What I've been playing

Civilisation VI was introduced to me recently by someone who should know better as I have a very addictive personality; especially when it comes to online gaming. Anyway, I've fallen hook line and sinker for it and have ashamedly even gone roughly 10 hours in one sitting without eating or pooping just for that one more round. The movie below says it all really.

And when I'm not working or playing Civ 4, I've been whipping a small boy with a drill through a deathtrap of caverns, pits and bottomless mines. And his dog. This game also has that certain 'just one more go' mood as your little body is crushed mercilessly beneath a bakers dozen worth of pixellated weight.

What I've been watching

With the second season of Heroes now doing the rounds on the BBC, I felt inspired to get to watching the entire season before next week. I JUST couldn't wait. The show is a bit trashy and has alot of that 'two people staring at each other endlessly until the adverts come' that Lost brought us but still, the plot is pure heroin for even the most casual of viewers.

However, there are some things which are just unforgiveable. Such as this photoshop job on one of the promotional posters:

My major complaint is that the lighting on all the characters is way off, really emphasising just how 'cut out and stick on' these character shots are. Bleurgh!
Other favourites include the 'locomotion dance' stance of Parkman (just right of dead centre) and the way in which some characters have reflections in the puddles below them whilst others are apparantly vampiric.
And whats with the completely generic posing on characters like Peter? (Far left) He's so powerful! Why is he just standing there like he's waiting for a kick in the nuts? Is it a vague stab at his self destructive personality? I doubt it somehow.

For my current ultimate in compulsive viewing however, is the TV series of David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks: Who killed Laura Palmer?'.
So, so, so many other videos, movies and everything else borrowed from this utterly disturbed but somehow natural feeling show which follows the reaction of a small town after a possible chain of murders, ending in the demise of titular character, miss Palmer.
I cannot get enough of this stuff; nothing I've seen before feels so.. real. Also, the skill of detective Cooper could put even the most psychic (and chubby) police officers to shame.
Although, the show eludes that he is a deeply spiritual person and is in great contact with the inner supernatural workings of the mind and body language so, he basically IS psychic.
Just watch it, and soon enough you too will be reaching for a cup of 'damn good coffee'.

(that was an exceptionally poor pun but please, do watch.)

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Work Experience: Qurios

I contacted Animation/Production company (From Hartlepool! ((where I live))) Qurios Entertainment about working with them this summer or whenever is convienient for the both of us. The company deal with 3D production and animation and work on programming for the BBC frequently, amongst other things. I got an e-mail back from the director asking for a show reel or some example of work.

Here is the chain of e-mails. You can tell I'm quite frightened talking to him:

Hi there Mr Bushnell,

My name's Will Campbell and I'm a Visual Communication student from Hartlepool, graduated from the Cleveland college of art & design and am now studying at the Leeds college of art & design. Phew.

Anyway, I found an advertisement you were in for the 'Passionate People' campaign, discovering that there was actually a company in Hartlepool (!) who deal in animation and screen based projects on a sucessful level.

Not wanting to waste this valuble opportunity and being an avid animation/concept work fan I'd love to be able to come down to the church street branch of Qurios Entertainment and have a sniff around, seeing how the workplace functions and getting an insight into the industry I think I'd like to be part of.

Thank you for your time,

Will Campbell .

Hi Will
Thanks for your email.
Before we allow any sniffing to take place it would be good to know something about the work you’ve done, maybe a link to a showreel or online portfolio would help.

To which I cringingly reply..

Hi Niel,

I'm sorry this reply is so late, after moving to a new flat in Leeds two weeks ago , I've just managed to get an internet connection initialized.

I have a website here which was made as a first time voyage into web design a few monthes ago.

Enter the site by clicking on the logo in the middle called 'Hippo Boy'

Its pretty laden with obstructive ads and broken links (like the 'video' section not working which is a shame because the are experimental flash/real time/stop motion pieces) so I'm working on a new site and paying for hosting next time round to ease this problem.

I'm sorry at this moment I don't have any moving imagery or developed still images to show you but this year is heavily focused on developing a portfolio/showreel so hopefully in a couple of monthes I can show you something that would really catch your eye.

Again I'm sorry for the lateness of my reply and with that, I'm back to practicing Maya for the rest of the day.



It's a very good example of a bad e-mail. I'm stammering all over myself, poking holes in my own work before he's even touched it.. Just not setting up a strong likeable first impression really. Also, the stuff I show him is just, patchy. And thats if the site it was on is even still there.

