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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Spit Paint warm up_Captive mermaid

Gonna try and do regular warm up sketches, 'Daily SpitPaint' group on facebook is a good inspiration and some unbelievably talented artists on there.

Todays chosen topic was 'Captive Mermaid', felt great to do something different!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Interdisciplinary Group Critique_7th May

A positive critique and feedback session as part of the MA schedule, a key benefit of which, as the title suggests is the 'interdisciplinary' aspect where a mixed group of MA students from all disciplines review and give honest opinions to your work.

In a some what harsh but holistic approach I was asked to show my final production and receive critique from the group without being able to comment. As this was my first foray into the world of sound production I based my sound work on a slowly animated reveal of a fantasy environment.  The final submission piece can be seen here:

After setting up my work I pressed play and sat squirming for just over 2 minutes while the group silently observed my work.  After the animatic finished there was a deadly silence for a few seconds before Paul, the session leader offered up the work for critique.  Initial comments included:

'Initial calming feeling becomes more sinister with the progression of the soundtrack'

'the imagery and sound were matched'

'...left with a sense of expectation, wondering what will happen next.'

I was awash with a massive sense of relief as my general intentions were carried across and a group of commentators with no specific understanding of my practice clearly identified my implied concept. The concluding discussion was invaluable with my personal battle of searching for my place in industry nearing an end.  It now seems clear that my skill set is in the generation and development of concepts to brief, with my ongoing task being to continue to research top industry professionals and identify their ongoing developments in working practice and innovation, at the same time taking what is applicable and complementary to my own working practice.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

ECU & Wide shots

Close up and wide shots from the start and end of the final animatic production:

Monday, 4 May 2015

May the 4th

The deadline is looming and I have to cap my time on the environment visuals to leave me with this week to finalise my sound mix as well as a few other tasks...

I have tweaked a cropped image of the scene without the framing archway as that is more relevant to the moving image that will be submitted, I also realised the composition was slightly out with the arch and will have to adjust in the final cut animatic.

Below shows the cropped scene with the full scene in grey scale showing the frames for the short animation.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Audio Mix Session #1

After dabbling in Audacity by cropping my Foley recordings down to the most suitable clips, it was time to bring the final sound bites into Logic Pro to mix the track for my pre vis animatic.

As this was my first proper dabble in the Logic Pro Software I called on the help of the NUA studio technician Sam Barnes who was kind enough to hold my hand through basic editing and manipulation of the tracks.

I was referencing a personal favourite song of mine from 1995 by FSOL (Future sound of London) called Amoeba:

The track begins with a female vocal chord which has been manipulated and repeated to create a rhythm, I wanted to replicate this for the opening sequence of my shot to create an element of sophistication and ambience. Initially I had recorded my own vocal which I was hoping to manipulate to work, however it quickly became clear that it was not going to work.  Fortunately Logic comes with pre recorded female vocals that can be laid down using the key board, once I had overcome the interface I was able to compose 2 tracks of vocals which I edited to replicate the intro of the FSOL piece.

Once I was happy with the female vocal as a base I began to bring in the various Foley sound bites to layer up the mix.  by the end of the session I had imported and arranged the wind, water and stone atmospherics, these will need to be tweaked in order to break up the frequencies by adjusting the EQ levels, I was also advised to move the sound between the left and right sides of the speakers to help fill the space the sound is representing.

Below is a screen grab of the results of the 1st Foley session:

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Deity DD

The culmination of my British Museum Sketch Study combined with a life class session to match the pose.

To be composited into my scene as the ghostly Deity figure floating above the Sanctum Pool.


Monday, 27 April 2015

Temple Guardians_Update

Time is running out and this fella had to be sped up, although a final combination of test renders of 4 materials proved a good combination. I had always intended to try and create a Sci Fi variant finish to the original (reference montage below,) heavily weathered and patinated Bronze, this was a fairly educated test thanks to the previous rendering mock up.

With extra time I would continue to composite by painting more detail in Photoshop, this is unlikely to happen before deadline, will get it into the scene next and match in it with a colour and atmospheric pass...


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Goddess Temple_Inner Sanctum Concept Composite Wip 6

The latest work in progress of my temple sanctum, next elements to work up & include are the framing archway, guardians and Goddess deity.

Goddess Temple Sanctum_Wip Dump

Been busy beavering away on the temple environment mock up for my Goddess bust.

