Oooooooh Updates!

So, what's new?

I'm writing this as part of a website refresh, I wanted a little more structure and direction to how I present my work, so I've split my work into the 3 disciplines I enjoy the most and want to get hired for.

For a long time I've felt like a pro at 2D design and animation. The fact you can have fun making cool designs and quite quickly animate them with smooth keyframing has always appealed to me, but more recently I've really been focusing on frame-by-frame animation with my wacom (mainly cool fluid effects, but that transfers to so many other applications), and getting my character animation even more on-point. This has been my main area of learning, and there's an absolute goldmine of new techniques that I've been enjoying digging in to. It's my aim over the coming months to get hired by studios that I admire, where I can get some more high-profile, high budget 2D work that I can be proud of.

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In a previous post, I talked about my short-term goal of getting better at 3D work, which I have improved considerably at. Although I stopped short of getting so far into it that I can be considered a specialist, I have got the generalist C4D skill set nailed down and have worked on some great projects since then by being able to offer an "anything but 3D character rigging/modelling/animation" service, although I have had fun dabbling with simple characters on personal projects too. I've bought a nice new rig that I can use OTOY's Octane with - I think even if you can't use it on all projects, it helps a hell of a lot when trying to improve texturing, lighting and rendering skills that carry over into the standard C4D render engine. 

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Unfortunately most of the work I have done in this area is for an agency that has very strict rules about what I can show of the work I do for them (none of it). I'm not going to hold this against them, as they are all great people, it just means a lot of the awesome 3D stuff I've done over the past couple of years can't see the light of day with my name on it. It doesn't bother me too much, it was super fun working on them, I got a lot more efficient at working with C4D and I charge a bit more for these jobs to make up for the lack of exposure, so everybody is happy really.

The final discipline I want to show to the world is my work on Films. This is quite a vague title for projects I have worked on that cover a lot of disciplines. The ones I have showcased on my website I had varying roles on, most of them I worked on the graphic overlays, titles and compositing, but also the edit. A good edit with the right music can be very inspiring, energetic and emotive. It can be the ideal solution for a client that needs a quick turnaround on a smaller budget.

What now? I've got a couple of personal projects close to release. These focus on 2D, character and have also allowed me to showcase my Art Direction. Like I said, this is with a view to getting jobs with some of the studios that I admire. I'll continue to work on small projects that I can focus of good design, illustration and animation. I see a longer term trajectory of my career taking me into Art Direction in the next 5 years, so realising this goal is what I'll put most of my down-time energy into.

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Social Media and all those other things I don't like

So I have a problem with social media, and the general keeping up on updates and other things that I feel are a waste of time when there are more important things to do. Like this post for example - it's just a drop in the ocean when you consider all of the thousands of lines of ramblings that are posted online every second, but even I can recognise that they are important. Perhaps not on their own, but combined with a healthy twitter stream, regular video content posted online and interacting with vimeo users it helps build an image of "this guy cares about what he's doing and wants to tell you all about it".

Not that my reluctance to spend time on twitter means that I don't care about what I'm doing, on the contrary I very much DO care about what I'm doing, it's just that when I'm doing things like that it feels like a big waste of time, and I'd rather be doing the work that I care about doing (namely animating or designing). So I've decided to devise a new system.

In the past when I've had a job on, I'll just forget about everything else apart from that job. In a way, that's a good thing. It means when I'm working for somebody for a day rate, that's all I'm doing. I'll get up in the morning, work, take a small lunch break, work, then when I've worked my 8 hours I'll stop and find something else to do in order to relax. The problem comes when I get a 6 week booking, which is then followed up with a 4 week booking, then I might get another 6 week booking and before I know it several months have passed without even thinking about twitter or vimeo and all my down-time focus is on accounts or backing-up. In reality, If I just earmarked a few hours a week to online promotion stuff, my twitter feed would look much happier.

So my new system will consist of "Online-Bullshit-Credits(TM)", or "OBCs". Every week I'll have a number of credits to use up on "Online-Bullshit-Activities(TM)", or "OBAs" - I'll have to iron out the exact amount I need to do, but the goal is to spend at least 1 hour of every day on OBAs whilst not on a job, and 30 minutes of every day on OBAs whilst I am on a job. These will be spread out over a week, so in theory if I have a lot on in the daytimes and evenings of a week, I could just lump all of my OBCs into a 3.5 hour slot on Saturday morning. While this wouldn't be ideal, it would encourage me to squeeze some OBAs into the evenings when I can, 30 minutes isn't really that much and I could easily do this instead of jumping into a quick session of Rocket League when I've finished my work for the day.

I'm going to see how it goes, there will be a tricky balancing act between twitter, vimeo, blog posts and emails - something will count as an Online-Bullshit-Activity(TM) as long as I'm interacting with the outside world. Day to day activities will not count (such as client communication for jobs and bookings), but emails to people out of the blue that I struggle to get motivation for - perhaps old colleagues or networking opportunities will.

