Putting the Bustard in it’s place #greatbustard

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The Bustard sculpture is now practically finished… I could probably sand and sand and re plaster indefinitely, but I’ve decided to see how it looks in the space.

Taking it up the stairs is helped by it being light and still in two pieces.

I know the area I’ve been given and have a few options as to which orientation it could be.


On the right, it’s a good size in the space.


I borrowed a leftover label from the (now shut) BA show to place on the base to represent the label reproduction from the Norwich Museum…


I want visitors to lean into the sculpture to try and read the label, thereby triggering the animated projection which will cross the wall…

Looking at the space, I’m wondering if it’s possible to animate over one wall and around the corner to fill the walls a little more…plus now I see the sculpture in the space I realise it’s not going to take long to cover the one wall I originally thought of, purely because I’m working life-size…


This is what you could see on approach as they are building a wall on the left and another to the right, which the plinth represents…


So would people just peek in, or would they come into the space. They would need to come through the space to reach the other installation, which makes a bit of a path through ‘my’ area, but I need it triggered.


on the left



wpid-dsc_0029.jpgThis side could make people look around the edge wall and then just move on, I can obviously mark up the mat with ‘step on me’ or similar, but it would be nice if it was a bit more unexpected and natural.

I need to know whether I’m getting a false flat wall put in on either existing wall, or if I have to deal with the sockets and radiator and door with glass window in.

The space left behind from the right hand side new walls makes a lovely corner space, with handy plug sockets for my Augmented reality plinth, but totally bisected because of foot traffic through it…


On the other hand, plenty of the spaces I saw on the BA show you had to walk through, so maybe I shouldn’t worry.

I could maybe ask for the entrance to the 2nd installation to be at the other end, but that would leave a scarily big space!

The one thing I definitely do not notice when it is place inside the space, are any lump, bumps or plaster imperfections, that I have been a little obsessed with working with it close up in the 3D workshop.

It’s decided, no more sanding, move onto the next bit…




Progress – ASU1

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Three differing styles that I wanted to try for my short film piece, shown to the other guys in the group and we all agree that the ‘wipe’ isn’t working well at all, very poor, but the second two, the triptych could work and the overlay does work…

Then what I wanted to do was quickly put together a rotoscope style and favouring illustrator I mocked this up to show how I would like it all to look, rotoscoping isn’t easy, but it feels like a really nice direction for me to take as this project is all about the way it looks for me, so here’s the first still… only another 900 to go!!


ASU shooting recce #1

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So decided to stop going round and round with the words and just to go and physically shoot some of the locations I really want to use, to see what happens, expected and unexpected!

First obstacle was to set up my steadicam rig, I bought a second hand merlin steadicam last year and found it tricky to set up with my camera and lens, just due to the sheer weight of the thing, my nikon + pro lens weighed in at 4.5lbs, which you obviously have to offset with the weights on the steadicam itself, I got some lovely footage after nearly 3 hours of fiddling, but my arm/elbow was absolutely buggered! all for maybe a minute of test footage. In the end I had used my 50mm prime lens to make the whole rig lighter, but of course this meant I was unable to record very wide shots… With this in mind I decided to get hold of a friends Nikon D3100 and just go with it’s kit lens, making the camera rig just under 2lbs – a good start – and again 2 hours of set up time to get it close, it was still way too wobbly, but I had to get out there and shoot, so although not as stable as it could have been, I decided to go with it and refine the steadicam later.

Steadicam settings used – mid=1 finish weight, end= 1 start, 1 mid and 1 finish weight, stage hole ‘N’ -3 mark for plate, 5 turns on the handle, fully opened levers.

Second obstacle, I needed a body! fortunately one of my friends was happy to help, although slightly surprised when he asked who we were filming and I said you!

Third obstacle, the weather, fingers crossed it wasn’t raining and we got lucky with that although it was absolutely freezing!

