Thursday, 30 December 2010


2011 is almost upon us! Now's an apt time to reflect on the year past. 

It's been a year of new experiences that's for sure. I love being at University. I'll remember the Annecy trip as one of the best adventures I've ever had. My time spent in Thailand was the most incredible, beautiful, enlightening experience I could have imagined. I moved into a new flat, and I'm having the time of my life. I've scored off a load of things from my bucket list... and I've made friendships that will last a lifetime.

It's times like this I'm glad to be doing Project 365 (which ends on the 5th of Feb), because in 10 years time when I'm a rich and famous animator/hippy road-pirate, I'll be able to look back at every single day and remember just how lucky I am.

I hope 2011 is full of just as much fun and adventure, if not more. Not only for myself, but for everybody.  

2010 was without a doubt, the single greatest year I've ever had, and I really feel like I've lived... which is the most important thing for me. Finally, I really, really, really want you to know how much of that is down to you. I couldn't have done it without you. Keep being awesome. 

Slainté, and Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

- end of super gay soppy blog post - 

I promise I'll post some cartoons and crap soon... there's a distinct lack of lens flare on my blog of late. 

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

My life philosophy.

I've had this bookmarked for a while and wanted to share it... seeing as I've not posted in a while. Hope ya'll are having as enjoyable a holiday as I am. Slainté!

Friday, 17 December 2010

I'll line test your FACE!

Eat your fucking heart out Time Based Art.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

More time lapse hilarity.

I'm gonna give it a rest for a while and work on one large time lapse project for the next month or so... but here's another day in the animation studio :D Once again, you're best watching it in full HD on youtube here

This was taken over the course of about 3 hours. The lava lamp was much faster than I thought it would be which is unfortunate.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Vertigo Schmertigo.

So I'm abseiling down the Tower Building in Dundee Uni on the 22nd of January to raise money for DARE UK.

It's a charity focused around keeping young people informed, to help them make safe, sensible life choices. They deal mainly with drugs awareness, but also focus a lot on bullying and anti-social behaviour which are subjects very close to my heart. You can read more about the charity on the hyperlink above.

The minimum target is £100, which I'm hoping to smash. If you could contribute anything then it'd be absolutely fantastic, regardless of how small and seemingly insignificant it may be. I know we're all poor students but every little helps. 

The building is 130ft tall, I've got absolutely no abseiling experience, and funnily enough (considering my skydiving escapades) I've got a pretty big fear of standing on tall things. Should prove a laugh :D

If you'd like to help out you can email me at and we'll sort it out, or just grab me when you see me next. 


(Also, that 16GB SDHC card and power adapter I mentioned in my previous post arrived today, so prepare to be timelapsed out your FACE in the coming weeks)


I wanted to set up a timelapse of your average working day in the Animation studio... alas it reached 10.30am and there was a grand total of 2 of us in. "Huzzah!" I thought, "I can capture all my hardworking classmates coming into the studio getting ready for the day!"

Yeah, that didn't quite go to plan... However! Paxton saved the incredibly boring timelapse and turned into a much better Tomlapse. I've trimmed it down and uploaded it for your viewing pleasure.

I'm currently waiting on a DC adapter and 16GB SDHC card so I can do timelapses of about 12 hours which should be cool. Also, you really should view it in full HD on YouTube here.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

There's no business like snow business.

Alas, it's been quite some time since I've made a "real" blog post that involves more than my anguish in Starbucks at sketch groups. 

Last week myself and fellow animators Finlay & Freya went on a good old adventure to see the latest instalment in the Harry Potter saga! I really enjoyed the film, probably my favourite so far... but I think I speak for all my animigoes when I say we were all pleasantly surprised, and blown away, by the very unexpected animated segment in the middle. It was stunning! Directed by Ben Hibbon and created by Framestore, you can ready a really interesting article/interview on it here. It goes relatively in depth on their goals and methods for the piece. Or if that doesn't interest you, here's some eye candy. 

Go and see the film, even if it's just for this part. 

In other news, Snow! Unfortunately the university has been closed pretty much all week... so our production is suffering slightly. It's mildly concerning considering we're 2 weeks away from hand-in but there's not much we can do really. On the plus side we've been having lots of fun in the snow :D I've been learning some snow boarding which is painful but epic. 

Here's some pretty pictures:
Really should view this one full size ;)

Also a shout out to Dundee Uni for featuring me on their Facebook page, thanks a lot! I've not thought of an inspiring quote du jour yet...

