Friday, 16 December 2011

Who Needs Sleep...


Hello! It's been a hectic last few weeks, coursework deadlines flying everywhere. I finished my 5-week art direction course two weeks ago, I'm glad it's done now so I can concentrate on my coursework, but I miss it because it was very interesting and fun. I built my own model set for "Barton Fink”, and even decorated the teeny tiny bathroom! 

I went out to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert with a couple of friends last Monday. It was very camp and very funny, a really enjoyable night, hopefully I'll be able to see Shrek the Musical in the New Year. Maybe even Matilda the musical as well. I'm a fan of Tim Minchin and he's written the songs for it, so that alone has to be worth the admission price.

I have 4 deadlines all within 3 days of each other so haven't even made it to the cinema for the last month, but as soon as the deadlines are passed I will be making my way to "Puss in Boots" and any others that take my fancy. I have been taking a break from coursework to watch Strictly Come Dancing and The X factor, it was a good dress night the other night on strictly, as I particularly enjoy the outfits. My favourite was Alex but she was sadly voted out at the weekend so I will now be supporting my boyfriend’s favourite – Jason. The X factor final has come and gone, and to be honest I missed the final. Even the Semi final was disappointing, but watched that in a house with my friends and their children, which made it more fun. 

Last Sunday I went out for a meal in "The Cricketers" in Clavering. It's actually owned by Jamie Oliver's parents and the food was amazing. We went there for my boyfriend's mum's birthday. I had butternut squash soup for starter and Mushroom and Truffle Risotto for main course. It was so filling but felt that I had to finish it as it was so nice. I would definitely recommend it!

Christmas is coming sooner than expected; I am so unprepared, the preparations being put back by deadlines! Next week I'll be going to the new Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, to catch up and definitely go into the LEGO store. 

It is my sister’s twenty fifth so we are off out for dinner; at least I can relax and enjoy it as the coursework rush is over, double celebration. Hopefully I will be able to go and see “Puss in Boots” before my next blog as I do love a movie review!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stage and Screen

With classes plus tours, miniature set building, project changing, project pitching, open days and dinners this has been one crazy packed week. Life is not looking to slow down either with four coursework deadlines in four weeks, not to mention Christmas coming up. The days are just disappearing, but I suppose time flies when you’re having fun.

Katy Perry on fireworks night was excellent. The show was huge and it was great fun to watch. She went on to win the EMA for Best Live Act the following night. I was particularly impressed with how many times she changed costume in ‘Hot and Cold’, it had to have been about ten. The last change being the most impressive as her dress changed as two buckets of glitter were thrown over her. Although if your sensitive about your younger child learning language, then perhaps avoid this show.

I have not been to the cinema since my last blog as I have been really busy. But there are a few films I am particularly looking forward to. The soonest one is Puss in Boots which comes out in December, as a lover of the Shrek series (and Old Spice adverts) this looks to be a really enjoyable film. After that my next pick is Pirates: A Band of Misfits, the next stop-motion offering from Aardman, the trailers make it look really funny and the animation is beautiful as ever. Last of all, anyone who loves CG animation will be dying to see Brave, it a long wait until August but Pixar’s first fairytale is definitely one to get excited about!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Real Steel (...is easier to create in VFX than fur?)

I am still very much enjoying but also constantly trying to keep up with my third year at university. My final year project and most of my modules (and my short course at Central St Martin’s) are all turning out to be things I can really get my teeth into. I am really excited that by the end of the year and our Graduation Show that I will have myself at least one short film and hopefully a whole show reel under my belt. The highlight of next week looks to be an additional session with a senior compositor from the industry coming in to show us his show reel and advise us how to get into London’s post production industry, the second largest in the world.

My recent movie viewing consisted of Real Steel, not immediately my cup of tea, I don’t like fighting. However despite missing the impressive robot boxing matches because I was staring into my lap I found the film pretty enjoyable. My favourite Robot design was Metro from the ‘zoo’. Little boys may be hardly able to conceal their pleasure, and big boys will probably like it too. It has been said that the child actor is not irritating and I would concur. Although in my opinion if you really love your robot you are not going to send it to it’s almost certain death.

