Sunday, 5 October 2014

Guess who's back back back, back again...

I'm going to be totally honest, I do feel quite bad for not posting over the summer. I mean, I didn't have much to write about apart from the summer project, but I feel like it looks quite sad now having such a long period of inactivity. I can't cry over the blankness forever though, and I'm going to have a go at writing a post at least once a week now. I did attempt to do this last year but got behind on scanning, but this year I'm going to make sure to post an update every Sunday evening, as well as do a few posts here and there during the week when I feel like it. I love writing, so there's gonna' be no excuse not to have this blog full to the brim by the end of the year.

My first week back here has been a lot better than expected. I mean, I didn't expect it to be terrible but I was a little worried I'd get back and literally remember nothing and fall into a pit of sadness over it. I've been pleasantly surprised though, and I'm really enjoying all the new course content put in place for us. I know as time progresses things are going to get much harder, but for now I'm relatively comfortable in my ability to do what has been asked of us.

The best part about the week has got to be the start of two group projects. Throughout my time at uni I've found that I'm becoming a social person more and more, and to be given the opportunity to combine skills with other people and make something much better than what I could do alone is brilliant. To put it bluntly, I get to work with cool people and make some pretty cool shit. What is even better is that I was sure that I'd spoken to most people on my course and established all the friendships I would ever have, however now that I'm in a group I've found that this was not the case as I've spoken to new people and made new friendships because of it.

The first project we were set involves asset swapping, in which we all take turns working on elements of a Viking scene. Unlike many of my game art pals, I don't have a particular interest in Vikings or Viking style objects but I'm excited by the idea of something so different to what we've already done. Never have we had to unwrap an object and take into account that someone else will be texturing it using our unwrap for us. It has completely changed the way I've thought about my work and how I need to make sure I complete things to a standard that someone else would be happy with. I've also found it useful being able to talk to people about the way they work and question why they've done certain things to consolidate my own understanding. At the moment, we're pretty close to being done with this week long project. I've finished texturing my shield and put it into engine, so now we're just waiting on the pig and the bench. Again, another thing I've noticed through this project is how different people are quicker or slower at different aspects of making a model. We have plenty of time left to get the project done and dusted though, so I'm really comfortable with this at the moment.

(Bench Concept for Asset Swap project - not sure why I made it look so wobbly, whoops)

I'm also very comfortable and confident in my second group project brief. We've got ourselves into slightly smaller teams of four and we have a pick a room from a film which we're going to model a screenshot of. The idea is that when we're done putting the scene into engine, you should be able to take a render from the same angle as the screenshot and barely be able to see the difference from the original. To me, this project sounds awesome.

However, it became apparent that it wasn't the easiest task in the world to choose a film collectively. Everyone has their favourite films, and so when we were told to pick one I found that everyone just threw in ideas based on films they loved. Although it'd be cool to do a film we all worshipped, the reality was we didn't all like the same films, and the point was to pick a screenshot for artistic reasons, not because we wanted to pay homage to a favourite of ours. As a film lover, I had so many conflicting ideas to begin. Did we want to do something sci-fi and cool to model? or should we do something realistic and possibly a little dull? As I overheard other groups, I found that almost all were focusing on sci-fi or horror films, which instantly made me want to look for something different. I'd like to say it's only because I wanted to be individual and stray away from the crowd, but it's also because I didn't wanna' accidentally pick the same film as another group and end up making the same scene and risk it being a slightly poorer version of it.

In the end, a film popped into my head and I thought "BINGO". An Ellen Page classic, 'Hard Candy' is a film I've seen a couple of times and have always admired its cinematography. The whole story takes place in one house, with nearly all the action taking place in the living room, so I thought it'd be perfect for a project which is focusing on rooms which tell a story. I mentioned the idea to my group, and to my surprise no one else had seen it before. They weren't too keen on it when I told them the premise, but a tutor overheard us and he said it was a pretty good idea, which swiftly changed my group's mind, and they promised to watch it that night. Although it's not one of my favourite films, it's pretty up there in my books but because it wasn't a favourite I felt I could look at it and judge it artistically rather than be blinded by my love for it. The next morning, everyone was pretty happy with the choice and agreed it'd be a good one to do since the colours and lighting are really rather interesting. I decided to watch the film again and take screenshots which we might use whilst in the labs, and then another tutor also said it'd be a really good film to do, which boosted my confidence that we'd chosen a good film even more.

                                                   (Screenshots from 'Hard Candy')

Then it was judgement day, the morning in which we had to present our ideas to a little audience during a seminar. The first group went up, gave an amazing pitch, and got their idea shot down a little because it was too dark and brown. I don't want to sound all 'goodie goodie' but I personally wouldn't have chosen anything brownish just because I'm a little obsessed with colour (which can be a downfall sometimes), and the fact that the film we had chosen had some good colour contrasts in it gave me hope. But nonetheless, the idea that this amazing presentation by someone so enthusiastic about their film getting crumbled into little pieces worried me to death. However, when it was our turn...they actually liked it. We were safe (for now), and now I've never been more in love with 'Hard Candy' in my life. We have the all clear, so we've begun planning out our scene and trying to find the perfect screenshot, whilst also doing some value studies and picking out a colour palette. My team has been so productive and this has really made me excited for the weeks to come. Next week will be the time we finalise which exact screenshot we're going to model, and then we have a very interesting lesson with Jack later on in the week where we're going to use card to model it before we whitebox and then start doing the 3D side of things.

(Super quick value studies from a couple of screenshots and colour palette for the film)

I can feel there's exciting times ahead. I was almost a little sad to see this weekend come around because I'm loving being in the labs with my team members and churning out work. I'm saying this now in the hope it stays like this but no doubt when the work starts piling on I'll be crying for a weekend as free as this one. I've finally got round to playing 'Ni No Kuni' thanks to having some free time though, and I'm so sad it's taken me this long to get round to it because I'm loving it. Perhaps I'll do a post on it sometime soon when I get a little bit further into it.

This has been the first post of many from my second year at DMU, and I apologise for it being such a long one but a long summer has given me time to conjure up immense enthusiasm for this year and I just want to write about EVERYTHING. But for now, I'll leave you with the trailer for both 'Hard Candy' and 'Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch' if you're interested in having a peek at either of them.

TrailerZone (2008) Hard Candy Trailer [Online] Youtube. Available from:

MachinimaTrailer (2013) Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch -- Story Trailer [HD] [Online] Youtube. Available from:

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