With this week’s prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “You were once wild here, don’t let them tame you” I instantly thought about being amongst the countryside of Ireland, and surrounded by flora and fauna. When I was younger, I was wild at heart; I climbed the highest trees, I made hideouts, I swam in rivers. The ground on top of hills surrounded by fairy trees was ground down by my cousins and myself, with our bikes fucked into the nearest ditch. We could be heard screaming with joy in this landscape playground that was all around us. We would cycle into town, put our money together and buy sweets and milkshakes, then cycle back – milkshake in hand and eat our feasts, supported by tree trunks and makeshift wooden slats. I feel like I grew up on the precipice of this wild and free way of life, before it started to die out with the younger generation concentrating more on the protective shield of screens. I still feel like I have that sense of adventure within me, and when it is my birthday this year I am buying myself a bike to find some places that remind me of that time, I might not make hideouts like I used too, but I will be taking photos of places that bring me back to that untamed nature.
Pictured here are photos from the forest taken this past Christmas, where we ran amok often. I wanted the photos to feel nostalgic, with a rustic warmness to them and an influx of colour, but also show that we adventured to places like this in all seasons and all weather, where we were free and wild with not a care in the world. We never let anyone tame us and that’s how it should be.
Finally a taste of summer! It was glorious to get my milk bottle legs out and get some sun on my pasty Irish face while inviting the aroma of the yellow mimosas and exotic looking palm trees and. A definite serotonin and Vitamin D boost was well needed by all, coupled with the relaxing of measures here in the UK it’s hard not to feel giddy for better times ahead.
I completely forgot about these experiments that never seen the light of day when creating the pools film. I thought about possibly interspersing short elements of treetops that I filmed and have these otherworldly orbs float amongst and behind the tree trunks to encapsulate and cocoon the texture, colours and nature with the forestry into mini universes. These orbs were created by using the filmed footage from the Pools film and turning it into image sequences and applying them to spheres within Maya, then adding lots of depth to them by applying bump and displacement maps. Displacement and bump maps basically calculate the white and black of texture maps within a 3D space and in turn raise or decrease the geometry to extrude and add depth, without these maps the sphere would have been a basic sphere. As I was editing the pools film I knew they weren’t going to make the cut and it was best to leave it be. Still enjoyable to play around with though! Especially with its uncertainty and since the filmed footage is basically plugged into the spheres and changes frame by frame it would have been really interesting to see what happens when finished rendering I can imagine those water ripples causing Synesthesia like effects. Maybe something will happen with them in the future, even to just full-fill my curiosity…
I have decided to give the short film Pools that was created deep within the forest a bit of a revamp. Since I had been mucking about with the photography taken where Pools was filmed and really liking how rich the colours ended up I wanted the film to reflect this more so I dialled the photoshop modus operandi to translate over to premiere and balance alongside the edits of the photos. Colour Grading is an untouched realm for me, I have never really delved into the colour editing user interface within Premiere pro or Davinchi Resolve but after jumping in with this edit I can see myself oohing and ahhing at the capabilities of different tones and moods that any different grade can accomplish. Although proving difficult to choose only one I went through a lot of different colour varied iterations and landed on this one which I think is a nice mix of the cooling blues and fiery reds that flourished from the photos.
In October of 2018 I had the pleasure of being invited to Beijing to partake in an animation workshop ran by Birgitta Hosea and was joined with a fellow classmate Ellie Row along with other students from the animation course in Farnham and the students at Beihang university. It was an experience that opened my eyes to adventure and thought me about the culture surrounding the students at Beihang unviersity. I ate delectable food, relished in the wonders of the Forbidden City and found myself in a dream like state when transfixed by the neon lights that flood the hazy nights.
Here we are above arriving in Beijing after a gruelling 13 hour flight that left my lankly legs squished and shaky and in dire need of a strong coffee. Icy (furthest left) and Leanne third most left greeted us at the airport where each one of the UK expats having a buddy that was our go to mentors for the trip with Leanne being my buddy and helping and guiding us to get the best experience of being a student and experiencing the sites in such a mesmerising city.
The animation workshops was guided by Birgitta and really helped us in converting emotion through to animation practices in order for equipped us to be better animators and storytellers. One workshop that was thoroughly enjoyable saw us in a large open area within Beihang University where a massive curved sheet of paper was hung around the perimeter of the hall as seen below.
The objective involved Birgitta to call out an emotive prompt such as anger, happiness or sadness and for us to feel and absorb that emotion through coloured chalk and pastels while at times having our eyes closed to translate that through the chalk and gesture onto the paper using suggestive strokes and markings. At the end we had to write that emotive prompt into the gestural markings and what can to be was a plethora of clear emotions that was seen through simple and suggestive strokes. It was a charming introductory practice that bonded us with the Chinese students and to see this massive creation surrounding the walls of the halls made it feel like an artistic accomplishment that made us proud whenever onlookers would stop and absorb our collective creation.
After we had left the wondrous Beihang university the space on the walls was needed for other installations and instead of simply throwing away our creation an artist named Tong Wang, recycled the drawings from our workshop by crumbling them into the slatted timber flooring and titled the piece – Paper Forest. I really admire that this artist seen further opportunity from our piece and took the chance to transform our piece and the space once again.
