Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Week One: Induction Task

Apologies for not posting in a few days, my induction task was in dire need of attention for today. I worked on it all weekend and most of last night, printing, cutting, sticking it down and drawing. My printer also ran out of ink after only two or three pages so I had to use the Uni printers for the rest of it (and there was a lot) which came to about £6 worth of printer credit plus the £2.50 you get to begin with. Fortunately it was all finished last night however, and ready for presenting this morning!

I wasn't too nervous when the rest of Group B were showing us their sketchbooks and talking about it, but as soon as it was my turn, the butterflies came along and I'm sure I was shaking slightly (I hope nobody noticed!). Fortunately, my lecturer Matthew Gravelle liked my work and the range of interests and fantasy work. The purpose was to come up with a defining image to represent yourself though, and it was quickly apparent that this would be difficult.

The image you come up with is for our next brief, which is where you take the logo for the course and meta-morph it into your image and then back to the logo in the space of ten seconds. This will require 250 drawings if animating on "ones" (exactly 24 drawings in a second), or 125 frames when animating on "twos" (only 12 drawings in a second). Most will opt for 125 frames as this halves the workload and we only have three weeks to complete it.

I spoke to Matthew about what my animation could be, and he suggested going for an abstract representation of myself as it's something I'm curious but also terrified about, so it will get me out of my comfort zone. While this will be a good exercise for me, I have no idea what to do and will have to do a lot of research and tests this weekend.

Other than that, there has been no extra homework and lessons are going well! My other animator friends, Rob, Vicky and I were experimenting with a line test program called Ernest and we animated our hands scrunching up paper and drawing an eye with huge lashes opening and closing which was cool.

And seeing as I haven't updated in a while, the party the other day was a bit odd as there was hardly anyone from Animation first year there and the computer games lot were on the Gamecube (not Rock Band *sad*) playing Mario Kart and Wario party so it wasn't that great. Rob, Zara and Bryony came at the end so I got to speak with them. Rob suggested a gaming session on the Xbox back at his that evening, so Alex, Dale and I went to his with his friend Paul and we had a great evening on Halo 3 and ODST. Dominoes Pizza was ordered in as well so it was a pretty awesome night after the so-so party.

I've finally had the chance to watch some more films in my spare time and broaden my horizons etc. So far I've seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (very weird), Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (pretty cool), Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (still hilarious), Twin Town (grim but very entertaining) and tonight I'll be watching the animated film, Belleville Rendez-Vous (I believe it's French) with Alex as a treat for finishing my sketchbook. =)

Other than that, I've done my first washing machine cycle and have been enjoying Uni immensely!
Missing everyone back home! Until next time, bye-bye!
Love Gemma

Friday, 25 September 2009

Cinema, Shopping and a Bath Mat

Wednesday morning was the first treasured lie-in all week as there were no set lessons or lectures and I only had to work on the sketchbook project. In the afternoon, my Animation course had an optional trip planned to the Cineworld at "Spytty" retail park. It's a fairly tiresome journey though. First there's the free shuttle to Newport city center, then a 15 or so minute bus to Spytty park (about £2.60 for a return) and a long walk right across the retail park as Cineworld is right at the back.

It was also tricky getting back, as the buses started running less frequently and we missed the free shuttle back to campus so had to share a taxi again. We found a cheap cab though that's only £7.50 for up to 6-7 people so it's only about a pound each! And we got a card for a special discount. :)

The film we went to see was "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" by Sony Animation. It's about a young man (Flint) who dreams of becoming a great inventor, but sadly his inventions usually end in disaster. One day he creates a machine that can turn water into food but it is too powerful and rockets into the sky. Humiliated in front of his town, Flint hides at the docks, only to find that his machine actually does work when cheeseburgers fall from the sky!

If you've seen the trailers for this film, don't be put off. They do the film no justice as it was a real treat to watch. It was funny, entertaining, creative and very unique (it is based on the book of the same name by Judi Barrett) and full of hilarious twists and turns leaving you wondering what's about to happen next. Highly recommended and very appetising!

But enough about awesome films. Today, I received my first Tesco shopping order and it was even delivered to my flat! Definitely worthwhile, I'll have a proper meal tonight! I also had my IT induction this morning and collected a parcel from my parents at the post room. I now have a bath mat for my en-suite! Yay! ^.^

This afternoon the Animation group are having a party at 2pm, so that will be a nice treat this afternoon. I think there will be some Rock Band gaming too! Apart from that, I have lots of work for my project to be getting on with!

Thanks for reading, until next time, bye!
Love Gemma

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

First Day (of Inductions)

Monday morning I had my first induction for Art and Design Media, this took place in the Sports Hall where every art and design student was lectured by the Dean of Newport, Derek Lawther, along with many other staff. After this, Dale approached one of the admin staff about changing rooms (he has no hot water, nightmare flatmates and someone tried to break in through his window the previous night) and Alex asked about upgrading his course to BA Hons Film & Video. Both outcomes were hopeful!