I was very happy to set off with just a good friend and my small photographic rig, this meant on the whole we could be very discrete with our filming and easily moved or relocated if we had too many problems. I only wanted to use the available lighting…

As we walked into the city, my friend suggested a couple of places he liked, so we went and had a look, unfortunately it was way too dark and this was when I had my first unforeseen problem, on this little Nikon, I couldn’t manually control the video settings, so although I could take a fair photo in the streetlit footpath, I couldn’t get the same results when filming… very frustrating that the camera had limited night video settings… I would have to hope that the other locations were brighter…

Also as the steadicam wasn’t perfectly balanced I would have to be super careful not to make anyone viewing the footage sea-sick! it’s a real art to make it smooth, one that I had almost got to grips with by the end of the recce shoot.

The next locations, the alley off of St Stephens was way too dark , but  the church in chapelfield and the market were good and bright, so the shots there are better, the market shots I am particularly pleased with, even though a couple of inquisitive teens on bikes, did make retakes necessary.

The subway underpass was also amply lit and steadicam wasn’t as steady as it could be, but the footage is on the whole good.

The final shot of the little lane off or Newmarket Street was where disaster struck though, the freezing cold had absolutely zapped the battery and I managed to get a shot ready to take, when it completely died and I couldn’t film a thing in my favourite looking location… Undeterred though I decided to use my phone’s video camera, just to test out shots etc, because I didn’t want to waste any more time and we were both there and the lighting was almost perfect, the cobbles were shiny from earlier rain and the lights looked as good as on my photo recce.

So here are the best shots quickly cut together with 3 of the smaller parts slowed down.

I hadn’t thought about sound at all, but I’m really intrigued with the slowed down sound that accompanies the shadow shots, I really like the way that has turned out, the effect it gives is perfect for the feeling of the film…

It is really frustrating that the dslr battery died on the last shots as my mobile phone couldn’t keep a still focus, but the way it looks up to then is how I imagined it in my head.

Looking at the footage now I know I need to refilm with a camera where I can control the video settings more, try and get a spare battery for it, balance the steadicam better, use more close up shots and I think this can be achieved by using my pro dslr with the 50mm lens on it, it will give tighter shots overall, like in the market scene, which is my favourite of all captured footage so far.

I also realise watching it back that I can’t just have someone walking in front of the camera to tell the story so an accidental bit of footage I recorded whilst walking through the underpass shows me that perhaps switching viewpoints to the character’s point of view could be useful in telling the story of the search…

Next steps, thinking about sound, introducing those extra pov’s,  finalising the script for the story and a full reshoot… not much at all then :0

ASU script #2


Still struggling with the story itself, next revision


Interior of a bedroom, it’s dark and we can see the moon/streetlights coming in through the thin curtains, a mobile phone starts to ring in the foreground, lighting up the bedside table and we see a shape in the bed.

Roused by the noise, a hand reaches out from the covers ( towards us) and grabs the phone, the figure in the bed puts it to his ear but then turns his back to us and has it on his left ear.

We cannot hear what is being said, but it’s a male voice, urgent, slightly angry and the figure in the bed sits up, away from us and we ….. where? (close up on his mouth, lit from the light of the screen, his face is stubbly)

The phone call ends abruptly with our character punching the red end call button (close up on the button on the phone and the screen turning off).

He looks out of the curtains and we see him from behind, his hair is straggly and he rubs his hand through it, and over his face in a pulling down motion, and then flicks up his hood.

We hear him say… I can’t do this again…. Shaking his head

As he sits there, he reaches down and – you assume – he pulls on his boots. Then he stands and exits.

We see boots on the stairs in near darkness and  they quickly go downstairs, as they exit shot we hold and hear the door slam and then footsteps going away as we are left with the sound of a clock ticking, and starting to chime.

Cut to outside and we see our hooded figure going down a lit alley/street away from us.


A new visual storyboard for the story here…Ideas


so this has changed direction slightly, it still keeps the darkness but is now trying to be more literal in the search. Is the last place they go to find themselves, where a tragic accident happens, in the end do we see a carer talking aside from a pulled back shot, saying ” he does this every night” and we realise he is compulsive about his search but to complete his therapy they let him follow the last steps in the hope it aids his mental recovery….

maybe the phone ringing isn’t what it appears, perhaps it’s an alarm that he sets every night and the reveal could be where we see the phone is not taking a call but he is turning off the alarm, which could be simply called Danny.

