Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Project progress update

A few of our projects have finished and while some are still not in the public domain yet (and so can't be discussed) it's high time we had a catch-up on the rest, so here goes. There's quite a bit to get through - but bear with us!

Culture Vannin

Firstly for Culture Vannin we've finished design consultation work on their new Manx History app:

You can download the app or launch it in your browser here: www.manxhistory.com

We also created book covers for two titles, a bilingual English and Manx collection of short stories by Nigel Kneale: 'Tomato Cain and Some Other Stories' and a Manx translation of 'Murder on the Orient Express'.

We have a few more projects currently on the go for Culture Vannin and will no doubt be updating on them as soon as we can.

Manx National Heritage

We took on an exciting project in collaboration with ReelVision and Manx National Heritage to create a video featuring al that's best in tourism on the Island - to be screened for passengers on Steam Packet vessels.

Working closely with MNH and drawing from an illustrated map they produced previously, we created a series of animated segways to insert between live action footage of Manx attractions that ReelVision had shot or collected.

The look of the animation was designed and executed in keeping with the map's quirky hand-drawn style and all are very happy with the result. Look out for it the next time you travel with the Steam Packet!

Code Club

I'm a regular member of the volunteer staff at Code Club, along with fellow CGI industry veteran Kieran Tracy. Here's a quote from me:

'At Code Club we're gaining quite a crew in the 3d room. We have Jon, an ex-lecturer with a specialty in 3d max and a recent game design graduate called Matt. Others join us when they can and new folks are always welcome - whether they have a knowledge of 3d/CGI or not.'

Recently at Code Club I've been introducing VR in the form of the Oculus Rift Developer Kit (1st edition). The Isle of Man College will soon have two of the upgrades to this unit, the 2nd developer kit that I'll introduce to my students - particularly those on the 'Visual Communication in Digital Media' degree course.

Animation Workshops

I also hosted a series of workshops at the Family Library just before Christmas on the basics of animation using Lego. From those sessions a DVD was produced which is available at the Family Library to those who attended the sessions. 

These classes were very popular and we hope to repeat the process soon.

I did a one-off afternoon workshop with Ashley Hill school's year 2's as part of their animation module. The children had created shoe-box sets and modelling-clay characters and had great fun animating their stories.

There's more to share - but I'll leave that for another post. Bye 'til next time!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Too busy to blog?

That's what I've been telling myself over the last few weeks. As a small business half the job is getting out there, marketing your services efficiently and hopefully finding work. At this moment at Mannimation we have more than half a dozen projects in various states of progress. If a deadline is shifted forward it can put pressure on other areas - which can squeeze out time allotted to other less vital activities like blogging.

Our weekends and evenings have often been taken up with overflow work - leaving us with not much downtime. We managed to take the bank holiday weekend off - which was great. Those three days were just enough to recharge the batteries.

Looking forward, we are progressing on the book jacket for the Manx translation of Murder on the Orient Express, we've done some T shirt designing for the TT season and there are ongoing animation projects with Culture Vannin and the banking sector.

I'm continuing to teach at college, advising the students on their final major projects which we'll be assessing in late June. I'm also attending Code Club regularly and will be producing a short introduction to Blender (free to use 3d design and animation software) for them in July.

We received a nice surprise in the post last week - a certificate from the Celtic Media Festival acknowledging Manannan as a shortlisted entry in the animation category. Although we didn't win, it will look great on the wall - and spur us on for next year.
Gary at Mannimation.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Opportunity Knocks

Having just finished two weeks of principal photography as 1st AD on Manx feature production 'Flavian - Essence of an Idiot' it was off to St.Ives, Cornwall last week for the Celtic Media Festival 2014.

That was an extraordinary experience, and I shared the journey with Culture Vannin's Adrian Cain. Meeting so many media professionals over the three days we were there was wonderful. We came back with plenty of ideas.

Mannimation has had a couple of new leads too while I've been away, so I'm busy chasing those up. At the moment there's a new animation project beginning, a classic Manx fairy tale, which I'm in the process of scriptwriting from the original.

