snowblood Apple, is down (and has been for some time), I thought I'd jump on it. It's a bit barebones at the moment, but I'm hoping in the future to include essays and editorials, if it gets big. Right now, it's just a place for me to put down my thoughts on films as I watch them. It's fun and it's helping keep me writing and analytical with film - two things that I need to keep up to date with.

Oh, that and drawing. Tried my hand at a 100 Days of Drawing thing, but bailed out at around thirty. Not that I couldn't, just more that I was having the hardest time actually finding something to draw, and then drawing it to the point where I liked it enough to upload. Didn't have the highest standards by any means, but a lot of them were awful and never made it online. A few can be found below. Most were either Final Fantasy or Discworld themed.

They say that talking about your goals is the worst thing you can do to achieve them. Only now I've just written a bunch of words about it, and frankly, I don't want to delete them all and write a whole new blog entry. That sounds difficult.

















The Re-Productivitising


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Well, this has been a tiring few weeks. A short while ago I had a meeting with Michael Wakelam, director of a small studio called Anthem, in Ealing, where started working on a little no-budget animated short he's been working on, called The Life of Bri and Chris.


It's about these two lizards who share a flat and one of them is a bit of a goofball, a wannabe actor. The other is the straight man, who goes along with what's happening. It's a fun little project and I'm enjoying it quite a bit so, given it's a no-budget short animation, I don't mind working on it for nothing. Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think so.


It's also the first proper Maya project I've worked on since Thick as Thieves (yeah remember that?) so I'm happy to be back with an animation-y focus. Plus I'm working on just animation, so it's a fun break from any responsibility of writing or design, or being in charge - which was probably the toughest thing about Thieves. Controlling a team (even one as small as the one I had), making sure everything was going to plan, on time and resembling even remotely the initial idea was incredibly hard. It's nice to do grunt work.

And a few days after my meeting with Michael, I met with Byron Barrett of Live Vision studio with whom I arranged a possibility of some work placement or internship. He seems keen, and I took a look around their studio and we started talking shop, that I'd like to be there during shoots to see how professionals do it, but I haven't heard from him since. So who knows, although I have a lot on my plate as it is, what with Bri &Chris and my new job.

Yeah, I started a new job, at a newsagents, to sustain myself during these moments of unpaid creative work. The shops are pretty nice places in and around Canary Wharf so it's not terrible at all, if a bit too ... stand-up-y. The shifts are long and kind of erratic in hours, so I've heard, but I've had much worse jobs before and from the first day I had today, I actually quite like it. It's not as sit-down-and-go-on-the-internet-y as my work experience at the library, but I unfortunately couldn't stay there. As is the way with work placements.

And on top of that I have to move house by April because our landlady wants to have work done on it and sell the place. So there's that I have to be thinking about too. It's a wonder I have time for anything else, and, actually, I don't. I can squeeze in a bit of drawing - for example, I've been working on a fan-poster for the Infernal Affairs trilogy lately - but other than that I'm beat.

This is the latest compiled version. As people aware of the film series might be aware, there are still a few major characters missing.



That's not how they're going to be posed in the finished poster, but more a showcase of who I've done so far, and then he were have the younger version of Andy Lau's character, played by Edison Chen which I started today.

And now, I'm beat. Going to watch more House of Cards, which is, as you have more than definitely heard from everyone else, fantastic.


Goodn-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz




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Not Dead. Last I Checked

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 I've just been neglecting blogging duties because, well, it's very difficult to blog when you're not actually doing anything. Maybe if this was a film review blog, or a food blog or an edgy political blog I'd have things to say, but for some reason at a point back in 2008 I decided to do a blog where I talk about very little other than things to do with me, which in retrospect is pretty vain but also it's really the only topic I know enough about to blog on, and even then I'm sketchy on a lot of the details.

But hey, you ask me, not knowing that this is pre-written and also on a screen in front of you so in no way would I be able to hear you, you must have done something right?

