Reflective Essay “try”

This year has been filled with such highs and lows! I can safely say however that I’m going to miss being a first year student. I can’t believe I’ve only known my class mates for a year. Unbelievable the amount of growing up we have all experienced as a class. I genuinely care about every single one of our class mates. I have such a great bunch of people to get the opportunity to learn and grow with!

I think I’ve worked hard this semester, though, I still really struggle to blog and sketch about all the stuff I’ve done or got up to in a team, but I’m definitely getting better. A piece of feedback I got back from Yuan was that I am poor at organising myself, which I think on the whole, I still am. ALTHOUGH! -I’ve improved greatly and have taken steps toward becoming more organised and have certainly learned a lot about time management.

I got the great opportunity to host and organise our own Animation Wrap Party! Which was just so great. Everyone needed a break from work to chill out, drink and eat a burger. This is also the last time we get to spend with the second years, since they are going to placement next year and when they are back, we will be off on placement too! SCARY! So we got them a going away card and present to see them off. Our year group and theirs were particularly close, therefore I really wanted them to benefit from the wrap party too.

Another major issue I struggle with greatly are my learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia  and ADHD. Since Yuan is my study advisor, she advised me on what books to read on how to write better essays, how to structure them and how to just overall improve my reading and writing skills. We didn’t have an essay this semester, but I tried my best to plan out blog posts, re-read them and spell check everything so that it is coherent and as articulate as it would be if I were talking.  (This also prompted my fascination with video essays/vlogs)

Honestly, every now and then when I’m working away in university, studying what I love, I have to pinch myself. Studying Animation at Ulster University is without a doubt the best days of my life. Something I’ll look back on in 10 or 20 years and be so glad I attended. Looking back 9 months pior, to September, where I didn’t know any maya. I never touched photoshop and I had barely worked in teams. (I also might be one of the more outspoken in the class) -but presentations freaked me out and left me with trembling butterflies. Since then, I feel far more confident. In both software and in team work skills.

Obviously I have learned a whole load about maya, photoshop, after effects, adobe premiere, drawing, story boarding and film theory, but most importantly I have learned invaluable people skills. How to motivate people in a team, how to welcome them back and inspire others. How to present well, and keep people listening. How to experiment with ideas and push boundaries, and how to keep good working friendships.

Okay, let’s get real. I’ll be perfectly honest. I’m not the best rigger, I’m not the best modeller, animator or editor and I’m certainly not the best concept artist or drawer. But I’ll be damned if I’m not one of the best “tryers”. I’ve worked my bum off this semester and since last semester I had a lot of catching up to do. Not only do I work hard but I give things a go, and I’m not afraid to jump right into something in which I’ve never done before. I try it out. I mostly don’t succeed, and I’m learning that that’s okay.

Mistakes are proof that you are trying. 

Cannot wait to share another wild year with these lunatics. God our class are so weird.

Weird and wonderful. 


This is our final edit for the 15 second animated short project. In post production, I was responsible for the editing, the credits and getting the renders. In the editing process, I had used subtle colour correction effects in adobe premiere, added a slight contrast and played with the frame rates so that the timing worked better.

I am really pleased with this outcome. It ain’t perfect, but some of the most beautiful things in life aren’t perfect. 

Making our own sound

We decided to create our own sound instead of downloading it. The reason behind this was that we could have more freedom during post production, when it came to editing. 

Also, we really wanted everything to be made by us! From the style of the animation, to the textures, and of course, to the sound. Keeping this ambition in mind, I took a look at the sound from Studio Ghibli’s “The Wind Rises”. 

In this scene, the sound was created by human voices. This is creative and inspiring. 

“A bold choice was made to use sound effects generated by the human voice for this film. Miyazaki expressed particular interest in human-generated sound effects from the early stages of this production. Various kinds of sounds, from revving airplane propellers, hissing steam locomotives and car engine noises to the ground rumbling in the Great Kanto Earthquake, were performed by human voices. The short animation “House Hunting” (original story, screenplay and direction by Hayao Miyazaki), screened at the Ghibli Museum since 2006, also included experimental human voice effects; this is the first time it’s been done for a Studio Ghibli animated feature. Human-voice sound effects add a distinctive character to many vehicles appearing in the film and to important environments. Miyazaki himself wanted to do the sound effects for a particular scene. He auditioned, but was unable to win the approval of his staff and had to give up on the idea.”

From the article:

I also started to create some sound effects too, keeping in the theme of paper, I at first wanted to see if all or any of the sound could be created by paper. 

Pencil scribbling on paper. 

Heard in the animatic scene during the fast gag.

Eating Rivita 

To get that crunching sound, I also experimented with different materials! Me eating rivita was probably the most effective sound we ended up using.