Took my time learning / getting the hang of the ZBRush 4R7 update, having a pleasant time putting together the pieces and mocking up in Photoshop.

My process to date has involved the initial rough sketch of the master-plan which was iterated in sketch form before the 4R7 block out and basic lighting / material render.

Using multiple 3D renders to composite in photoshop, painting and adding photographic texture, the intention being to frame the piece with the arch way from the initial concept framed with a pair of Guardians which I have been working on separately ( see previous ;D)

The composite WIPS (work in progress) shown below shows the stages from the 3D render / 1st pass to a more developed composite with photo texture and digital matte painting.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Material render tests and composite

Ran a few specific material test renders of my latest guardian work in progress.
Composited the varied finishes in Photoshop for a potential science fiction stone / metal finish - more experimentation to follow:


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Foley Session 02_19th March

The second round at Foley was specifically booked to capture a more specific water pouring sound to accurately match the imagery of the mirror pool / waterfall in my final scene.

I had sourced a metal tray / flower pot base to replicate the pools material, it was also complementary in shape which should help on some level of detail..!?

With the assistance of Sam Barnes, Studio technician, We captured four takes, the 1st of which being a test run to set up the recording levels and experiment with the pouring height and speed. I realised with the 1st take that we had to go back to pouring from the watering can used in the 1st Foley session as the bucket I initially used was to difficult to replicate a steady controlled pour.

The 2nd and 3rd run were a lesson in controlled water pouring whilst trying not to breath in the direction of the mic as well as not clanking the headphone cable against anything...

The 4th and final take was the most successful with 2 clear patches of smooth babbling with a hint of pour, next move is to look at audacity and start the editing process of all the suitable sounds captured in the 2 Foley sessions.

I have also sourced some royalty free stock sounds that will serve as layering for my editing process:


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Guardian Wip 03

Submission deadline looming has put the emphasis on getting a clean render of this ongoing piece:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

12th March 15'' Visiting Lecturer_Barnaby Templer

An insightful lecture / workshop with Barnaby Templer from Phonic Studios, Barnaby introduced us to some of his varied works in Film, music video and animation, also giving us the chance to share our work and get crucial feedback in the remit of sound.

With my very limited knowledge of sound and its terminology, most of the topics covered were virgin territory. Similar themes did pop up though such as attention to detail and a concrete understanding of fundamentals being required to produce successful outcomes.

Another key point of the day regarding my work specifically was the importance of a compelling back story to add substance to the developed visuals and entice the audience to want and wonder for more.  Something I had been considering recently after the same feedback from other tutors.

I was advised, given the fantasy / science fiction aspect to really push the audio, helping to 'get the story across in every way possible' including generating a sound for the eyes illuminating in the opening shot.  We worked out a plan to really sell the mystery of the imagery that will be revealed in the final animatic, by breaking the soundtrack into 3 parts, firstly a serene inviting sound as the opening shot reveals the Goddess bust, building to a change in pitch and tone as the priestess is revealed activating a sense of drama, to be concluded by a dramatic highlight as the camera pulls through the entrance arch to the sanctum and shows the guardians either side of the opening coming to life!

Other general points from Barnaby included the order for sound in production of layering vocals at the top, with music, effects (physical sounds), atmospherics, and Foley at the base. Low, mid and high range sounds to be treated separately. Barnaby recommended 'Iris' software by Izotope as a good way to manipulate Foley for my specific requirements, he also suggested 'Boom Library' and 'Hiss & Roar' as web sites for stock sounds.

Overall it was a very inspiring and motivational session, helping to emphasise the importance of a strong soundtrack and synchronised effects.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Schedule Draft_Unit02

As this post would be otherwise slightly dull, I decided to brighten it with a shot of my Clear Resin cast from my research into practice unit.

Unit 02_Draft Schedule MKI

Project Start:
Introductory Lectures:
Research into relevant reference:
Foley session 01: see blog post
Research of relevant reference:
Looking at 'Audacity' software as an entry level to basic manipulation and stretching:
Foley Session 02: water attempt 2 with specific equipment, beast breathing & other identified sounds 
Use of Audacity to manipulate and develop Foley session sounds.
Ongoing research into Sounds of Star Wars, Avatar and other Science fiction and relevant references.
Lectures from Sound professionals @ NUA
Production of animatic(s) Guardian & potential temple block out, time permitting.
Post production of sound design timed with realised animatics.
preparation of material for submission

Ongoing studio work:

Software introductions and learning: Audacity etc...(list!?)

