University week 1

So it gives me great pleasure to say that everything I said in my previous post was nerves and stupid assumptions about university cliches. I’m happy to say everything I was worried about from my previous entry was wrong, freshers week was great! I got really lucky and met a group of friends on the very first night, who’re my kinda people – not insane party going people, but sooo much fun to be around. Their anonymous names are green, orange, and brown. Let’s see, the first night, we met at a soup event, then went exploring some creepy woods nearby, and watched the first episode of stranger things (which is awesome btw and has the best child actors I’ve ever seen). Next night we went to a nightclub that was surprisingly fun, we went in a photo booth, and we all danced together these stupid, embarrassing but hilarious dances and it was totally great. Next night, me and green just hung around the uni as brown and orange had tickets to another nightclub, and we went into this awesome giant creepy new building that looked totally sci fi and amazing, and we imagined all the possible creepy horror scenarios – it was totally great. Next day we went to a board games things and went back after to watch the Blair witch project (which was a good movie, just hilarious to watch with friends), and the next day went to this comedy night at this venue somewhere, then we got pizzas and ate them on the beach, before taking a trolley up a hill and riding it part of the way down. Then the next night we went to a karaoke night at the uni’s bar and stayed up waaaay too late after, and last night we went to a meh nightclub, but the others seemed to enjoy it so woo! But yeah, gotta admit, it’s been a pretty amazing week, though I’m not looking forward to when we actually start having lectures and assignments.. oh well! 😛

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Pre-university ramble

Yeah, so that whole plan failed (the one from my previous entry). I’d planned to write on here at least once a week, maybe even daily, but turns out I’m not great at sitting down to write stuff, yknow? Like this – right now it’s 4:47am, I’m jet lagged and ill and can’t sleep and sitting in my bed at home, trying not to cough too loud and wake anybody up. But hey, it’s better to be productive I guess. So my life, let’s see… I’m starting uni next week which just dawned on me recently, that’s exciting right? Well yeah, exciting, terrifying, nerve racking – take your pick. I’ve never been good at meeting new people. Somehow my friends say I’m the social one out of our group, but I think that’s crazy. I think I basically have mild social anxiety – like I’m terrified I’ll say the wrong thing, offend somebody, or if I do start a conversation, reach an awkward silence when we run out of things to say. All of this made worse by the idea of freshers week. Though my brother says it’s the best week ever, it sounds like my hell. In comparison, he’s mostly and extrovert, while I myself am an introvert. I love being around people, and talking to people about things I’m genuinely interested in is great, but that doesn’t happen often as most of my interests are cliche geek stuff. Anyway, back on topic – freshers week. So every night is basically a nightclub with different themes, though all are just an excuse to wear nearly nothing and dance to crappy drum and bass music (bleh.). For a guy who finds it hard to start conversations with strangers as is, the idea of doing so in a dark, loud party doesn’t sound great. But hopefully I’m wrong. Hopefully everything I’ve bigging up in my head to be afraid of is stupid and pointless and I’ll look back at this post and laugh. But that’s life huh? (And forgive me for ending on a cliche but) I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Something New

Well now that my foundation course is over, I’ve just realised that I still have a kind of blog. This blog. And because probably nobody will read this, I can use it as kind of a diary now! Y’know, to talk about my life, games, movies and other nerdy stuff I like and want to rant about, etc. I actually had a diary before (well, a diary but much more manly) which I added to religiously for about two years after I became obsessed with the anime ‘Mirai Nikki’ or ‘Future Diary’, and it basically chronicled the year and a half I dated my first love, my now ex-girlfriend who we shall call Blue to keep he anonymous or whatever. Don’t know why though, I’ve already said what my real name is on this blog. But surely there’s got to be thousands of people with the same name as me! I’m sure Parham is a totally common name. Totally. Ok, maybe not… But anyway, Trainee Artist is my pseudo name, and I’ll be updating this blog fairly regularly probably. Maybe.

Week 17: Picture This (3rd Minor Project)

4th January 2016 – This was the day that we began our 3rd minor project, titled ‘Picture This’, in which we were to create much more non-fictional piece than the previous projects. Initially I found this difficult, coming up with several ideas, only to learn that my favourite and most developed one was too fictional and so I would be unable to do it. Eventually, I settled on the idea of animating a TED talk, as I have always found these interesting, and fortunately found one that was relevant to the course: a talk by JJ Abrams on the withholding of information in films in order to keep the audience interested and in suspense, and this can be done in many ways, not just in suspenseful films such as horrors or thrillers. I also decided that because it was a more non-fictional piece, I would try stop motion, to give variation in my animation style, as well as the fact I believed it would work better with this kind of piece.