Monday, 15 November 2010

Observational Drawing.

This pretty much sums up my Sunday sketch group experience... 

Friday, 12 November 2010

Life Drawing.

I've never posted any of my life drawing on my blog... So here's some sketches from the past couple of weeks fired onto one handy image. I'd be happy to hear what you think, it's something I really should focus on a lot more because practice does make perfect... and I don't practice nearly as much as I should. 

Also, inspiring quote du jour:

"The core of a man's spirit comes form new experiences"
- Christopher McCandless

Thursday, 4 November 2010

When I grow up, I want to be a pirate...

I'm trying to get into drawing more often, it's something I really need to work on... so here's a bunch of us out at Halloween! I'm sorry if you're not in the picture, there were originally twice as many characters but my drawing skills weren't quite up to scratch to do you all you beautiful people justice. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Go go gadget compositing breakdown!

Today we had a pretty interesting drop-in session with the one and only Pat Imrie on showreels, and it got me thinking about mine, and what kind of career I'd gear it towards.

I've always been interested in compositing, editing and visual effects. I really love seeing the process of bringing hundreds of separate elements, beautifully crafted by talented artists, and stitching them together in an epic tapestry of explosions, particles and motion blur. I enjoy the freedom you can get with compositing and post production, you can change the mood or tone of an entire shot. It's powerful stuff!

I'm not sure whether I'd like to do it as a career or not, because I really love the animation and more creative side of things too. Regardless, Pat's talk inspired me to have a whack at a breakdown of a shot. The only shot I've got fully composited for our project is the opening scene (sans title) from the previous blog post. The entire 6s shot has about 30 separate layers throughout, I picked the frame with the most elements for the breakdown (18). Hope you find it interesting!


Lava - Compositing Breakdown from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Volcanoes, explosions and lens flare oh my!

It's been a hectic month since my last update, amidst a fray of general animator debauchery  and alcohol consumption we've been very busy working on the project. You can check out our blog here!

I've been having some fun with compositing this weekend on our opening shot which you can check out below! It's not finalised, I've still got some tweaking to do... but it should give you a good insight into the kind of look we're going for. I'd recommend watching it full size.

So uni wise everything is coming together pretty well... Long ways to go yet but we know what we're doing (for the most part).

Also, hats off to the Dundee Uni website who linked me on their animation page! Hello prospective students.

Finally, inspiring quote du jour:

"When I get sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead..."
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson

Monday, 27 September 2010

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb After Effects.

A lot of people have this misconstrued idea that I have a wealth of knowledge about Adobe After Effects  stored away in my puny little brain, and I'm generally the go-to guy when it comes to AE. When in fact ,it's about 2 years worth of tinkering, tutorials and generally screwing around that have given me a slight head start when it comes to effects and compositing compared to most. I'll let you guys into a little secret, and hopefully this'll enlighten some people as to how easy and simple it is to get some experience using after effects. 

I think compositing and post production processing is one of the most vital parts of any production pipeline. Regardless if it's a 2D piece, a 3D piece, or a combination of both... Good compositing and subtle post-processing effects can catapult a visually average short film to new heights.

Enter The Lovely by Owen McGonigle is a great example of a previous DoJ animation which shows great use of colour correction. It's stunningly beautiful, and the extra work done on the shots really adds so much depth to the film. In my opinion, the thing that makes a film look good are all the things you don't notice... but you'd notice if they weren't there. It gives an animations a much more organic, immerse feel. Naturally, it won't suit absolutely everything but I think a lot of projects could really benefit from it. 

This video below gets across what I mean pretty well, it's a Star Trek (2009) special feature... and anybody who's seen the film will know how incredible the CG visuals are, but this is a nice insight into their thought process and how they kept it looking so natural yet dynamic.

Anyway, I'm getting side tracked. The first time I opened up After Effects, I could feel my brain cells slowly committing suicide. There's a lot to wrap your head around, but after a couple of days of getting used to the  interface and general mechanics it becomes a lot easier.

That link right there folks, is the single greatest AE resource on the entire interweb. It's run by a chap called Andrew Kramer, and he's an absolute godsend in visual effects and compositing. He has hundreds of tutorials on animation, colour correction, title sequences, particle effects, 3D camera moves, 2D/3D layering, compositing, 3D intergration, keying and visual effects. That's not even the best part, all this is completely free. No registration or subscriptions.

