OBWCMP// Back to Neocities

Second Year Done

As of WED30OCT, my year is officially done. To think that there is only one more year of the core degree is wild. However, what a relief it is to have everything done! I was very happy with the grades I revieved and fairly happy with the work, although as always there's things i'd love to change and/or improve about each project. I'm writing this the day before new years eve too so there's also a bunch of stuff which has happened over the course of the holidays so far! It's a juicy end of year post, and at that it's going to be a long one.

Uni projects

VFX

Out of all the projects i'm probably the most happy with how VFX turned out. Working with n-particles to create a pentagram turned out to be a really interesting challenge, even with the help of extra resources like Pluralsight and others.

From playblasting the simulation so many times i've got a pretty interesting progression of how the simulation evolved. I reckon there were some points in creating it that looked almost more interesting than the final piece, but were messy enough that they would've been a nightmare to simulate and render down the line.

VIDEO SOOOON

Rendering the final project using Arnold was also a fun treat and was also super last minute. N-particles don't play too nice with mtoa, with some features just not working at all. I managed to find a look I was happy enough with but to use a different particle type would've been nice. (and probably a different simulation altogether, something with more smoke and a glowing flame at the the bottom would've been interesting to figure out).

It's actually something, now looking at it, that I would like to recreate in Blender, as there's a high chance it would be way easier to do. Another possibility would be with UE4's new particle system which is incredibly technical but an interesting challenge. Maybe something with shaders instead would be better? Who knows!

Looking back at our group project, TEAM GANTZ GRAF, i'm still pretty interested in that concept too

Not long after I looked into audio reactivity with particles, I came across this tweet with Houdini reacting to audio for a live performance:

Got me thinking about doing some more work in that area. I find it fascinating, and there's probably even more which could be done with a live performance, especially if you were to take individual stems from each instrument and somehow combine them in a similar way to how we originally wanted to do it with TEAM GANTZ GRAF.

IMG GANTZ PLANNING DOC

Something I've noticed with both VFX and Animation as courses is that they are so fucking broad. To cover as much as possible in the 36 hours of structured contact we have with the tutors is ridiculous for areas with so many facets to them such as these. Given the resources, they could easily be split into at least three or more courses focusing on different areas of both disciplines.

On a separate note, CMP could do with an entire sound pathway at the very least. Extended rant on that subject later on in the post

ANM

Now for the subject where I was the least happy with the final outcome! Animation was, overall, a lot of fun. My lack of decent time management of it in particular towards the end of semester 2 made it a far more stressful subject than it needed to be. Of all things to do for our overly broad final assessment, I picked to create a rig in the very last week, if not couple of days, before we had to hand in. It was a complete fuck up on so many levels. The final product wasn't dreadfully broken or anything, but I certainly was after doing it. At the same time, what I handed in had little to no charm. It was just the workings of a Pluralsight course with no personal flair whatsoever given how rushed out it was.

Against all odds it hasn't put me off rigging altogether, I'm still interested to push the skill as it has a balance of technical to artistic which I really enjoy. I still haven't brought myself to watch through Justin's feedback video, which is something i'll do probably after the new year has passed. I'm interested to try rigging in Blender too, I remember seeing someone's criticism of it's archaic tools around the time 2.80 was still in alpha, it'll be interesting seeing if they've been improved and if there are any killer addons out there for it.

FINAL RANGE OF MOTION VIDEO HERE

As a result of my poor time management I didn't get around to adding anything more to my first assessment. They just sat around looking and feeling incomplete which is a real shame as the bouncing ball especially was complete shit. The plasmatic one wasn't so bad but it just needed more.

2D ASSESSMENTS

Recently found out that Drawpile now has an animation feature, makes me excited for the future of doing animation for 48HOURS, remote work might become a real possibility. They still need to improve their regulations for animation though. Also relevant to Drawpile and my plasmatic, @AnAxe

WIP! I keep pushing the entire site to update it, needs more nuance to either exclude or isolate the blog

post start:THU31OCT2019 post end:

Demons, Acolytes, Robots, and Bats

It's the end of week 13 which means semester 2 is over, and with that so is second year. This is just a quick post for the final rush of the semester, a proper year review will be coming later.

For VFX I've been creating a glowing pentagram out of particles and summoning a cat through it. Easily the most fun assessment of the lot, but as a result i've pushed it to the back of my priority list. I ended up getting an extension with every other deadline being pushed into week 13.

Acolyte released me from the project at the start of week 12 which was a relief. I haven't been the most up to date on the project since then but the game is now up on itch.io and will be shown at Exposure in early November. I'm looking forward to seeing how their exhibition turns out. I also presented for Media Production Development at the end of week 12, which went really well! I've handed in the final written part of the assessment, so it's completely done at this point.

For Intermedia we exhibited our robot, Craig, in 1D04 on the Thursday of week 12. It went really well! Despite it's flaws, I'm really heppy with how the soundboard and lights turned out. We were having so many problems with other soundboard apps and programs, so having a working solution running through my neocities website was so satisfying. Paris and Hunter were the two people running the exhibition and they compensated for the annoying delay on both lights and sounds really well. Now that our group hand-in is done, all that's left is for me to hand in the remaining individual aspects.

Lastly for Animation, I took way too long to create a full rig through a pluralsight tutorial course. It's an incredibly technical subject but there's a real art to making a rig act well. Despite how tired it left me feeling, and the fact that it pushed all of my other deadlines to the brink or beyond, I'm glad I did it. There's a high chance i'll be helping with rigging next year if I get onto a game.

That's all for now. I'll add photos to the next post, but for now i'm going to head off and focus on getting these last assessmnts done with.

9SAT26OCT

Chaos

Welcome to week 6! scratch that welcome to week 9 it only got worse!

I promised on the last post that this one would be far less chaotic, well that was a fuckin lie! Welcome to stress week month. There'll be more photos at least.

Also, I'm trying a new format this time around, now there are sections!

VFX

VFX so far has been fantastic. Taylors' lectures have all been really insteresting, and tend to do go against the traditional lecture format. In one, he just showed us a bunch of various "weird" videos he had collected over the past 20 years. Examples include:

Rubber Johnny:

Among many others. Rubber Johnny honestly sets the precedent for the rest.

Our group project, Gantz Graf but with fluids, consisted of Mereana, Ryan, Paris, Patrick, and myself. Paris and Patrick were extras taken on after week 1 so the project became slightly harder to manage than I previously thought. We ended up getting an extension, then pushed that a week further, and then another week. By the end of week 7 we had finally handed everything in, but it was honestly a fuckin nightmare. Writing this in week 9, i don't want to repeat that with this final individual assessment.

The plan with the final assessment is to do something audio reactive with python and mash and SOMETHING it may even go over to Houdini if things get spicy enough, and of course everything is time permitting. I've been reading books Taylor told us to read on Python, which as expected are fantastic and easy to follow. Taylor wants quality over quentity, which is wonderful as that's what this is lining up to be.

I also want to show him weekly WIPs as much as possible, explaining my process and showing him stuff so he can point out potential trip points as soon as possible. Same goes for the others courses too.

ANM

The next subject is animation! My 2D/Opentoonz aspect of the course is done unless I want to do it for the final. We have been tasked to do a character animation, showing how animators act through their characters and the shot. Originally we were going to film reference of ourselves acting but i'm not sure if that's still going ahead! Justin also recorded feedback videos for all of our assessments which I think is so cool. He really liked my animation and mentioned that, if I wanted to, could continue it for the final hand in. My plan is to continue both it and the bouncing ball whenever I can, i'd like to have some really solid, practically portfolio grade, work for this and all of my final hand ins. Same goes for next year.

ITM

Intermedia is turning out to be a challenging course! We have a solid group and an interesting, but overambitious, project called MAKE ME WHOLE. The group consists of Daniel, Hunter, Josh, Paris, another Josh, and myself. It's an interactive performance sculpture highlighting our materialism in an absurd fashion. I'm on programming for servos, cameras, and potentially LEDs. We have a lot of work yet to do!

PRD

Production development has been going well. We got locked out of the lecture theatre in week 8 so we ended up starting the lecture in the hallway with Lucas holding his laptop and telling us who made it about what third year is going to be like. As with his words on this semester, he said that next year was also going to be fucking chaos. We have two six week courses in the first semester, which are double density so we have two slots for that one course in a single week. One is the ideation lab where our ideas get picked apart and refined into something greater than they were, and then the second half is pre-production for our major projects. It sounds like hell but it also sounds really fun so i'm looking forward to that.

This is also to say that Hunter, Paris, and I are pretty keen to do Ruru together in some form for our major project. It's in early stages, an we're currently trying to find the absolute core of the idea which we'll put up against the innovation lab. It may not happen in the future, but we'll see.

Acolyte

If you want to see how Acolyte is going, check out the worklog! It's possibly more wordy than this blog.

Otherwise I have very little else to say with this post. Chances are i'll make a progress post with more things to show for the finals i'm working on, but then again i'll probably be too busy.

post start:SUN18AUG2019 post end:SUN29SEP2019

Explosions, Old Gods, Metaphorically Dropping Acid, and OpenToonz

Semester 2 starts on July the 15th and in the words of Lucas "It's going to be fucking chaotic". It's an exciting semester, with my four courses consisting of Animation Production, Visual Effects Production, Media Production Development, and Intermedia. All of these courses are hands on and, from the small amount of Stream material already up before it all starts, it sounds really fun.

Also just a brief technical thing, this is my first post which is not on Tumblr! It's a bit of a shake up writing this post in HTML and posting it to my neocities site but I like this way more than having to fuck around with Tumblr's theme API trying to get things looking nice. The disadvantage is of course that I don't have the nice rich text editor and I'm now lacking any tag functionality, which is something I may or may not work out eventually.

Animation is a course I've been excited ever since I completed animation back in semester 1 of last year. I really liked having Justin as a tutor for that course, with him going over numerous pieces of animation and computer graphics history, delving into the hardware and software to a certain extent too which totally thrilled me.

From the looks of what he's put on Stream so far, he expects a lot from us! We have plenty of resources to look through.

Now just briefly, I want to mention that as of the next paragraph I'm writing from the 16th of July, and as such the semester has begun! So I'll start from the first day and keep talking about the other courses, the lectures of which were held earlier today.

I got my copy of The Illusion of Life from the uni library shortly before going to 10A02 for the Media Production Development lecture. Hayden shows up in a suit which meant I couldn't even recognise him. Jonathan took us through our what this course entailed, and how the actual course side of it worked in conjunction with working with our third year groups (this post has turned into a mess as a result of me starting it after the first day). It wasn't the most interesting lecture ever but it was just fantastic to get back into the rhythm of things.

Right after that at 11am I had my first meeting with the third year group, Acolyte! Everyone is super cool! We all introduced ourselves to each other and then split off in to departmental groups to talk amongst ourselves about what is to come in the near future. There's no dedicated sound person, so Will and I just talked to Brenna the main producer on the project. She said that we pretty much have free reign over what we want to do! Will seemed to be in a similar boat to me, in that we are both interested in doing everything including the soundtrack, so I think that should end up going well. All in all it was just a really enjoyable meeting so I'm looking forward to the next one.

I had a massive gap hanging out with various friends around campus before heading over to Animation at 2pm. The course seems so chill! Justin is really well aware of just how much work the third years have the potential to put on us, and along with that he knows of course that animation takes ages. He went around the class asking each student who they were, why they were in the course, and how they found last year's animation course. That ended up taking up the entire lecture, and we had to race through the slides he had prepared. After that, day one was done!

First thing Tuesday was my animation workshop, which went really well! I got there way too fuckin early and worked on nothing in particular until people started to show up. Justin showed us how to connect to the network drives, showed us the basics of OpenToonz in a mad rush, and also showed us some things to do with Wacom tablets. It was a great refresher.

After that I had a string of two lectures in a row. First was Intermedia with Birgit which was really cool! It was quite a lot to take in but it's super clear that Birgit is was more into this course than with Cross Media which I think is great. For the first three weeks of the course, we will be doing these super quickfire weekly projects, which will work towards creating a proposal for an idea in week 6. We then spend the last 6 weeks creating the project leading towards a Wk13 hand in. I HOPE I have this alright, but I'm yet to really dig into it all so I'll post if that changes.

