The Incredibles 2

 (Image: Disney Pixar 2004)

(Image: Disney Pixar 2004)

Pixar released the first 'The Incredibles' film nearly 14 years ago.  It was a huge hit.  At the time, animated superhero films were few and far between.  It was a niche the film not only filled but did so in a perfect fashion.  As usual with Pixar films it managed to create an animated action / comedy film that had equal appeal to both children and adults.  This meant there was a large number of people left wanting to see more of the Incredible family.

Well they finally got their wish today!  'The Incredibles 2' was released in UK cinemas so everyone can flock there this weekend and get their fix of the multi-talented family.  Some in our office are just too eager to wait so will be rushing to the cinema straight after work tonight.  I can't wait to hear their reviews!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Kubo and the Two Strings

This is a 2016 stop-motion animation film created by Laika, directed and produced by Travis Knight.  When the film first came out the majority of people thought it was a CGI creation, due to how smooth the animation was and how complex the characters were.

Here is a 'making of' clip showing the painstakingly slow process of stop-motion animation.  You can see the characters being moved bit by bit, being photographed between each movement.

So next time you watch a stop-motion animation you'll be able to understand the process and have an even greater appreciation for it.

Thoughts by,
Sian

Unix

We use a wide variety of software and hardware to create the work we do, and we have the advantage of being able to use the best tool for the job. While our 2D department runs primarily on Windows and MacOS machines, our 3D pipeline is almost exclusively done on Linux machines. Linux has long been used in the VFX industry after the demise of IRIX and is the logical choice for our pipeline. However while Linux is the sane choice it is also my personal favourite choice and i have been using Linux since 2004 with the introduction of Fedora Core 2.

We have used various Linux distributions over the years, however we have standardized around CentOS. While CentOS lags behind in terms of its package selection is makes up for this with its rock solid stability and security. We have also used Ubuntu LTS with good success and the only reason we didn't use Ubuntu is due to Autodesk Maya being easier to install and manage under CentOS due to its rpm package format. In the past we have used a variety of other distributions including Debian and Arch Linux (shockingly Archlinux was used in production for over 2 years without issue!). But as we grow and expand standardizing on a single Linux distribution simplifies management and workflow.

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Our internal infrastructure however doesn't run on Mac, Windows or Linux. Our Networking and Storage servers run BSD. More specifically OpnSense and FreeNAS, both of which are based upon FreeBSD. While Linux is an excellent Server distribution and my personal OS of choice BSD has certain advantages over Linux. Primarily down to ZFS and FreeBSD’s network stack.

While Linux has an excellent network stack FreeBSD's is better due to years of investment from ISP's who standardized around BSD earlyon. ZFS is arguably the best Filesystem in the world, and while it was originally developed for Solaris (one of the few OS we *don't* run at C&W) it was released under a BSD compatible license and included in BSD under the title of openZFS. Ports do exist for Linux but as the licenses aren't *compatible* it can't be included in the kernel.

Rich
 

Animation Workshop

Today we will be at Staffordshire University to host an animation workshop.  This will be for school aged children.  We’re hoping it will start them on their journey into a future of animation, or any creative industry.  We feel it’s important to help the next generation make that big decision about their future and where they’d really like to see themselves in 5 - 10 years.  

Coming up to school leaving age can be a daunting time when many options are suddenly thrust upon them.  Our workshop might inspire some to take the creative route, or even discourage others as they realise they’d prefer to be more academic - and that’s an equally as important and valid lesson.    

Thoughts by,
Sian

Art by Ash

More human than machine.  My newest piece of art is the character 2b from Neir Automata.  It's such a fantastic game with beautiful visuals and a gorgeous soundtrack.

I really liked 2b in it. I loved how she questioned and protected things, and her design is ace!  Just did a little bit more to the image as I felt it needed a more lighting to it.

Check out more artwork at - ergoasch.deviantart.com

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Art by,
Ash

Summer's Here!

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It was the Summer Solstice yesterday which means it's now officially Summer. 

We're off to a good start as there's glorious weather in Stoke on Trent today.  We're hoping it sticks around straight through to Autumn.  There's so much going on for Carse & Waterman over the next few months and it'd be great to do it bathed in sunshine.

Watch this space! 

One-Take Live Animation

Shin Shinrashinge created this cool ‘live-action’ animation.  He made a plan then drew and cut out all the assets he needed.  Following his plan he then set it all up in one room ready to film in one take.  The video below shows his finished piece but if you watch to the end you will also get a glimpse at how it was made.  It’s all very clever!

Thoughts by,
Sian
 

Quadruped Walk Cycles

Walk cycles are used by animators to give the illusion of a character walking.  The character is first animated walking on the spot.  It's then moved around a scene so it interacts with it's surrounds appropriately.  Each frame is an important part of the walk cycle.  Something animators need to keep in mind though is what type of walk would suit the characters personality and the situation.

Due to having four legs animals have a more complicated walk cycle to get your head around.  This guide on YouTube is hugely helpful for anyone wanting to learn quadruped movements.

Thoughts by,
Sian

Art by Ash

One of the best things that has come out of the new 'Star Wars' trilogy is Kylo Ren. 

I love how conflicted he is and love his design a lot.  'The Last Jedi' was great and my boy didn't disappoint, so here's my portrait of Kylo Ren!

Check out more artwork at - ergoasch.deviantart.com

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Art by,
Ash

Show & Tell 2018

Today Staffordshire University will be hosting their 'Show and Tell' degree show.  It will showcase the work of their 2018 graduates. 

 (Image from: staffs.ac.uk)

(Image from: staffs.ac.uk)

Work will be on display from the students of BA (Hons) Awards for Art & Design and Media.  There are over 250 students graduating from those courses this year so there promises to be a lot to look at.  