Developing an understanding of Z Brush 4R7's new hard surface modelling feature.

Guardian Bust:
3D block out of Temple Environment

Life Class, Pose session, Model Booked
On going freelance: end of ITL, Illustration

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Foley Day 01

'First time for everything' today, with an exploration into 'Foley':
Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality.[1] These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience.[2]It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.
Foley artists recreate the realistic ambient sounds that the film portrays. The props and sets of a film often do not react the same way acoustically as their real life counterparts.[2] Foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming, such as overflying airplanes or passing traffic.[2]
The term "Foley" is also used to describe a place, such as Foley-stage or Foley-studio, where the Foley process takes place.

The start of my 2nd MA units practical sound recording aspect, As my studio work is at an early stage I had a rough idea of general noises that will be required for the 'Animatic' I am looking to produce.
Breaking down core sounds for the ambient noises that will help to create immersion within my production, with the intension to use the rough noises as a base for manipulation such as stretching and reverb. 

My list of noises and attempted Foley'ing went as follows:
Breeze / wind noise: Breathing through closed lips with varying levels of pitch, introducing a vase and cardboard tube to add reverb, playing with distances and angles combinations of both objects. 
Atmospheric / additional element to wind noise: Using combinations of various grades of sand and gravel, with additional elements of stone and brick, rubbed and scraped together.
Rustling foliage: Initially I gathered dry leaf and rubbed between my palms with the intention to push the basic sound in post production, I will possibly use different types of leaf and varying ages of decay from fresh to crispy, this will hopefully give me more range if the 1st sound is limited.
Water pouring / moving:  Beginning this experiment by pouring from a watering can into a bucket, the 1st half of the pour was unusable where as the end of the pour with the sound muffled by the fuller bucket gave a subtle babbling noise which should hopefully act as a good base.
I introduced a glass vase into the bucket to get variation in the initial pouring sound, again the beginning of the pour into the empty vessel was unusable, but again near the end of the pour as the vase filled, there was a subtle but ideal babbling.
Whilst performing this sound aspect I was thinking of a large metal, shallow bowl I have at home which would be ideal as it replicates the actual pool base seen in my environment, will make a note to bring this for the next session!
Fantasy Flower sound: My intention was to create a light pinging, hi pitched frequency sound to emulate a glowing / fantasy flower with its own resonating energy source.  In the Foley equipment storage was a small and unusual instrument made of a number of metal picks angled into a small hand sized piece of wood, the sound seemed ideal as a base to tweak.
Chanting / humming:  To give an extra element of fantasy and complement the atmosphere of the environment I pan to introduce a vocal element, trying to string out my own vocal tones was difficult and this may require some stock sounds to use instead.

Homework / study: http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/avatar 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Decayed Bust_Design Development WIP

Had another pass on the bust look direction, going for a 'pushed' realism on the stone, have to work up the stone cuts with some edge work as they are yet to read properly...

...I will look to animate a fade in and pull out with this bust as a test for the opening sequence of my short film.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Drumming Apsara

Another sketch study from a recent trip to the British museum, looking at the decay and damage caused over time, really hard to try and capture!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Dancing Ganesha

Dancing Ganesha, South Eastern Vittar Pradesh, North India, Approx AD 750.

Sketched this beautiful Lord Ganesha Statue on a recent visit to the British Museum - decided to Paint over as practice for values as well as develop a style for my ongoing personal project.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Temple Guardian WIP 02

Heres an update on my temple guardian sculpt, rendered this one out in keyshot as opposed to Z Brush to see how it came out, added some filter effects in Photoshop.

Monday, 9 February 2015


Through my membership of the 2014 BAFTA Crew and my BAFTA Scholarship I was fortunate to be invited to the ,BAFTA Film Craft: The Sessions' 2015.

The event was organised the day before the 2015 BAFTA ceremony, as the speakers were all nominated for there respective feilds and were in London for the ceremony on Sunday the 8th of Febuary 2015.