The last lecture of the day was VFX with Taylor! This is another course which sounds fantastic. Taylor, quite simply, wants us to create something cool and compelling. We can use MASH, Maya Fluids, I'm guessing BiFrost? And of course RealFlow. I'd be keen to poke around with Houdini but I doubt it'll be part of the teachings. Taylor also showed us some really interesting work he's done in the past, and some inspiration for what we can do this semester. Our first assessment is actually a group one which is interesting to me, and then for the second half we're doing things solo. I'm really excited for the course! I don't have much else to say at this point, I'm tired already and I just really want to get this post out before tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow! I have my VFX workshop at 10, and then my intermedia workshop at 10 on thursday, and then my production development workshop at 10 on friday. Only 3 more major things for the rest of this week alongside study and weekly exercises and work for the courses and projects. I'll do what I did back in Y1S2 where I made a big post on each course. There may be more than four, as I'm tempted to put Acolyte in it's own post, and I'm still yet to write about KiwiJam this coming weekend. I've decided to ditch the post about the events from last semester, the recollection will be hasty, hazy, and vague at best.

Also as a last note, I'll be trying to take more pictures and video this semester to document everything, I've done a shit job so far but that will change!! I'll have as many images on this blog as I can.

But that's all for now, the next post will be less chaotic I promise!

20:17 TUE16JUL2018

Year 2 Semester 1

It's only the end of week 3 and already so much has happened. Scrap that it's now the end of week 6! It's been a super busy first half of semester and there's still heaps of stuff left to do.

And now it's the end of week 9, after the mid semester break. So, let's get to it!

At long last, welcome to the end of week 12. The end of the semester. From today I have one more week of work left before the super long mid year break. This has turned into a semester look back post after 9 weeks of keeping it in my drafts. So, let's get to it!

My four courses for this semester consist of three compulsory, core CMP classes, and a single elective. I picked a first year course, Visualisation for Media Production (VIS) as my elective, and then Cross Media Production (CMD), Working with Scripted Material (SCR), and Portfolio and Dissemination (PRT).

VIS is interesting for a first year course. To make a good end product requires as much work as a second year course if not more. Of course, given that it is a first year course, it allows for students to make something which isn't necessarily incredible. Take last years animations as an example (something I never got to show on this blog, sadly).

We have two main parts of our final hand in at the end of the semester. The first is to create a character concept through mixing two different story worlds and having the resulting character make sense within one of the worlds. So in my case, I took Piglet from 100 Acre Wood, and created a character which had the essence of Piglet, but made sense in the world of Mad Max. We had a selection of different worlds to choose from, and I thought that combination would be funny.

The end goal with the character part of the assignment is to show our developments and a final rendered character drawing, alongside a prop and a vehicle. It was supposed to be done by the end of Week 7, and here we are 4 weeks later with it still not done. Fun!

So many moodboards…

A small slice of the development stage, these are a bunch of silhouettes for various characters I made up. Of this selection (we were aiming for 50 initial silhouettes) we had to pick three which were based on the same character and then develop 30 more from those three, but this time we were fleshing out the inner details. I'm up to this stage now.

Currently my character is based on Piglet, who used to be a circus performer before dropping out and joining forces with bandits. A master of playing the fool without being overly conscious of it, while always hiding their true identity behind a mask. They still have their circus shoes, but they've been modified over the years to be more combat ready. A long coat to protect from dust, the usual cargo pants seen in Fury Road, and a pig mask, the details of which i'm still fleshing out. As for the prop and vehicle, i'm thinking of a gliding flying machine (given piglet seems to always be carried away by the wind) and their prop is a spear with a spinning ring of chainsaws in the shape of a flower at the end.

My work so far, the two lower right side ones are the ones i'm going with despite their lower bar of detail.

The second part of the assignment it to take a scene from a selection of different movies, and break it down shot by shot into a storyboard, including rough and final storyboards, and then turning the finals into an animatic. It's definitely the easier part of the assignment, at least from my point of view. I've picked the scene from Mad Max 2 when Max meets the gyrocopter pilot for the first time.

The rough storyboard of the scene. I'm yet to go through and create a clean looking, multi layer final version which can then be translated into an animatic.

Next on the list of courses is Cross Media! It's an interesting course in that it's almost a taste of what's to come in third year. We were given a brief, “Don't mind the generation gap” where we were tasked to make a cross media narrative that plays upon, goes against, or has something to say on generational differences and stereotypes. Being that the project is cross media, we have been tasked with using two different mediums to tell the same story, and as an extra challenge we also have to take into consideration a narrative requirement between being location based, time based, or data driven.

I had an idea which I really liked but was hastily written and had role descriptions which I think scared people off. The mediums consisted of a game, a sculpture, and was location based. The game was a web based point and click adventure game which utilised real photos taken around Wellington, which were then manipulated to add certain elements, particularly puzzles (this part of the idea was blatantly ripped off an idea Marie had where we would use a 360º camera to take pictures and create a point and click game with that (think geoguessr, or Myst III as opposed to Riven)). In the game you would be able to go to the location where my location based sculpture would be set up. The sculpture in this case is an interactive computer terminal which tells the same story in a different way. Completing the story the terminal tells, and also taking into account clues placed around the terminal allows for the ‘true' ending to be unlocked in the point and click game. Along with this, the location in the game and the actual physical location have many differences, and it takes you to see both to see the differences (for instance, the hints around the terminal can only be found in the physical game, and are only hinted at in the web based game)).

My roles included wanting to use Unreal Engine 4, amongst other things, so that idea flopped. I ended up joining groups with Paris who had an AR game crossed with a location based ‘book' in the form of a poster campaign on public transport. Along with Paris and I joined Clara, Kennedy, Grace, and Jacob. We called ourselves Paris' Little Bitches, and got going! The whole project has developed fairly far since the initial concept was laid down. Originally, we were going to locate the posters on public transport but the lecturer Birgit was quick to point out that from an access standpoint that was far from ideal. Currently we are thinking of hosting the posters in malls, and public places where there is a wide range of audiences passing through.