Next, I had an induction for animation after lunch given by Matthew Gravelle (I keep thinking it's Broderick though, Lol!). We met the other animation leaders too, but I really liked Matt, he was really friendly and didn't talk down to us. He also studied at Newport on the course we are on and he's going to show us his work soon. It was very inspiring and I met lots of interesting people. There are 30 students in my year that are split into two groups (A & B) and it is very balanced between male and female, which surprised me. There was also a girl named Zara who was in the year above me at Yale College, she had taken a gap year before coming to Newport, so it was great to meet a fellow college graduate on my course! (Every other Yale student ended up doing Film & Video).

I have also befriended three other girls: Claire, Bryony and Jess. Who all have very similar interests and are great to talk to! (They loved the badges on my bag!). Inductions took us quite late into the afternoon, so I then met with Alex and Dale for dinner (omelet, yum!) and found that our college friends, Andy and Lara, were on the guest list of a gig in Cardiff that night and we were invited to go! We were also joined by Anwar's flatmate, Glen and a friend of his. It was much easier (and cheaper) than I expected! We got the last free shuttle into Newport, got a group booking for the train (£2.70 each return) spent £6 on the entry fee to Barfly and shared a taxi from the train station to the campus (£3 each). The gig itself featured Don Broco and Fei Comodo, hardcore rock-type bands. The first two supporting acts weren't great, but I really enjoyed the headliners. So overall, good night!

We did run into one hitch on the way back however. The gig ended at about 11pm and the next train was at 11.20pm. By the time we had walked back to the station the train had been and gone and we were getting a bit worried. We were told at Newport that the last train was 12.30am, but we couldn't see it on any boards! Eventually we found someone who told us that this was still true so we waited around for an hour at the station before we could get back! It was almost 2am when I got back to my flat! But it was an adventure. :)

This morning I had yet another induction, but today it was with James Manning. He was like-able and interesting to listen to, but I've heard from my classmates that he was very harsh during the interviews and he admits it himself, so his standards are VERY high and it sounds like he pushes you a lot (usually out of your comfort zone). I think he's not too bad, but I will probably be incredibly nervous when I show my work to him next week!

Speaking of which, the project task! This Fresher's week my course have to fill an A4 sketchbook each with images and visuals and bits 'n pieces of everything that defines us. I can think of plenty of things to put in it, but James wants it finished within a week and he doesn't want us to use just one source (i.e. Internet) so that will make it difficult. I also think he wants us to do abstract drawings of ourselves or things about us and look into it psychologically as well! I find this interesting but very daunting for myself, as it reveals a lot about you and I'm worried about being criticised! I'll have to think long and hard about this one...

I now have the first few hours to myself in a while (it's been so hectic!) so I'm just relaxing in my room to some good tunes. I have my enrollment tonight at 6 till 7pm (an odd time) but until then I've got some paperwork to read through. Until next time, take care!

Love Gemma xxx

Monday, 21 September 2009

End of the Weekend [Revised]

[Revised for errors!]

My first day over, I got up early to get ready for the day and spent a long time in the kitchen sorting out my inventory papers and reading books and leaflets (none of my flatmates had awoken after almost two hours of this) and checking that everything in the kitchen, hall and my bedroom was ok. Turns out that the window latch, shelf unit above my bed and the shelves above my desk all had screws very loose or missing! So later, I reported it to the Accommodation Office who sorted it out later that day, but I have now figured out that I cannot move the shelf unit once the wooden shelf is secured to the bracket (I wanted to move them a bit lower as they are too high for my little arms!) so will need to get a screwdriver anyway to adjust them.

Sunday morning, Alex, Dale and I walked into Caerleon to look around and I bought some kitchen supplies from Spar. Dale was then determined to check out the city center of Newport so our initial plan was to catch the free shuttle into Newport but it doesn't run on the weekends (d'oh!) thus, we walked through Caerleon and most of the way to Newport before getting lost on a roundabout (Newport was signposted to go onto a motorway). So we had to get the public bus anyway! The conclusion: the distance IS walkable but you need to know the way by going on the bus first AND you must wear comfortable footwear! (I now sport a blister on my right foot).

The city itself is very nice (Dale described it as a cleaner and bigger version of Wrexham) with plenty of shops, a bus and train station, cool bridges, the Riverfront theatre, cool fountains statues and odd structures (one of which looked like the Triforce from Zelda) and of course, the new site for another Newport University campus (a £40 million project due in 2010).

We had lunch at Subway and explored before taking the bus back for a health & safety lecture at 5pm. The lecture was pretty rubbish in all honesty and the lecturers sounded like they had no sympathy or empathy towards us students and basically said you're responsible for everything. You kind of are, but it wasn't said very kindly. Oh, and there was a terrible fire awareness video students had made which was abysmal. The new Film & Video students were very ashamed...

