Monday, 30 May 2011

Maya Tutorials... Matchmoving...

The static match mover tutorial has proven to be a bit trickier due to its need for accuracy in replicating the objects around the scene. My aim is to take my time with this tutorial over the next few days instead of rushing to complete it for tomorrow morning, as i feel this would be more beneficial in helping me complete it without any further problems...

Maya Tutorials... Hi Res Character Modelling...

Work Placement... Evaluation...

My work placement at Butch Auntie involved producing audio/visual animations for projections at live events including a wedding, champagne promotional event, club rebranding and a gig. During my 7 week period working for Butch Auntie, I was required to work from home, and using the relevant software and the usual production pipeline, I was provided with briefs in which I would be required to hit regular deadlines with high quality work that would entertain their client’s wishes.

Working from home may seem like a dream job, but in fact, it requires much discipline in resisting the temptations that surround you. In a normal working environment such as an office, you are surrounded by work colleagues and a controlled working environment that only allows for one break in a day, working your normal office/shift hours, however when working from home, the controlled environment is jeopardised by possible distractions. This became an issue during my second week of the work placement in which I went home for Easter. Trying to juggle my time between seeing my family and hitting my deadlines with high quality work was a struggle, especially when you live by the sea. But, in the end, I decided to come home early, learning that working from home requires focus and discipline to stay on task and stick to the working hours and breaks that I would maintain in an office environment.

Working from home meant that the main forms of contact were email and phone. Since the main form of communication has been email, I have learned about the importance of communicating with your colleagues, asking questions and regularly checking up on the progression of projects and the work produced. At the beginning of my work placement, I really struggled to grasp using email to communicate with my colleagues as I’m often used to communicating verbally and I believe it helps bring a better social connection between your workmates. In the end, however, I learned to often leave my Hotmail account open in a tab so i could regularly check for emails, and if I didn’t I knew I’d have an inbox full of emails waiting for me to reply to.

Time management was a skill I needed to quickly grasp working for Butch Auntie as regular deadlines for feedback meant I would need to work quickly to produce better quality work. The importance of time management became clear after the first week in which, I managed to miss my first deadline by a few hours and the second deadline I missed completely due to travelling home. This wasn’t exactly the best start to my work placement, and helped me to quickly establish an expectation of regular deadlines and make sure I was hitting them. As I got better with time management and hitting regular deadlines, the next step was to produce high quality work at a quicker pace. On the projects that had less technical constraints, I was able to produce more work of a higher quality, however this is something that wasn’t always achievable as some projects required more technical skills, meaning I had less time to spend on the quality and creativity.

The technical side of this work placement often proved a challenge, as I had to get to grips with a new piece of software, After Effects, as well as do whatever possible to achieve the visual elements their clients required. This often meant doing a lot of research into technical tutorials for both after effects and Maya. I often found video co-pilot to be extremely useful, teaching me the core skills of After Effects. I also began to learn more about the technical side of file formats, often being asked to produce specific file types, so that Pete could adapt the files for screening himself. These technical skills are essential for my growth and development coming into the third year, and have taught me to go out of my own way to solve technical challenges instead of relying on Alan to provide the answers.

Overall, my experience at Butch Auntie has been a crucial opportunity for me to gain knowledge and experience of the media industry that I wouldn’t be able to achieve working on a university project. I have been introduced to new complexities of working to a brief, for clients, by meeting regular deadlines for live events and I tried to make the most of this opportunity in my own personal development. I will be continuing to work for Butch Auntie over the next week or two, following a project we have already begun right through to its completion. From this I hope to work for the company further, not only to expand my portfolio of work, but to gain further experience and skills that future employees would value when I leave university.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Work Placement... Week 6...

This week, whilst awaiting to hear about the feedback of our Mayfair event work, we were asked to return to the rebranding project for the company in Ibiza. In doing so, Pete asked me to look into producing more complicated particle effects with Maya, involving animating the particles to move around the shot before creating elegant objects. In particular, my concern was to figure out the best way of animating the particles to move along a path elegantly. Despite searching the internet thoroughly and referring back to Alan's Maya tutorials, i struggled to produce anything, spending a lot of time on technical issues which sacrificed the creativity, and in the end, i handed in a pitiful animation with some particles moving about, much to my own disappointment. After my unsuccessful attempt at tackling more complex particle work in Maya, Pete asked me to produce five glowing animated tattoos, that would be projected onto real dancers using motion tracking. I was allowed to use 2 flourish designs, and asked to incorporate the logo of the company into the designs. At first this seemed like a really fun and interesting project, but on the back of my unsuccessful particle work, i really struggled to produce anything of any real quality or creativeness. These first few days were a real dissapointment, and i really needed to step up the work flow and quality. Over the weekend, we we've been asked to return to the Mayfair work, taking onboard the feedback from our clients, who seem to want more of a tron influenced theme with glowing animated lines. Taking on board the feedback of my own work and possible new pieces of work, i'm going to crack on and really push myself in this last week, to compensate for a disappointing few days...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The History of Butch Auntie...