Probably, I reply preemptively. But I'm pretty sketchy on a lot of the details. See I'm already repeating myself here.

I've drawn a bit. Here is a picture I drew of Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Or more specifically, Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, who I described in a previous upload as my favourite lady of sitcoms. That is probably true. I can't think of any others who hold a candle to her.


I also drew a birthday card, and other things, and a flyer for the Sheffield Hallam chaplaincy but damn my drawing productivity has gone down, this is something else I have to work on. They say productivity breeds productivity, so all these months of doing very little has caused me to do even more very little. It's very frustrating. In fact, I've been looking at some people who had taken drawings they did back when they sucked and redid them at their current level, which seems like a fun thing to do. I saw also someone posted this:


On a tumblr, like ages ago, which I saved. Self portrait in 16 different style. Looks like a fun thing to do when I'm bored out of my mind (which is pretty frequent, admittedly, these days)

But I'm writing a bit more. Both on that sci fi mystery which is still not past the first chapter, but also on short film screenplays (which hopefully I'll be filming with Wilson when he comes down and we can get hold of cameras from my housemate who is studying sound design), longer film screenplays I can't quite figure out, and other bits and pieces. I'm hoping at least some of these will come together eventually into something. I'm not good at finishing a lot, but every so often something comes out and I'm usually happy with it. Hopefully with access to cameras I'll have enough motivation to do stuff, even if it's nonsense and a lot of moving a camera around, just to see what happens. 
Christopher Nolan, George Lucas and Peter Jackson all made their directorial debuts at 29. So that's the age I'm setting as a goal for at least a limited release of something. That's not that impossible, right?
Been listening to Coeur de Pirate's new album a lot, which has rekindled my love for her. Seriously listen to this song, it's wonderful. Also this one. (I could do this forever). And also Amanda Palmer's which is pretty good, too. I've been listening to a lot of different music, too, including a long list of albums I've had collected about and never even played once, as I always try to find a good "mood" for something I'm writing or animating and end up making a playlist which serves as a soundtrack to the story, with songs renamed appropriate to what it corresponds to in the story. If a particular piece of music draws a particularly strong image, I tend to listen to it over and over when writing a certain scene. Before rewriting it.
Animation-wise, I've started copying what a few old classmates have been doing, and started putting rigs into famous movie poses. Here's one of my attempts:



You can kind of see it's Iron Man, right?





 Eh, that was the first time I'd used that rig.

Well, back to work. Or maybe I'll watch another film. Been doing a lot of that, especially List Films, which I'm watching with the great excuse of "well, it's like research, right?"


Right?


Beginning to End

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 In about an hour I'm going to be heading down to London for a couple of days to sign lease papers and things for the house I'm going to live in. It'll be with my sister Pawony and her boyfriend, which is pretty decent, I guess as far as finding a new place to live in London. Relatives are pretty useful sometimes.
   It'll be a six month contract, so it won't be until January till I can move back in with my current flatmate, if it will even be possible to do so.

I'll be back up in Sheffield for another week or two after that for any goodbye parties and to live out the rest of the rent I paid on this place but otherwise I'm basically fully moved out and on my way to live an Adult Life. I hope that doesn't mean going to sleep at decent times. I hate doing that.
    Well, an adult life as far as I can do one right now. I'm not even employed. Applying everywhere but it's pretty slim pickins. It'll be some time no doubt until I find a proper industry job. Not sure what I'll do before that. Probably something awful in retail or the likes; not really looking forward to that, but gotta pay the rent somehow.

I recently updated my showreel fixing some bits and pieces, adding and deleting bits as suggested by people who know what they're talking about. Going to mail it to Double Negative when I'm done, to finish my application for a Runner position. It's embedded everywhere in my blog (the front page and the gallery page) but here it is embedded in this blog post anyway:





I'm a little bit annoyed that it's almost entirely Thieves work but they told me that that was the best stuff I had and only to put in the best things. So hopefully mixing finished renders with playblasts and things won't make it too obvious. But I think it's a bit better than my previous one. Anybody want to give me a job?