Anyway, this post has filled about 20 minutes of today's OBA, so I'm happy. Now I'm going to share some cat gifs on twitter.

It's been a long time coming...

Wow, please don't look at when my last post was, it's just embarrassing.

A whole lot has happened since my last post, or my last update! I've been on a 5-month long adventure traveling part of the world, moved house twice and spent more time in London than any self-respecting human being should ever be made to spend there.

You can see an animation I did about one part of our travels here:

I've made the tricky decision to cut back on some of my workload, in order to improve my skills and get more involved in the online community. I have been slowly improving my C4D skills, but there is so much I still need to learn. So to do this I have had to turn down some work, I'm not sure if it was the right decision yet and I don't want to burn any bridges, but I would love to become the kind of designer that gets brought in on high-profile projects, so that will be my focus for the next year or so. Let's see how it goes...


 

Illustration / Shark Liver Oil

 The Old Man And The Sea

The Old Man And The Sea

So, recently my brother (Dave) and his friend (Matt) released a series of podcasts called Shark Liver Oil. It's a podcast about books, but it's not as dull as you'd think.

The reason I'm writing about it here is because I recently started listening and one of the lines in the first episode (The Old Man and The Sea) tickled me so I thought I'd practice my "do more illustration" resolution by creating one based on this.

I am quite aware that standing alone, this does little for the observer who has not listened to the podcast ("what?.. a harpoon..? what? why? ...Some kind of die hard reference.... I don't remember a shark in the film.... what? I've read the book but i don't remember a festive theme..."). So in that respect it fails to reach a wider audience, but I thought I'd do it as some kind of fan art, and at the very least get a free plug on the podcast (ahem).

So a little explanation. The two are chatting about the book, explaining that it is about an old cuban badass of a fisherman who goes hunting for a shark. Dave explains that it is basically "Bruce Willis Goes Fishing". So there you go.

Updates!

Well, it has been a while since my last post, but today is a designated "do stuff on the website" day. There are some cool projects I've been working on recently, a couple of which are online, a couple are still pending release.

I've been trying to get a bit of variety in my work - a lot has been influenced by my self promo animation, which has had a great reception and has found me a bit of work, which is good. I'm quite aware that it is playing on the current shape layer/ vector style that is getting a lot of love in the motion graphics community, and while this isn't a bad thing at all and it still looks fresh to me, I've been trying at every opportunity to diverge from this and get out of my comfort zone a bit more. 

The way that I'm going about this is to approach projects from a different viewpoint (whether it is 3D, film, stop motion) and to get more into illustration. This has always been a weak point for me - and by that I mean the act of actually sitting down with a pen/pencil/paintbrush and drawing something that looks good before I touch it up in the computer.

I think that doing personal projects that involve this will help significantly. This is mainly because when faced with a commercial animation project, I think "how can I make something that looks good, but can be easily animated and turned around on time and to budget by one person?" When illustrating a single frame, these restrictions disappear and I can play around with styles without worrying about how layers and textures will animate. This in turn will hopefully spawn some techniques that can carry through into my animation.

Anyway, more on that in a different post. And more on what I've been up to in a professional capacity in a third post. Today might be a bumper-triple-post kind of day, which I'm not sure is the right way to do things when maintaining a blog (in fact, I'm positive it's not what you're meant to do) but what if It's another 2 months before I find the time to post something? Just pretend that they are all spaced out at regular intervals and we'll be fine...

Voice

I've just finished my latest "word brief" - it was a long time in the making, mostly because I wanted to learn new skills to incorporate. I modeled the microphone in Cinema 4D, and used sound effectors to generate movement in the tubes. I wanted to play around with thinking particles and dynamics as well, so although I could have have done it in a much simpler way, I generated the spirals coming out using TP - the original idea was much more complex and had more groups of particles, but it started to get a bit messy so I toned it back. the particles floating in front of the microphone were created with a cloner object with dynamics that collide with the tubes.

I used another technique to extract the audio in After Effects, which controlled the circle behind the mic. I then added several adjustment layers to alter the exposure, contrast and added an optical flare.

Illustrated Aliens | Motional

This is a fantastic and ambitious project by Illustrator/Animator Andy Martin. I just can't believe how much thought and effort he has put into this.

Every day on his blog Illustrated Aliens, Andy uploads a new character illustration that will inhabit a planet. At the end of each month he releases an animation about the planet that involves the characters he has designed, and a print of the planet and characters. Each animation has it's own theme and message that reflects the characters design.

After Effects timesaving: Performance | Motional

I've just written this article for Motional.net on improving performance when working in After Effects. Some of the features covered are fairly basic, but it's always good to know the little tricks you can do to speed things up.