Liam didn’t like the phone idea, suggesting it could be a ghostly call from beyond the grave and we hear a disembodied voice talking to our character, is this his conscience getting him up and out every night, on a cycle of spiraling madness…

An internalised conversation, ending up with him by the river, head in hands in tears, then we see a newspaper cutting of a headline ‘ tragic accident by the river ‘ hinting at a fatal accident for our characters friend… maybe he’s a ghost…

It still comes down to why is he looking, all the different alternatives for a search, based on a slight mental problem, an unhingement… perhaps you could see fragments pointing to a hidden story, or that explain more than we hear. The sound could play a major role in hinting at more to the story than just a search, more background.

as they say on the TV… to be continued…

backwards and forwards

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Spent most of today going backwards and forwards, from tutorial to live file, from image to UV, even from college to home and I feel as though I have got absolutely nowhere. Although I did have a breakthrough with regards to my deformation of shapes with animation. Again went back and looked through all of the relevant tutorials and found one where good ‘ole George Maestri (lynda.com) painted his weights using a colour ramp, not just the black and white that I had been using. Quickly found the tickbox in my live project and ‘hey presto’ that’s where it’s all being affected from. Not only was the top of the leg deforming the front of the chest, but the long neck which goes down inside the body shape was distorting as well.



this screengrab shows how the colour ramp lit up the areas which had me scratching my head for most of the previous day.

It felt good to get this problem sorted and I merrily painted away those nasty blue deformities!

Unfortunately the rest of the day was a total bungle, I wanted to bring this ready to animate model onto my home machine as it has 2013 Maya installed and the Collada exporter needed for processing into the Aurasma stage is within the plug-ins already. I obviously can’t install the plugin on a college computer as I don’t have admin rights. But on my home machine I couldn’t get the file to load up, now I had spoken to resident tech expert Leigh, one of the technicians at NUA about how to assure I wouldn’t have any problems when I got home and thought I had covered all of the bases, but it was not to be. I tried importing, I tried opening, I tried turning my machine on and off, in case of a bug, but nothing worked… I couldn’t continue with the rest of my planned day, it was already 2pm what to do…?

Obviously the swear box got filled up at this point, and the chocolate tin raided and my machine was shut down in disgust…

After a cup of coffee, I no choice but to go back into college and again bother Leigh with this silly problem. Fortunately he was still in and free to go through with me on the college machine exactly how the file hierarchy works and where to open it from –  by the way never ever import (tip from the top) – but to my annoyance what he showed me meant I should have been able to open it at home… But, but, I decided to make a new project folder and hope that this would aid me in my efforts to open the right damn file when I got back. Leigh said I was doing really well, which is very kind of him seeing as I have done nothing but bug him for the last two weeks, but not being able to open a file is just unheard of for me… Back home I went.

I can’t open the file… I couldn’t open this cottonpickinhotename file… aargh, I’m going to give this up, it’s now 4pm and I haven’t achieved anything, I wanted to do so much today, I wanted the animation nailed. But I’m stuck not being able to load a file….

Right, back to the old days, associate the file with maya – which I really shouldn’t have to do – all of the tests files/models I’ve done solely on my home machine show up as a lovely maya file, but none of the ones from college, I can see them but I cannot open them.

Success…. sigh of relief, quickly save scene as onto my machine.

right at last onto the animation, god this is hard.

I had rigged up some IK rigs for the leg and proceeded to try and animate with them, but it seems so fiddly, if I want to animate the body – because it’s currently a seperate shape – I have animate it by itself and set it’s own keyframe, if I click off of the body I can’t see where the keyframes are, try the dopesheet says George, um, ok don’t understand that. Move something accidentally – now I’ve shifted my whole model… oh god, this is a horrible nightmare of animation… ok, ok, lets just do a few simple moves, so delete everything, start again and just do a few frames, then test that through Aurasma, see if I sweat blood and tears over the animation, if it will even work. I’ve had a few weird things turn up getting the static model into Aurasma.

