Saturday, 9 November 2013

My Taster at Escape Studios

Well hello!

This has been a very exciting week for me, as I've started to take the first steps in my plans for the future. I've always felt that though illustration and digital painting is my hobby, I'd love to take it to the next level, and turn it into a skill where I could finally work in the industry I spend days watching. So I'm (hopefully) embarking into the wild world of CGI and VFX. I love working in 2D, but creating something that moves and appears photorealistic would be incredible.

So I've been looking at a number of colleges, universities and institutions to find the best place for me to do this. One of the courses I became really excited about very quickly was an intensive vocational course at a London-based studio called Escape. I was recommended them by someone who'd trained there, and so I did some research and booked myself onto an open day.

It's not like your average university campus, it not being a university at all, but a specialist, private college where people of all ages go to gain the skills they need to get into the industry. It's run and taught by industry professionals, primarily. There isn't so much of a theoretical aspect, in that at University you'd need to go and do probably more than one year, and spend some of your time writing essays and independently researching. Now having done an English Degree, a vocational route appealed to me a lot more. I enjoyed my time at Uni and I would never take it back as it provided me with the skills I needed to get to the next stage in my life, and some of the best friends I've ever made. However, at this point I think I really just need training in the software, and that's exactly what Escape offers.

On Thursday, I went ahead and attended their Taster Session, which they offer as an introduction to the kind of training you'd be getting if you took one of their Courses, which I think was a brilliant offer, in that it helped me work out what I was getting into before I nose-dived and signed on. I met some interesting people, and got to try out a day working in 3D with Maya, one of the leading pieces of animation software. I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly daunting, there's about a million different tabs, options and tools, as well as several different methods of achieving the same goal. We were taken through the entire process, Modelling, Texturing, Camera Tracking and even a bit of Comp at the end. We all had huge, good-looking computers to work on, and a screen to watch the tutor on as he explained how to go about doing things.

The end goal was to create some cubes in the style of Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes in the 60s, something a little like this:

We then had to use pre-made textures and bump maps to create two boxes with a cardboard and a metal texture. I think this was useful because it showed the variety you can achieve. I think texturing is definitely going to be my favourite part of the process, as creating the 'surface' of the object in Photoshop is part of the process. I also enjoyed creating the camera angles, as I could watch the camera pan around so I could check the angles, and it suddenly became an animation rather than a screenshot.

Anyway, here are some snapshots of the end product:

Despite it being a taster course, it was a fantastic experience and I was really pleased with the end product achieved in only a day's work! The tutor was very clear throughout the tutorial, and the people I met were lovely. Despite being one of the only absolute beginners in the class, I certainly didn't feel excluded. I learnt a lot more about the process, and if anything it made me even more excited to get started.

However, as a disclaimer I'm not 100% decided on whether Escape is the right option for me quite yet, I'm still in the process of visiting a few different places in order to get a rounded view of my options and make a calculated decision before I take the plunge.

I'm going to keep this blog updated, and I'll let you all know what I decide to do. I recommend the Escape taster session for anyone that wants a sneak peek, as it was great fun and very informative.


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