Wednesday, 30 November 2011

First Thoughts

After doing some initial research, and going through the brief again, I quite like the idea of creating a projection based on Sheffield's History, which is one theme of the event. Being born and bred in Sheffield, I have grown to love this city, and I would quite like to do something related to its progress.

Sheffield is full of history. The most obvious is the Steelworks, which created the steel necessary to win the war by building weapons and ammunitions etc. Everybody knows about this, but it doesn't make it any less unique.

Old Steel Works
Forgemasters - Still going strong

Inside Forgemasters
What some people don't know is that Sheffield is home to the worlds oldest football club, Sheffield F.C. Founded in 1857, and going strong for 154 years playing Association Football in North Premier League Division One South (which doesn't make sense...).

Sheffield F.C. Logo

The earliest found evidence of inhabitants in Sheffield dates back 12,800 years ago in the Iron Age at Creswell Crags (went there in primary school to learn about caves!). As you can probably imagine, a lot has changed in 12,800 years...

Sheffield is home to many well-known buildings, which are of interest to tourists from all over. These include Meadowhall Shopping Centre, The Winter Gardens, The Millennium Galleries, Kelham Island and many more.
I would love to create something related to the history of Sheffield, so I think I need to decide on an aspect of its history and focus on how I can visually celebrate it.

BeVox - Timothy Allen

I looked into more info about Timothy Allen and BeVox, and found his websites.

BeVox is the business name of Timothy Allen Music, and on both websites it announces they will be part of the Alight Festival in Sheffield. So it can be assumed this is a definite go-ahead.
From reading about BeVox and Timothy Allen, I found some amazing information about them. BeVox consists of a choir of people singing, and they have performed many flash mobs! I did not expect to find that! On Timothy's personal website it states his recent accomplishments as 'a flash mob at St Pancras International Station in London', and more to come! I HAD to check that out, so I looked on youtube. Here are my findings:

Amazing! But wait my good viewers, there's more! Check out the vid below:

They mobbed Meadowhall! Something a little closer to home! And even better, I was at Meadowhall that day! I was working, and someone said there was a flash mob near the Oasis Food Court and I didn't believe them! I said it was probably just people singing there again, which there usually is! I was amazed when I found this video, and it gives a good idea of what BeVox will be all about!

Research 2

We were given a little insight into who will be playing at the Alight Twilight event, which could give us a bit of help in our idea generation and development, as we will know roughly what audio could be present. I must stress however, this is not set in stone, and also, weren't meant to be given this from the client, we just got a sneaky look at it with our tutor!
So without further ado, here are a few i listed:

Concord Youth Music Ceremonial Fanfare. This is 6 fanfare trumpets with the Sheffield Cathedral Choir. There is no info about a song, but i'm sure with 'fanfare' trumpets it will be pretty up-beat.
Sheffield Music Service Orchestra. 50 young players performing 'Everyone Sang', which is a song/poem about war.
Heavyweight Champion of the World. A modern music and dance retelling of Romeo and Juliet, possibly set in Sheffield (I think). Sounds pretty interesting!

Cutlery Concerto. Only Info given is that is it by Sheffield Academy Students. First impression is music being played with cutlery? Strange objects? What popped into my head, and others too, was the Blue Man Group. Check out the awesome video below of the Blue Man Group playing a cover of 'Baba O'Reilly' by the Who (one of my favourite songs!) This could give an idea of the theme of the Cutlery Concerto. Cutlery could be relevant to the Steelworks of Sheffield?

Also on the list was Vocal Work. Pop songs made prominent by local bands.

BeVox by Timothy Allen. There was no more info on this, but it is one I think will go ahead for definite, as his name has been mentioned since the introduction to this brief. Ill look more into this guy I think.

Our Tutor also mentioned the Glen Miller Band to look at as reference. They are a big-band playing all forms of jazz and orchestral music. Here is a video below.

Another definite is the Twilight Finale, which will potentially consist of about 500+ performers (possibly all the performers throughout the night coming together) to perform a 15 minute piece which will be a world-wide premier of a commissioned piece. This could be something worth finding out more about, but again, nothing is set in stone just yet!

The performances are meant to be based around three words Alight have chosen to represent the festival which are 'Arise', 'Unite', 'Alight'. This is something I need to think about in my designs.

CrowdSpeak 2.0

I joined in another effort at CrowdSpeak with my class. This time it was to be done all digitally, using Adobe Illustrator, passing on the file via email to each other after we added our part of the design. I have collected each section together to create this little animation showing the process below.

