Thursday, 20 February 2014

Shaun the Sheep Series 4: The Spider, now on iPlayer!

It's been a while since my last post! Over the past couple months I've been quite busy, including having worked on an exciting new project that, regrettably, cannot yet be revealed. Sit tight however, for I shall reveal all in good time!

Meanwhile, I have something which I can show you at long last! Back in the summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to work at Aardman Animations as part of the model making team, contributing towards an episode of Shaun the Sheep Series 4, entitled 'The Spider'. The episode has now been made available in its entirety through the BBC iPlayer! Feel free to watch it via the link below:

I was tasked with designing and creating the titular Spider puppet, as well as a myriad of other hands-on tasks. As you can see in the episode, there are two sizes of spider; the larger more characterful version for the close ups, and some tiny spiders in scale with Shaun and Co. that feature a simpler design. Designs were approved by the director before being created in full and sent to the animators.

I created two large spiders and ten small ones, for concurrent filming of different shots. They were very fun to make, and it's great to finally see them animated! The animators have done an amazing job, especially with making the tiny spiders' legs move- they are less than 1cm wide!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

'Loving Vincent'- an innovative BreakThru

Recently, I was contacted by a representative of BreakThru Films (the Oscar-winning animation studio behind Suzie Templeton's acclaimed stop-motion short 'Peter and the Wolf' [2006]), and was informed of their latest innovative animation project- 'Loving Vincent'.

'Loving Vincent' is a bold and visually authentic exploration of Vincent van Gogh's remarkable mindset via his most famous works, being brought to life through a mixed media process combining 3D computer animation and genuine oil-on-canvas paintings- the stunning aesthetics deriving directly from Van Gogh's colourful and expressive artwork. The film chronicles his life and mysterious death, with alternating styles representing the duality of the real world juxtaposed with the world as seen in his paintings.

The characters, sets and animation will be rendered first in 3D CGI, providing a dynamic framework by which a team of artists (led by director/painter Dorota Kobiela) will create a series of vivid canvas paintings comprising the frames of the film.

The first concept trailer for the film is now available to view online:

And that's not all that's coming- accompanying the film will be an international project entitled 'Vincent on the Walls of the World', whereby workshops will take place at different venues around the globe giving children the opportunity to create an animation, each based on a Vincent painting. Key frames will be sketched out prior to the designs being painted frame-by-frame on a selected wall. The workshops encourage collaboration and the development of organisational and teamwork skills, in addition to promoting and nurturing artistic talent.

'Loving Vincent' is currently at the beginning of production, and its creators are trying to reach as much of the potential audience as possible to spread the word about the project. As I'm sure you will agree, the concept trailer is very unique and impressive, and I for one cannot wait to see the finished film! You can keep up to date by following the film's production process and other activities through the website and official Facebook page.

Friday, 18 October 2013

BCU success at the RTS Awards 2013

Myself (right) and fellow graduate Riz Khan (left) at the RTS Awards 2013

What can I say? The Royal Television Society Midlands Centre 2013 Award Ceremony took place last night, where my graduation film 'Oh Well' had been nominated for the Student Animation category! The evening was well organised with much of the local media industry in attendance, including many notable television actors, newscasters and journalists such as the BBC's Nick Owen, ITV Central's Lucy Kite, Nina Nannar and Mark Williams (of Harry Potter fame) to name but a few!

Sadly, 'Oh Well' was not to be the winner this time, with my friend and fellow Birmingham City University graduate Riz Khan proudly taking home the award for his 2D digital animation 'Chime'. Nevertheless, I received a lovely certificate of nomination. The quality of work all round was very high, so congratulations must go out to Riz and all the other nominees!

Monday, 14 October 2013

'Oh Well' at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival!

Even more good news! 'Oh Well' has been selected to run in the 2013 official competition at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival! The film will be screened as part of the 'Academic films 2' category at 12:30pm on Sunday 20th October (click here for a full list of films running in the competition).

The event, running from the 18th to 20th October, looks as though it will be outstanding this year with a stellar lineup of guests and sponsors, including director Henry Selick (of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'James and the Giant Peach' fame), who will even be a part of the competition judging panel!

The festival boasts many more activities, screenings and talks to keep attendees busy and entertained! Official partners for the 2013 festival include Laika (ParaNorman [2012], Coraline [2009]), Mackinnon & Saunders and Mega Bloks.

Sadly, I doubt I will be able to attend this time around, though will certainly be keeping an eye on next year's dates! October looks to be a busy month for me with screenings and competitions popping up left right and centre! As always, I'll keep you updated on the film's progress!

'Oh Well' at the Royal Television Society Student Awards

I have received the wonderful news that my stop-motion short 'Oh Well' has been nominated for the 2013 Royal Television Society Student Awards, which will be presented at a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Thursday 17th October!

I am delighted that my film has been selected and look forward to the evening- I'll keep you posted on how things go!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

BART NEEDS YOU- Why you should back Yamination Studios' new Kickstarter campaign

As regular readers of my blog will know, I've had the pleasure of working these past 12 months at Yamination Studios- an up-and-coming stop-motion animation studio with big aspirations, located in Birmingham, UK.

The studio is in its infancy, currently mid way through production on a stop-motion short film entitled 'At-issue'. Progress has been incredible so far and the film is looking amazing! The hard work of such a friendly and enthusiastic team (comprising both industry veterans and recent graduates such as myself) is definitely showing! Unfortunately however, production costs are rising and the studio requires additional funding to complete the project. A Kickstarter campaign is now underway and looking for people to pledge money to reach the £10,000 goal.

Once At-issue is complete, the company aims to expand to accommodate larger and more ambitious projects in the future, which in turn would create more work opportunities for the animation community and help raise the profile of the industry in the Birmingham area. If that's not reason enough to support the project, I don't know what is!

You can view the campaign through the link below- of course, everything is explained in detail on the page, complete with some really nifty videos!

Nowadays, a very concerning problem with finding work is that the vast majority of job vacancies require experience from an applicant, yet very few are willing to give people a chance to gain said experience. This makes it incredibly difficult for recent graduates, who often struggle to find a footing to begin their careers. With regards to animation in particular, it is truly saddening to see so many talented people unable to obtain work in their desired field, who are forced to fall back on jobs they had not originally intended. This makes it even more difficult to pursue an animation career later on in life when stability and job security become paramount.

I am very grateful to Yamination Studios for offering myself and many others a chance to gain invaluable industry experience. Had it not been for my placement there, I would not have gained the myriad of new skills and techniques put to use in my graduate film, nor would it have been possible to gain such a successful network of contacts within the industry (and resultantly a series of work placements at Aardman Animations). In an industry where success depends so much on getting yourself known and making people aware of your work, I cannot underestimate how much this has helped me.

So please pledge whatever you can to help this young company and support the development of the local animation industry! Let's put Birmingham on the map for animation!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Showreel 2013

My latest stop-motion showreel is now available to view through my vimeo page! More specialised than my previous showreel (which was general animation), my 2013 stop-motion reel includes the best examples of my work in the fields of model making, animating and set construction. Enjoy!