It was by about mid-way through the second week that I settled on this idea, and from there I drew out a storyboard, captured a test sequence with my phone camera, and started drawing out each of the resources I would use in my movie, and then in the final week (18th January), I began capturing the final project. Unfortunately, due to a lack of available equipment in my classroom at the time (most of the computers set up were already in use), I again had to capture the video with my camera. The two main problems with this were that the quality of the image was lower than originally planned, and that I was unable to see the previous frame easily (a function that would was available on the computers, using a software called ‘Dragonframe’). Despite all this I was somewhat happy with the final project, but have learnt through this experience that I much rather prefer using softwares such as flash as opposed to doing stop motion animation.

Week 14: Christmas – Storyboards and Essays

14th December 2015 – Over Christmas we had two main tasks to undertake. The first one was to create 3 storyboards, designed to help us to improve our drawing abilities. The first one was to be a vidual representation of recent events that took place in our lives, the second was to explre lighting and how it contributed to the mood or atmosphere of another recent event, and the third was to explore the part sound played in an event. For the first, I decided to draw out the adventure I had during a recent Zoroatrian party I went to for the longest night of the year, in which I snuck upstairs to talk to my girlfriend on the phone, and after realising nearly an hour had passed, I had to subtley rejoin the others without being noticed. The second was a deep and mushy monolgue about how some moments you wish would last forever, and yet others are gone all too quickly, but regardless, all are saved by memory. The final one was during my A level exams, and my panicking and struggling to answer the questions. All three of these storyboards can be seen below.

The second task was to complete an essay in which we were mean to look at two different practitioners and compare and contrast them, creating our own subject heading. For mine, I decided to compare the film directors Wes Anderson and Alfred Hitchcock, and my title was, ‘How two directors use the resources at their disposal to create two very different and unique styles’.  I found that directors have a number of tools at their disposal, such as shots and lighting, directing actors, and music usage, and their use of these is how they create a unique style to themselves, and obviously this would have been heavily influenced by those involved in each of their projects, and the genre of their films. Overall, it was an interesting topic to delve into, and using a variety of sources to aid me in my research, including books, journals, and their films themselves, I feel I learned a lot about filmaking.

Week 12: Sound perspective (2nd Minor Project)

30th November 2015  – This was the day we started our second mini project on ‘Sound Perspective’, wherein we were to use at least 3 of the sounds from a list given to us to create a short animation. As I completed my first one quite quickly (within  one day in fact) I decided to do a second small animation. For both, I tried to tackle two new technical effects I had not attempted before then; lip syncing, and heavy use of gradients. The first was a simple flash animation in black and white, and had a stickman walking outside, being struck by lightning, then saying ‘well, that was shocking’ (A terrible pun, I know). The second was much more serious, and started out with a couple shots of a city at night, rain falling, and thunder clapping. Then a hooded figure enters the scene, walks forward and stops. Red mist surrounds him from behind, and he turns to see a number of figures emerging from the mist. One of them stops and shrieks, and the video cuts to black.  In terms of the sounds I used, for the first, I chose the sound effects: a bell, weather (rain), and lightning, and for the second: a bell again (in the form of a bomb siren), rain and thunder again, war drums being hit rhythmically, water splashing in a puddle, and animal noises (which I used for the monster’s scream). A few frames from the two animations can be seen below.

While the first one was very sketchy, and the art style was simple, for the big, wideshots I tried to create, I first hand drew out the image simply, without adding any shading or colour, and then scanned it into the computer and drew over the lines on adobe flash, being sure to separate the correct sections into the right layers. I then added colour and shading to the scenes, before starting character animations (if any were part of that scene), and finally adding weather effects (rain or thunder in this case).

Feedback for both animations seemed positive, the only criticism to improve upon was tightening up the lip syncing to ensure the timing is perfect, but apart from that, my classmates found the first one funny as desired thanks to the timing and use of sound, and the second visually strong, with sound being used correctly to build up tension. So yes, overall I was pleased with the outcome. And that was our second project!