This was a NIGHTMARE to put together, and as you can see, it flickers on some letters when I have imported the jpegs into After Effects. I found when I imported them, an error message popped up when i previewed the motion saying 'After Effects error: The file format module cannot parse to file 43 : 35'. Erm.......what?
So after a bit of googling, I learned the problem lies within colour modes, and the suggestion was that one or more of the individual files were set to CMYK, not RGB. So I had the tedious job of taking ALL the jpegs into photoshop to check and re-save each file to correct settings because as the files were passed on, someone had changed the settings and passed on files in CMYK, and oblivious to this, everyone else, including me, carried on. In total there was about 72 files to re-save. Urgh. But I did it, and it worked, so thank you to the kind people at Adobe for telling me about the problem!
Moving away from my little rant, I did, once again, enjoy doing this. I look forward to receiving a new file to see what designs people have added. When  letter came back round which I had added to previously, its really interesting to see how it has progressed, and whether my design has much impact (or can even be seen) on it anymore.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Research 1

I have been doing some research since this project began. Here are some things I have found:

The Alight festival has more advertisement than the client let on. I have found several websites which are adverting the festival and even selling tickets! A few of the good ones are below:

After the CrowdSpeak exercise, I looked into a few of the other user driven, participatory design works out there we were told about.

Spore is a video game which is based on the players creating pretty much everything around them. The creatures they play as are custom built, meaning they are, in a way, unique, the houses they live in are built by the player, the world around them, pretty much everything. The world is a blank canvas given to the player to create to game for themselves.

Character Creation in Spore

World Creation in Spore
Life in a Day
This is a film produced by Ridley Scott, which shows the true story of a real day on earth. It is filmed by people all over the world, showing their day, on the 24th July 2010. It really expresses life at its raw form, no hollywood glamour, no special effects, just how the world lives each day. Some stories are amazing, happy and full of joy. Children are born, people propose in extraordinary ways, some people get married, some people are reunited. Other stories are not so happy, showing how tough it is to live in poverty and famine. But this documentary was created by the world, not one person, and I think it is amazing!

I also began to think about what the main event, 'Alight Twilight', would look like, what it would feel like, what it would be. Reading the description, it seems quite classical and orchestral.

The picture above if taken from the alight website which I linked a few posts ago. This, to me, shows what to expect from the visuals of the performers. However, there are some performances from artists I don't know about, so a bit more research is in order!

My own CrowdSpeak!

As I said in my pervious post, I intended to do my own CrowdSpeak with other people. I decided to do it with non-designers, so I took my iPad to work, and using a simple animation app, I got the people working that day to do it. The result is as follows:

I simplified it just to the letter 'A', because, well, we were supposed to be working! I told them they could create little stories or movements between them, but they would have to draw a frame each. So some little things happened like the weird boomarang-like thing moving across the letter. All of the people involved (I say 'all', there was 3 people other than me working that day!) drew it frame by frame, one after the other to create that effect, which shows that simple animation can be done by anyone! So thanks to my good friends at Red5 Meadowhall, yet another productive day at work ;)
Just to make it look better, I took the frames into After Effects and looped it a few times so you get a chance to see everything going on!


Not posted in about a week, because I have been busy getting involved in a class project called CrowdSpeak. This is a brief which we have been using to help us see other angles at tackling the project. It involved us all using templates of the letters of 'Alight'. One person would draw onto the letter partially, and pass it on to someone else, who would also add a part of design to the letter, pass it on and so on. This creates a design which involves input from many individuals, and creates a piece of work which has a large ownership. Because of this, it gets you more involved and interested in the process.
The idea behind this is that if we could use this in some way to design for Alight, by using other people such as members of the public, they would be more interested in the festival itself, as they would actually be part of it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this mini-brief, and I feel it has helped me see other ways to develop and produce work in a meaningful manner. I can see why some of the group struggles with it, as in order to do it properly, you have to give up control of the work. Once you have finished your part, all the rest is up to other people, with no input from you. I found this rather exciting, and the final outcomes (which were hilarious!) had many different genres of design; some doodles were made, some really arty designs and patterns, some scribbles, colour and more, all on one letter. As each person added their part, a photo was taken before it was passed on, which meant we could input these to After Effects to animate and see visually how they progressed. I do not have the video, as our tutor created it, but if there is a chance I get hold of it, ill upload it!
Although i don't have the video of this one, I am going to do this again with other people and see what I come up with!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

More info from the Client

We had a chance to do a Q&A with the client to find out more info on the brief. It was interesting, but massively confusing! She did seem to give pretty broad answers to nearly every question asked, but I think thats because its a really broad brief!