VJ Specialists "Butch Auntie" are a creative outfit comprised of two film and television animators with many years experience in providing bespoke visual content for live events. In Mixing client-led content to live music, they've blown away countless major venues and festivals with their original spark, humour and bombastic video library. Butch Auntie comprises of two directors Steve Brown and Pete Wallace who have a long history in Visual Media and Animation. Before founding the company, both worked on major feature films and TV commercials for some of the best companies around. Steve's vast experience in the worlds of CG animation, Stop-frame and 2D animation have made him Butch Auntie's 'irreplaceable Quality Control and Ideas-Man.' Butch Auntie is also run by Pete Wallace, a Designer, VJ and Video Artist based in London, who explains, 'It was started with music events in mind, but has become an Audio Visual company with a variety of live event and installation setups in it's armoury. As a team of creatives and performers we take on projects from performance-based visuals through to large-scale projections for private and commercial clients.'

The kind of work Butch Auntie produces for its clients includes:

- Performance Visuals and Video Projection
- VJ set with DJ
- Architectural Projections
- Bespoke Mapping for large Buildings
- Video content for Private / Corporate Events

Some of the projects and events they have produced work for include:

- Carry On Doctor! - Private Themed Party, Leicestershire:

'A client with a passion for the Carry On movies gave us an unusual brief for this private, fun themed event. In keeping with the fantastic decor, we entertained the dancefloor with Ealing Mashups alongside DJ Matt Braddock.' (Butch Auntie).
- 1950's Argentine Buenos Aires Tango Birthday Party

'Wilton’s Music Hall is the last surviving and oldest grand music hall in the world.  From 1859 - for close on 30 years – Wilton’s was alive with the magic of classical overtures, opera, choral, folk, dance, burlesque, circus acts, comedy and contemporary songs.  1500 people used to cram into the music hall to hear the top acts of the day. Auntie's visit to Wilton's Music Hall was a 70th Birthday Party for the recently deceased Christian Wolffer, millionaire wine-grower. The party was themed around 1950s Buenos Aires Tango, with other Argentinean influences. We accompanied live performances, act as a backdrop to some hired Tango-dancers - and a fab disco at the end of the night.' (Butch Auntie).
- 'Poetry City', Canterbury Festival:

Canterbury Festival managed to surpass itself this year,  with all kinds of events all around the city. One of it's most engaging features was the construction of a Poem written specially in the weeks running up to the Festival period.  Poet John Siddique and the Workers of Art commisioned us to map his work onto the ancient Westgate Towers at the of the Main Street. The work was entitled 'Poetry City'. Butch Auntie, her sister Clever Projections, and Artist Marc Chazot were pleased to have the chance to use written copy more formally within an AV artwork. This literally gave the building something to say, charging the company's designers with finding the best way to display an often delicate area of literature, without disturbing the flow or meaning behind each line.

'It was important that we used our technical skills to make the installation of this artwork as flexible as possible, so that changes could be made on site and everyone's expectations could be met. We had not used Poetry as a graphic element until now, and so we needed to make sure that we configured our software to maximise control over the separate foreground and background layers. It was thrilling to see local people's reaction and we've been humbled by the grand feedback' (Pete Wallace).

- Arcadia Stage - Glastonbury Festival:

‘The Team enjoyed a rapid-fire setup and Visuals set for the wierdest stage on earth!...
The Glastonbury Festival's Arcadia Stage was a spectacle in itself, our cherry on their Cake was the rapidly deployed projection setup we created for Electronic Funk band, The Egg.’ (Butch Auntie).

- The Tabernacle, South Kensington, London:

'As the sun fell on South Kensington, we turned its architectural jewel into an animated, living creature! On behalf of The Rainbow Collections Children's Foundation, Sophie Barker organised a Charity Auction inside The Tabernacle. Our task was to attract anyone and everyone to this fantastic building, inside which a large sum was raised to benefit school children in Africa.' (Butch Auntie).

- Warehouse Funhouse, Architectural Mapping:

'The client could have asked for something normal.  The client could have asked for something which would have looked delicate and ornate. But on this occasion we were happy to supply some of the oddest and most bombastic designs we've produced so far. This launch party in Islington gave the guests the chance to discover Alan Parker's new Design & Fabrication space while getting to know his friends and other associates.  As they partied, we choregraphed animations and photography to coincide with the evening's events. With a live link to the DJ, we decorated with live sound to keep everyone dancing well into the night.' (Butch Auntie).
Contact Details:

☎ +44 7759 039 167



Work Placement... Week 5....