Week 9: Body Language (1st Minor Project)

9th Novermber 2015 – This was the day we began our first mini project. The subject of this was body language, and we had 3 weeks to come up with a short video on this. I began on the Monday by brainstorming ideas, styles, and ways in which to create a short yet effective narrative to do with the given theme. The main ideas I came up with were varied. One followed a social reject, mocked at school for avoiding others, and the only way he expressed himself was through music. Another was to do with the idea that life passes by quickly, and was originally inspired by Rosalina’s storybook from Mario Galaxy (one of my all time favourite games). The final idea was simple; a child trying to get some candy from the top shelf in a kitchen and the idea of innocence and adventure to be shown through the bidy language of the child. I decided eventually to go for the second idea which I developed from the original – a girl grabbing a telescope, sneaking out of the house to the top of a hill to go look at the stars, and then showing clips from the rest of her life, ending with her and her husband holding hands in the last shot (maybe done in silhouette) – to a somewhat completely different idea, where instead of the rest of her life, we begin at the countdown to new years, and the video shows her throughout the rest of her year, focusing on the different seasons, and ending with her holding hands with the guy she meets earlier that year. By the Thursday that week I had decided on the finalised story, drawn out the storyboard, and was starting to design the characters, and the colour schemes associated with their clothing, and the different seasons of the year.

16th November 2015 – Over the weekend I finished designing the characters, the backgrounds for the story, and also started the animation itself. As the entire story was to take place on one set – next to a tree atop a hill – I had to give each season a completely different loom so as the audience would not get bored by the unchanging setting. As I was using flash for most of the video, I decided to hand draw and colour the background with felt tip pens and scan them into the computer. Once this was completed I dedicated all my time to the actual animation, spending the next week planning out each of the movements of the characters with sketchy lines, which I would go over, drawing the actual characters when complete. I finished this on the Friday that week (20th), and spent the next 4 days non-stop animating, and though was still unable to finish the entire animation, I did get over half of it done, and put a prototype together for the class critic-ing on Thursday (26th) using adobe Premier pro. Feedback from the rest of the class seemed positive, main things to improve upon were 1) actually finishing it. 2) sorting out one of the running animations that looked a bit dodgy.

Final thoughts: To me, this piece was about learning to let others into your life, and how happiness is relative to how you perseive it. At the beggining of the video, the girl is alone. Even as the clock strikes midnight, she rests her hands behind her head and smiles, not caring she’s alone because she’s comfortable with it and used to it. This continues into the winter scenes, as you can see she’s having fun by herself, seemingly uncaring of anything else. But when she meets the boy in the spring, she lets him into her life, and she’s not alone anymore. She gets used to him always being there, and even though she was fine without him before, she forgets what it was like before meeting him. Then as he has to leave at the end of the summer, she spends the autumn period missing him. Because she let someone into her life, she also let in the chance of heartbreak, begging the question: would it be easier to never love so you never run the risk of being hurt. But the answer is no. The point of this video is not meant to have a depressing message; quite the opposite in fact. Sure the girl had to let him go as she didn’t want to hold him back when he said he had to leave, but he was there exactly when he needed her (on new year’s eve), and that’s what love is in the end – being there for them when they need you, and trusting them not to break your heart. But yeah, enough philosophy. That was out first project!

Week 7 – Focus Pull

For our first Moving Image task, we were given a location, and told to go around campus taking pictures that we would then put together in the form of a collage to show this location. The place we were given was a fire station, and so we spent the rest of that day photographing what could be used to represent it (alarms, red cars, ladders, fire extinguishers, etc). We ended up with around 100 photos, which we had to cut down to 50 that were the best of them.  Unfortuneatly, our photos were never printed, and so our group had to select 50 suitable photos from the collection of unused ones (from previous years). Then was the collaging section of this task and we spent a couple of hours trying out different layouts and themes including: chronological (steps from pulling a fire alarm to evacuating the building), an actual fire station, and different sections of the fire station (both exterior and interior – exterior being on the outside of the image, and interior in the middle) Below is the final version, which was the design we went with.

Final 'Focus Pull' piece

Final ‘Focus Pull’ piece (Should be rotated anticlockwise once)

Week 6: Part 2 – Making Skyrim’s Dovahkiin costume

For the remainder of this week, I set about creating my comic-con cosplay outfit: Dovahkiin from the game ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’. This proved to be a much more difficult task than I had originally planned, and required a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears (not in that order). First, I started by looking at reference images, and sketching out all the different components of the suit – helmet, chestpiece, gauntlets, boots, and beltpiece. The helmet was made using cardboard and craft foam, the horns, shoulderpiece, belt buckle, and chestplate were made using foam, and the rest of the costume using cut up parts of a fur coat and a leather jacket purchased in a charity shop. Below you can see the final result.

PS, MCM was amazing, and so worth all the hours spent making the costume 🙂

The costume I made for London Comic-con this year.

The costume I made for London Comic-con this year.