In week 11 we had our demo for the project in class 1D04 which was fun! We printed hand outs and had our game functioning at a very basic stage on a couple of different computers. Our moderators, Bridget and Kerry Ann from the school of music and school of design respectively, seemed to like what we had done which was a relief.

A laggy screen capture of the basic button functionality which works with AR, i'll have a final version available on my portfolio after 7JUN

Not on my portfolio, but here is a demo which took me way too long to make.

Next on the list is Working with Scripted Material. This course has been fun as we've had a lot of creative wiggle room to do what we want, but at the same time we get a slice of how harsh things like money and time can be on creativity. A good reality check in other words. Back in week 1 we were given a triptych to use as a “story starter” so we used these three images, which had some basic dialogue and set pieces, and created a story from them. My idea didn't get picked, it was ridiculously ambitious as are most of my projects, and instead I joined Hunter's idea which involved Lovecraftian horror/thriller type stuff but set in New Zealand.

Thus In The Harbour Troubled Waters was born. Jonathan, our tutor, couldn't stand the old name. In our group we had Morgan as director, Hunter as producer, Paris as writer, Ebeney as production designer, Tim as script consultant and editor, and me on marketing.

A very low resolution screenshot of a poster Morgan made for the final hand in.

Our project, at least in our eyes, got the most criticism from Jonathan which was honestly super helpful. We've come out with a pretty solid concept to hand in, and along with that he likes our script. What a relief!

Lastly from my selection of courses is Portfolio and Dissemination! This course has been such a good kick in the arse to get myself to make my portfolio which for most of last year was just a handful of .html files sitting around in my project folders. Something else amusing about PRT is that this blog became part of my assessment! Not intentional at all but an added bonus. As a result the navigation on this blog has been cleaned up, and there's now a link to my portfolio at the top of the page! I'm thinking of adding social media links here too.

A sneak peek at my homepage. My portfolio is at obw.neocities.org!

The first half of the course just had us working on our portfolios and looking into what makes a portfolio good. I had a very good conversation with our lecturer and tutor, Sim, about our thoughts on what makes a portfolio stand out and how that is changing over time. Sim really wanted us to tell our story as a creator, and show progression and growth, whereas I was more of the understanding that only showing your absolute best in a compact and punchy portfolio was the way to go.

I mostly stuck to my guns with what I showed in my portfolio, for example my ridiculous VFX reel which is less than a minute long:

I'm not kidding!

Here's my animation one too!

Sim and my friends liked it though so i'm happy.

Our second part of the course was interesting, as we had to plan an event which could be used to promote our portfolios through. Josh came up with an idea for a game jam type arrangement where participants would bring in their own assets which were then added to a pool which all the rest of the participants could pull from to create pretty much anything, not just a game.

Thus, Multi Asset Slam House or MASH was born.

Bright pink, glitchy marketing was the path we took with this

We presented our idea earlier this week (week 12) and people seemed to really like it, including Matthew who is the course coordinator for some of the film courses in CMP which is yet another relief as he is very critical with his feedback.

That about sums it up for my courses! Along with this stuff I got close to starting a club with some friends, went to Global Game Jam in Wellington back in January, Massey Digital's attendance grew exponentially. Expect another post soon with those events and what's to come in the near future.

13:45 31MAY2019

First Year Done

2018 is pretty much done! As is my first year of CMP. It's crazy to think that there's only two years left… I'll be sure to make the most of them! With this post i'll be going through the final stretch at the end of semester 2, and looking at a bunch of photos I found recently which date back to April this year. In my previous post I said i'd hopefully post something after the 25th. Well… here we are a month and a half later. On to it!

As of writing this intro on the 16th of December it's somewhat of a blur as to what happened in the last couple weeks of the semester. After my Folly Foley post a bunch of things changed in rapid succession. I got week long extensions for VFX and 3D Modelling, and Sound as I was running out of time and nothing was done. That week (week 12) I attended fewer classes than I had for the duration of the semester. Taylor had his week 12 set out in such a way that it was possible to skip on of his lectures which was a huge help. That Friday (19th of October) I felt somewhat down as it would've been great to have pretty much everything done by then, but I kept trudging on.

In the days leading up to our group's transmedia pitch I mostly worked on my other stuff but made sure to stay in contact with Paris and Hunter. We had a final meeting not long before the pitch, either in week 12 or 13, and settled on what we were going to do and then left it until the day of the pitch. They both wanted to use a script to be sure everything would fit in, but at the time I was against the idea almost entirely. In retrospect it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and they both did a fantastic job. All in all our pitch went super well, Kevin loved the ideas presented, provided good feedback (as usual), and we managed to score an A+. What a relief!

I seem to remember that I finished SND at some point earlier than VFX or 3DM but I could be remembering that wrong. In fact as I type this I can remember standing in 1D12 alone in the dark playing through our movie soundtrack over the projector and loud speakers to make sure our levels weren't fucked on the night before I was due to hand it in. In retrospect, my time management was completely fucked! But I got it to a point where I was satisfied with everything in the ProTools project. I cleaned it up, prepared a package, and had it on a USB ready for 11AM on Friday the 26th. I met up with Mereana and Paris, and we headed in to a mixing booth with Neil. He actually really liked it! Another massive relief. There were a couple of details we had put in that no other group had which made us feel good. There were some sounds which we just completely ran out of time to record, but I managed to keep all the sounds we used originating from our own recordings. Some of them sounded strange, but some worked really well and it was satisfying to listen through the completed product. I wrote up a big document with details on all the sounds the night before, and Neil responded to that later with fantastic feedback (as always) and suggested things we could do to improve it. The same thing happened with the Formative assessment, where he even created a new ProTools session with a little tweak he made to one of our sounds. He's a fantastic teacher. Mereana and Paris were also the best teammates I could've had. I failed to show up to so many recording sessions and meetings (for Transmedia too) and they still persisted with me which was really cool of them. They were also great when it came to talking to Neil during our presentation, they made it easy which was the best. Same goes for Hunter and Paris again with Transmedia too.