I am looking forward to this weekend although my work will start piling up I am going up to Derbyshire for the weekend to see Katy Perry in concert. A suitable activity for fireworks night I think! I may even be able to revisit Twycross zoo, it’s a lovely place but last time I went I didn’t get to see their adorable baby snow leopards. My love for cute furry animals is shameless.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Canterbury Anifest 2011

Well things have really hit the ground running and I have loads of work to do already! But in a good way, in that its work I am interested in and eager to get done and that’s the benefit of third year, there’s more work but it’s also more fun work to do. Having lots on my plate has meant I have not made it to the cinema in the last fortnight or just watched a film. My main viewing in moments away from university work are the DVD box sets of Friends (which to some people’s amazement I have never seen), The X Factor, Spooks and a bit of Strictly, so all guilty pleasure viewing to really give the old brain some time off.

Despite no movie viewing I have had a great weekend adventure to the Canterbury Animation Festival. I went last year and really enjoyed it so it was a must do this time around! And it was worth it because it was even better. There was a talk from Jim Parkyn, a senior model maker at Aardman Animations (who we all love for Wallace and Gromit) the talk was about the brilliant Creature Comforts. On the feedback form I asked for a talk on their new feature Pirates for next year, it looks great. There was also a talk from a character animator who worked on the dragon in Gringotts in Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows Part 2, which was excellent. There was also a screening of Coraline, and then a production talk where they showed all the different bits they had to animate for just one frame of one of the elaborate shots. Not only that, one of the animators from the film actually did some animation of a coralline puppet on stage!

After all of that excitement on Saturday, on Sunday we did a model making workshop with Jim Parkyn and also saw the screening of the British Short Animation finalists for the competition part of the festival. There were some gorgeous short films, the winner was Drawing Inspiration, which is a really feel good little film which is apparently available on YouTube so take a look.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier...Animator?

I love the start of term. There is lots of promise of the interesting new level you are embarking on and how great you are going to be at keeping up with all your work. I already have a ton of work to do but am trying to revel in it as I am sure it will only get heavier. I know that I am going to try and enjoy this year as much as possible because I really like being at university and unless I decide to do a masters, this is the last year that I will be.

My big decision at the moment is what I will do for my final year project. My issue being that I don’t know. I feel much like a jack of all trades and a master of none on my course. My area is Animation and VFX I have got that far. However it is not as simple as just being an Animator, there is such a spectrum of specialised areas in the industry. Do I want to do character animation, rigging, modelling texturing, compositing and the list goes on. So it’s almost not a question of what do I want to do my project in but what do I want to be?

I think anyone could guess from the title which film I have seen. In a departure from the 3D wave everyone seems to be very excited about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It is a great film, one of those that looks good in the trailer, and it is good when you watch it. The design and the pacing are amazing, and Gary Oldman is excellent (to think that I only ever used to refer to him as ‘Sirius’). The only disappointment was that it was a little too easy to guess who the mole was and I prefer that kind of storyline to outwit me.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Preparation for third year!

The main part of Clearing is over now and we are progressing onto the time of online registration when people are going to become fresher’s! Because I changed my course I got to be a fresher twice, that was lucky for me because the second time I has fresher’s flu all week. Now I am looking at embarking on the scariest bit of any degree, the last year; this being the year that gives you your classification and where you have to make all the moves to propel yourself into the world of work.

To prepare for my third year I have been reading the books from my reading list and deciding what graduate schemes, company programmes and postgraduate courses I am interested in applying for so I don’t miss any deadlines. I am particularly enjoying ‘Ideas for the Animated Short’ which is an easier read than ‘The Art and Science of Digital Compositing’ although both very interesting.

