aled's cyfle

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

HTML, Portfolio, and Attention

Posted at 8:37 am. 0 comments

This week we're learning HTML and Dreamweaver. We'll be getting a brief from industry (i think) at the end of the week, where we'll be working in groups of two. The hope s by then is that we would have built some sort of portfolio site.

We've all been given a directory on a central site to build onto, but since I have a domain name I was intending to build a portfolio on, I'm going to use that. Its name coincides well with this course.

I found yesterday's work boring, not because of Steve, but because it was basic HTML that we were learning, and (not that I want to blow my own trumpet) I'm at a higher level than that I feel. We'll be getting onto the harder stuff later on in the week, which will be good.

The domain name is A simple portfolio will be uploaded to the central cyfle server. Sylw however is Welsh for Attention. It goes well considering that's what I'll want once the Cyfle (which is Welsh for Opportunity) course is finished and I'll be looking to work in the big bad world.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Our day

Posted at 10:01 am. 0 comments

Today is a day to continue with our own work from the pas few weeks. Last week was Maya, and I'm glad to say that I've finished the TV ident already. Luckily, it was only meant to last a maximum of 10 seconds, so it didn't take all that long to render (at TV production quality, of course). I imported and cut it in Premiere, and then added a nice jazz loop and some sound fx for the final version. Preview it below...
Quick Edit: The video is available on YouTube, but google video outputs better quality (especially if you view it in their player at the originally uploaded size)

...that is, if you have flash (and aren't looking at it from an rss aggregator)

Even though we were taught how to create objects that reacted to real-world physics (gravity, wind etc.), I decided to go for a more humourous, comical approach, and use 'minstrel-type' shapes to be what-would-become musical notes, trapped in a musical score jail.

I must admit that I'm glad that the Maya week is over, not that I didn't enjoy the experience - the end result was much better than I thought I'd be able to do, but I don't have that much interest in pursuing 3D further. Handy to know, and I certainly learned a lot - techniques, terms and basic skills, but it isn't my cup of tea. I found it tough to learn the tools of the trade - Maya, that is. The X, Y and Z axes were hard to get, but Matt made it much easier on us with his amazing knowledge of 3D and Maya.

Over the next four weeks, we're learning Dreamweaver, Project Management skills and being given a brief. I'm really looking forward to this, as its really the first piece of action we'll get - working in pairs, as a team, building something from scratch.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Quick update - Photoshop work

Posted at 5:49 pm. 0 comments

I noticed recently that Carol has put her Photoshop work up on her blog, and thought it would also be a good idea for me to do it. While I haven't got all the source images available to put up, I've put the original and final versions up:
My final version The original image
I know its a little bit morbid, but I couldn't think of anything that would make the picture a happy final composite

Maya and 3D

Posted at 5:36 pm. 0 comments

Earlier than I promised, I have my first 3D animation up on the web... Its a very simple bouncing ball (in very poor quality), rendered from 3 angles and brought into Adobe Premiere for a quick cut.

You don't have flash, so you can't see it

We had our first day of training again, and it started off with a very brief but very interesting history of CGI and 3D, then we moved straight onto Maya's interface. Very very daunting at first, but once we got down to the tools it got earier. I noticed that the complexities of the interface are down to the fact that there are about 3 or 4 different ways of doing things, and therefore 3 or 4 different menus to do the same thing.

We also got our brief today, which is to create a 4-10 sec. ident for a fictional Music TV channel with the tag line: "The future of music here and now". I'm really looking forward for this brief, and I hope that I can create an ident worthy of my own expectations. We shall see.

Digital Story

Posted at 9:37 am. 0 comments

It seems like I'm getting consistently worse at keeping this blog up to date, but I blame it on the work... in the sense that we've been working hard, but mainly because I didn't want to update the blog until I had something to show. Last Friday we finished our digital stories, and today I uploaded the video to YouTube. If you'd like to see it (and have flash), click the big play button on the movie below.
You don't have flash, so ou can't see it

Today we've started work on 3D software with Maya. It's a really daunting-looking piece of equipment, but after the morning session, I felt myself starting to get to grips with it. By tomorrow I hope to upload a film of the first animation we did... a bouncing ball!!