After the pitch and sound presentation, it was time to move on to completing VFX and 3D Modelling. I took a short break, then headed over to K3 and set up camp. As expected, K3 was busy as fuck! Many people were in there finishing their stuff, and it wasn't just first years but some second and third years as well. I remember starting with VFX. It was the one I was finding the hardest at the time as the assessment was so vague, and as a result I hadn't properly started something which was worthwhile. After a bunch of different prototypes I came up with the idea to create a similar effect to a move by Katara in ATLA where she stops the rain in it's tracks, creating a dome of water, turning it into sharp ice shards and sending it careening towards a target. I didn't get quite that far with it, but I ended up creating an interesting effect where a fractured object explodes, the pieces fly into the air but are stopped in their tracks, and then are thrown into the ground. Looking back, it would've been fun to expand on with some animation and cinematography but there was no way I could've done it all in one day of course!

By the time I was ready to render I was actually running out of time. To my knowledge K3 closed at 1am so I started creating a manual render farm out of the now empty computers there. I set up 4 computers all running Arnold renders at once doing different portions of the video. It was awesome! To figure out a networked render was the dream but I had no time to figure it out at that moment. I managed to get down to 100 frames left before 11pm when the awesome security guy came along and politely told us that the labs actually close at 11pm and that we really should clear off before then. I stopped my renders just before 11pm, packed all my shit, and cleared off. I was sorta bummed but I wanted to keep going and get this sucker done otherwise it'd get in late. I set up my laptop that I'm writing this on in the coldest part of my room in such a way that allowed for plenty of airflow, and just let it whirr on while I fell asleep.

By this point I had actually finished 3D Modelling, I ended up creating a hand painted, slightly low poly Toad from the Mario Bros. series. Unlike VFX, I had been working on this model previously so it was mostly creating maps, painting, and rendering while I simultaneously worked on VFX. We were using Quixel to paint and man that program is a pain in the arse! I used to be a staunch defender of it in light of Substance Painter but man at this point I'd go over to Substance any day, Ddo really got on my wick. I managed to complete it and hand it in on time, unlike VFX which I ended up handing in the next day.

08:55MON22OCT2018: Work on Toad begins…

15:56FRI26OCT2018: The joys of xNormal's 3D viewer

17:29FRI26OCT2018: The painting is done!

17:38FRI26OCT2018: Sadness from across the room

18:59FRI26OCT2018: A new legend is born from the mind of Marie…

It's Toadd Howard!!!

Oh shit!!

20:12FRI26OCT2018: Rendering in progress

The last thing I did was write up my individual report for Transmedia on the 27th and… that's it! First year was done. It felt strange at the time and for at least a month afterwards too. I felt completely devoid of purpose, for a while when hunting for holiday work I felt the same way. I was still hanging out with friends which was what saved me from feeling any worse than I already was. It took me a long while to figure this all out too, it was the end of November when I realised that I have a need to create things constantly otherwise I feel like garbage! I also had the daunting task of moving out the cube ahead of me after all of my uni work was done. I managed to land my new place on the 12th of November and moved in at the end of that week on the 18th.

Always interesting to see just how much garbage accumulates over the course of a single year.

At some point around the 22nd or 23rd I went and hung about Hayden's room at the Cube for an entire weekend. We ate junk food for 4 days straight and just sat around doing fucking nothing but playing games and watching shows. It was kinda fun to begin with but it was what finally made me realise that to get myself out of my slump I was in I just had to create and do something. Anything! So I hauled arse out of there and started to make some changes. I stopped looking at social media. It sounds so obvious typing it out but MAN it took a lot of time out of my day. YouTube especially had the potential to scoop hours out of my day. YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram were all huge time sinks which I removed from my daily schedule. Of course this filled my day with… nothing. Around this time I was lucky enough to come across Lisa Kogawa's Time Management Stuff when my friend Lauren reblogged it. I decided to use her method to fill my day with a bunch of projects which would keep me creatively busy over the holiday period.

I went on a spur of the moment trip of Auckland for a week to relax and help me recoup, then as soon as I got back I was into cleaning my Cube apartment. I still hadn't cleaned anything despite moving all of my shit out and the lease ended on the 8th of December. So both the 7th and the 8th were busy days for me but I got it done in the end, I had held on to my room until the very end and it was sad to see it go. I had many good times there and it was the perfect introduction to Wellington, student life, and university as a whole.

See you 2F …

That pretty much brings us to the present, but there are a bunch of photos and videos I found on my phone which I wanted to share here.

10MAY: Digital Video Production in semester 1! My room briefly turned into a studio for our summative assessment. So many people ended up using the Cube for their DVP projects in semester 1 and to an extent those who took Film on Location in semester 2 continued to.

STUURRRRTTT for Computer Animation in semester 1! For context:

24JUN: One of many great views from the windows of 2F

In the process of uploading these photos and videos I actually found out there's a ton of photos that predate April! It's probably too many for this one post though, this is long enough! I'll be waiting until Stream is updated with all of its new course pages to get writing on the impressions and anticipations post for semester one of year two, 2019!

20:35 16DEC2018

Folly Foley

Audio production & sound design has been a fascinating course to take. Neil the lecturer has worked on films for at least thirteen years, and on other audio related jobs before that. All of the lectures have been super technical. Neil hasn't held back when it comes to throwing us in the deep end either. Pretty much as soon as the course began he had us recording audio and editing it in ProTools.

Recording has been heaps of fun. I'm in a group with my friends Mereana and Paris, both of who are fantastic to work with. Half the time we're in the foley room is taken up by long conversations instead of actually recording. We have gotten our work done though, even if at times it has been fairly last minute.

The formative assessment was to design a bunch of sounds for a zombie mobile game from scratch. Ours turned out pretty well which is good! Zombies tend to piss me off so to be able to create something decent out of it was satisfying. Neil's feedback on it was fantastic too, going to lengths to even edit our audio to push it more in the right direction to show us what we have the potential to do.

The summative has us creating a soundtrack for a short movie clip. We don't need any music or key dialogue though which is a relief. We had a recording session where the entire workshop went out to the K-town car park and recorded one of the technical demonstrator's van driving around. Our group managed to get inside the van too which was fun. We've also been in the foley room again, this time recording some of the audio straight to picture which has also been fun. I'm yet to actually listen to the car audio or even lay down tracks in ProTools as of writing this which is slightly worrying, but it will get done!