I really need to just show him the links of work that I've come up with so far and try to clear this abomination of an e-mail off my back :P.

Work Experience: Masspro

This is a backlog of info on a recent attempt to do some work experience over the recent easter break. I'm not sure if I'd mentioned anything to do with this project in passing in an earlier post so I'll just explain the whole situation here. Obivously I've changed the e-mail addresses shown.

So, when I was in 6th form college and art college, I worked at a video production company called Masspro Productions. They are only a small home-run business but the pay was good and it was some relevant experience in the field of video shooting, editing and dealing with clients in this field.

Sometime in February, I visited the company's site to see how they were getting along and was really impressed with both the new sleek look (which I can't help but think I've seen elsewhere, hopefully not stolen) and how the company had now fractured into two definitive factions: Masspro Productions who handle filming and edting and just Masspro who seem to deal with the animations and special post production stuff.
The 'Masspro' animation splinter really piqued my interest. I have little experience in the way of 3-D animation skill, apart from some basic Maya and XSI tutorials and experiments but it is a skill I would like to develop further so that I could implement 3-D in flash or aftereffects or just gain a stronger grasp on the subject. 'Masspro' also make use of aftereffects which I have more experience with but would still like to learn much more on through professional experience.
Anyway, I decided to make contact with the company as I knew Derrick, the founder/head of Masspro from my previous years of working for him and knew that this would give me a better chance of finding some tasty work experience in the company. This is where I made my first mistake.
I assumed for some reason that I needed to offer a bartering chip in order to gain some experience rather than just straight out asking for it. I guess this is a confidence issue but I know now to just be straight forward with my requests. Also in my e-mail to Derrick, I'm cringe-worthy in how I apologise to my previous employer for the lack of contact; it's completely unecessary and makes the conversation kind of awkward. This is what I sent:

Hi there Derrick!

It's will here, long time no see! How is it going? I've been very busy at uni, trying to figure out what I'm doing with my time and such. I regret that the time I've spent back in Hartlepool has been spent working on other projects so I've not had the time to 'assist' in filming or editing but it looks like you've done pretty well without me heh. I don't know if I've been ignorant of it, but I had no idea the company dealt so much with 2D/3D illustration and animation as well as editing and shooting and as someone who would like to be employed in the future of the creative industry, I think this is an area of importance.

I'm wondering, is the company now big enough that it's in two parts; one for animation/illustration and the other for film?

I'm not massively proficient with 3D programmes but I'm trying to get to grips with Maya at the moment and I'm using what time I have spare to study it. I'm also looking at programs like Aftereffects and trying to put them to use on the animations I'm currently working on which are 2D based but give the illusion of 3D with the moveable cameras and masking and such. Because there is alot on at the moment, but I get a genuine kick out of making a model, marionette or animating what I can.

What I'm wondering is, if we would be able to arrange something where I could come and work with Masspro for a number of weeks, unpaid of course and with the enthusiasm to learn of an eager young animator. What this means is that I could spend the time editing video for you, helping with filming if I could be shown how to use Maya or Aftereffects or just helped to get some editing experience under my belt. I am more interested in the Illustration/Animation side but the film experience is really important too.

I'm sorry if I've waffled on a bit here Derrick, I just had a bowl of frosties and had a cup of coffee so I'm a bit hyper but I hope this e-mail finds you well.

I hope to hear from you soon mate x


Eurgh! This e-mail is far too long and whats with the 'x' at the end? My future e-mails need to be much shorter, more to the point and just.. less awkward.

This was the response that I got back:

Hi Will,
nice to hear from you.
We are still here and getting slowly bigger, still looking for that big opening.
Still consider you part of our structure and would be glad to see you again.
We could have used you a lot over the last few months.
I don't know when you are available perhaps you could advise me of some dates when I could consider you for location shooting.
Yes we are expanding into 2 areas masspro and masspro productions.
With 2d and 3d you will need to speak to Mark his email XXXXXXXXXXX@fsmail miss the underline off.I will forward your across to him, please write to him direct.
We are also doing a lot on photography and now have a mobile studio.

I was touched to recieve this because it showed that Derrick actually did consider me as part of his business and that I'd made a difference and this pushed me to act more.
I wanted to e-mail Mark about getting some experience with that side of the company but for that, I needed to know what times I would be able to work during so I e-mailed one of my tutors:

hey christian tis will,

do you know where there might be any places in the timetable that I could use to take on a couple or more weeks of work experience or do I have to wait until summer for it?



p.s. apart from easter.

and i got this response

Hi Will

Additional work placements are always welcome, I'm sure we can fit something in but your Critical Studies is the main obstacle at the moment, next term is a lot more flexible. Have a look at your timetable, see if you can find any slots and then come have a chat.