Great, Maya won’t even export the .dae file I need, keeps coming up with errors about nodes and maybe I might want to update my .dae plugin.. ok I dutifully update it, go to export and same error message.. that was worth my while then, then the error log has a problem with some of my objects, I look in the outliner and it is referring to my ik joints…. so I delete them, it buggers up my animation, so I patch up a few keyframes and try again… no, it cannot find my bind poses now….this time it suggests maybe I might want to bake my animation…. I do everything I can. At the end my Great Bustard is just gliding along the floor as I’ve removed every single thing I possible can and this time maya exports it….

I put it with the thumbnail image (256×256 .png), convert to a .tar file using 7z and upload it to the Aurasma studio, it’s 9pm at night and I have had a rubbish day, please Aurasma accept my model.. I watch the whirly spiral of time whizzing round… and then the dreaded no entry sign pops up, cannot build model, random error code, please contact Aurasma…

I go back to maya, bake the animation, again delete the history, remove the lights, delete anything extraneous in the outliner window (that is a tip from me to keep your work streamlined – look in the outliner!) and re submit it to Aurasma…

Could not validate augmentation: Not enough key frames in animation

ok I give in

I shut down and pledge to start again with the static model that has nothing on it and nothing in it’s history tomorrow…

Sound module countdown

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The sound module asks that we submit a 2-3 minute sound piece, obviously not wanting to make it easy for myself, I am going to create two, to play with mood and emotion. I have my video very nearly finalised, but no you can’t see it.

Interestingly when I showed it to my peer group at college, they were already interpreting the footage in  many different way, with alternate storylines, and this without a soundtrack. Maybe this is an indicator of how much we need to see to be involved with the sound…

Or maybe I have got it wrong to use a visual piece to try and drive very differing emotions. But that’s me I’m a very visual person.

So the piece is ready, I just want to add a few fades, dips and ghosts over the vanilla video, so it lends itself to emotion.

Looking through my audio recordings and experiments, I know which bits worked best and those I would like to use for this module.

I have booked in for two sessions in the sound studio and hope to be on time and not too stressed.

In my last group tutorial with Suzie, she could see that I was wrangling with the question of how to make happy music/soundtrack for my experiment and she thought I should look at what parameters I would allow myself. I am torn between purely creating the sound design from found or recorded sound effects, rather than using music to get my emotional message across. I have come to the conclusion that for the purpose of this experiment I should allow myself to use music, and will be using a piece of my ukulele playing as I feel it is almost integral -for me – to connect music with upbeat/happy thoughts, it’s just the way I am…

The visuals that didn’t quite make it.

I knew pretty much from the beginning of this module that I would need to have visuals to work to and tried a couple of different things before settling on my piece. The reason that they didn’t work – I felt – was because they had no narrative to them, I got some lovely shots and the images looked how I wanted them to look, but they were too disjointed, but here are the rejects.

This is my random around Norwich sequence, I storyboarded what I wanted and managed to get most of it shot in two days, but when I came to put it together, I felt, it just didn’t work as a sequence and for my sound module, even though it’s supposed to be about the sound, I needed to have something with a little more narrative structure.

After the Norwich sequence didn’t quite work for me, and maybe it just needed a soundtrack to pull it together, but I wouldn’t have been happy working on it. I then looked to create a narrative using my to hand actress – my youngest Daughter. I found her drawing in the front room and with the sun streaming through the window it lit her face up beautifully, and it instantly fired my imagination to use a central character to drive some narrative.

I intersposed her drawing with the tap dripping to give a sense of time and waiting, but in the edit, although it looks lovely, it just didn’t go anywhere , this was mostly down to seeing something visually beautiful, but not having any thought  behind it go into it… I needed to storyboard this idea a little more with a central character. Which is exactly what I did to get the sequence I am now using.