We will be heading over this evening to see the latest up and coming talent!

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day.  Every year the United Nations uses this day to encourage awareness and action to protect our environment.  This year they teamed up with animation studio ‘LoveLove Films’ to create ‘Bottle Island’. This is an animated short using a multimedia mix of 2D and 3D animation.

The animation follows a group of friends who are trying to figure out how to tidy up their environment and save their home.  It’s been made to get a younger audience thinking about how they use and dispose of plastics. It’s a creative way to show children that their own individual actions can make a change to the world.

Watch the animation here:

Thoughts by,
Sian

Sundance 2018

Recently I have been pretty busy. I have been producing our first animated feature film - this would already fill the commitment of a day job! But then we have also been; buying a new office, setting up a new animation school and been generously recognised by 'Creative England 50' and 'Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce'.  On top of that we also had world leading VFX companies like 'Industrial Light and Magic' and 'Framestore' visit to help support and educate the children of Stoke and help the growth of our digital sector. So it's been a busy month of May!

Today is a day I have been looking forward to for many months. It's a chance to relax, a break from work. I will spend an entire day in a dark room in London and escape to various worlds specially curated by Sundance. 

This will be my third time at Sundance London and it's becoming a yearly tradition I hope I can keep up. 

There is an important reason why Sundance London is an essential festival for me - it's because it champions original movies and creative filmmakers. This can be seen when most films that screen at Sundance will not get released in mainstream cinemas and will unlikely see the light of Stoke. Star Wars and Avengers are nowhere to be seen, it's all about filmmakers telling personal stories usually with a very low budget. 

This festival will be launching with Jennifer Fox's film 'The Tale', starring Laura Dern. It looks to be an emotional and thought provoking piece of cinema. 

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The film I am most excited about is 'Hereditary' which stars Toni Collette. The film is being compared to horror classics like 'The Exorcist' and follows a family dealing with the fallout of their grandmother's death and the dark shadow that the grandmother leaves over the family. 

Many films at Sundance London might not have trailers released yet and may not have had a chance to even promote the film so often you walk into a film blind, unaware what to expect. This can often lead to discovering new films that I might have never have had the chance to watch.

Here is a trailer for 'The Greasy Strangler' that I watched at Sundance in 2016, keep an eye out for a familiar face.

Thoughts by,
Daniel

Flower Moon

Tonight we will have a Flower Moon.  What's that?  It's a full moon in May, named as such to signify that this is the month flowers begin to bloom.

To me it sounds like it should be some sort of animation!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Access VFX: Thank You!

We had a great time at 'Access VFX' and hope you did too!

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Thank you to all the companies and professionals that came to our home city of Stoke on Trent to offer their advice and support.  We're sure many local young minds were helped with decisions about the industry they want to be in and how to get their foot in the door.

Thank you to everyone who came and made the most of this opportunity.  We hope it's helped you and at least answered a few questions you may have had about your future.  Good luck with whatever you decide!

The Carse & Waterman Team

Work Experience: Sound Room

 (Photo of Sound Room)

(Photo of Sound Room)

Hi I'm Arian, I’m in year 10 doing my work experience at Carse & Waterman productions.  Today I sat in the recording studio with Ash and Matt recording the voice of a character for a film the Carse & Waterman team are producing. After me and Ash put the audio together using Premiere. The recording studio is filled with sound proofing material which absorbs sound and helps to record audio without having interruption from outside the soundproofed room. It is also filled with a studio microphone surrounded by a sound stopper to furthermore reduce sound coming in from different sources such as doors, wind, cars and so as unfortunately the studio is located right next to the main door.

During the recording session I learned the logic behind sound effects and audio which have to be recorded separately for accuracy. I was mind-blown by Matts ability of doing impressions of different accents such as his evil voice and the american voices. Overall it was a fun educational experience which would be useful for many who are into voice acting.

Fixing the audio to the scene of the film was quite fun and entertaining. With some parts missing we managed to make it work using Gary’s previous voice over, which didn’t quite fit in with Matts but it did the job. I did a part of the scene in Premiere with Ash’s help which taught me to cut and edit bits of audio into the correct spot in order for it to match with the film scene. In the end we completed a 3 minute scene.

Thoughts by,
Arian

Access VFX: It's Nearly Here!

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Preparation is well under way for the 'Access VFX' event this Thursday.  Everyone is very excitedly putting the finishing touches together to make sure a great time is had by all.

If you've not heard about this event yet it's a gathering of all the big companies in VFX coming here to our very own Stoke on Trent.  They will be talking to schools, students and parents, guiding those hoping to break into the industry, or giving advice to others considering starting their journey at college or university.

The evening event is open to the public in collaboration with 'Stoke on Tech', but spaces are limited.  If you're interested in attending please go to meetup.com/stoke-on-tech to register your interest.

We're so pleased this is happening here in Stoke on Trent!

The Carse & Waterman Team

Digital Human - Siren

In a similar fashion described in a previous blog post, the Unreal Engine team are continuing their work on real-time, photo-real humans.  This time they have tested out a full body and facial real-time performance.  Watch below as CGI character Siren is brought to life by an actress behind the scenes.

I'm not going to lie, to me it still has that slightly creepy quality.  However, it is such a dramatic advancement of our field that it will open up so many possibilities. 

The real key here is not really whether the character looks photo-real or not, it is more incredible that this being done in real time.  An actor / actress could walk into a studio, act out their scenes and job done, a full CGI character is ready to go - well, almost!  There's still a lot of set-up beforehand and would be a lot of work after to get it to film quality but it's a step in the right direction!

Thoughts by,
Sian