Monday, 12 January 2015

Busy, busy, BUSY few months!!

Well, it truly has been a long time since I last updated the blog (May to be exact) and the reason is... I have just been so god d#@$ busy, which is most definitely a good thing, but I'm now starting to feel pretty burnt out and I am just looking forward to a well earned rest.

After the “Marty Goes to Hollywood” project that I worked on back in March/April (which, FYI, is still in post-production owing to some funding problems but is now scheduled to be released this year) I continued to look for work in the field of animation, but also to find work just simply to pay the bills. In June 2014, I was offered the position of 'Customer Service Advisor' at a call centre named Response in Glasgow, working primarily on their Student Loans campaign.

In addition to this, I also picked up some freelance work creating four separate adverts for a company named “Freetise.” I worked on these adverts in my spare time, whilst also working at full-time at Response which was, as you can imagine, very draining.

The Freetise website can be found here.

The first advert that I created was for the Business section of Freetise, and I worked on this from July to September. This advert took quite a lot of hard work to complete, mainly because I needed to come home after nine hours at work and continue working tirelessly on it. This process lasted for roughly 5 weeks until the animation was finally finished.

"Erik" the main character of the ad, perfectly conveys how I felt at the time.

As I prepared to start work on the Business ad, I was contacted by “Smudge Digital”, who I had collaborated with previously during the “Marty Goes to Hollywood” project. The women at Smudge wanted me to join with them, full-time, on a temporary basis to work on “Deep Roots - The Bloody Boyds” as part of “Homecoming Scotland 2014.” This would involve creating a nine minute animation about the Boyd family, in a team of three animators.

This opportunity left me with a very tough decision, as it would mean quitting my job at Response, which had taken me several months to find in the first place. I even considered at one point trying to continue working at Response, whilst working for Smudge and also trying to finish the Freetise work, which would have been absolute insanity. It was also in the back of my mind that I would need to return to the jobcentre after this temporary work was completed, an idea that I loathed.

Ultimately, I decided that it was in my best interest to leave Response in October, and to follow my heart. The majority of my group in work were eventually let go around a fortnight after I left, a few days before their probationary period ended. This leads me to believe that I probably would have been let go too. In retrospect, I made the absolute right choice, rather than now sitting full of horrible regret.

After working my weeks notice and leaving Response, I had a week or so before the Deep Roots project began. In this period of down time, I joined Smudge to take part in the 48 hour film project ( during which our team of seven animators, including myself, created a five minute movie, using Autodesk Maya. During this project we were given the required elements:

Character: Dusty Beaumont, Retired Entertainer
Prop: an empty jar
Line: “It's never done that before” or “it has never done that before”

We were then given the genre 'Film Noir' before setting to work on our project, wherin most of us stayed awake for around 40 hours. In the end, because of high rendering times, we didn't manage to make the final deadline for the project, but we were all insanely proud of the work we managed to produce, and hope to enter it in another contest in the near future.

So after having recovered from the exhausting 48 hour film, the Deep Roots project finally started a couple of days later. During this project, I was in charge of animating the character William Boyd, along with several other minor characters such as the maid, executioner, numerous soldiers and guards. This animation was done completely in silhouette, which I found very interesting as it was something that I had never done before. The backgrounds, on the other hand, were created by others at Smudge, which really freed me up to focus purely on the character animation itself.

During the time I was working on the Deep Roots project, I also managed to complete the Property animation for Freetise.

With the Deep Roots project completed by early November, I was once again free to work on the remaining two adverts for Freetise. I commenced work on the General ad in early November and completed it by around the end of the month.

The Deep Roots project was finally shown to the public, projected onto the walls of Dean Castle in Kilmarnock as the sun set. It was a truly beautiful, and also immensely proud moment for me, seeing my name projected in six foot lettering was fantastic!

The Deep Roots Project, projected onto Dean Castle. Epic moment!

 I began work on the Auto ad straight away, without even a break in-between which I would usually allow myself. I managed to get the Auto ad completed and sent to Freetise a few days before Christmas, giving me some much needed rest.

A still from the General ad.

In addition to the Freetise work that I completed in December, I also created a test animation for a company called “Catchup News Ltd” who contacted me to say that they might have work to offer me further down the line. Freetise also gave me hope of future work, that they will require “early in 2015.”

For now, I have snared yet another call centre job at Webhelp UK in Glasgow, working on their Sky campaign, which started on 5th Jan 2015. For now, I will be taking a bit of a break from animation whilst I recharge my batteries. I will be using this time to update my website with more recent work, and maybe work on a personal project, perhaps even create a new, updated showreel too.

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