Sunday, 27 March 2011

Keeping animators healthy

(We wish)

I think more people should be aware of the health risks from sitting at a desk for long hours. You can destroy your back and wrists among other things. It's worth upgrading to ergonomic hardware so that you can keep yourself going and not have to take breaks away from your profession. Ergonomic keyboards are great and easy to get used to as are the mice. If you're using a mouse buy an ergonomic mouse mat, they're very comfy. I've noticed recently after transferring to using a Wacom to animate with that I'm getting a bit of ache in my wrist and am thinking about getting one of these wrist wrests (since I wrote this draft the ache has completely gone, must have been my wrist teething).

A good chair is important too but they can become quite costly. Also don't forget that your monitor should be at least arms length away from you so that don't destroy your vision.

It's not just about having fancy hardware that helps your body bits out. You need to make sure that your diet doesn't suffer too. I often fall into the trap of eating anything so that I can get back to my work and my body soon lets me know when it's not appreciating it. A well balanced diet is incredibly important, all the time. No excuses. As well as the diet we have exercise, even if you're getting up to walk around every hour or so. It's better than being sat down in one (often awful) position all day.

In conclusion, unless you want to be a crazy blind hunchback with broken wrists and malnutrition then be nice to your body and it'll return the favour.

Victor Navone (Pixar animator) wrote a tutorial about ergonomics a while back, check it out here -

Friday, 18 March 2011

Rango Review

Rango is unlike any other animated feature to date. It takes risks, looks gritty, doesn't shy away from death (not a spoiler) and at times is actually pretty scary (in the uncomfortable kind of way).

I went to see Rango last week with my girlfriend and some friends and really enjoyed it. Although, I must admit that I believe it has been over hyped somewhat. For me, the characters weren't engaging enough and I didn't really care about what happened to them along their journey. Maybe I couldn't relate to them for any number of reasons but that's something that I find very important in any film - engaging characters and story. Despite this it still felt like a strong film. I see it as a Western that just happens to be animated, it's most definitely not aimed only at children.

There are some amazing scenes in the film. Everything looked beautiful, buckets of detail, great animation and really full scenes. The action scenes especially were inspiring, they're good old fashioned Western action scenes too...guns and explosions and everything! ILM have done an amazing job.

Not to mention the voice acting, Bill Nighy gave an especially strong performance as did Mr. Depp and the rest of the cast.

Let's hope that ILM keep at this animated feature business, their first attempt has proved popular and pushed the boundaries of western (geographically speaking) animation.

If Rango is still showing in a cinema where you are then I'd recommend you go watch it............NOW!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

BBC Talent Conference

(Nick Park and Peter Salmon)

I mentioned the other day that I was off to the BBC Talent Conference at UCLAN because I and some fellow university friends were up for the Production award for our work on OverCharged - a short animation that tackles wasting energy.

We didn't win the award, a group from another university who had made a live action documentary managed to bag it. Congratulations to them! There were only two animations that made it through to be nominated for anything so it was a huge compliment just to be there amongst lots of industry greats.

So anyways...on to more interesting things. Nick Park was there, the legendary Aardman animator, writer, director and creator of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Creature Comforts etc. He came across as a really great guy, totally down to earth and genuine. He talked about his life before he made it to Aardman - he used to work in a chicken packing factory (which is where Chicken Run came from) and thought of animation as a nice little side hobby. It was amazing to be in the presence of one of my animation heroes. I used to be obsessed with stop motion animation and Aardman and Nick Park was really up there on the inspiration list.

We were given free lunch, yay!

One of the real highlights of the day was a workshop that I attended about getting into the industry and doing well in it. The panel consisted of CEO of Codeworks Herb Kim ,music journalist and ex Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs and Eddie Morgan who is the head of the College of Production, BBC Academy. The best thing about the panel was Mary Anne Hobbs's advice for following your dreams. If you want it, do everything you can for it and take risks. Both Herb and Mary took risks to get where they are today. Herb came over here from America and set up a highly successful business and Mary left home, lived on a bus with a band for a year then sold everything she owned to move to America where she bought a motorbike and a bikini "as you do" in her own words. But neither of them saw their decisions as risks, they thought they were completely necessary despite being told otherwise by everybody else. I think that's an important thing to remember. If you want to do something that will get you closer to where you want to be then do it. Mary was such a strong talker throughout the panel. She'd frequently burst out with passionate and inspirational stories and advice.

So they were the highlights, there were no low points of the day at all. The big boss of BBC North was a great host and Victoria Wood was extremely entertaining and funny. Thanks for having me BBC and for the free shirt and lunch. Much appreciated!  

Friday, 4 March 2011

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Production Award nomination

That's right! The group I was in at university have been nominated for the Production award at the BBC's talent conference. I don't really know much about the event to be totally honest but it's taking place tomorrow. Nick Park (of Aardman and Wallace and Gromit fame) is going to be there giving a talk and a Q&A session so I can't wait! Hopefully I'll get to meet him too. The award nomination is for an environmental themed animation called Overcharged. Apparently we have to wear shirts that say "Award nominee" all day so that people from the industry know who we are. There are workshops too and talks from other industry folk. Should be fun! :D