In the meanwhile I've been doing a fair bit of drawing. Here's one I did of my group of friends from Hallam:


And a picture of Wolverine, and one of the Mask


...

Hmm, better get out now or I'll miss my train. Till next time, y'all






Rendered Useful



I didn't get the job, which was some part time Cineworld thing. it's a shame because it would have been perfect, hours-wise, for that extra cash I'd need when I graduate and start looking for an actual job. But oh well, if nothing comes up there it won't be the worst thing in the world.

Besides, right now, I have far more pressing issues to deal with, such as the impending deadline which draws nearer and nearer and threatens to drive me insane. Our renders are finally being taken care of though, and we should be able to do them in batch if we can find a room with enough free computers that won't be always interrupted with classes and other people. Here's what a finished frame looked like a week ago - they've since improved a bit and are looking better, with an ambient occlusion and depth of field.



So that's pretty awesome. Andras' work that. Only problem is that all this work he's putting in lighting and rendering means the bulk of animation is falling on me, which is pretty heavy. Here's a test render farm we made in a computer lab. If we can recreate this then it'll be pretty smooth sailing with rendering. 



And, unrelated, to end. Here's a picture of Woody Allen I drew the other day while watching Annie Hall.



And the poster from the concept art class, which I've had to heavily change to fit the teacher's criteria. I don't really like the new layout and will be working on the better version after I finish the course.


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I Am the Draw-lrus

Nothing screams busy schedule like a blog post at five thirty in the morning. I should be updating this more often because there's so much happening each week that I can never be bothered to post all about it at these sporadic intervals, plus it would help to document when everything was done, which will be incredible useful when it comes to writing the inevitable reports and talking in the presentations which will no doubt come up soon.

More Once a Thief stuff now. Here's a basically finished version of our first character. It's looking a *lot* better than it was before, thanks to Li's skills in ZBrush.




Some of the colours are a bit off still, such as the jeans (which should be a lot darker, if not black), as well as his hair which should be a darker shade of brown too. But I'm really liking how it's going. Big thumbs up to my team for working the character to how he is, considering my lackluster base model.

But there's been no time for me to work more on models. Been storyboarding like a madman, and I only finished today. I'll spend tomorrow cropping them and Saturday putting them into an animatic, with András to help with the timing.

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And that's not the only thing due in soon. A day before the animatic presentation, there's a lot of life drawing stuff we have to hand in, which isn't going to be most difficult thing, but it'll take an afternoon or two to finish, so I have to consider it while I do everything else (including the character animation module, which is taking up a lot of my time as well).

Instead of bore you with traditional life drawing pictures, here are ones I did when I got bored of drawing the same person over and over again:


This is of Twitter-friend @catacoma and whose art is totes worth checking out because it's pretty good





And this is a rushed attempt at drawing River Tam from Firefly, for my girlfriend.


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I should be all drawn out by now, but it's odd, as we progress with the life drawing and I carry on with the storyboards it's been in fact inspiring me to pick up a pencil and work on something else, non course-based at all, so in the last week or so, there's just been a massive surge in pencil stuff, and also means I'm going through pencils so fast you'd think I was eating them. 

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But hey, it's Christmas soon, and once all the work is handed in, I can relax, or at least make it look like I'm relaxing, all the while I'm trying to catch up on the stuff I told myself I'd have done before the holidays.

At least the apartment's looking cozy enough to relax in (and it is).






No. Nothing Christmas Countdowny this year. Too lazy.
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Painting Pixels

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Eesh, I haven't posted anything on here in a little while, probably mainly because I haven't all that much happening. Still in the summer holidays there are about three weeks now until I move back up and start my final year, a year I still am not prepared for at all. But we'll get there when we get there.
While I should have been working on my 3DS Max or, heaven forbid, Maya work, I've been doing a lot of Photoshop painting and drawing lately. Gotta admit, I'm loving the progress I've done since I started this "painting" style.
Firstly, a picture of my friend Gill in a zombie survival setting. I made it because she thought it would be cool to have a picture of herself like that. Whatever.
This second one I drew for a Twitter follower, as a thank you for sending me something she painted herself. It was an art exchange, but I got lazy and thought to send it electronically.
It's sushi, because I didn't know what else to do.
By the way, if those images aren't loading if you click on them, go to my gallery tab and check them out in my "Photoshop Work" slideshow
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I wish there was more I could be saying about things, but nothing is happening. I'm almost at the finishing point of the comic I've been doing since April and the first chapter is up on my Google Plus page, I dunno if I've mentioned that before. But there it is.
This is a part of what I've just done tonight:
And I'm still working through various ideas for an animated piece for next year.
There'll be a lot more on that in the future, and there were some articles I was gonna link that I found interesting, about animation and stuff, but I dunno what they are anymore. So for the moment, I'm gonna say goodnight
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Small increases

I haven't had a great deal of time to blog over the last few days - there's been lots of visual effects work, picnics, traveling and just about tonnes of other things slowing me down. I've almost finished the project - and with a week or so left to do it all in, hopefully I'll soon have it uploaded here.

Apparently we have to create a showreel for another module, which will be a bit of a pain considering I have really nothing good to show at the moment. But whatever. I'll put everything together as best I can and that'll do.

To be honest, I'm really updating this blog for the sake of updating it. Here are some pictures my friend Alice commissioned from me for her own project. Soon, I think, I shall write another short story or something.

I shall leave you with this great piece from Hugh Laurie's upcoming Blues album, from Jools Holland:

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Nature is a haunted house

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--but Art--is a house that tries to be haunted." That's what Emily Dickinson said once.

The last few days I've been going over different ideas and themes to include in this story, and I think I have a pretty solid plot now. It's laden with plot holes and huge "wtf" moments, but at least it's enough to get started. I'm gonna start writing the thing tomorrow. Hopefully then I'll have enough time after I'm done to review and change everything.

For now I'm scribbling down all kinds of ideas and, to keep my mind from imploding at all these plot holes have been drawing, too. Drawing of the cast of How I Met Your Mother (although I rushed Barney) and a portrait of Danny DeVito up on deviantArt here and here. Also been trying to get some concepts and scenes laid out for the Spring Heeled Jack short, but that's taking a long time to do. I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't too ambitious. A simple two-lighting scene took about half an hour to render a frame. That's ridiculously long.

Oh, I've also done some adjustments to the banner and the background which I think make it look a lot better, especially the banner. I'll leave you with the aforementioned pictures so you don't have to click on links. Oh and this guy I was doodling trying to get the pressure sensitivity to do what I wanted:

Frank Reynolds is one of the best new fictional characters.

Four Lions and a kick ass poster

You know what's not a great deal of fun? Not having anyone to talk to because everyone in your apartment decided to move out when you were in France. Wilson's been gone all week and Lisa left the day after I came back, leaving me with my House boxset, and the feeling that I'll probably end up going through the whole thing before the week is out.

Thankfully, that wasn't entirely true. I did spend some time with Li and we went and saw this stupid film about suicide bombers in Sheffield called Four Lions. It was a mockumentary of sorts, and for a while I feared that by going to see it we were supporting Colin Pons. Which, as you can tell from previous posts, is something I wouldn't do with a ten foot science pole. Here's the trailer for the film, and despite the stupidity of the whole thing, it was actually quite funny. There's this brilliant bit, near the end, where they're meant to be in London (in fact, it's about the last half an hour) but the street they filmed it on I walk past all the time. There were even "For Sale" signs with Sheffield area phone numbers on. Silly people. I've gotten a hell of a lot done, though, and working towards this animated short I want to get finished by the end of summer. I'm also working on a few ideas I want to explore (again over summer) for my third year animation project. Considering doing something I've entitled The Mind of Thaddeus Prosper, but it could be the sort of thing everyone else will do, so I've looked into the Victorian legend of  Spring Heeled Jack and have done some cool concept art for him. I'll upload something once I know exactly what I'm going to be doing.  In other news, I posted up a couple of pictures on deviantart. One is Harley Quinn, although I don't really like it a great deal. The pencil sketch was much better. And then there's this self portrait which I think is quite cool. Gonna finish watching this John Woo film I bought the other day. It looks pretty good, and this is the fucking poster for it.

