Sunday, 29 April 2012

Level (Year) One, Completed

Where to start? I'm feeling a mixture of emotions right now. Relief that the year has finally come to an end, I say finally as it feels like it has taken much longer than one year to reach this point. I’m satisfied by the work I have produced but on the other hand I feel I could have given so much more if the course was the only thing I needed to focus on this year. It seems like all year other things have demanded too much of my time and attention away from the course, and this hasn't only depleted my time being spent on my work but also my energy levels, my motivation, and the state of feeling stressed and overly-committed have been overwhelmingly abundant this year. I have often felt that the demands of my everyday life have exceeded my ability to handle them and again this has affected my concentration levels and my cognitive processes.

I know that these feelings have affected my work in many areas and severely in some. I started the year with a strong, positive attitude towards my ability to produce the work needed and still manage things in my life away from the course but as time has gone on things seem to have gotten harder, either that or I have found it harder to cope. Towards the end of the year I have felt constantly tired with no motivation to ‘get up’ and do some work, it has been frustrating that when I’ve tried to do work my mind won’t stay focused, and it won’t seem to function properly, it’s an extremely odd feeling to describe, but it’s just as though my brain wont ‘work’. I have good ideas on the direction I want my work to take but executing those ideas is where I seem to keep hitting walls, and this hasn’t helped with my attitude towards completing the work.
Despite these issues I’d like to think I am a fairly comprehensive artist and that my artistic skills and ability is at a good level in which to complete my work, and this I feel/ hope has been demonstrated by the work I have produced this year both in Game Production and Visual Design. On the other hand I have felt that due to time restrictions I am going to improve as an artist at a slower rate than I perhaps would because my focus is being taken away for long periods of time and this has made me feel demotivated. I am also extremely disappointed with how I have engaged with Critical Studies this year; again, to some extent my blog writing started well but as time has progressed towards the final stages of the year my state of mind has made it more and more difficult to demonstrate the thought processes for writing. My last few blog entries in particular I feel have been poor, they have been short and brief and the language use again I feel is unsatisfactory, and I can only put this down to my state of mind at the end of the year. As I have sat at my computer ready to write a blog my own mind just seems unwilling to respond, my mind seems to be both blank and unable to string a half decent sentence together never mind a comprehensive blog post. This has not only frustrated me but has upset me too, I have always been positive and confident in my writing skills and I have never found such a thing so difficult to do.

A look at the positive side of things and I can say that I am quite pleased with the work I have produced this year, my final pieces have been of a decent quality but I still need to improve upon my digital painting skills in relation to my traditional based skills. I must say I have been surprised by the large amount of projects and work that have been set this year, I'm not sure whether each year gets set the same amount of work or if this year is just hard working but I know myself I have posted 176 pictures to my visual design folder on Facebook which seems about average for most of the rest of my year were as if I look back over previous years 'first year' folders the number dramatically drops to under half that amount of work even for some of the top third years. Im not entirely sure what to make of this, possibly my year is weaker overall and therefore has needed to produce more work in order to achieve the level needed or simply that more work has been set this year than previous years.

There are also a lot of positive areas within my Game Production work this year, the actual quality of the work I have produced I am extremely happy with. My understanding of the 3DS Max program has increased at a good a level and has enabled me to produce some good 3D work. I am also pleased with the quality of the textures for the assets I have produced, particularly in the techniques I have developed for the construction of my normal and specular maps, I feel that they dramatically improve the quality of my models and help them to stand out.

One other area within the visual aspect of things is how I have presented my work this year. Earlier in the year some suggestions from third year students prompted me to develop a more consistent presentation style, especially with my 3D work. What resulted was what you call call a logo to sit with my work and a consistent colour and background scheme that has really lent itself to any final renders of work I have produced. This also means that my work is more presentable within a portfolio which I have set up using the deviant art web portfolio service. The site is still 'under construction'. A small quantity of work has been uploaded which sits great within the site but it is yet to reach a stage where one could use it to spread my work, although it would only take a small amount of time to get to that stage, one day tops. This, I hope will be done in the very near future and the site address will be uploaded to this blog as soon as that happens, I may even look at registering my own domain name depending on the cost. In line with that site I am also hoping to update the layout and presentation of this blog to coincide with it.

Finally, to look at the course itself and to conclude my year. I really can give nothing but praise to the course and those that run it. The tutors have always been extremely understanding of the difficulties I have faced over the last few years and have given nothing but the utmost support. The course also boasts some impressive guest lectures each year and this year has been no exception. I myself have particularly enjoyed the guest lectures provided by Codemasters earlier in the year, considering that this is a company that I'd be more than happy to work for the possibility to make connections with the company in any small way is a huge leap over what any other courses could offer a student.

I would also like to mention the fantastic level of support and help from second and third year students and even a small number who have since left the course and are now working in industry. The help they provide is invaluable in terms of progression through the course of the first year and I hope it is something I am able to do for any new comers next year.

Its really difficult to find any negative areas within the course without being nit-picky. As I have mentioned I feel that there has been a surprisingly high amount of work load set this year which seems to me to be inconsistent with previous years. A few students have pointed out that some of the course structure that is outlined on the DMU Blackboard is slightly out of date and if this were to be corrected may go some way in bringing consistency to the projects being set each year.

To conclude, thank god the year is over! Not to say that I havn't thoroughly enjoyed the year but I might now go and sleep for the next five months to replenish my energy for next year! Seriously though, I am certainly looking forward to the summer break. The heartache of the previous few years should go some way to resolving itself and hopefully my stress levels will decrease as will my tiredness and my energy levels and enthusiasm should reach its peak once again and I can continue to produce the work I know I am capable of. I have already got some good ideas for the set summer projects and as soon as everything settles down more at home I am ready to get stuck in. I have also got some other ideas for smaller things to do over the summer but I feel its important just to continue to develop myself without wearing myself out any more!

I finally want to say thank you to my tutors for the support they have given me this year, its always nice to know that people have faith in you're abilities. I would also like to thank my peers, the new faces I have met this year. It has been hard to adjust after making such wonderful friends the first time round who have always been there and given so much love and support to myself and my partner but I have also met some wonderful new people this year who have also shown support, so thank you.

Here's to never giving up!

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