She gave us the website to the Alight festival (which, as she stated, is pretty terrible and dry, with not much info on it yet). Site if found at:

One fact she couldn't stress enough about is that we CANNOT in any way, shape or form relate to the 2012 Olympics, otherwise all goes spiralling downhill, and hefty lawsuits and fines may ensue. Pretty strange seeing as though it follows the Olympics, but hey, I just design the gear, not business!

What interested me particularly was that there will possibly be 2 screens at the Twilight event. This could be used to create the illusion of a projection passing from screen to screen. However, that is not set in stone, and she also mentioned she probably wouldn't find out for sure until a lot later into our project. Really helpful, thanks! Either way, so far I am leaning towards the projections, but it is still early stages, so I need to look into ideas generation a bit more anyway.

She also mentioned to bear in mind that even though it is located in Sheffield, it is formally the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and the location represents Yorkshire, not just Sheffield.

Other things mentioned were small but relevant details such as things to go on posters, tag-lines and preferences. We did also get told what audiences are expected to be at each event, which obviously as a designer is a massive part of how I am to approach the brief or certain aspects.

It gave me a lot to think about. I think the best thing to do next is to have a think about how to start my research into this project and see where that takes me in terms of idea generation!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


A new project has now started! In this project we are quite lucky to have been chosen by alight music nation to pretty much design their festival.
Firstly, let me explain what this festival is.
Alight is a festival which follows the olympics to its selected country every four years, and runs a 'cultural olympiad' based on the arts. It is in no way related to the olympics, other than it happens once every 4 years in the same country as it. So the fact it is happening in england, and even better, the fact it is going to be in Sheffield is very exciting! Literally a once in a lifetime opportunity!

The Alight festival has 3 events which run on Saturday 3rd March in Sheffield City Centre (so get yourselves there for it, it will only ever happen once!). These events are:
Alight Daylight: Runs in the daytime and features a variety of events in several locations such as the Winter Gardens and the Hubs. There will be dance, music and interactive events running throughout these locations.
Alight Twilight: Runs during the evening, and fortunately has nothing to do with the books/films. This is an event at the City Hall featuring over 500 performers, a mixture of music, theatre and dance. This will be a payed-for ticket event.
Alight Into The Night: Held at the Hubs starting after Twilight and runs into the early hours of the morning. This will be mainly a musical event, most probably with live bands.

So what have I been asked to do?
The students in my course have been chosen to design a large selection of event materials. We have been given six requests (which branch out quite broadly). These are:

  • Alight Brand - A big request. Alight needs an identity, something which people look at and think 'that is the alight music festival'. This includes the logo, branding, colours, themes and much more. 
  • Print - flyers, posters, brochures, souvenir programmes etc. Material which can be handed out and made available to the public to advertise the event. My first thought here is this: When somebody hands me a flyer in the city centre, I either refuse it, or if forced upon me, I throw it away, usually without paying much attention to it. Because of this, something special must be done if I am to choose this task.
  • Projections -  Mainly for the Twilight event at the City Hall. There will be a screen available which needs projections to accompany the music in the show. This could be moving image or a sequence of still frames.
  • Alight Artefact - A unique, one-off object which is used as a symbol of the festival, able to be carried and passed around and taken to key events in the city, similar to the idea of the olympic torch (but not a torch, or anything related to the olympics).
  • Street Art - there will be a single location available for a piece if work which must relate to the Alight theme. Not much more information is given so far on this one.
We must design for at least one of these criteria, but if we choose so, more than one or even all can be applied for. This could be a pretty interesting project, and I am looking forward to getting a bit more info from the client about it to begin my research!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Personal Reflection and Action Plan

Probably should have posted this earlier, but only just found out it should be on here!

Self Reflection


I feel that my strengths lie in my passion for moving image. I love learning new techniques, software and hardware, and building my skill set even further.
I am a quick learner, and once I get the grasp of new materials I can produce some really interesting things.
I also have my own illustrative style when it comes to drawing. I can create interesting pieces in both analogue and digital formats.
Another of my strengths is that I am able to adapt and improvise efficiently under pressure. If something goes wrong, or I am unable to progress a certain way, I am able to think of new ways to tackle the situation quickly with little to no problem.