And that's all I have to say. I'm posting this in the dawn of week 12, on the 15th of October, with everything being due on the 19th this Friday. I pitch alongside Paris and Hunter for Transmedia Narrative and Storytelling next week, which we're looking on track to presenting well. There's still some cracks to iron out but it's looking good overall. 3D Modelling and VFX are both due at 11:55pm on the 19th which should be doable. Just this morning i've been thinking of ways to simplify my 3D modelling as it was starting to look a little too ambitious within the space of a week. I'm still divided on it though. VFX i'm also yet to start properly, as my old idea was looking a little bit shit and also too hard to do. Audio is due technically on Friday morning, so I have no choice but to prioritise it at the moment. So it's busy times overall, and hopefully some time after the 25th i'll post one last thing for this year's trimester and then it's on to year two. Crazy.

08:14 15OCT2018

Tris, Quads, and N-Gons

Many things have happened since my last post here a month ago, and i've only just started writing on the day which this is posted so I have heaps to cover.

First, some updates before I dive into 3D modelling. The VFX course has changed again. Taylor mentioned something that I had suspected would be the case. Our summative no longer has to be a match move if we don't want it to, and can instead be a simple fracturing and destruction simulation along with the use of daemons, and make it look compelling. In all honesty, I want to go ahead with attempting a match move as it is something I have tried multiple times in the past. An example of this is from the start of this year where I placed a ball and a cube on my desk back in Auckland. It wasn't exactly fantastic, my shadows were off and it is a super basic scene which I did nothing interesting with, but none the less I have a feeling that I have what it takes to complete the original task.

I didn't make the due date for the Weta Digital summer internship positions. I'm pretty bummed as a result but it has been a good lesson in what I need to learn for 3D modelling and animation. and also in time management. I've been visiting the Polycount forums recently and found their subforum of digital sketchbooks, which seem cool so i'll probably create one of my own some time soon. Having a collection of professional social media accounts is something I also need and have needed to do for a long time now.

Just this past weekend I was at a game jam called Pxl Jam with 3 friends Luca, Marie, and Hunter. We made a game called Freezing Point which won a prize for its sound which was a pleasant surprise. Unlike Souper Kingdom Adventure from semester 1, this game was actually complete. I got a box of those Lindor chocolates with the soft centre as a result, so I did the most responsible thing possible and sat on my bed stuffing them all down my gob. Needless to say I felt a little gross after that.

Lastly for these updates, we had our formative hand-ins last week. I thought that they were fine and only just met the criteria, which is something I don't really want to continue on with into the future. For sound, I felt that I needed to get the recorder out myself more, as I only ended up doing it once over the duration of the assessment. I also ended up cheating by using Logic which just felt so cheap, especially when I had so much time to complete it before but left it until the day before. 3D modelling was the same story, I left it until the very end just before the due date and actually ended up handing it in late which was just so stupid. VFX was the only exception, but even then I felt it could've been done better. All three were handed in, all three have 0% weighting on if I pass or not, and they filled their purpose as a learning opportunity, and damn if it has ever been one. I've found that i'm at an interesting point with my knowledge of 3D, sound, and VFX in that I know a lot about them, but haven't actually put in the effort and time into practising them.

Interesting to note here is that I've also been looking at the TIGforums (which are fantastic too) and have been reading through some devlogs and looking at peoples feedback as they go. Something interesting which came up on the Return of the Obra Din devlog is on page 12 where where someone mentions the Polycount Wiki with its great examples of shoulder topology and just topology in general. Things I wish I had read earlier, especially for the formative. Not only that but the course coordinators pointed us in the direction of the Polycount wiki as a resource. All the more to learn for the summative!

The 3D Modelling and Texturing course has been a really interesting and revealing course into the world and practise of making 3D models, mainly for games and movies (and any media closely linked to those two). It hasn't been all that easy to meet the tasks assigned by the tutors either. Taylor joked with the VFX class about how they have it way easier than the modelling course, and i'm inclined to agree. As practise, we had a couple of weeks to model our own robot models from reference images. Everyone, to my knowledge, stood up to the challenge and made a solid effort out of a fairly difficult situation. Our formatives were no where near as bad, as we had free reign over what we modelled. In the end I chose to attempt creating an organic character which set the bar a little high in retrospect. I left it until really late, and ended up handing it in late. I'm lucky in that I had no N-gons on my model save for a cone which I had placed in right at the end. As it turns out, maya doesn't subdivide the bottom face of a cone like it does with a cylinder! By that point it was Thursday morning at 7:30 and I was felling tired and slightly down about how my almost 1 night model had come out. I realise now the error in my ways and multiple times over it has taught me what not to do for the summative.

Our summative is to do a very similar thing. We are to model something of our choosing, only now we are allowed to use a variety of new techniques which we are learning in this latter half of semester 2, and we have to texture it. Luckily all of the groundwork of what we are allowed to do has been set down so I can start way earlier (pretty much now) which I intend on doing. Texturing is more fun than tedious, though as I write that all I can think of is that video of Gray Horsfield so i'm proceeding with caution! That post seems to become more and more relevant by the day.

As a final note, i'll try to post smaller WIP posts for each of these summatives coming up. All going well I'll be recording audio this weekend so there will be some photos from that and i'll finally write about the audio course. With both modelling and vfx i'll try to put my thoughts on here with what i'm doing for both courses. I want the summatives to be something far more than what the formatives turned out to be, which I think is completely doable.

I've made a second blog, obwcmp-dg for Dumping Grounds, where i'll post more lax content similar to rhinctus and rhinctus2.

09:25 18SEP2018

Vorticity

The visual effects course has changed a great deal since I started writing this two weeks ago. Out of my 50 tabs open at any one time this one tab on tumblr has remained, a small reminder that at some point I need to update myself again. The wait has been worth it though, because just last night the formative assessment briefs went live. The direction of the course has been changed and refined to a certain degree, with new and interesting things being added in by Taylor every week.