Busy Busy...

It's been a little while since I posted anything on here, and it's only partly due to laziness. For the past few weeks I've been in London working on a nice a nice little project, something that I hope to share when it's finished. I try not to make a habit of doing work after work, like blog posts or self-initiated projects. Towards the end of my previous job I started to feel burnt out after spending months of working until midnight on my own stuff, but seeing as I haven't done a post in a while I thought I'd do a few while I'm waiting for Counter Strike to download onto my mac. 

My current project is something I'm quite excited about, it's the first 'complete' project I've been asked to work on since becoming a freelance designer and I've loved being able to generate ideas, draw storyboards and styleframes, then really keyframe the shit out of it. It's turning into the most enjoyable job I've ever worked on as a professional. I think it's going to look great.

My (continuing) Motion Graphics Adventure

So, a few weeks since I set up on my own and I've been enjoying it so far. Work has been quite sparse, but thankfully not non-existent and there have been encouraging signs following the various people I have spoken to about my work. It's quite frightening that I don't have a regular income any more, but I've been quite good at limiting my spending and am way under budget, which is nice. 

The other thing that's been nice is to just have the time to work on my own projects and development. A few days ago I posted a work-in-progress of my self promo, and it's coming along nicely. I've been able to interact with the design community much more now that I have a freedom to set my own schedule, and although I've got a long, long, long list of skills to learn and tutorials I to do, I've enjoyed being able to get through a good chunk of learning without stressing myself out by allocating the 3 hours between finishing work and going to bed to doing extra work in the hope of getting to the level that I want to be at.

That's the tricky balance for me as a motion designer, I'm constantly feeling as though I must do better, I'm very aware of the fact that there are many, many people out there better than me so I'm always pushing myself - I know I'm not bad but sometimes I can feel quite inadequate as a designer. I think that the most important thing is that I continue to do this for the right reasons, the reason I started in the first place - because I love doing it, and one day I might be as good as the designers I look up to (although I am fully aware of the fact that once I get to the level I think I want to be, I'll no doubt want to be even better). But that's part of the fun of of it

I'm relieved that I'm not quite as lazy that I used to be, I used to be very aware of the fact that I had to work very hard to fight my laziness, but I think that part of me has been beaten into submission - mostly due to the fact that when I get stuck into a good project I just can't stop, and those times keep me going when I'm lacking motivation. I think I'll be OK.

After Effects timesaving: Rendering | Motional

An article I wrote quite some time ago has been proving popular, so I thought I'd post it here too. Its gives some basic tips for saving time on your After Effects Renders, along with some more advanced ones. I've already posted a shortcuts article, I'm going to start putting together a general workflow one next.

Self Promo (work in progress)

I thought I'd share the animation I'm currently working on, My approach to this was to create a CV-lite type animation that looked slick but remained fairly simple at it's core. Most of it is done with shape layers an after effects, but I thought I'd drop in the odd 3D asset when required.

The goal for this animation is to create something that hopefully people in the Motion Graphics community will like and share, and something that will explain to potential clients who I am and what I can do. Other info will include my level of experience, flexibility and my software skills.

I'll post the finish product shortly...

STL Egotist: What St. Louis Learned Last Year | Motional

90 Degrees West have created this ridiculously good animation based on quotes that the St Louis Egotist asked the local creative community. There are some fantastic techniques and beautiful animation styles used here, and anybody who has worked on projects that spans so many disciplines will know how hard it is to get this right, and for everything to fit so seamlessly. I know that this will be near the top of my inspiration list for a long time.

Sony Xperia Ztests | Motional

Mummu have created these 8 hand drawn animated films for Sony's new smart phone, the Xperia Z, all in the super quick turnaround time of 2 weeks! Produced by Matt Marsh, and directed by David Luepschen. More on Motional.net

My Motion Graphics Adventure...

So, my first post! I thought I'd keep this blog as a more informal and personal alternative to the (much more successful) blog, www.motional.net. I did feel like it was my baby, having conceived the idea and pushed it through the initial phases but in reality it was funded by my old employers, First Image, as a way to increase their interaction with the Motion Graphics community and keep them in touch with the cutting edge of design.

It also probably wouldn't have survived without the help of one of their fantastic designers, Lisa who manages the day to day running and is responsible for 80% of the inspiration posts there.

Still, I remain as an external contributor and a voice in how it goes forward, so I'll be posting plenty more in-depth articles and cool animations, designs and illustrations that I find around the web, so you'll see those here too. I might even post the odd old ones that still get plenty of hits.

So apart from all of that, I'll post my motion-graphics related thoughts that wouldn't fit in with Motional, but I feel like I can fill your eyeholes with anyway - including how my ever-so-slightly nerve-wracking adventure into freelancing is going (which has only just recently started, how exciting!)