After this, Alex and I met with some more of our former college students (Anwar and Laura) and met a really cool guy named Glen who was funny and very talkative. We queued at the BBQ that evening and had burgers for tea, though we had to wait half an hour for them! (It was still light when we joined the line, it was dark when we got the burgers). We joined Dale at Anwar and Glen's flat, where we ate, messed about with balloons and then left to go to the Pub Quiz. On the balcony outside, a guy named Tom below us was looking for a drunk girl whom he feared was in danger of walking into roads. And so ensued Romeo and Juliet-themed dialogue, it was quite odd. He did find the girl moments later as we were walking up to the main building. She was very drunk.

The pub quiz itself wasn't really worth it, the themed questions were Cocktails, Sport, Music, General and some Family Fortunes thing. I only got a few of the general ones and the music questions just seemed random! I don't think it was aimed at a student's level of knowledge!

After this, Dale had already gone back to his flat with a bad stomach, Anwar, Laura and Glen had vanished, so Alex and I went back to mine to watch the Secret of NIMH, which is still an amazing classic of a film!

Today, every student has the first Newport induction at 11am, so I had better pack my bag for it! I shall post again with details of my course later today if there's time! :)

In a nutshell: having a good time but missing family and friends! Looking forward to seeing you all on my birthday. :)

Love Gemma xx

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Journey [Updated Further]

This morning will be the last few hours spent at my home of nearly 19 years, at least until I come back for my birthday! I feel a lot of apprehension and packing has been stressful, though some excitement still remains. Speaking of packing, I never knew I had so many things! I'm probably not even that bad compared to some in terms of being materialistic, but I've basically emptied my room into suitcases and there's still loads of stuff in my room! At least it's almost over now.

There's still about a 3 hour drive down to Newport though. That'll be fun.

Hopefully Internet access will be available soon after I get there, but there are no guarantees even though I'm paying for it! Until then, there may not be any updates for a couple of days or even longer, which is why I'm taking the opportunity now.

I'm looking forward to seeing my old college friends there and meeting my new flatmates. I have a ton of artistic posters to cover the walls (and everything else) of my new room along with other personalised bits and pieces, so I think it will be my little home away from home. I'm sure I will get a bit homesick though.

I may update further with details of "The Journey".

After a long, arduous trip (it took four hours to get here) I am now at the University of Wales, Newport. I have Internet and an awesome room and all is well. However, I am absolutely shattered and will be going to hit the hay. Will update with further details when I am conscious and feeling human again. Ciao!

 So, first day of Freshers went very well, met some of my (drunk) college friends at the Student Union (SU) Bar and watched a film at Dale's before turning in for the night. My flatmates are all media students, Steph and Rachael in Fashion and Ashton (I think) is in Photography. They are all very nice and welcoming and will have to spend some more time with them soon!

I decorated my room after some dinner and got my boyfriend, Alex, and our friend Dale to help out. My room is now plastered with posters--yay! Now that the place feels more like home (though still a bit messy) we went back to Alex's and watched a movie. That night was ok, a bit lonely but I slept well.

My cup of tea is beginning to get cold, so I should probably drink it now, I will post again soon!
Love Gemma xxx

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A New Beginning

After a fleeting summer I am now about to start three years of University next Saturday (19th) which is an exciting but nerve-wracking thought. But I should probably introduce myself. My name is Gemma, I've been an artist all my life but have now taken to animation as my choice of study. I was home educated for the first 16 years of my life before taking an Interactive Media course in 2007. I completed that course last July with top grades and got into my University of choice, University of Wales, Newport.

Currently 18 years of age, I am keen to learn and work with others and adore family-orientated films and animation (but don't mind the more adult themes every once in a while). My music taste is particularly eclectic, but if I were to narrow to a genre, I would choose Progressive and Alternative Rock. I enjoy Japanese and Western animation and designing websites. Oh, and I'm currently in a relationship. :)

After that brief life story, I think it's time to get to business--not that this is a corporate blog, quite the opposite in fact. Here at "AmberDust Studios" I plan to upload short posts on what's going on in my life along with pictures, artwork, animation, sketches and the ugly works in progress that I have yet to turn into swans. Why AmberDust? Short answer: "Gemma" originates from "precious stone" and I decided to come up with a nickname that was also a name of a precious stone. In the end, a friend of mine suggested "Amber" and it stuck. As a username or title, it needed something extra to make it unique, which was how "AmberDust" was born. (In other words: my bedroom is typically coated in dust).

Now that it is getting rather late I should be getting some rest (oh, the joys of jet lag are still haunting me) but I hope that you enjoy my random little updates and stay tuned for more!

My next post will be at the start of my Fresher's Fortnight (yes, FORTNIGHT) where I will hopefully have Internet access fairly soon (I applied quite late for it...) and I'll probably have several tales to tell about flatmates, my course, my room, getting a job, and of course, drunken students! So until then, adios!

To my friends and family: I'll going to miss you all so much while I'm away, but hopefully I'll be able to post frequently enough to make it seem like I never left! (Really, you'll be sick of me eventually!)

Love, Gemma