The film of this blog is Fright Night. Not one that I initially might have gone for, however I was very kindly given a free ticket by my friend as part of the Sky movies previews at Cineworld O2. I normally run in the opposite direction to horror films because of my overactive imagination that has left me sleeping with the light on for lesser things. However Fright Night isn’t really a horror film, it’s funny, and it’s funniest when David Tennant is on screen. Colin Farrell looks like he is enjoying his role, he has a way of looking like he is having a ball when he is a funny baddy, somewhat like when he was Bull’s-eye in Daredevil. The guy who plays the main character I have seen in ‘Fierce People’ and ‘Charlie Bartlett’ and although the first of those films was five years ago he looks almost exactly the same. Really good film that keeps you on the edge of your seat and also gives you a laugh at the same time.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cars 2 and Captain America

Working in clearing over the summer is good, but it’s the evening and weekend activities that I look forward to the most. This week I saw two movies and I saw the show currently on at the Coliseum called ‘Napoletango’, which is a show you come out of wondering whether you thought it was good or just downright strange. However Bruce Forsyth and Antonio Carlucci (TV chef some people have never heard of and some people think is really famous) were there to see it.
So for the movie section, the viewing this week was Captain America. Possibly not one I would have been interested in if I did not know the people I do. It was a good, well put together, comprehensive film. I enjoyed it; it had many of my favourite British actors in it, a tiny bit from Richard Armitage (Robin Hood/Spooks/Vicar of Dibley) and Natalie Dormer (The Tudors). As well as Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia) as Howard Stark and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter (The Duchess)in more main roles. It is always nice when you see people who you have watched on British Television and the National Theatre stage progress to the big screen. Less British, but no less excellent small parts came from Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones. Stanley Tucci is one of those people is always in supporting roles but also nearly always makes a movie.

Anyway, actually about the film! It is another super hero origin movie but it’s not a cliché, it is set in the 1940s and the Captain’s super powers are due to medical science. It is also part of a “set”, the Marvel Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America films title characters will all be in The Avengers next year. I have seen all of these films and have to say I don’t think much of Hulk, Iron Man is all right, Captain America is good and solid but my favourite is probably Thor. Its humour and the impressiveness of the worlds of Asgaard and Jodenheim are what tip it on top for me.

I also saw Cars 2, as a digital animation student this was an interesting one for me. It was undoubtedly gorgeous with a lot impressive effects in terms of explosions and the scene with Finn McMissile. Being a Pixar film you would expect nothing less than the best animation around. In terms of story it’s about Mater not Lightning McQueen, however I felt the same about it as I did about Cars. It’s really good but other Pixar films are great. Look out for the adverts on the London race track that say ‘Lassetyre’ after director and overall genius John Lasseter. Absolutely go and see it, but as soon as it finishes run away because the song over the credits is awful.

Monday, 25 July 2011

My Summer

After a hiatus in the US my summer is returning to its usual path. Since 2009 I have spent my summer holidays working at university for Clearing. Although I enjoy working for Clearing at the university, A-Level Day can be a very intense time with understandably stressed callers and last year I found myself looking forward to the start of the term for a change of pace.

I had a lovely holiday; I spent two weeks in Orlando and one in New York, being as touristy as possible in both locations. I particularly enjoyed The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios and also Hollywood Studios in Disney World. The shops at Downtown Disney are very impressive, including a Lego shop with a life size Loch Ness monster in the river outside (not that the size of the Loch Ness monster has been definitively decided)!

New York was also impressive and in just four days we covered the Statue of liberty, Ellis Island, The Rockefeller Centre, The Empire State building, Fifth Avenue, New York Library, Times Square, a Sex and the City tour and a showing of The Lion King. Not to forget the fantastic Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Met and the Harry Potter prop exhibition at Discovery: Times Square. A very enjoyable part was the Whole Food market at the bottom of the Time Warner building.

By my exploits on holiday you may have picked up that I quite like Harry Potter. I did go and see the last film last Friday. I am terrible and trying to critique Harry Potter films because I am a fan of the books, a film is never as good if you have read the book. Let us just say it was good and leave it at that. In terms of cinema I am looking forward to Cars 2 because I revel in anything Pixar and Captain America, because I saw Thor and it was much better than I expected.

Other than getting back into the swing of Clearing my other current occupation is taking in my reading list for next year. All of the books are interesting but some such as The Art of the Incredibles are particularly a pleasure with lots of concept art and a fold out colour script. I hope I will have enough information in my head by September to make the most of my last year at uni!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Holiday?