As I write this, another graphics project has just popped into our inbox. Exciting times indeed.

Work continues on planning the conversion of Douglas's Market Hall for the College's arts degree courses, which I made some 3d sketch visualisations for.

On Saturday I visited the Isle of Man Code Club for the first time. This is a fantastic venture, run completely by volunteers, to cultivate interest for both youth and adults in coding for computers and other devices. I'm all for demystifying programming and will lend my support however I can and I can heartily recommend it to anyone curious about coding.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Horses for courses

It's true that time speeds up as you get older.

We have a couple of new things going on at Mannimation. One is that I've been testing a CGI horse rig to use for Gilbert's War. We've only just started with that, and the rig will need some amending but it looks very promising. WW1 was the last time that cavalry was used in battle so horses form a major role in any battlefield on the Western Front.

The other 'new thing going on' concerns a film project by a friend of mine. It's a low-budget feature film and we start two weeks of principal photography in a week's time. I said I'd help in any way I could - so I'm performing 1st AD (Assistant Director) duties on days that I can. That involves organising everyone on location and more or less getting everything where it needs to be - in front of camera for the director. I'll be doing some animated work for the film too. More about that later.

The filming schedule means that I may be out of touch for a while - but hopefully I'll be able to find time to let you know how it's going.

Otherwise, everything else is ticking along here at Mannimation. We go to St.Ives for the Celtic Media Festival as soon as I've finished the film shoot - so that will be a nice break before diving back into the fray.

That's all our news so see you next time!

Gary at Mannimation.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Must...Type... Faster...

I've just done two art sessions at the Family Library to help celebrate 100 years of Brownies (girl guiding - not baked goods!) We had a 40 strong class on the first evening, and 70 on the second! There are more planned including some structured groups of classes for all ages in the near future and I'd like to thank Mary and the library team for their support and enthusiasm.

Work on Gilbert's War and the visuals for Douglas Market Hall continues and we're progressing on a couple of as-yet-secret projects too. It's confirmed that I'll be attending the Celtic Media Festival in April along with the insanely talented Manx language officer Adrian Cain.

Saturday sees the start of a fantastic free-to-join initiative called Code Club which, although not directly connected to animation is a great opportunity for kids (and adults) to get used to programming on a computer. Any serious digitally based animator needs a basic knowledge (or at least an awareness) of scripting/coding for their chosen animation program.

EDIT: Great news from Culture Vannin today (Tuesday March 4) the second half of our two part special Manannan web cartoon episode 'Come Dine With Us' is now live on YouTube.

That's about it for now. Till next time!

Gary at Mannimation.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Bronze Torc Shortlist

I've known about this for about a week - and it's been really hard to keep it quiet!

Our web series Manannan has been shortlisted for an award at this year's Celtic Media Festival to be held in St. Ives, Cornwall during the first week of April. Culture Vannin's Learn Manx app is also up for an award - called a Bronze Torc.

I'm hoping to be able to go along, at least for the awards - to soak up some festival atmosphere. :)

Elsewhere on Mannimation, we've been working on some 3d visualisations for IoM College's Market Hall site - soon to be the home of the arts degree program. We'll shoe some progress of that on here soon.

We've also been busy with teaching animation at the college and running various workshops at the wonderful Family Library in Douglas.

We missed a blog update last week, so sorry for that - just too much to do! Consider us told off.

Back next week,

Gary at Mannimation.

Monday, 3 February 2014

It's aliiiiiive!

..as Baron Frankenstein would say.


That's been a lot of work over the last few days and it's not finished, not by a long way. I've still got a showreel to complete and now the site is up I really have to start pushing the promotion.

We now have a twitter account, a facebook page, a youtube account (no uploads yet - soon though) a website and of course this blog. I can already see where I'd like to make changes but we'll attend to those later on.

So, now the real work starts - putting the word out! I'd best get back to it but there's lots to look forward to, including regular Mannimation progress updates, CGI and animation news, simple how-to articles and lots more.

See you back here soon!

Gary at Mannimation.