I believe my main weakness is time management. I always meet deadlines and have never failed a brief, however I sometimes find myself pressured for time, as I usually seem to find myself stuck in either the development or the idea generation stage of a brief for a while.
I also sometimes struggle to verbalise my ideas to others. Obviously I know what I mean, but my presentation skills need more work if I am to pitch to other people.

Action Plan

Building on my Strengths

Target - Gain a quicker grasp at idea generation.
What actions are needed – Start research early on to get a good understanding of new projects, thereby improving my pace at generating initial ideas.

Target – Gain more thorough knowledge of the tools available to me as a motion designer.
What actions are needed – Attend all tutorials in University, and continue to develop skills learned in these sessions. Also look into online tutorials in my own time to find out more about the software and hardware available.

Improving my performance on the course

Target – Build more confidence in presentation.
What actions are needed – Use notes and/or bullet points to refer to instead of reading from a script.

Target – Manage time more efficiently
What actions are needed – Make use of some form of time-plan and stick to it, giving myself good time with no interferences to focus on my work.

Improving my employment prospects

Target – Do some work outside of University
What actions are needed – Do some extra work in my own time to develop skills. Getting involved with other people from other areas of design and/or media will also build upon my teamwork skills and confidence.

Target – Build upon my CV
What actions are needed – Look into finding some volunteer work or get involved with projects outside of University. This will build upon my skills, but also gain some useful contacts.

Self Critique

Now that I have finished this project, I feel I should look back at my work and reflect on how things went.

Firstly, I was a bit slow during the ideas generation stage. I think this hindered me a bit at the start, as I could have got a quicker start on it and got into development much sooner.

I feel my development went really well. I shot about 60 short clips to get the few which were useful and set up how I wanted it for each section of my storyboard! I thought about different ways of approaching my final outcome. Initially I even thought about drawing it out in a cartoon like way! But obviously in the end I went for old fashioned filming with a bit of a play around in After Effects.

Despite how much fun I had creating it, I am a bit disappointed with my final outcome. Not the idea, or the way I did it, just the quality. It looks a bit pixelated around the edges on some shots, like the first one with the book. This is because of the green screen conditions. I found that green screening is really easy to do, but to do well takes a lot of patience and effort. I simply used two big sheets of green paper as a backdrop, costing around £4. Because of this, after effects picks up even the smallest colour differences, and makes outlines and edges looks jagged. If I could afford a Hollywood green screen studio for the reasonable price of a few hundred grand, i'd be all over it! But alas, I am not so lucky, yet.....
But like I mentioned, even though the quality didn't seem up to par, I am happy with my idea, and I thoroughly enjoyed producing it!

Final Outcome!

Tada! Here it is, my final outcome, Enjoy!

Side note: Yet again, like some of my previously uploaded videos, this is a render at 1/3 quality because of my appalling internet speeds. The final one is in full HD.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Green Screen 101

I searched online on various websites for some tutorials on green screening, and one thing came to mind on every video I watched: this seems too easy!
So I thought I better try it out myself before I jumped straight into the idea. I nipped down to Hobbycraft and got two big sheets of bright green paper (25% off! Bargain!) and got to work. Once I had filmed what I needed for the test, Green Screen on After Effects is done within 10 clicks of the mouse.
Layer the background video under the 'to be green screened' video. Check!
Drag on Keylight 2.0 onto composition. Check!
Use colour selector to remove unwanted colour (green). Check!
Change screen matte options to black. Check!
And watch! The outcome is below:

So simple to do! Its obviously a bit gritty and simple, but it is only a test. What I learned from this is not to be too close to the paper, because as you can see around my hand, it cannot get rid of the shadow! So this I must keep in mind when creating my videos. Quite looking forward to this, wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Julien Valee

I was shown this video by Julien Valee (with a little ' above the E, couldn't find it on my keyboard, surprise surprise!) which I think is absolute genius!

He uses green-screening to create these amazing little animations using real life objects and plays them on a loop to create this living environment which I think looks fantastic!

It also got me thinking that I could use green-screening for the book part of my story, when the paper scraps come out of the book. By filming the book opening against a coloured backdrop, then layering a film of scraps pouring out of something, I could create the illusion that the book is releasing these paper scraps. Huzzah!
Now just to find out how to do green-screening........
To the internet tutorials!