Initially our formative was to create something with MASH in Maya, but that has since been changed to Realflow now that it's installed on the K3 computers. This prospect excites me to no end as I was figuring out Realflow 6 back in 2013, before the interface change and nodes were introduced. Funny thing is that nothing has changed really, only added to. Dyverso fluids are great with how flexible they are. The nodes are simple to use and look better than they once did. The interface is just Maya now so there's nothing new under the sun in that regard. Unlike Realflow 2012, there are so many more tutorials now, even on the Next Limit Vimeo channel alone there's a ton, let alone elsewhere. I got into Realflow after watching Potion Overdose from CorridorDigital

which I thought was the best thing ever. At the time I never properly figured out how to together create a simulation, create a matchmove in Boujou, place it all in 3DS MAX, then comp it out in After Effects. It was possible, but I never quite managed. I've learnt a lot since then, so to finally be learning it at uni is really thrilling.

Old picture of my laptop screen with Realflow 2012 running some fairly large simulation given the laptops limited capacity. From an embarrassing time on my Twitter page in 2013 [link]

Our formative is fairly simple. We have been tasked to create a compelling fluid simulation using Realflow. Currently i'm thinking of creating a jet of water (or other liquid) with additional layers of foam and bubbles, so i'll see what happens. In my mind i'm thinking along the lines of brimstone from the Binding of Isaac.

Just today (Wednesday 15th August) at 2pm there was a talk from Weta Digital about various topics. It was a real WOAH moment for Hunter, Zen, Anton, and I as we sat in LT100 listening to them talk, show off Wetas tech, and answer people's questions. We briefly talked to Lucas afterwards who encouraged us to go up and talk to one of the presenters, Kevin Romond. Nervous as all hell we talked to him, along with Justin and NIkki. My mind is still reeling from it all, but the main takeaways I got from the whole thing are:
- Keep showreels punchy and to the point, to show your process, skill, and creativity
- In a similar realm, CVs should be super simple and clear, to show you can communicate clearly, which is paramount to teamwork seen throughout the filmmaking process.
- Weta Digital has a bunch of awesome in house tools
- Weta Digital has begun to stretch beyond Maya and Nuke, going into Houdini and Katana
- As said by Lucas, have a presence of your work online, and get in there early!
- With summer internships, give it a go!

As of now I have 30 or so tabs of Vimeo videos from NextLimit and a Lynda.com playlist of Realflow stuff to watch which have been sitting there for the past week so it's about time I got onto them. Nothing to say on the matchmove yet, only that it starts in the second half.

22:18 19AUG2018

Introductions Done

On Friday we had our first Transmedia Narrative and Storytelling workshop at 9am, which went for only one of the two hours allotted to it. Alongside myself in the Friday morning workshop is Marie, Paris, Hunter, Anton, Hayden, and Anton's roommate along with some others who I vaguely know.

For this workshop we went over the details of the narrative analysis assessment and were also shown some clips to further demonstrate medium specificity. Namely “Genre” and “Rejected” by Don Hertzfeldt. It was an interesting throwback to watch them again after they were meme'd to hell a matter of years ago.

We went into more depth for the narrative analysis essay, and as of writing this on Sunday and having gone through the lecture from Monday again, i'm feeling good about writing on Homestuck and it's various transmedia elements.

The first question we have to cover in the analysis is “What are the key narrative elements and structures in the case study?” which is fairly straight forward. Homestuck is a webcomic formerly hosted within the website called MS Paint Adventures (mspaintadventures.com). Homestuck features illustrations made to look like they were created in Microsoft's Paint software, but goes beyond the traditional webcomic style of only having static illustrations and forays into animation. Specifically it uses the GIF format, which endlessly loops its animations by default. Later into the comic when lots of story had to be shown, Flash games were used, where the player could control a character in the webcomic, uncovering plot points in the situation they were placed in. Flash animations were also used for more complex animations further into the comic. Finally Homestuck also doesn't follow traditional webcomic style in that characters don't speak dialogue through the use of speech bubbles, but instead a “chat log” is used where the various characters will interact with their own unique way of speaking through text. This alternative style of webcomic is pushed further by the fact that the next button isn't always just an arrow to the right, but contains a ‘command' which hails its origins to not only classic text adventure games, but also to how MS Paint Adventures was started, with its creator Andrew Hussie posting a panel on a forum, and allowing readers to reply to the thread to progress the story. This model evolved into the ‘Suggestions Box” on MSPA, which was eventually dropped as the comic was too popular for that model to work. However, that structure persisted, with a command often being issued to progress the story, with the comic reading back the results of the command. This mechanic became integral to MS Paint Adventures and especially Homestuck, which had a narrative of a “game within a game” as is shown in panels like 713. More aspects include Flash pre-loaders, having to wait for pages to load, the discussion forums (which are now dead), any animation or game marked with and [S] contains either sounds or music, the death of flash also influenced the comic and how it was changed over the years. There's more but i'm trying to get through this as much as possible before I leave K3 today.

The second question is “How are these key narrative elements and structures dispersed across multiple media platforms” this one is slightly less clear, and I get the feeling that I covered it to a certain extent in my ramblings for the first question. There are illustrations, GIF animations, Flash animations and games (which both have sounds and preloaders), more recently web video which offers more control over where in the video you are, the commands, chat logs, and descriptions of the panels are all text, separate from the panel. I'll need to flesh this aspect out more and figure out which aspects of question one overlap with this one.

Question three is “Why are the different narrative elements presented through the media platforms that they are (why is THIS part of the story told using THIS media form, and what impact does that have on storytelling)” which I could go on about for yonks, also bringing in aspects of how the community has contributed to the art and music of the animations as its fanbase grew to greater numbers. This also ties in really closely to the whole command system with the old suggestion box etc. Also goes into the pacing of the comic and with pre loaders building suspense and giving clues as to what's coming up.

The final, and not as important, question is “Does your transmedia storyworld take inspiration from how it arranges/uses these narrative elements and structures in the way that it does? Are there precedents?” which is fairly easy to talk about when it comes to Homestuck. Before Homestuck came Problem Sleuth, Bard Quest, and Prison Break. Prison Break was a forum game which Hussie was creating back then, and forum games, role playing, and thread choose your own adventures are nothing new. MSPA changed up the formula slightly, especially as PS and HS got along in their stories, but it is still pretty much the same concept. So there is definitely stuff to talk about there.