One other animation workshop was a performance piece. plastic plates were provided where we drew an emotive face correlating to an emotion – cheeky, angry flirty or sad. The plates were tied to our faces as Birgitta would shout out in scale an emotion that sometimes was mixed with another emotion, So sadness could be interspersed with flirty and so on. Collectively using Birgittas prompts we walked around the hall with our first creation in the background as we acted out and adapted a walk cycle that correlated to Birgitta’s prompt. From this exercise we understand that a person has many traits, emotions and different facets of their personality that can be expressed not just through walking but interaction and movement as a whole, A man for example doesn’t necessarily walk as only masculine, the same for females but their individual personality shines through and made it so that learning and understanding this important lesson when animating a character whether 2D or 3D shows that people are complex and is something to take into consideration when giving a character a fully flourished vivacious life.
Another animation workshop was trying to translate an emotion into an animation, I choose anger and decided to make a 2D animation in photoshop seen below.
Outside of the workshops we made the most of our time by experiencing as much culture surrounding Beijing as possible. One of the highlights of such excursions was the awe inspiring Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is a mammoth mountainous area with ornate structures, temples and imperial gardens and houses that once was the former Chinese imperial palace housed the Ming Dynasty. We walked far and wide for 6 hours and only seen a fraction, noticing the little opulent details that were sculpted into the roof cornices along with the majestic mosaics of tile work that splashed the mountainous area in squares of colour.
I did get a lot of looks form by-passers with some looking perplexed at the amount of pilosity of my hairy stature, some motioning to their own faces at an invisible beard and giving me a thumbs up while those that were brave enough to realise I’m a gentle giant would ask for a picture together that I was more than happy to accommodate with.
Other adventures included a trip to the arts district where we seen the contemporary installations of Xu Bing – The Tobacco Project at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, where he uses cigarettes as installation pieces as well as a glamorous shopping mall that had installation art structures and sculptures displayed into the architecture. The food was also incredible! we filled our bellies with all manner of different delights with my favourite being the hearty hot pots seen below.
I was extremely lucky to be invited on such a trip and even though we were only there for a week, as we were leaving we hugged all our buddies from Beihang university with many of us (myself included) getting a bit teary eyed as we knew it would be hard to ever see them again. I have never met such kind, caring and helpful people. My buddy in particular Leanne was a dream to be buddied up with, Leanne completely made us all feel at home and answered every question we had about their way of life as well as being curious about ours, they knew how to have fun and treated us with respect as we did them. We all had one thing in common and that was a love for animation, we all know how hard it can be sometimes, grafting long into the night over a dancing frog or autobiographical animated short so we respected them for giving us their time and for making this trip so special and one that I will never forget and always keep close to my heart. Travel is good for the soul and in retrospect I know I crave more of it.
Another kick about has been unleashed over on Red’s kingdom! this time the prompt being the Museum Wormianum – by Ole Worm, a cabinet of curiosities of Worm’s Relics from far and wide. I was initially going to use many of the collectable bric a brac scattered around my dads house and superimpose those on makeshift shelves using roof timber slats that are littered with spiders, but I decided to go against that as I wanted to not mimic Ole Worm’s Museum Wormianum but to go on an adventure and create a story around the origins of all the collectibles and relics that Worm has in his possession.
I imagine Old Ole as an adventurer, wearing tan colours and a careworn hat bleached from sweat from adventuring to mysterious places where the sun scorches and the animals and plant life are of the carnivorous sort. Old Ole Has fought mutant monsters deep within the caverns of caves, sailed high seas and fought his way through torturous chambers, Old Ole has earned his stripes and his relics.
Since Old Ole’s book of treasure dates back to 1655 I wanted to use a medium that is also ancient but has stood the test of time so I turned to collage. I used many of the bric a brac that is dust ridden around my Dads house to kit bash and collage them together as well as pages from the Museum Wormianum to create the ocean as well as some hieroglyphics scattered about. I have become a bit obsessed with house plants so some of my plants are in there – a fatsia, Monstera and Schefflera.
Another batch of photography taken from the lagoon deep within the forest that inspired the Pools film that can be viewed here. I am currently in the process of setting up an online print on demand shop, where large scale prints of those photos can be purchased. It is an exciting venture that I have always dreamed of delving into and I’ve decided to jump head first!
Before plopping myself down on the earthy forest floor and hitting record on my camera to document the meditative ripples that transpire within the forestry lagoon that inspired the Pools Film, I took many photos that gave the same filmic effect and have superimposed them for that same elemental visage. With every falling drop of snow the resulting photograph is a drastic change from the last resulting in a plethora of different colours and textures – an addictive waiting game where I spent hours watching and capturing the unpredictability as it unfolded, listening to the many calming drip sounds so that I can snap away.
This weeks kick about prompt over at Reds Kingdom being the art, life and times of the Austrian painter, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and with it inspired an experience I had when I returned to the forest this past winter. I happened to come upon a small trench like lagoon deep within the caverns of the forest where the snow above was melting and gently plopping into the lagoon. The lagoon was shallow meaning I could see the dirt, grasses and flowers filtering about in the water with the slightest movement. The glare of the crispy winter sun projecting shadows of the spruces and firs, lighting certain areas of the undergrowth in a vibrant red, the trees and shrubbery being reflected upon the water causing a mandala of colours to be refracted and ripple as snow drops fell from above.
Experiencing this was one of most pleasurable tranquil experiences I have ever had. I sat and watched this private show for a long time and felt as though time had frozen along with my hands. I pressed record on my camera and although I didn’t have a tripod which meant for some shakiness It was an absolute pleasure to edit this film and with it I have attempted to capture that feeling of complete tranquility. The song by Kris Keogh entitled “We Were Gone Further Than Forever” transported me back to that tranquil meditative state again, with sections feeling like time moving, flowing and reversing, correlating full circle to an eco system of nature where everything becomes one with the earth again.