Whoa.

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Much media

Huh, Blogger's acting all weird today. Hope this actually posts. Anyway, today I got a haircut because I know that if I don't get it done my mum'll freak when I go home in two weeks. It's short and looks kind of awful but I'll give it a week. Should look better. Yesterday we spent four hours sitting in a room where people showed us their videos for Integrated Project, as well as the long and boring presentations that followed. A lot of them were bad, but a few of them were good. Most of them, however, weren't as awesome as ours, here on youtube. I did the dragonfly animation (Wils modeled it), Kris Holmes did all the live action stuff, Heather Langford doing the paintings, and Chris Gray did the Flash. Anyway there it is, and everyone's really glad to get it out of the way. That's right. So long, Colin Pons. I hope I never get one of your classes again. 

I have some new pics up on deviantart, nothing really special: Gorillaz sketch and this guy here I did which was based heavily from Justice from Afro Samurai. 

Badass.

Now I'm going to go watch Graham Norton. 

He owns the night, apparently

I can celebrate a tiny bit today because I've finally finished this stupid dragonfly I've been working on for the last few weeks. A simple import of the original video footage file onto a plain, much like a projection, and I could more or less move the dragonfly left and right, making it look like it was flying. Chuck it behind a blue-screen, and by that I mean a blue background, and three hours of rendering later, we're done. Hooray. Once the whole thing's done, I'll post it up on youtube, and be thrilled at the little bit of the video which is mine. Despite our shoddy subject matter I'm actually thinking it might look really good, so here's hoping.

Till then, have a look at this Batman picture I did yesterday. It didn't look like that all before but I got bored, messed around with colour and levels and it became this. Might work on the flowing cape and a better background and all that some other time, but for the meantime enjoy that. Here's what it otherwise looks like

It's not just California... it's the whole world!

OK, so yesterday, or the day before, I set the standards for retarded photoshop jobs. Today, however, I rise above all of that and I bring you this picture I did. Many hours later, the sketch was complete and then several days later, the picture was complete. Top to bottom, left to right: Solmon Grundy (who's technically a Green Lantern villain ohmygodBasilwhathaveyoudone), Two-Face, Victor Zsasz, Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Riddler, Ra's Al Ghul, Catwoman and, of course, the Joker. I am most pleased with myself. I am not pleased, though, with Roland Emmerich. Not at his film 2012 which is a fairly shit movie (but all in all entertaining, if nothing else) but because he plans on making a television serial sequel entitled 2013 where people settle down in Africa (with the giraffes they saved from the zoos in America...). It looks to be some legendary watching. If you want to survive the end of the world, either get a submarine or hire John Cusack as your driver. That man can dodge anything, outrun everything and climb out of a fissure leading to very depths of Hell itself all in the same movie. And he can't even survive a simple hotel room. Kaboom!

Technically I drew it yesterday

I have been sending emails to big companies in Animation and am now pointlessly awaiting replies at ten past two in the morning. Who knows, maybe Nick Park's up at this hour for this very reason. I'm going to need to find somebody to email and interview for this Professional Context class, which is the most pointless and confusing thing since the N64 controller. I probably read like a total idiot in all of them, but whatever, it can't be nearly as bad as the podcast I did, where I sat and spoke about myself and what I wanted to do. It turned out pretty well, I think, but I have about 12 videos where I fuck it up in some way or another. I've also been watching a lot of Japanese comedy (or お笑い "owarai" as they know it as) today, and have been laughing even though I don't have a clue what they're saying. They shout a lot, though, and that's always good for a laugh or two. I drew a pretty picture today
Seriously. What the fuck?