Monday, 9 October 2006


Posted at 8:06 pm. 0 comments

After starting the blog so well, being a good boy, updating every day, I've fallen short in the last few days. This is kinda on purpose. I've been working on my presentation on Donald Norman, and having presented it today, I'm relieved. I'm not a public speaker, and I was nervous... I think I was a little under-prepared... well, under-practiced anyway. It went better than I expected, which was good.

I really got into the research. Don Norman is a very intelligent man, and I hadn't heard of him until I pulled his name out of the hat. I won't bore any readers (or myself for that) reiterating what I said in the presentation. Its all available on the web. I will say this though... anyone who designs, should take a look at his book, Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. It'll be a good guide to designing anything in the future.

Today we also got our introduction to Digital Storytelling. Gareth had some good advice I hadn't really heard of before about storytelling, something that I studied somewhat in University. We have to think of a two minute (1 page A4) script on a personal subject for a story. More on that tomorrow though.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006


Posted at 7:41 pm. 0 comments

Today we went to the Beeb in Llandaf (Cardiff), to visit the New Media (sorry, Future Media and Technology) department. We had to sign a confidentiality form because we saw the work that they were currently working on, so I'm not sure how much I can actually write about ("Torchwood. That's about it.").

We were given talks by various members of the New Media staff, learning about all aspects of the work that they did. Producers, Encoding Technicians, Designers, Developers, Project Managers... all an integral part of the team that produces many interactive experiences, including the Dr. Who site (and the tardisodes, intended for mobile content, produced from scratch by the NM team), and the /wales and /cymru sections of the network.

I was a little surprised at how de-centralised they were - the Beeb require that they out-source 25% of the work to independent producers, and the New Media department was no exception. I'm not surprised at that, considering the small-ish size of their team and the amount of work they do, but I didn't realise they had offices all around Wales (that's a little naïve, I know). A lot of the more editorial, content side of their /wales and /cymru websites are local. The "Where I live" sections feature an extensive amount of content for 5 regions within Wales (North West, North East, Mid, South West and South East)... all maintained by English and Welsh staff located locally in those regions.

I admire their workflow and innovation, somewhat because of the many different websites they maintain, but mainly because of the time constrictions and guidelines they must abide by. The BBC websites must follow branding guides to maintain consistency across their websites, and any content must be available on a minimum of 2 platforms (for instance, the tardisodes are meant for mobile phones, but must be made available on another platform - to download on the Dr. Who website).

I was mostly impressed today by the guys who worked for the education sections of the /wales and /cymru sites. Their enthusiasm for providing a pleasing experience on different platforms (particularly for learning Welsh with Colin and Cumberland) was outstanding and really stood out in my mind.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006


Posted at 3:52 pm. 0 comments

Click to view a fully-blown versionFollowing on from our Photoshop workshop, today it was our chance to get to grips with Illustrator. I looked forward to this workshop, particularly because I had never really used it before - for any vector-based artwork I needed to create for a website (which were mostly very simple logos and interfaces), I used Macromedia Fireworks.

I felt I learnt a lot from this workshop, and again, Ben's way of teaching got me to realise that I could streamline workflow further than I previously thought. I didn't even realise until today how much more powerfull Illustrator is compared to Fireworks, and to an extent, Freehand. Check out the Clown I built this afternoon - click the image for a larger size.

Monday, 2 October 2006

Photoshop and S4C

Posted at 10:08 pm. 0 comments

Today we had our first workshop - Photoshop. Having worked a little with Photoshop before starting the course I found it easy to understand Ben (our tutor). I must admit that I didn't learn any wowing new techniques today, but it was fantastic to regain knowledge of forgotten tools, learn cool new shortcuts to the most commonly used features, and learn how Ben tackled imagery to help himself and his clients. His way was much more efficent than I ever thought possible, so I hope that it will help increase workflow with the software package in the future.

In the afternoon we went to visit S4C, one of the supporters of the course. It was interesting to find out what they did and a rough daily plan of their work. We were given an insight into the importance that Television companies/corporations place on websites for programmes. With rebranding in the works, there are interesting times ahead in the S4C New Media department.