Rubbing a baguette 

This was an experiment. I really like this noise though.

Biting a pen

I think this sounds like bones cracking! We really liked this sound and ended up animating to it! We thought the carrots would be so much more creepier if it sounded like their bones were cracking as they grew bigger and deformed.

Ripping paper

I thought it would be an idea to use this sound for the transitions in the animation. As it cuts from one scene to the next. It didn’t quite work though. I think there has to be more camera movement for this to work.

Paper Lamp Shade

Me playing with a paper lamp shade. This was definitely more fun than practical.

Paper stuff

More experiments.

Poster on my wall. 

The sound of my poster falling off my wall and me putting it back. This sound can be found after a huge scream in the night when it falls ontop of me while I’m sleeping.

In the future I’d like to experiment further with sound. I find sound to be one of the most important factors in an animation. After visuals it’s pretty much the most important thing. It can also save a poor scene I think.

So done.

I’m finally done modelling Aidan Woods for the Head modelling task! Here are some fun renders I took. 

“Oh why cruel world?”

aidanwoods11 aidanwoods12
Part of me actually prefers the model when it’s not smooth.
aidanwoods13 aidanwoods14
Messing around with lighting…
A little over exposed,…
aidanwoods16 aidanwoods17 aidanwoods17topology aidanwoods18topology

It is far from perfect! But I’m pretty chuffed! From someone who was absolutely terrified of this task, I think I did myself proud:). It actually looks like a human being! Like aidan woods though? Not so much haha.

The reference image above is to compare the loops and topology I made on my own head model with what it is suppose to be like. I didn’t create that nice flow around the nose and mouth in green “Smile”  muscle. I could have had better neck topology for sure! Although I’m pretty proud of my eye loops, I think they stand pretty strong. I also had a face contour which is pretty awesome too.

All in all I give myself a 5/10, and an 8/10 for being persistent with it. Yeah I just graded myself.

Editing Experiments “Crunch”

Cotton Texture



cotton texture,. ‘Save On Discount Utrecht Type CD-50 Unprimed Cotton Canvas, Medium Texture & More Cotton At Utrecht’. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

Paper Texture




Demilked,. ‘149 Free Paper Textures And Backgrounds’. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

I got inspiration from this beautiful video on youtube

Character Lighting–cg-13840

The above link takes you through how to light a character in maya. Alec was showing Kerry how to only light a certain object in a scene.

“We are using Spot Lights in Maya for the various lights, but it can also be done with other lights like Volume lights, Directional lights, etc. To create a Spot Light in Maya, go to Create> Lights>Spot Lights” 

“Panels >Look Through Selected”

We used Raytraced shadows for all our lights, also we enable Raytracing in the Mental Ray renderer so that our shadows are accurate. The settings for the lights are:

  • Light Radius – This defines the area from which the light is coming. The larger the Radius, the softer our shadows will be.
  • Shadow Rays – Increasing this will increase the samples of our shadow quality, but will also increase our render times.
  • Ray Depth Limit – Is the limit of how many times the light ray will bounce from one surface to another.

“key Light – It’s the main dominating light in the scene that defines the subject and the lighting conditions.”

This is an illustration of how the key light set up works.

This is a render from an artist called “Andrew WhiteHurst”

“The “Fill Light” is used to reduce the contrast of a scene and provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow. It is generally placed opposite to the key light.”

Some of the lighting experiments that Kerry has done in the scene really improved the tonality and mood of our animation.

I quite like the greenish area light, I think it works quite well with our scene because of the creepy carnivorous carrot characters.

lightingI then took some of these frames into photoshop to experiment with colour schemes further. Much like how Yuan was teaching us about lighting in similar animated horror genres like Paranorman and Frankenweenie.,. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 May 2015.

The above link explains a little bit about how important experimenting with lighting is. Especially the position, the strength and the angle of the lights.


Creating the eye!

Screenshot (266) Screenshot (267) Screenshot (268) Screenshot (269) Screenshot (270) Screenshot (271)

Screenshot (272)

You can’t really tell in this image, but I added a ramp in the hypershade editor and connected it by default to the iris! Woo!

In order to help me model the eye I took a look at a few pages from a book called ” Modelling” By William Vaughan.

page_01 page_02 page_03 page_04 Page_05 Page_06

Really Helpful link

I’m almost finished my head, but for reference sake, in case I want to go back over the summer and do a few more, this link is a really good step by step instructive tutorial on how to create good topology on a head model.

Some of the things it went over:

Poles, how to avoid them or hide them

Extruding how to properly do that (since some of my vertices overlapped at times)

I think this is the best part of the whole article

She looks like a frog.

Also if you scroll up and down kinda fast it looks like it’s moving! So wicked!