The best place to start is his After Effects Basic Training course, it covers the very basics of absolutely everything you need to know in short, entertaining tid-bits. I know  lot of it won't seem applicable to most animators, but I'd recommend watching them anyway just to familiarise yourself with the program and the possibilities it offers. After that, he has 110 free tutorials uploaded on how to accomplish an incredible range of visual effects and adds more every few weeks. One last thing, there's another page with a load of free presets and plugins to add extra features and make your AE experience generally smoother and quicker for more advanced users. 

All you need is to take some time off, find some patience, and work your way through some tutorials and it'll open up a world of possibilities to give your work that extra touch which will really bring it to life.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Ain't no rest for the wicked indeed...

Alas, a summer of adventure, debauchery and good old tom foolery has resulted in a severe lack of blog posts over the past 3 months. However, today being our first official return to the studio it's only right to mark the momentous occasion with a blog post of incredibly underwhelming proportions.

I had the greatest summer of my life, words can't do the Annecy trip justice. Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful people, beautiful wine and beautiful animation. Definitely a holiday I'll remember, and I'm sure the rest of the gang would say the same.

Thailand was equally as spectacular, a month travelling on my own was definitely the most fulfilling and enlightening experience of my life thus far. It's resulted in a horrendously penniless existence consisting of noodles, toast and out of date sausages. Regardless,  I'd do it all again without a second thought (and probably will next year).

Me and my co-animators Lynne, Finlay and 2-Legged Grossi also moved into our flat in August and celebrated with a stupendous flat warming. The ASBO is framed above the fireplace along with the complaint letters from our neighbours.

Team Bacon Bots (Myself, Lynne, Tom P, Kat H and Olivia) have started work on our new 3rd year project a week ahead of schedule which is great. Sadly Veggie Pirates is on the back burner for the time being, we concluded that the world just isn't ready for it yet. However, we've cooked up a brand spanking new idea which we're pretty excited about. More details on that as it progresses. 

Also, I changed the title of my blog. I figured the Princess and the Frog pun was getting stale, and made me come off as a bit of a queen... an image I'm trying to avoid these days (somewhat unsuccessfully).

I'm trying to get back into drawing, this one nicely sums up our first day. 
(Click for full size)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

To Annecy!

So today myself and 11 other beautiful DoJ animators begin our big Annecy Animation Festival adventure! Expect a blog post on my return with the week's musings, photographs and drunken horror stories. We're back on the 15th, but then I'm away again on the 19th for another month to glorious Thailand. It's going to be a good summer.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New 3rd year blog!

So we've set up a new blog for our 3rd year project, and I expect all 17 of my beautiful followers to follow that one too :)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Inspiring quote du jour

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”"

- Jim Jarmusch

Friday, 23 April 2010

Textured Flag Test

So I ripped up my flag a bit and gave it a texture... I'm happy with it! I particularly like the way the light comes through the holes at some points. Now on to bigger and better things, I want to do some experiments with creating water.

Flag Test Textured from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Maya cloth test

 So it was 2.30am and I was bored.

Leanred how to make a cloth test in maya of an untextured flag. I wanted to experiment with cloth, lighting, motion blur and camera movements. None of which I've really done before. I put in some additional post processing in After Effects. I'm really pleased with how my Maya and compositing progress is coming along.

I reckon if I texture this bad boy and play the shaders and lighting I can get it looking pretty realistic, considering this is the default shader and just untextured polygons. I'm gonna add a bit more motion blur next time too.

Maya Cloth Test from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Kirk Teaser II: Now with 3D and even more gore!

So I finished inbetweening the keyframes for the opening 10 seconds, I really wanted to have a go at colouring so I scanned in all the frames and very very quickly coloured them. Unfortunately I scanned them in at 72dpi to save time, not realising just how low-res that is but at least I got an idea of the process. For some reason Vimeo makes all my videos look really high-contrast and the colours look horrible, but I'm not sure if it's just me.

Andrew and I finished the animation on our UFO the other day and got it rendered so I included a snippet of that in the video. I'm really really happy with how the UFO looks, I've basically doubled my Maya knowledge within the past 2 days just animating and rendering it.

I should have a finished linetest of the full 40(ish) seconds soon. Although,  whether it all gets scanned, coloured and composited in time has yet to be seen.

Kirk Teaser II from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

"A Peculiar Story" backgrounds.