My second year of university is finally and completely over. Big sigh. So naturally I have bought a reading list book for my first essay next year and started thinking about how best to prepare. I will also spend my summer working for the university in Clearing. It will be my third summer spent doing this but at the moment university entry changes so much that it has never been boring. It is a chance to get really good work experience dealing with people in stressed situations and an environment where information is rapidly changing.

I am looking forward to having a holiday. However I am concerned that my wonderful plans will be scuppered by the ash cloud like so many flights were a few months ago. Big kid that I am, I am extremely excited about doing the theme park thing in Orlando then the sightseeing thing in New York. I have been to the USA once before but only on a jaunt around the Mid-West, the biggest stop being Chicago.

While I am out in Orlando I will probably see a NBA finals game. Both the two playoff rounds and the conference championships have taken place. The Dallas Mavericks won the Western conference and the Miami Heat won the Eastern conference so they will now go head to head for the NBA Championship.

The Marathon I have mentioned a few times is now over. Ouch. There are lovely views on the course in Edinburgh and lots of friendly people. I had never been to Edinburgh before (Aberdeen being my Scottish city of choice) and can confirm like so many others before me that it is very lovely. There is still time to support the British Heart Foundation at www.justgiving.com/Emily-Luff. I promise that’s the last time I will write that. Many thanks for the great generosity and help I have received from all of those who have supported me.

Monday, 9 May 2011

End of Term

Term is winding down now; I have just come out of the other side of two crazy coursework weeks. By that I mean nights with no sleep, computers having technical faults and too much running around. In my previous blog I mentioned the NBA playoffs; the second round has started now, so there are only four teams left in each conference. Recently Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls (the same team as Michael Jordan) won Most Valuable Player and their coach Tom Thibadeou got Coach of the Year.

I don’t know so much about comics but my sister and boyfriend do, so he was very excited when my sister bought us all preview tickets to see Thor. If you haven’t heard of him apart from that he has a movie out, Thor is the Norse God of thunder that is friends with characters like the incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. This film introduces him, his hammer, the home of the Nordic gods Asgard and his naughty brother Loki who it looks like might feature in more super hero marvel movies to come. It’s a nicely put together film by director Kenneth Brannagh and its good fun with some funny moments; you don’t have to know things about the stories to appreciate it. However if you do have a penchant for a comic books you might not notice the billboard or know that Jeremy Renner’s character with a bow and arrow is Hawkeye a member of the upcoming Avengers movie.

At this time of the year I like looking forward to the summer and also making sure I am ready and prepared for what next year will bring. But at the moment I am still thinking about immediate pressures as it is not all over, I still have the marathon to come. So for the last time I will say, pretty please, every little helps at www.justgiving.com/Emily-Luff. Also, many thanks to Bryony who helped me with my fundraising, by organising a cake sale at the Bocking Mayday fair.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Prelude to May Madness

I am sure that I have never had so much to be doing in my life before. A weekend with no plans seems like strange and rare treat these days. I am looking forward to the summer holidays! The significant factors in my life at the moment are probably finishing all my end of term coursework, running Edinburgh Marathon and the start of the NBA playoffs. Why NBA? Because my boyfriend talks about it a fair amount of the time.
For those who are not versed in the language of basketball (I only learnt this recently). The regular season has just finished so all 30 teams in the National Basketball Association (29 in the US and 1 in Canada) have just finished playing 82 games each. How many they have won out of 82 dictates how good their record is. The teams are split into the eastern and western conferences. So the teams with the top eight records in the east and the top eight records in the west go through to the playoffs. This is where each team versus another playoff team in their conference, and plays a series where they have to get the best of seven games to go through to the next round. This happens until we have an eastern and a western conference champion, who go against each other to make the world champion. At the moment we are supporting the Chicago Bulls, go Derrick Rose! MVP (Most valuable player)! MVP!

More importantly, I have been to the cinema since my last blog, but I saw ‘Your Highness’. It’s silly, and not good hearted silly like a Will Ferrell film. Some parts are quite disgusting, although it had some good and funny elements my main feeling on leaving the cinema was slight nausea. So I will not be seeing that one again but I am looking forward to Rio, when I get spare couple of hours.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Another year...