Week 5 began with a new brief for a company rebranding in Ibiza. There were a list of different effects that the team were looking for, but the most relevant to me was the use of particles after the recent maya tutorials we've done. I mainly used Alan's coke can tutorial to make objects disappear. The first object being a cream teapot which was an image shown in the actual brief as an example. The feedback i got from this suggested using the same effect on human body parts. Instead of modelling a human body from scratch, Pete suggested getting some free models off the internet and using those. They were quite hard to come by, but i found a few models on creativecrash in the end and decided to use those. I produced three animations to be sent off to show the client, two of which made it into the video showreel that was actually sent off. The most successful was a human model falling from the sky with particles falling off causing the model to disappear. I then took this into after effects using the recommended colour palette of light blue, which worked nicely in producing what seemingly looks like an underwater scene, with the particles coming from the body looking like bubbles. At the moment, i am unable to show any of this work as it is an on going project, but as soon as i get the green light i'll pop up some stills and videos.

The second half of this week involved another new brief, for an event in Mayfair for a large champagne champagne. This unusual corporate event involves a DJ playing from an altar, with pete projecting onto the back altar wall of the image above. We were asked to produce three animations for the event, by friday evening so that pete coould give us the feedback for changes that would need to be applied by sunday evening. My first piece using the idea of the inside of a champagne bottle with the water rising and bubbles flowing. I used the unique glowing shield shape of the branding for the new champagne to form the shape of fish swimming through the champagne before revealing the shield logo as though the bottle had been twisted round. I continued the theme of transforming the shape of the logo into an animal, by using two of them together to form wings of a butterfly, which accompanied another flourish design courtesy of the work i produced in the Cotton Club project. My final animation was specifically intended to accompany the music the dj was playing, as i animated glowing green, yellow and red blocks to look like an equaliser. Animating it to the music is something i'm yet to do, but i will be intrigued to find out how it works. I'll leave you with an image of a previous event at the venue to give you an idea of what this kind of project could look like on the day...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Cotton Club Compilation Video....

Here's the compilation of footage I produced for the Cotton Club brief...

Work Placement... Week 4 and Easter Holiday...

During the two weeks of easter, i continued to produce work for Butch Auntie aiming to get as much experience from the opportunity as possible. During the first week and a half, we continued producing work for the Funkagenda project, developing our ideas to produce as much content as possible for the set. These consisted of a bold and graphical style using surface shaders in Maya that consisted mainly of a red, black and white colour palette. Its possible that we will be coming back to this project further into the work placement, but for now i am unable to present any of the content i have produced just yet...

The Cotton Cub Project

The Cotton Club project consisted of producing really slow animations that were projected onto a J-shaped sheet (3072x768, Shown above) based on the them of 1930's/40's New York, specifically focusing on dance, jazz and music of the time period. Despite the musical focus, i decided to work on some growing flourish patterns in After Effects, as this was an Art Nouveau style that Pete was also looking for. I've been getting more used to using After Effects now, and i was able to produce some flourish patterns in photoshop before taking them into after effects and using a video tutorial to learn how to animate them growing. This then lead the way for several design ideas i produced for Pete, the first being a duplication of the growing flourish design layered with different colours to fill up the screen. Then, after watching a videocopilot tutorial on flourish designs, i learned of the kaliedascope effect in After Effects, which produces really effective symmetrical patterns that can easily be animated and looped. These became the first preliminary tests, in which Pete gave me feedback, which mainly concerned the jittery pace of the growing animation, due to being such a slow speed. I then moved onto the concept of chandeliers being slow lowered into the frame before the flourish patterns grew around them. This was probably my most successful piece of work so far and the last version seemed to work the best both in pacing and as an overall composition. After this Pete asked me to edit together some slow stills based on the theme of the night and use steel girders to produce some abstract stills. The slow fading in of the feathered stills for the diting piece seemed to work nicely with its soft pacing, however the abstract stills i produced based on steel structures weren't quite fitting with the rest of the work, as they feel to futuristic and Sci-Fi like. After the event on Friday evening, Pete sent me two pictures and a video of my work being projected during the event, these being the chandeliers and the kaleidascope effect. It's a great feeling knowing that your work is being showcased out there to people and in such an impressive fashion. Below are some stills of the work i've produced for the Cotton Club event, and i will be uploading the videos from Vimeo soon, so keep an eye out for those...