Thursday, 29 September 2011

"We've got all this picture and no sound and they've got all this sound and no picture..."

 -A quote from my lecturer, describing the basis of what's soon to be a hopefully long and fruitful relationship between animator and music producer at the University of Wolverhampton. Today, I went networking.

I'd actually been looking forward to today. Excited, almost. But it was until this morning that I realised that I'd invested no prior thought as to how I would conduct myself, or what questions I would ask. Basically, today the animation class took a trip to the Walsall campus to meet the third year music students. The idea was that we'd all meet together in a room, get talking, and see if we could scratch each other's proverbial backs. We have to create a final film. That film is going to need music. The music students have to create music. That music needs a film. Can you feel Hollywood stealing another movie plot?

So the meeting was conducted in a very casual manner. It was held in the campus' lounge area to the main hall; ornamented with a plethora of leather sofas, wall mounted flat screen LG TVs and fresh new carpet, all of which using a colour scheme not too dissimilar from a modern day McDonalds (...sorry, it needed to be said). The number of music students outnumbered us by around 2:1 so we planned to talk and mingle in groups of such. The original plan was a strictly regimented speed dating-like set-up but thankfully we managed to abandon that plan while still keeping all the inherit awkwardness that comes with.

I think it well. I meet a good ole' bunch of people and would definitely enjoy following up our haphazard assembly with more correspondence and collaborations. At some point beforehand I surmised that I was really looking for someone I would be able to work with closely, on more of a friendship basis, as opposed to a client or a business contact of some sort. I think together, we'd be able to produce better quality sounds than with the separation a professional front brings. Yep. A couple emails definitely need to be sent.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

First Week Review

So after just over a week back at uni I've now experienced an introduction to all the modules I'll be working on and essentially what the final year of my animation degree entails. Wow. This is looking to be quite a year. If I could liken it to top trumps the stats for my card would be:

Social Activity: 0
Well Rested: 0
Healthy Diet: 0
Normal Sperm Count because a laptop ISN'T sitting on your lap day in, day out: 0
Solid animation to make it all worth it: 

So I felt I'd give a small review of the week and introduce the modules/projects I'm aiming to work on for the next few months.

First day of the week, Monday, first module of the day had me face the granddaddy of all modules. Everything that my university education at Wolverhampton had been gearing up towards. The Major Project. This is the module that will drag and haul from me my final film. The film that I take out into the world to showcase my abilities and craft. I'd be thinking and working on my final film for a fraction of the summer beforehand so I was in a slightly better position than one who hadn't. Thankfully, my lecturer decided to use the time for a basic introduction to what's going to happen over the academic year and what's expected of us. He spoke with a kind understanding that this process towards the final film will be a gradual one and a personal one. The road needs to be tread carefully, but with a sense of organised urgency...eight months will pass by quickly.

The same day, brought along the Professional Animation Project. The brief involves finding and working towards the completion of a live project with a real client. The overall aim I imagine, to help us go through the motions of finding jobs as budding animators in the real world. After saying that, I'm not sure if it somewhat undermines the idea when several jobs and options were laid out in front of us for the picking. These were largely an assortment of stings and competitions, including making a sting for the prestigious British Animation Awards, making a sting for e4 (although the competition isn't open, we presume it will be), entering a piece for the 11 second club, as well as possibly entering a piece for the DepicT competition. I am very grateful to have opportunities laid at my feet and excited as to what I could make based on the varying assignments. On the other hand, this is only day 1 and now I've been tasked with my final film as well as several professional pieces. The lesson ended with the idea that decisions and ideas needed to be made and had by the next time we meet. My timetable is packed already.

Fast forward to Thursday, or the new Animation Club day. This is the day used to host the (now 1 year old) animation club. Between the hours of 10am and 12pm, this is an organised time to come in and ask questions to not just the tutors but other students too. In the past we tried to set up some running projects (that may or may not have fallen into obscurity) but mostly we'd be able to get on with work with the help of all those available. For the first club meeting of the year, some of my peers and I organised for the motion capture suite to be open to us so we could take the new 1st years through a tutorial of how it works and the possibilities they have. The trial went less than admirable. A combination of remembering how to use the program and just getting the system to work in the first place made for around 40-45 minutes of faffing around a PC while 30 students stood bored in a small white room wondering if something was supposed to happen soon. Eventually they just left. And I don't blame them. I imagine they were contemplating it for a while but it just took one brave individual to pioneer the movement. I'll tell you, the embarrassment you feel when 30 animation students just walk out of your failed tutorial is something slightly comparable to a very audible fart in a public situation. It's uncomfortable. And your the source. Everyone knows it. And no-one will say it.