I cannot believe that it is nearly the end of the academic year again. Three years sounds like a long time when you start a degree but you are so busy that it just flies by. I have nearly finished my second year now. Only one more year of university and I will then have to face the big bad world all by myself. This is something that will be wonderful if I find employment but not so much fun if I don’t and just wish my degree was one year longer.

My latest 3D cinema expedition was to see Rango. It is one of those films that you are not sure whether you like it or not because it is so different. As with most 3D animations you expect it to be a child friendly morality tale of some sort. In fact Rango is just a western but done in beautiful 3D animation with animals as characters. So if you like a western it is very much recommended but if you want something to take your young child to, not so much.

The line-up for v festival has been announced, which is very exciting. I have never been to a big music festival before. The only festival I have been to was the Hop Farm Festival last year which I was working at. Many people have told me discouraging facts about horrible toilets, large queues and bottles of urine. However I will be reassured that my parent’s house is within walking distance so I can have a shower and a sleep there if it all gets too much.

We had an Open Day at the university this Saturday just gone; I always know this means a busy day for me. At the Greenwich campus was the best turn out I have seen so far in my experience of the university open days. I had a very large tour group all to myself and got to speak to lots of different people about the best way to make their way around the open day. I hope everybody who came got the information they wanted and saw what they wanted to see!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Extra Curricular Activities

I hope you have had a nice week or two. I have been to see the band Lifehouse, most people I mention them to don’t seem to have heard of them. They have songs on the Shrek soundtrack and their song ‘You and Me’ was the most popular wedding song of 2008. So give them a go and you might be surprised. I had never been to The Roundhouse in Camden before, it is a very nice venue with a very similar layout to the Indigo O2 except slightly larger.

I started a course in Autodesk’s Maya last week. I study Autodesk 3DS Max in university, but although that gives us the concepts common to all 3D software Maya is much more commonly used for film and TV whereas 3DS Max more for games. They don’t have time to teach you everything at university, if you have the time management skills to fit it in, it can be good to do a short course alongside. It is just a way to add extra strings to your bow and make you more employable whilst still focussing on your area of interest.

I must have a little 3D geek out, I saw Gnomeo and Juliet, which had some very nice textures that almost made it look stop motion for a couple of short moments. I particularly liked the small Montague bunnies who clicked their ears together. It is a production that went through quite a lot being shut down twice before finally being made.

Time for a mini boast, I had a bit of a coursework breakdown at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. I also said that it was very important to keep ahead of yourself and try to be ready to hand in early. For the first time it is not just do as I say, it is also do as I do. I have nearly finished my coursework a week early (and I have backed it up as well).

Friday, 25 February 2011

BAFTAs and Feeling the Burn

I have been writing a lot on the topic of cinema recently, and here I go again. I cannot help I am a animation and cinematography student on top of visiting the cinema being one of my favourite things to do. So I have finally seen the Kings Speech and it is very good, as I am sure many people are aware. I found it to be surprisingly funny, the air of light heartedness meaning that this film was not a heavy watch like it’s fellow nominee Black Swan.
I watched the whole of the BAFTA coverage the other day. I know they said The Kings Speech would win everything but it really did win every single thing it was nominated for. My special interest area was of course the animation; Toy Story 3 pipped the wonderful How to Train Your Dragon and my newest DVD Despicable Me to the post. I was pleased to see that The Eagleman Stag won the short animation prize as I had seen it as a finalist at the Canterbury Animation Festival in October (where it did not actually win anything, but it’s fellow BAFTA nominees did).

Off the topic of film I had a marathon training day last Saturday. As I have previously mentioned I am going to be running the Edinburgh Marathon on May 22nd for the British Heart Foundation. I spent the whole of Saturday, running, stretching and getting many pieces of good advice on everything from fundraising to injury prevention to marathon etiquette. I now have a laid out plan to organise what has been my adhoc collection of four mile jogs, cross training and badminton sessions that I have been calling my training. Finally, last but not least do not forget www.justgiving.com/Emily-Luff for some support, anything is appreciated.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Go and See

I can hardly believe I still have not seen The Kings Speech! However I did make it to Black Swan and also the new Disney film Tangled. I have lots of fun things coming up too, on Thursday I am seeing Punt and Dennis (i.e. The Now Show, Mock the Week, Outnumbered etc.), I am also seeing Russell Howard and the band Lifehouse this month so I am very excited.