So over the past couple of months I've been working with some 4th years on their degree film "A Peculiar Story" as a background artist. I didn't draw the designs but was tasked with colouring them. I had quite a lot of creative freedom which was cool, pretty much left to my own ideas as far as colours and styles were concerned. It's certainly kept me busy, the idea is that all the backgrounds here are sets on a stage-show. So I went for a kind of hand-painted look which has paid off pretty well. The giant circular piece is a whopping 3480x4070 so it took a loooong time to paint in but I'm pretty happy with it. 

Click the images for full size.


Monday, 5 April 2010

Bored in After Effects.

I was bored so I made the after effects equivalent of a doodle. Nothing too major.

Yargh! from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Friday, 2 April 2010

"Kirk II: Kirk Harder"

So I got bored and thought it'd be fun to draw a doodle of Kirk in a movie style poster. My Friday nights are just THAT exciting. I prrooooobably should have spent that time doing inbetweens or something useful though.
Click image to view full size.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Kirk keyframe linetest.

We got all of our keyframes done today and scanned them in and got the timing sorted. I copy and pasted the crash footage on top to get a rough idea of how it'll look. It's a very crude test, but it works. He disappears behind the satelite as he runs off screen but I wasn't going to mask every frame so just try to imagine him running around it as he's being chased.

I put in some very crudely drawn and animated placeholders for the UFO and rocket.I also fired in the sound from the animatic and quickly fiddled with the timing but it's by no means perfect.

Also... we thought it'd be kickass to give him a massive afro at the end :D It'll be accompanied by a lovely "Foomph!" sound as it pops into shape.

Kirk linetest from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Monday, 22 March 2010

"Kirk" Satellite impact test.

I was experimenting in After Effects with some different looks for the satellite impact. This one was the most impressive, We'll need to try it out with hand drawn smoke etc but this is a nice, quick way to do it... plus it looks PIMPED.

I'll need to run it past the rest of the team but I just wanted to show this one off anyway. We might have the entire camera obscured by smoke etc so nothing is final. I was just dying to try it out.You should really click the video title and watch it full quality.

"Kirk" satellite impact test. from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Hopefully Kirk won't get squished in the real animation. Although... it would save 30 seconds of work. Hmm.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

"Kirk" update.

Team Tinfoil have been pretty busy working on "Kirk" this week but we've got a lot done. We've got the finished background, UFO model, and most of the keyframes all done. We're pretty much on schedule to have it all finished in time, and we're excited at how it's all coming together. Expect a video of the keyframe animation soon.

Here's the background I drew up in photoshop, alongside Kirk just for a size reference. (Click thumbnail for full size)

Here's the finished model sheet which I meant to upload before, Suzanne done an awesome job of coming up with the final character design. (Click thumbnail)

And finally here's the UFO model. Suzanne modelled it and I textured it, we're super duper happy with how it turned out considering we've had next to no Maya experience and never even touched texturing before. The model is a bit squint and the texture is by no means perfect but we thought that really added to the effect, it adds character! The thing has just crashed from outer space... (Click thumbnail)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Kirk Animatic

Team Tinfoil completed our animatic last week for the 40s character animation and I've been compositing, pimping and adding sound over the weekend. It's not the finished thing quite yet, we've still got to review it but I'm pretty sure it'll main relatively unchanged except maybe for some timing issues.

The sound design needs some more work for the final animation, but this fits fine for animatic purposes. We're not sure what to do about a voice or anything yet...

The animation is about a 10 year old kid called Kirk. Kirk is a boy-genius, fascinated by everything space related. However, he has to live his otherwise normal childhood with the constant fear of being abducted by aliens wherever he goes. He wears a tinfoil hat to protect himself from their mind reading technologies, and finds himself conflicted when a genuine piece of space equipment crashes into his infinite white expanse. 

Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments! :D

(I'll be adding more material of character designs etc later)

I've just realised the quality in the upload isn't fantastic, you can't really see a lot of the details... You can barely see the rocket at the start, or the smoke from the explosion :( you can still get a pretty good idea though. It looks a lot better if you view it fullscreen.

Kirk Animatic from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Concept designs.

I thought this would look pretty nice animated, I might do a test soon. I tried to go the "Ooohhh I'm cinematic" look by including some lens flare, grain, lens dust, a vignette and the oh-so-ever cinematic black bars.

These ones are just doodles, I think they'd look pretty sweet when animated. I'll do a test for these asap.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Hello shiny new blog.

Prepare to be filled with a huge assortment of witty musings, coursework and badly structured rants!