There were four pairs of talks and I chose the following:

11.30 – 12.30 Special Visual Effects - Jonathan Fawkner (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Dark Knight) Paul Corbould (Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Skyfall) Stephane Ceretti (Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: First Class) Tim Crosbie (The Wolverine, XMEN: Days of Future Past, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) Joe Letteri (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Avatar) Andrew Lockley (Interstellar, Rush, The Dark Knight Rises) Paul Franklin (Interstellar, Inception)

13:00 – 14:00 Make-Up and Hair - Peter King (Into The Woods, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Nine) Morag Ross (Hugo, The Aviator, Sense and Sensibility) Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Dark Shadows) David White (Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman)Jan Sewell (The Theory of Everything, The Riot Club, The Double) Kristyan Mallett (The Theory of Everything, ’71, Guardians of the Galaxy) J. Roy Hellend (Into The Woods, The Iron Lady, The Hours) Lesa Warrener (Mr Turner, The Fifth Estate)

15.00 – 16.00 Cinematography – Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums)

16.30 – 17.30 Production Design - Eve Stewart (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, Vera Drake) Suzie Davies (Mr Turner) Charlotte Watts (Mr Turner, Bright Star)

The most striking and surreal part of the day was being in the company of such outstanding industry leaders, I was literally feet away from the artists working on some of the highest quality cinematic productions of the last few years, my tiny little mind was blown.

I was reassured to hear that amongst the technically driven VFX Studios such as Double Negative, they actually retain there own micro concept art department to accommodate the inevitable overspill of new requirements that appear long after the pre production art department have finished their duties, This gives me hope as a practicing generalist.

During the make up and hair session I had the opportunity to ask how the advancement of 3D printing was playing a role in prosthetic's,  it was good to hear that amongst these industry veterans who rely predominantly on traditional techniques they acknowledged the growing presence of prosthetic parts more commonly being produced in 3D and printed to fit the actors profile, as opposed to the traditional approach of sculpting, casting and hand rendering. Although there was an emphasized consensus that the core traditional make up and prosthetic skills are at risk of being lost if not accurately recorded and handed down to the upcoming generations of artists.

The penultimate session was a one man insight into the film making of Wes Anderson by his ongoing cinematographer Robert Yeoman, who was one of the most down to earth and relaxed industry veterans I have witnessed. Robert gave us a glimpse into the world of a leading cinematographer as well as a glimpse of the mind set of Wes Anderson, talking about the practicalities and restrictions of film making with regards to cinematography, specifically the setting up of lighting and his own preference for the art of subtle lighting that actually looks like the shot is not lit!  Robert mentioned Wes's reliance on animatics as a key aid for reference when filming, I had the opportunity to ask if Wes produces those himself (as with Ridley Scott) Robert commented that Wes sketches out the keyframes and an assistant finalizes the animatics under his direction.

The image below shows my few notes and sketch studies of a some of the nominees:

Sunday, 8 February 2015

MA Unit 02: Sound Creation and Perception_Briefing notes

The 2nd unit of my part time MA was briefed on the 5th of Feb 15, Sound creation and perception!

Sound is definitely not something I had planned on working in, but it is undeniably a key component to any emmersive experience in film or game.  I plan to integrate the unit to my ongoing project and investigate how to create relevant sounds for the environment I am producing, this will include mostly ambient sounds as well as noises of various assets that will appear in the immediate world.  The main prerequisite is the fact I need to create sounds that appear familiar but are convincingly part of the alien / science fiction world, this seems like a tall order for my first delve into the subject matter, but if I can identify what I need to produce as well as research and understand how I can go about it then I will be on the right track.

My starting point will be investigating how the sounds of Star Wars (one of my main influences) were created, as well as this I will investigate ambient music that has influenced me in the past such as FSOL (Future sound of London) and Funki Porcini among others.  These artists have been able to use sampling of real world sounds and distort them as such to create surreal and ambient music which ties in perfectly with my subject matter.  I have been put onto: http://filmsound.org/ which should give me plenty of information to begin my journey into sound!

To tie in with my practical work I will begin the task of storyboarding my short film, taking my random notes and sketches of various elements and beginning to piece them together. This will not only give me my asset list for production but I will have a direct reference of what I need to create sounds for. The storyboard serves as a shot list for the final project and acts as place holders for the key scenes, I am hoping to end the 2nd unit with sounds that match as much of the storyboard as possible, as with the storyboard being a place holder for the final composited short film, so will the sounds be 'initial' place holders unless I am able to get satisfactory results within the unit time frame.

Thought I would brighten the post with my sketch book notes featuring some quick profiles of some MA peers: