Year in Review: What I did in First Year of University

2D, 3DCG, University

As this is the first formal post on my website, what kind of a post wouldn’t be more fitting than starting from the very beginning; my first year of university. The first year really feels like a distant memory, a post I’ll save for later, but in reality it’s only been a little over two years since I began my university life at the time of writing.

As a way of collating past works I have done, this post is a record recounting of all the work I had produced in my first year at Bournemouth University studying BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts.

Bouncing Ball Animation

For our first assignment at university we were tasked to animate a bouncing ball sequence featuring two ball objects; one must be seen as a lightly weighted ball and the other heavy, one requirement is that they must interact with each other.

bouncing_ball_production_support

Looking back at it now this was a very simple assignment, but at the time I could remember how careful I was at planning the scenario and going in-depth with the required research material such as storyboards and reference videos; perhaps a little too in-depth than what was required for the research material that had to also be submitted (seen above).

Overall it I enjoyed the assignment as it was my first real use of Maya and making key-frame animation to bring the balls to life.


Modelling Homura Akemi

modelling_homura_akemi

Limited to 5000 polygons we were tasked to pick a fictional character of our choice (along with a related prop with a 1500 polygon limit) and use an existing turntable design sheet to model our chosen character. As a fan of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime series I decided to model the anime character Akemi Homura. Working on this assignment has made me aware of the extensive modelling tools in Maya and how certain tools can stream-line the modelling workflow (also always to clear model history!). Modelling anime into 3D was difficult than I had expected due of the discrepancies in anime styled art however I am happy with the final result!


Paul Wells Essay

Paul Wells argues that animation in Europe and the US historically developed alongside film, as an alternative to the photographic ‘reality’ in film, offering spectacles of the unreal and fantastical. Is this argument still pertinent, and if so why or why not?

Our brief was to pick between three questions and answer it by writing a 2500 word essay. I decided to choose the question quoted above concerning academic researcher Paul Wells; who argues that animation serves as an alternative medium to live action film. I chose this question because it was a question interesting enough that I knew that I could write in great detail with strong key points, as the argument has clearly lost its relevancy in the modern age where computer graphics is converging with live action features in forms such as visual effects.


Cloud Case Animated Short Pre-production

pre_production_thumbnail

This assignment delves into the pre-production stage of any animation project where we were tasked to produce pre-production material of a short 60 second animation that we had to create based on a list of given key words; in this case the word being “Cloud Case”.

We were free to interpret the words in any way to think of a story lasting 60 seconds. I decided to create a story about two young brothers with personality clashes who finds a mysterious box that transports them to the sky. I took the key words more literal and made the clouds a prominent environment in the story, while interpreting “Case” as a mysterious situation.


Visual Life Drawing Studies

visual_studies_thumbnails

Over the course of the year we were given weekly life drawing sessions with each week covering areas in human anatomy; from hands and feet to line of action and perspective. The lessons carried out by our lecture were based on the book ‘Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators’ (2006) by Michael Mattesi. This assignment was simply an aggregate of the best drawings produced during the classes.


Animating Billy Bob

This assignment deals with basic character animation where we have to plan and animate a sequence that can loop infinitely as well as a short narrative sequence that must end with a humorous or a surprising twist.

Loop

As a fan of music rhythm games I decided to animate Billy Bob endlessly dancing away at Dance Dance Revolution for my looping animation.

Animation short

The animation short with an unexpected end is based off the typical situation of a student falling asleep in class.

Both works have been key-framed in Maya 2013 using the Billy Bob character rig by the NCCA.

I also used the bhGhost tool by Brian Horgan which allows ghosting in 3D. Using this tool helped me out a lot while animating Billy Bob jumping around on the dance pad and cycling his pair of legs in the air. I highly recommend anyone this tool as an aid for animating!


Pagoda Tower City Generator Maya Script

ptcg_img_01

Exploring the capabilities of Maya through the use of computer programming we were assigned to create a script in Python for Maya that could do anything as we wish, such a city/asset generator or a tool for use in computer animation production.

Inspired by the tall and stunning architecture during my holiday to Hong Kong and Vietnam a several years ago I decided to create a script that can generate pagoda towers, from a singular asset to an entire city!

Having no coding experience whatsoever prior to the course this was the first assignment that everything was completely new to me. It was a rough learning curve in the first few months as I got to learn about Python and its capabilities while also enduring reading through code over and over again only to find a silly typo that stopped the script from working. Regardless I am amazed that I was able to produce a script written in Python with only six months of experience.

See more of my Pagoda Tower City Generator here!


Towers of Hanoi

towers_of_hanoi

Building on from what I’ve learned from creating the Pagoda Tower City Generator, Towers of Hanoi was a part of our computing assignment where we had to create a script in Maya to replicate Towers of Hanoi; where a stack of pegs have to make their way from the starting pillar to the end pillar. The rule is that when moving one pillar to another the peg must not be stacked on top of another peg that is smaller. Hence the auxillary peg in the middle is required for the pegs to progress. Towers of Hanoi is a popular example to explain recursion in computer programming, where a procedure repeats itself as part of the procedure. This was perhaps the most difficult assignment in my first year as I was having difficulty putting the recursive process into action in Maya. So with a lot of help from one of my coursemates I was able to persevere producing a basic Towers of Hanoi Maya script with the extra ability to color the assets!


Cinematography Storyboard

cinematography_thumbnails

This was the last assignment for first year where we were tasked to create two storyboard sequences concerning cinematography. The first storyboard depicts a potential student walking down the entrance way and into the university campus building for their interview for the course they’ve applied. The second storyboard is the student at home waiting for the phone call to tell them whether or not they passed the interview and get accepted onto their course.

Based on a series of lectures from our cinematography lecturer we had to put what we learned into use and use a variety of camera shots and angles to express the mood and atmosphere the student is feeling from when they enter the building to when they’re eagerly waiting for the phone call. We had creative freedom over the narrative which can complement the style of filming we choose. While my own interview and application at Bournemouth University wasn’t as dramatic as the narrative shown above, remembering my experience I decided to project the overall feelings I felt on that day onto the character in the storyboards; feelings of nervousness, anxiety and fear and used unorthodox camera positions to express it. While waiting for the phone call never happened to me, the feelings from the first storyboard is over-ridden with relief and happiness when the character is told that they passed the interview, emphasizing of bright lighting from the window in the last frame.

While going through the process of deciding on the camera-work and staging was enjoyable it became quite tedious when it came to drawing the 18 storyboard frames on my graphics tablet. Overall I have learned a lot on cinematography and has greatly improved my knowledge on the field with prior knowledge from GCSE Media Studies.


With eight assignments and two exams successfully passed, along with university life and shenanigans stuffed in-between, I had successfully progressed into the second year! And I can remember what an amazing ride it had been.

University has allowed me to meet a lot of like-minded people on my course, clubs and societies and learn a wealth of invaluable skills. The first year had made me realise that even though I had yet to decide for one specific area of CG to specialise, this is the area I really want to work in for the rest of my life.

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