On Friday I had the first Pre-Production lecture which was great because it's main brief was to tie in the work with the Major Project with that module. Essentially get the final film work to a certain level to match the hand-in dates on that lecture. I think it'll be useful for driving my work forward at an acceptable pace and also good for the ole' timetable for the fact that it's the same work that I'd already be working on. If 'Pre-Production' were another module entirely like 'Sound Editing' with it's own set of assignment brief and deadlines then I'd have a whole new host of other stuff to work on as well as everything else. So I'm happy the work is still at the same level.

Friday also brought our first dissertation lecture. While originally supposed to be on Tuesday, it got shifted to Friday so I was cheerily without introduction to (apparently) the only thing that validates my university course choice as a BA degree. The brief is a 1200 word dissertation research proposal by week 5 (3 week froms now) and the 4800 word dissertation in for week 13. As expected of the paper, it must be overly researched and stuffed to the tip with critical opinion from people I'm sure no-one's ever heard of. I'm going to detail right now that I have a huge disdain for the essay module. Not my lecturer. She's a lovely woman and tries very hard. But the idea that a single essay is the one thing that makes an Animation BA, an Animation BA, as in, without it, it's not a proper full fledged degree, is disgusting to me. The requirement for a written submission for a subject as obviously far-detached from writing as Animation sounds like a crazy old elitist law that someone in the grand library of legislature lost the manuscript for anyone and/or hasn't bothered to revise yet. I'm not bad at writing, I tend to find essays fairly easy, I just disagree with the premise of it whole-heartedly, yet am enforced to part-take of it. Starting with damn-near deciding the dissertation topic then and there and promising two appropriate research sources by next lecture.

Well it was a lovely week, that made me feel after 5 days (only 2 of them actually) that I was already behind and would be spending the year catching up. Even though I don't think that's the case, that's what I feel, which I think is a good feeling. That feeling pushes me to work. Not only work, but work efficiently. It's exciting and worrying. Terror and anticipation. Joy and LSD. Yeah, something along those lines.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Shorts on Walls

One thing I forgot to do in the previous post is a tad bit of shameless self-plugging! I'm available in a few popular spots over the internet.

Find me on Twitter at #JoshuaFamaksAni

Find me on Google+ by searching 'Joshua Famaks'

I'm also on Vimeo, check out some of my work.

You can also email me at if that takes your fancy.

I also realised that I should post about an up and coming animation event called Shorts on Walls. It's a casual experience where anyone that's interested struts in, has a few nibbles, a drink or two watches a couple short-listed animations and hopefully strikes up a conversation with someone they've never met before. I've submitted a piece for the event, and while I've no confirmation of anything yet, I'm still hopeful I get in. I also tried to convince a couple classmates to submit their work so we can make it a bit of a trip if a couple of us get in. It's happening in Wolverhampton's Light House on 13th October. Here's the page, for more info.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Game start! Pawn to B3.

Now that we've broken the ice with a chess opening move joke allow me to welcome you to my blog. I plan to use this as a platform to display my work and progress in my animation career. And who knows, you may even get the odd spillage into my ideas and thought processes. I've never been the sort who was able to keep a diary so documenting my work in this format sounds pretty challenging at first. However, the reason for my abundant trail of bare-paged journals always stemmed from an inability to remember that the darned things existed. When the thought process to go upstairs to your bedroom, grab that little book from under the bed frame and let the emotions torrent through your pen like a squirrel on heat doesn't occur, keeping a diary is difficult indeed. But the advantage of this, I imagine, is that it's, like, on the computer! And I'm always there! So it should be well easy, y'know? No? Well, I'm choosing to believe it because it's my only hope of keeping this going more than this article.