Friday, February 29, 2008

story 1 - dabbling

In the lead-up to Early Designs I've decided to share a few of my own college stories. I've had a few emails from designers keen to take part on the 26th March but unsure how to approach it. Hopefully, as well as keeping the project fresh in people's minds, these stories might give those people some ideas.

The first is about dabbling.

Below is an animated music video I created in 2001, just as I was finishing university. The background on this project - if you're interested - is here.

Animation has always been a huge passion of mine. I drew cartoons from an early age and spent hours making hand-drawn flick-books with my dad. So when the opportunity came to try my hand at 3D animation, I jumped.
I taught myself the software (Lightwave 3D) and spent four long months to create this unfinished video from start to finish. I was obsessive about it and went through some fat manuals trying to teach myself the complexities of node-modelling and inverse kinematics. For the record, there is a 0.4 second sequence of a hand clenching into a fist. That 0.4 seconds took me six days, working 12 hours a day. I was keen to understand how to animate muscles in the hand even though you can't see any of it.

Fast forward a few years and below is an animation I worked on* for Motorola in 2005 to be shown before screenings at the prestigious Grand Classics events.

*To be clear, I did not do this animation. By this age, I was a Creative Director and my passion for animation would have to be satisfied by my collection of Pixar DVDs. Instead, I came up with the concept - to show the history of moving image from the zoetrope to 3G - and then brought in the incredible Smith & Foulkes at Nexus Productions. It was they who turned my concept into a mind-blowing piece of work.

But the point I want to make is that learning the craft of animation; studying it; playing with the software etc gave me a great advantage that really helped me on the Motorola piece. When I went for meetings at Nexus, they didn't need to over-explain things. I was able to imagine unfinished parts, knew what was possible and how long things would take. Also, studying animation gave me a great feel for timing, composition conveying personality and story-telling - all key in communication as a whole.

I have always tried to dabble in everything. In my opinion, it can only be an advantage. My inevitable editing process as I get older has led me to realise, one skill at a time, which things I should leave to the experts. But I am thankful I've always been so curious. You never know when the knowledge that comes from dabbling may come in handy.

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