Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Inspire | Features and Opinion | Storytelling in Animation

Inspire | Features and Opinion | Storytelling in Animation

Excerpt from a D&AD feature about storytelling in animation:

Marc Craste is a partner in StudioAKA. He is the recipient of two Baftas and the Cartoon D’or among others, and once came within spitting distance of an Oscar. He is currently working on his first feature.
Here he discusses the creation of large, intimidating worlds and the small characters that inhabit them.

BBC Sport – Winter Olympics Storyboard

Silent characters

There are many challenges in commercials, the greatest of which is conveying information that is engaging, entertaining and memorable, in a very short space of time.
The commercial work we do often features voiceless characters, and as a result there is a reliance on other visual elements to fill the gaps. All the information on the screen counts.
Oddly enough, when making a short film free of commercial considerations, the first thing we did was populate it with silent characters. Jojo in the Stars confirmed the importance of design and staging in the telling of a story, proving that the setting can often be as much a part of conveying the narrative as the character’s performance.
A real face with its infinite subtleties can absorb an audience and tell them all they need to know. It’s not so easy with animated characters, which often need help from whatever else is filling the screen.
Sometimes the character and the world they inhabit become so inextricably linked it’s hard to differentiate between the two. Jojo is an example where the world was integral to the story. Soon after we completed that film a commercial followed similar in spirit.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Animate Projects - Apocalypse Rhyme

I just love this typographical animation. I saw it at the Bradford Animation Festival in November and I was blown away.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


How lucky was I to have half term coincide with the London International Film Festival! I did work half of the week, but I went straight from work on Tuesday evening (29th October) to watch the International Programme (3). I booked tickets for the 'Horse Hospital', which turned out to be a quirky little venue! I thought we had gone into the wrong door initially, as I stumbled down a sloping corridor into a very small screening room. I had rushed from work (because I left later than I should have... usual scenario), and was running to each train link because I did not want to be late... as soon as we arrived, and had a glass of wine, I quickly wound down in the calming atmosphere.

I enjoyed quite  few of the animations screened. It is difficult to choose a favourite from Paula, Moirai and Coffee - they were so good, but there were also some others that caught my attention.

This is Paula by Etienne Simard (2011), one of my favourites from the screening that I viewed on the evening at the Horse Hospital.

Friday, 9 August 2013

My continuing creative journey Part 2

Following on from the previous post - my creative journey continued and I then found myself teaching on BTEC Level 3,  FdA & BA Animation courses and thought I should top up my HND to a degree in order to update my skills and I was expected to be at a higher level than I was teaching, so I enquired at Hertfordshire University and they persuaded me to jump straight to an MA because of already having a teaching qualification - this was very scary and I had to do this part time as I was teaching full time.... which was tough going, but I achieved an MA in 2D Digital Animation, helped by an amazing tutor (Alan Peacock) and also Ivan Phillips at Herts. What really surprised me was that I found a real love for the research and essay writing during my time studying for my MA. I stumbled across some really inspiring stuff and thoroughly enjoyed reading papers and books on the subject of animation and digital media. I adore reading anything by Lev Manovich, he is so inspirational.

Back sheet of my final project for my MA
A few years later, I find myself totally overloaded by my job and craving for some creativity for ME! I feel starved at times. The good thing about studying for the MA was that it kept my creative glow burning. I have been doing some sketching during the summer break, but my mind is partly distracted by the fact that I should now be planning for the new academic year.

My eye was caught while out shopping last week when I saw some wonderful prints by Kelly Rae Roberts. I recognised the style because I had purchased her book last year, when I was trying to do an e course with Traci Bautista while working and really fell in love with the mixed media art style. (A link to Kelly Rae's book is below). I have previously attended scrapbooking workshops and created some visual journals and this was really captivating me, but I still have not been able to sit myself down and create something. I went straight home from seeing the wonderful prints in the shop, and looked up Kelly Rae to find her blog and loved her story. I could relate to the beginning of her new journey, before she went part time from her job and began creating art. I purchased part one of her e book series and I really do have a dream, but I cannot verbalise it yet until I have it sorted in my head.....