What placement are you looking at?



I accidently deleted the e-mail chain that followed this but basically me and Christian discuss how it would be possible for me to not be in college for the first two weeks after easter in order for me to gain a maximum total of 5 weeks of work experience time. This was perfect for me because it meant that I would be able to work solidly on my editing and post production skills whilst also picking up some 3d production abilities. I was also hoping to craft a small showreel using these sharpened tools for the 3d animation company 'Qurios Entertainment' who operate in Hartlepool and whom I will discuss in my next post.

Anyway, times in hand, I set about informing Derrick and Mark using variations on this e-mail as to when I would be available:

Hi Mark, its Will again :)

I'm going to be in Hartlepool from Monday (17th) for a few weeks
and I was wondering if I would be able to get some experience in your
department, learning about how you go about producing slick animations and
illustrations for Masspro and picking up a bit it myself during the
time I'll be back in town.
I have a beginner's understanding of Maya, softimage xsi and
aftereffects but some professional experience would really help me out.
A couple of days or even a day, any time at all would be great; I
don't want to become a hinderance to your work or relaxing over easter.

Cheers Mark!

There, that e-mail is much shorter and more to the point whilst still being quite friendly, much better!
Anyway, I got a response from Derrick a few days later from him saying that those dates were fine and we
agreed from the 17th of march til around the 16th of april that I would be available to shoot and edit film for
him, in liu with the agreement I had assumed I needed to make to get me more relevant experience.

But, I never heard a response from Mark. Initially this was because the address Derrick had
supplied me with was a dud and kept bouncing back my e-mails but after telling Derrick this and
being given a new e-mail, I still recieved nothing after maybe 4 e-mails. I didn't want to push anymore
because I thought that Mark would find me insessent and irrating if I chased him any further in
that direction but looking on the situation now, I wish I had asked Derrick for Mark's mobile number
or something. I can't help but consider that the Masspro team arn't that sharp with the e-mailing

Anyway, with the dates over easter arranged, I prepared to come back to Hartelepool over easter
and get some work done. I emailed Derrick a week before I came up to check if everything was still
in check and he was fine so back I went. I had given myself a buffer of two days rest at the beginning
of the break in order to give myself a bit of a break between my college work and what I expected
to be a torrent of filming and production work. I casually e-mailed Derrick telling him that I was
back in town and would be ready to start work on monday.

I heard nothing back.

'Okay', I thought, 'I only gave him 2 days to respond to an e-mail so maybe he hasn't gotten around
to it yet'. The fact that Mark had still not gotten back to me was an annoyance but I figured that
once I was doing some filming or editing, I would be able to contact him from there. Again it strikes
me as to why I didn't get his phone number but I know that in every other way I made a
concious effort to attempt to contact the company.
On the monday morning, March 19th I went down to the office to start work and there was no
response at the door. From the doorstep I called Derrick and no one picked up. Frustrated, I went
home and for the next 4 days I called the office in an attempt to find out what was going on.
On saturday I recieved an e-mail reply to the message I had sent the previous week:

Hi Will

So, here we have the new email address of Marks which.. didn't gather a reply when I sent it a
few e-mails but more importantly and annoyingly, we have the reason why I was unable to contact Derrick. I can't help but be a little sore over this as we had arranged to act as professionals. I understand that it was easter and Derrick may have wanted a holiday but I didn't appreciate him not informing me that circumstances had shifted around and essentially making me come back to Hartlepool for no reason. I did like being back home but I'd have rather procured some work experience when I had the time space to do so.

I kept calling Derrick every other day to check if anything needed doing but he either wouldn't pick up or he'd inform me that there was nothing to do. I never got in contact with Mark because I didn't think to acquire his phone number and after the three weeks were up, I was left with a bitter taste of the experience; a shame because the previous times spent with Masspro had been such good ones.
I'm still attempting to contact Mark about the 3D production experience because that combination of being able to get very useful experience in the industry combined with being able to stay at home for a while is one I still find very appealing and I've just e-mailed Derrick for his phone number so, hopefully I'll be able to get somewhere. If not, I'll have to try and crack 'Qurios' by myself.

... wow.

Hows about that for a big ol glass of awesome?

animation festival