Marc Godfrey Animator

Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Inspiration

It's been a busy few days since I last posted. I've had birthday celebrations to plan, dinner parties with friends, Olympic Opening Ceremonies for London 2012 to watch (obvs)...and do some Animation homework too.

Getting in and out of London for my course has been pretty crazy. On Thursday, I left Oxford at 3:30pm and didn't arrive until 6:30pm (the course starts at 7pm). Usually, the journey takes just over an hour, but because of the Olympics, London has gone into some weird traffic meltdown. Thursday was the eve of the Opening Ceremony, so there was a concert and all sorts of other goings on, making traffic even worse than it normally would when the Olympics is in full swing...grrrrreat!

Animation inspiration - the Olympic cauldron 2012
Image credit:E! online 
So, who saw the opening ceremony? Wasn't it amazing? I mean breath takingly stunning. Danny Boyle did a great job. The lighting of the cauldron was a triumph (although it did feel a bit Harry Potteresque, with the 7 chosen teens, all lighting the goblet of fire together, I mean the bronze-petal-trumpets-cauldron), so creative and symbolic.

The whole event was very inspiring and got me thinking of lots of animation ideas. It's always good to be visually stimulated when working in a creative industry - and the London2012 opening ceremony was one hell of an inspiration. Wish I was there. Amazing.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

An Animator's Life for Me

I started the animation side of the course this week. I'm on week1 and really enjoying it. The tutorials are engaging and interesting - its so cool seeing images from Disney films I grew up watching, then hearing Alex say "this is the shot I animated from the Lion King" blows my mind a little bit!

Dare I say it, but I'm enjoying this side of my training, so much more than at Escape. It goes to show how some people can relate and respond to different presentation and teaching styles. As I'm writing this blog about to go to Escape, I'm thinking "what will I get shown today, that I won't be able to do". Hmmm - I'm not sure if that says more about me or more about the confidence being given to me as I learn - probably the former.

I'm not sure if I've already mentioned in a previous post, but I emailed the training support coordinator (I think that's their title, basically the person who did our mini induction at the studios) about me not being able to see properly - I'm pretty sure no one in the back row can either, to be honest - but I've not heard anything back. Grrrreat! I was talking to friend about it, it's kind of got to the point where it's gone too far to make a point of it in class...kinda awkward. I'm just going to play it by ear and make sure I'm getting value for money - this course ain't cheap!

So, back to the animation, I'm probably about halfway through the first set of tutorials and I've already been set a deadline and have to submit a shot, how cool is that? I can't wait to get on with the rest of the tutorials. I'll see if I can post a few bits as I go.

We've also been set another text to get hold of...needless to say it's straight on my amazon wishlist.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bloody Textures!

Hmm. That was a tough class. For some reason lots of things not working for me. Very frustrating, the perfectionist in me is struggling. The "don't panic" voice inside me is trying desperately to take over.

I guess I just need to reassure myself that that was only the 7th session and still at the very early stages of getting to grips with Maya.

I've given myself extra homework to try and catch up - its texture mapping that doesn't seem to behave. Grrr.

Bring on the Animation teaching!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Why Animation?

I had a really good time at Escape last night - the modelling is making more and more sense with each session. I also discovered that sitting at the front of class, was a hell of a lot easier to follow what's going on...all this time, and now I can actually tell that there is text on the front screen!

Our tutor explained how this type of work can be demanding and gruelling, and some students start at 9:30 in the morning, and often don't leave until 10pm (this didn't phase me one bit, in my "day job" I hold my first meeting at 7:30am, and often don't leave the office until 8pm, and often work weekends too). He went on to say that this type of job has to be more than "just doing a job" - working in 3D, has to something that you
need to do.

It reminded me of the advice, from a lady called Cecily, who was on the panel of auditioners at a Drama School in London. She would ask the auditionees why they wanted to be actors, but there was only one response that she regarded as "the right one": "I don't want to act, I have to act".

Image credit:
It got me thinking about why I want to animate.

When I was little, at Infant school, I distinctly remember having to draw a picture of the job we want to do when we grow up. I wanted to be a Clown (...don't ask). Then shortly after, when I went to Junior school, I decided I wanted to be an Animator. I was obsessed with cartoons, drawing, painting, anything art related. I became an avid viewer of Rolf's Cartoon Club and shows like Art Attack

Growing up, Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, was my hero - I would draw pictures of Garfield all day long. I would be given Garfield books as gifts, and I would paw over each page. It was from my love of Garfield and watching my recordings of Garfield and Friends, that I knew that I wanted to make cartoons. I wanted to become an Animator. I was given stacks and stacks of books on Animation. Everyone at school thought I was bonkers and didn't understand why I didn't want a "proper job".

As I got older, I got completely distracted by drama and theatre. I still kept my art up, but all aspirations to animate disappeared. Theatre was my life. At university, I didn't want to give up on art completely, so did a combined degree in Theatre with Art. When leaving uni, I worked on some shows, and sold my art, whilst working in the family business for a day job.

I held my own art shows, and worked on 3 professional theatre productions (2 in the West End)...I am lucky enough to say I achieved 3 of my dreams in one job (long story, for another post, probably). After that, I began to think "...What now?"

I love Disney, but had never been to Disneyland. My partner is also a massive fan and had been to the parks many times. In 2010, I booked us a long weekend, Disneyland Paris, for a birthday treat. It wasn't until we went through the Animation zone (the big blue Mickey Fantasia hat), that all my memories and affections for animation came back. Then we sat at the little Mickey Animation desks (you know the kind, with a big square, backlit section to trace through) and a guy taught us how to draw Winnie the Pooh. Then, at that moment, drawing on the desk, I knew it was what I had to go for my earliest childhood dream.

I don't want to Animate, I have to Animate. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's sinking in...

It's been a busy week. Work (day job) is gearing up for one of its busiest times of the year, and obviously I've cut my hours, to dedicate time to learning how to become an animator. I've got lots of plates spinning, but I'm cool with that...I'm pretty good at keeping everything afloat.

I had a great class at Escape on Tuesday night. We finished off our bottles with texture and colouring, and moved on to the next project. At first (as you could probably tell) I was quite nervous and daunted by what I had let myself in for, I felt like I had put myself well and truly in the deep end, but now I'm feeling more and more like I can start taking the armbands off, and float with more ease.

I've figured and excepted that the course IS going to be tough, but as long as I ask the right questions, or know where to look to find the answers I need, and as long as I keep up with the work, and put effort in, in my own time, I'll get there.

Escape recommended a couple of website to keep an eye on, and join their forums - apparently the people are helpful, and it's a good space to learn things from each other. I need to check out:


So, consider those well and truly on my "to click" list

My Maya tutor is helpful at keeping us all on track, but I don't panic if I missed something, I just make a note, and refer back and find out what I need to know. If you're thinking about doing a course like this, don't forget a notebook and pen - incredibly foolish, I forgot on the first day, but managed to transfer my notes in time for the second class.

Today, I also got a glimpse of the modules I'm going to be taking for my actual animation training, I'm really excited and can't wait to get going!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Finding My Feet

I've had a pretty good week, as far as learning how to become a 3D Animator goes. Actually, no, that doesn't make sense, because technically speaking, I haven't started any animation training, far I'm still learning the fundamentals of Maya...but that's going pretty good, so that's good, right? Yup.

Last Thursday we made a bottle using a NURBS curve, then created a surface with it. It was so much fun. I'm still finding it a little bit tricky to keep up with the pace of the class, but I'll get there.

One thing I like about the course, is at the start of the session, we have a chance to go through any questions that have come up since the last time. So, that's a really good opportunity for me to dig a little deeper with anything I don't understand!

In the past 10 days or so, I've been thinking how grateful I am that this course is twice a week, in other words, part time. Escape Studios do full time intensive courses, that are all day every day for a period of 12-16 weeks. I don't think I would do very well with that one. I'm really enjoying having the time to go home, reflect on what's been taught, and practice and go other bits that I'm not sure on. A bit like driving a car, I found the experience of having a lesson per week, gave me more time to think about what I was doing, than had I done an intensive crash course over a short period.

I don't have an incredibly strong, technical background when it comes to IT and computers, I am slower than most of the others in the class I've noticed. Oh well, we all learn at different paces and ways don't we? When we made the bottles in class, there was one guy who had not only made a bottle, but a cork to sit in it, a table to place the bottle, and a glass to accompany it!

I'm confident in my creative background - having a degree in Art and Theatre. My puppetry and animation manipulation should tap into my theatrical directorial work, and the whole look of the shot should tap into my artist's least that's the theory. That's what I figure.

Hoping to find out more about the Animation side of things this week, to get that underway...I'm tres excitedo indeedio! As soon as I have more news and updates, I'll be sure to update this trusty blog :)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Look, I made a pig!

So, as you know, I've been using Maya for exactly a week now. I've had 6 hours teaching time, and a bit of time to play around on the software in my spare time. I've just been practicing some techniques, ready for my class this I made a pig. Ain't he cute?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My Maya

I've had a quiet weekend, so found the opportunity to get stuck into a good book, The Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams. It was recommended to me when I first went to the Animation Open Day at Escape Studios. I bought it shortly after, but never really got chance to read it. So far, so good...a real bible of a book.

 I spoke to Alex, my Animation tutor, he reassured me about the course and restored some faith back into what I was doing. We're looking to start the Animation side of things later in July. I can't wait. He also told me about a way to download Maya onto my computer, so I could practice in my own time. Amazing!

Maya Cubes

So, I've had a play around, and have got the hang of pivots in vertex mode - which you can see from the angle of the flappy, thin cube, suspended in the air. It's a very nice feeling knowing that I can practice at home. Thanks Alex!