My creative journey part 1

My creative journey has meandered into varying paths along the way and I started out loving art, always drawing when I was young. My art teacher wanted me to be an art teacher.... I would have loved that, but Mum said NO. At the time there were a lot of teacher strikes and she did not think that it was a worthwhile job. Although my Mum has now found her own creative path in sewing and creating beautiful cushions, bunting, handmade bags etc., she did not understand my creativity when I was younger. I wanted to do an Arts degree, but the answer again was no, simply because she never saw any credibility in extra education and did not see any future in anything creative. I did find a job doing 'window dressing' which apparently is now called 'visual merchandising', which was quite creative, but then was persuaded to work in an admin role (where Mum worked), when I wanted to get a mortgage - becuase this was the more stable environment. I lasted 4 years working my way up within an office environment to be an administrative assistant and met some great people, but it wasn't really for me.

When my son was young, I took the opportunity to go back to College and did a Foundation course and I loved it! When he was not at School, I was able to take him along with me, which was great. I did ceramics, photography, graphic design, life drawing, still life - a whole range of creative topics and I enjoyed everyone of them - it was a perfect course and it made me feel so vibrant and happy and was one of the best things I ever did. From there I did an A Level art course, but could not finish it due to complications at home. I went through a tough break up, which was pretty tumultuous, but through thick and thin, I was determined to stay on the creative path (it really was my saviour). I then took a graphics course and I loved typography and motion graphics and fell in love with a programme called Director, where I could create art with  motion. I then found another course doing Multimedia and I found myself helping a lot of the students with the software and when I completed the course I was asked by the tutor if I would come in and help out with classes. I then went part time and then gradually full time - it worked out very well with my sons education as I was there for him by working part time and by the time he was older, I started working full time. The mystery to me is how I went from art to digital - when I started the graphics course I did not know my way around a computer and here I was teaching web design, motion graphics and animation! I had evolved into a digital creative.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Tim Reckart's Head over Heels

Tim Reckart's Oscar nominated short is a National Film & Television School film, which he wrote and directed. It tells the story of how “a husband and wife have grown apart over the years. He lives on the floor, she lives on the ceiling, and their marriage hangs in the balance.”

Harnessing the power of social networking

Harnessing the power of social for your business by SocialGo:

Using Social to Grow and Engage your Customers from SocialGO

I have a SocialGo Animation Network for the students on the animation courses that I teach on:  animationetwork.socialgo.com I have found it straigthforward to set up and use. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Animate Projects presents: 2012 (associated with Lupus Films and Channel 4)

I was sent a link to Animate Projects, from Twitter as a suggestion to follow them. I took a look at them and decided that this would be a pretty good idea. They incorporate an online exhibition space for animation within their website and you can explore the 'Animate Collection', which features artists' animation, interviews and writing. It is the only arts charity in the UK dedicated to championing experiments in animation.

'Animate has consistently facilitated cutting edge animation in the UK, making the UK an international focal point for animated filmmaking,' David Shrigley, artist.

One of the projects that Animate Projects are presenting on their site, are five new commissions in association with Lupus Films, for Channel 4’s Random Acts - the project title is 2012.

The five films were broadcast on Channel 4 and had their online premiere on randomacts.channel4.com in April 2012. The films will be viewable on animateprojects.org from May 2012. Below is an example of one of the films, titled: Ylem.

Ylem from Lupus Films on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Late night Club - Indie animators

I have just viewed this trailer (from the collective of Indie animators calling themselves the 'Late Night Club') on the 'It's Nice That' site. This is their mission statement from the Late Night Club site:
Late Night Work Club is a loose, rotating collective of indie animators.