It will require more fleshing out and refinement but it's been good getting onto it early, there are people who still don't have an idea and I fear for them.

As for the transmedia storyworld, I still don't have a group i'm working with set in stone. My ideas are still fairly up in the air too. I'd love to do some awesome mix of the ideas I think I outlined in the previous post but will reiterate here. Take a bunch of Simon Stålenhag paintings, mostly the ones of the teenager and her robot, and the horrifying fleshy growth ones. That 80s aesthetic, plugged into more of a fantasy setting with modern orcs, goblins, kobolds, elves, and probably some others too, but flipping the tables on their head so that elves are skulking freaks living in the dark places of the world, whereas orcs, kobolds, goblins, and humans are properly functioning members of society. Some inspiration below:

Warmup sketch #orc #venti by Chris Rahn @chrisrahnart [link]

By home by Simon Stålenhag @simonstalenhag [link]

LOOM with art by Mike Ferrari, Gary Winnick, Steve Purcell, and Ken Macklin

Rain and Lights by Sara Greyfox @terranaut [link]

Another World by Éric Chahi

The only thing left to do after figuring out the world itself is the characters within it and a story for one of or a bunch of those characters to follow, and also what mediums I want to use. With LOOM being in there I would like to do some point and click adventure game, or a moody atmospheric platformer like Another World. As for how this would link in with other people's platforms, I don't have a clue! Also this is only one idea, it's going to be interesting to hear what other people have to say for anything which they have thought up for their projects. Finding a happy compromise probably won't be easy but at the same time I have no idea what could happen. Regardless, I want to push this project, and all of the major projects this semester, to their absolute limits.

The only other thing which happened in the workshop was the embarrassing introductions which the tutors have to but so don't want to do. This workshop marked the last introductory lecture/workshop for the semester, and from here on out everyone is digging into the major projects. It's an exciting time really, as all of the introductions take so long to get out of the way, this is where the fun stuff begins properly.

22:19 29JUL2018

Semester 2 is going to be fun!

12:44 29JUL2018

Impressions and Anticipation

The first week and half of the second week are down and already there's been a huge load of stuff which has happened.

Transmedia was the very first thing we had and it looks fantastic. On the student portal “Stream” almost half of the courses content is black bars with {REDACTED} plastered everywhere as Kevin hasn't yet gotten around to adding all the rest of the material online. This meant that the major project for the course was also redacted, so I was in the dark on what it entailed when I wrote the first post.

Turns out the major project is for us to create our own transmedia storyworld with a group. My mind is buzzing with ideas. The first is to take a group of Simon Stålenhag or Jakub Rozalski paintings and create a full world out of that atmosphere, possibly using the 80s mashup, or, something more like what we grew up with in early 2000s NZ. The second idea is taking classic fantasy races like orcs, goblins, kobolds, elves, possibly more, and placing them in an 80s or 2000s world. As i'm writing this I realise that those could easily be combined for an interesting result. At that point it's about what mediums we plan to use and what story we're going to tell across those. What does each medium bring to the table, and what challenges or innovations to the story telling does that include? It's deserving of its own post sometime after this Friday when we've had our first workshop.

Before we get onto the storyworld fully we have to do an essay analysing a transmedia text, but already it is looking like a far more enjoyable course than media studies, which is a huge relief. We hand in the essay on the 10th of August, and pitch the draft of our storyworld on the last day of semester, the 24th of August, with a small report of our individual contributions due in on the 26th.

The VFX course is like a dream come true. I don't really know what it is about VFX which gets me so excited every time I look into it, even more so than animation and sound. In the course we have two assessments. The first is to create a cool motion graphics thing in Maya's MASH system. The second is to create a full match move composite with NUKE and Maya, possibly including RealFlow and even Houdini if we so feel like it. I've been going to K3 early in the mornings with the start of this semester, and as often as possible i've been throwing myself awake at 6 and hauling my sorry arse over to either the library or to K3 at 8am when everything opens up at uni so that I can get a good early start. It's difficult given my habits from last semester and over the break but with more discipline and practise on it i'll be there at 8 every morning almost regardless.

This routine is also to help out with practising 3D modelling and animation for my portfolio work which I need to submit to Weta Digital by the 31st of August which is tantalising as I am yet to actually create any work. I feel as though i'm worrying about it too much but at the same time I want it to stand out as something cool so I really have to get cracking with that. I've been holding off since the start of the fucking mid year break, and that was 4 weeks ago now. It's exciting though and I believe I can get it all done along side the work for the four courses.

The SND course is just so cool. I knew it was going to be one I liked purely from the description, let alone the details on the stream page. Being reintroduced to all of the audio rooms and equipment was a joy, the lecturers and tutors are all great people, There are two main assessments, the first is to record and mix our own sounds to a video of a first person zombie game, and the second hasn't been talked about at all yet, not even on Stream. We get to go to Park Road Post in Wk. 11 though which is super exciting.

Finally the 3D Modelling course is the one i've seen the least of so far. It's looking great and the stuff we are covering is interesting but as the 2nd lecture is tomorrow I have little more to say. The first assessment is to create a model, and the second is to create a textured model. There's more details to what is required but it's more going into technical stuff, and in the long run it's what cool shit we model and/or sculpt for the assessment which counts the most.

Next posts will more so be on the individual courses with detailed thoughts on what all the assessments contain. Everything is looking great so far though.

23:00 25JUL2018

Hello!

Welcome! This is my CMP progress blog which i'm starting at the dawn of the second semester of year one. I always enjoy reading back on progress and critiquing my past self and as a result i've been considering opening this blog since the start of semester one. I held off though, as I was still getting things sorted.

There are tags for each of the courses i'm taking for whichever semester is current. For example, this semester there is #3DM, #VFX, #TNT, and #SND for 3D modelling and texturing, visual effects and motion design, transmedia narrative and storytelling, and audio production and sound design.

Along with this, there are tags for the years and semesters Y1, Y2, and Y3. These are paired with tags for the individual semesters, such as “Y1S2″ for this semester upcoming.

This system will eventually allow anyone to filter the posts by the respective course, or by the time period those posts are from.

20:06 12JUL2018

copyright © 2019 Oscar Barber-Wilson