Tangled is a 3D animation film by Disney but not Pixar, and is apparently going to be the last Disney ‘classic’ movie. By this I presume they mean the fairytale based kind where people sporadically burst into song. But never mind all of that, this film is brilliant, the best and by far the funniest Disney film I have ever seen. Although a lot of these films stick in our hearts, this film makes it possible to think that they stopped just because they were not sure they could do any better. I want to go and see this one again!

Black Swan is quite the departure from Tangled and if you are a wimp like me can be confusing and disturbing at times. However it is also very clever at depicting the mental breakdown that the main character undergoes because of the pressure her new role as the swan queen puts on her. However it is not too shocking as this begins relatively quickly and it appears that her mind was fragile to start with. The end has a lot of elegance although you are sad that somebody so talented cannot keep their mind together to enjoy their success.

It may seem like I do very little but watch films; obviously this is a large part of my life as my degree is in Digital Animation and Production. However I have also been getting busy with marathon training and I have to think up some fundraising ideas very soon!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Twenty Two

I have to say I am enjoying 2011 so far. Now my last coursework rush is over I am being very careful to try and stay ahead of myself. It was my birthday yesterday, I was sad on Sunday that it was my last day of being 21, my last ‘enviable’ age. On the upside being 22 is looking to be a nice time, I have lots of lovely things to keep me busy and I am still in my second year, so I don’t have to panic about jobs too much yet.

I do like to review things; recently however my television addiction has been How I Met Your Mother. I have seen a couple of episodes on television but never intended to watch it, now I got the seasons 1-5 box set in the January sale and I am enjoying it very much. It is a really good, light hearted and funny watch; guaranteed to get you in a good mood.

The other thing I have been watching is the Shrek Quadrilogy. I really like the Shrek films with their great style, animation and humour. It is a shame that their popularity somewhat dwindled after the first two films. I saw one and four in the cinema and two on DVD. I had thought I had seen number three but when I watched the DVD I found I had not seen it at all! I got the box set for Christmas and have enjoyed rewatching them all, having somewhat of a Shrek Marathon. Do not write off three and four, they may not be Toy Story 3 but they are still good.

I am going to see Black Swan tonight, a departure from my recent jolly viewings; however my cinematography teacher recommended it as we are studying lighting. Also I am fond of ballet and it is one of the highly thought of films of the moment along with The Kings Speech (which was partly filmed at our Greenwich Campus). So hopefully by next blog I will have seen them both and I will let you know what I think.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

New year, new challenges

It’s a new year and that is always nice. Some things are new, some things are the same and others are looming. But it’s all good fun. I really enjoyed my Christmas holiday; I did lots of nice things. Saw friends, went out for meals, and played far more badminton than I could possibly have anticipated. I got way too many Christmas presents I feel thoroughly spoilt but also have no idea where to put them I have way too much stuff already.

I enjoyed a five day excursion to Centre Parcs, having not been there since the age of approximately seven in was a mixture of novelty and fond memories. The rapids are still fantastic, but not as fast when you are twenty one as when you are seven. The badminton courts are nice there too, I have discovered how to serve finally.

I have just had a crazy coursework time, I spent some time each day over Christmas doing it but ended up being up until half five the night before anyway. So this time I have already started things that are due in March and hope that I will be handing in early for the next lot. Do remember – a degree is a lot of hard work, even fluffy ones.

I may be a crazy person but for some reason when I watched the London Marathon last year I thought ‘I could do that!’. So I applied to be a Heart Runner, and now I am all set to run the Edinburgh Marathon for the British Heart Foundation. I have to do fundraising, so if you want to sponsor me, every little helps at www.justgiving.com/Emily-Luff. Sunday 22nd May 2011 is the big day.