That is, animators who do independent, non-commercial work. It’s an excuse to bring a whole bunch of us together and make something great, and also to promote the work of the artists involved. Some of the best, most personal, experimental and vital animation going right now is happening on the internet. It’s being made late at night when other people have gone to sleep and on weekends when everyone else is out. It’s being made by students, freelancers, full-timers and folks with unrelated day jobs. It means something to us. It’s our scene.
Here is a link to their website, it is well worth a look!: www.latenightworkclub.com/

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Andy Martin's Showreel

I really like the range of styles that Andy Martin uses: Here is his showreel :)

Andy Martin Showreel 2012 from Andy Martin on Vimeo.

Flash is NOT DEAD!

I am a little bit fed up with hearing that Flash is dead.... its getting tiresome. An ex student of mine put up a post on Facebook saying that he needed advice about creating a portfolio with Flash or html and one of the comments was the usual.. 'don't bother using Flash, its dead', these comments are all due to bad press created by the feud between Apple and Adobe, where Apple blocked the Flash plug-in on their mobile products and many articles proclaimed the death of Flash. Adobe bounced back by producing a new version of Flash that could convert Flash to Apple apps - which Apple proceeded to ban! After a bit of a battle, during which rumours ensued saying that Adobe were threatening to sue Apple, there came a compromise that caused Adobe to stop producing a plug-in for mobile devices. Because they did that; Apple stopped blocking Adobe being able to publish Flash products to HTML 5 and also into apps for any mobile device - Apple or Android.

If you are a Flash user, this is not news to you, but Apple did a great marketing hit on Adobe Flash and it did take a bit of a bashing, but I think it can bounce back. There are still many users out there. The problem with all the hype about HTML 5 is that it hasn't quite lived up to its reputation as it is currently off limits to the regular person to create things in HTML 5 that you can with Flash - these things can only be created by a web developer who is hot with using code - so its not yet a contender. 

Don't get me wrong and think I am a hater of all things Apple either - I have a Mac Book Pro and an iPad and I love them. I use yummy G5's at work, but I've also got a Hewlett Packard PC and an Android phone - so as you can tell, I use what I need for specific uses and I don't let the hype get in the way of my own thought processes.... so I really enjoy using Flash and will continue to do so until something better comes along, but up till now, this hasn't happened.... VIVA Flash ;)

This is a good comment made by blogger Dave Bricker (author, designer, educator):

Flash and HTML5: Why Does Apple Care?

Though Apple argues that Flash is unstable and requires too much processor power, skeptics counter that Apple wants to keep animation and rich interactivity confined to Apps sold exclusively through their own App store. Why? Flash empowers content developers to deliver all the graphic splendor and technical sophistication of a mobile application inside the browser. That provides a conduit through which competing alternatives to Apple’s own software offerings (like iTunes) can be deployed, and it offers developers a means of distribution that bypasses Apple’s 30% commission and the requirement to have Apple officially approve their content. It makes the free browser side of the iOS platform potentially as engaging as the App side. Apple has enjoyed an exclusive “gated community” in an otherwise open Internet. Now the gates are being pushed in by the very standards they accuse Adobe of failing to support.
My thoughts exactly. Here is a link to his article, 'Why Flash is not dead and what it means to publishers'.

Here is a link to blogger Roberto Blakes article about the topic, 'Why Flash is not dead yet 2012'. Another link I came across is to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols article in ZDNet, who proclaims that 'we all hate Flash and that even Adobe are not too keen'; but he still admits that: 'We can wish Adobe Flash were dead all we want, but there's still no universal replacement for it. And, there won't be one anytime soon' in: 'Adobe Flash: I'm not dead yet!'. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Animation in Google trends

Here are some stats that I got from Google trends and I am surprised at the downward trend towards animation, particularly as there are so many excellent animated films being produced, and that it used so much in advertising now.

Here is a link to the page as it is interactive and has more info: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=animation&cmpt=geo

It does have embed links, but annoyingly none of them would show in the blog?! So I had to resort to a screenshot.