Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Production Design

For our final workshop of the year we had Stephane Collogne and Barry Purves come in to discuss Production Design.

Barry Purves

Stephane Collogne

We saw lots of animation films and also some clips from live-action features and musicals to study how colour and staging are used to create mood and tone.

Quick studies from 'An American in Paris'

We also had to team up with the Production Designers and put together a pitch for a retelling of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. My Production Designer Toni and I had to create a story from the perspective of the Dove who brings back the Olive Branch and the Raven who is sent out before but never returns.

I had a lot of fun figuring out the story and coming up with the types of characters they would be and together we began exploring how the film would look. In the end we settled on a woodblock cutout style on multi-plane cameras so we could play around with depth and also use negative space to show the soft-edged tenderness of the Dove which would contrast with the more angular Raven.

During the week we also had a screening of 'Mary & Max', the new stop-motion animation feature from Director Adam Elliot. It was amazing, the story was so tragic and yet at the same time uplifting and the characters were so endearing with how they both struggled but managed to find comfort in each other. The whole film was just beautiful to look at. If you get a chance then go see it!

Until next time, it's back to developing ideas for my graduation film..

Monday, 7 December 2009

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

And/or Book Awards

Things have been a bit busy these past couple of weeks. At the moment I'm currently working on a trailer for the And/or Book Awards. The award is the UK's leading prize for books published in the fields of photography and the moving image. They are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary and so they've asked us to create a 1-min animation to commemorate.

As well as this we're also beginning the development stage of our graduation film. I'm just going through old sketchbooks at the moment looking for ideas so pretty soon the whole process will be well underway!

I also went to see Russian animator Andrey Khrzhanovksy give a talk on the avant-garde composer Alfred Schnittke with whom he collaborated on several films. Khrzhanovsky stated that he would often plan out the flow of an animation so that Schnittke would have a guide to begin composing the music. I thought it was interesting to hear how animation (something that quite often is painstakingly slow) collaborates with music (something that is so flowing) I'm in a similar situation at the moment myself for the And/or trailer so I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Khrzhanovsky has the distinction of creating the only animated film (The Glass Harmonica) to be banned totally during the time of the Soviet Union. I managed to make a few sketches in the dark during the talk and also a couple on the journey. Until next time..

Monday, 9 November 2009

Journey Time

Sketches made during my travels to and from school.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


And it's finished. My boxing film, now titled 'Grit' is complete. It's been a crazy dash to try and master After Effects and get it all done in such a short space of time but in the end I'm pleased with how it went. There were a few shots that, if I'd had more time, I would have liked to tweak but I feel that overall I learnt a great deal about composition and staging and trying to get the maximum amount of story out of just a few shapes and lines.
The film got good feedback from my tutors at our review and I hope that my Sound Designer George was happy with what I did with his soundtrack.
I've included a mixture of stills below from different stages of the film: from storyboard to finished frames to an interesting visualisation of how my soundtrack looked. I hope they give at least a small sense of how it all came together.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cherry wins in Chicago

One of the films I worked on last year 'Cherry on the Cake' directed by Hyebin Lee has just won the Golden Plaque for Best Student Short Film at the Chicago International Film Festival. The film was selected for its: 'striking storyline, Moving metaphors and indelible imagery.'

The film is also being screened this weekend at the London Film Festival so if you're around go and check it out!

Congratulations Hyebin! :)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Round One

Production of my short film is now fully underway. I would have liked a few more days to settle on an overall look for the film but the process of finding it whilst working is bringing up some interesting results. I've included a rough concept for a shot in the film to show the slightly angular look I've been working on, followed by a mid-way image to show the multiple layers of charcoal and paint that are being used. The last image is an 'almost' completed still.. A former student from the NFTS has been in last week to teach me how to use After Effects so I'm still getting to grips with 3D levels and how to use the cameras to create a greater sense of depth so fingers crossed.

Till next time, I hope to have a few more shots done by tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Old Boxing Pictures

Looking through my portfolio for some work I might be able to use in my new film I came across these pictures I made whilst I was still boxing. The first one I drew when I was 15 in my free time after school using pen and ink. It's made up of thousands of tiny dots that when viewed from a distance hopefully give the illusion of tone and form.

The other two I did a few years later whilst at college studying Graphic Design. They were for a project in my first year but I can't remember at all what the brief was for. The first one is chalk on black paper and the other is acrylic paint. I don't think they will be used in any part of my film they're more just to get a feel for things. My pre-production stage is coming to a close now so I'll begin production on my first shot very soon!

close-up detail of dots

Monday, 28 September 2009


As well as roughing out the structure for my boxing film I recently did some animation work on a commercial for Toshiba. A few months back some representatives from Toshiba came to the school and asked for pitches for web commercials. One of the second year editors, Una Gunjak successfully pitched and asked if I could get involved in animating part of the commercial.

The commercial is currently titled 'Can You Draw Me an Arrow?'. It revolves around a young man travelling all over the world gathering arrow drawings in his little sketchbook. At the end of the commercial he flips through the collection and the arrows become animated, ending up as the Toshiba logo (that's my contribution to the short). I haven't seen any of the live-action elements of the commercial yet, I just got to draw lots of arrows but as soon as it's online I'll post a link to it.

Until then, back to concept art...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Concept Art

The first batch of concept art for my short film is complete. The project has roughly 5 weeks of production so all my pre-production will have to be crammed into the next couple of days. I'm hoping that this short burst of intensity will help to come up with a look that perhaps having more time to think about it might not have the same energy.

The soundtrack I received is very dark and distressing so I've decided to make a film about boxing. In particular a single round in which everything starts to go wrong for one of the fighters. Throughout the year we've been taught to try and make our stories more personal, conjuring up moments from our own lives with which to make them more sincere and original. I spent a great amount of time in my teenage years boxing so I'm hoping to capture some of that in this short film. Also, this project is an opportunity to try out some new techniques we haven't really done before so I'm going to use this opportunity to get my hands dirty with lots of paint and chalk and charcoal to capture the hazy, thick-air of a boxing arena.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Danny Boyle

Our final film project of the year is now underway. For this project the sound design students have all created 1-min soundtracks which we will interpret as short films. We're not allowed to discuss with the sound designers what their influences were as this may affect what we end up creating, so for now it's all hush hush. At the moment we're just listening to the tracks and gathering materials and ideas for creating a mood animatic to see in what directions we can go.

On another note we had the brilliant Director Danny Boyle come in to give a talk last week. He was amazing, so passionate and enthusiastic about film. He talked about most of his work and discussed the craft of working with writers and cinematographers and the vital importance of sound and all his experiences from different types of films. I asked him about animation and he talked about the train sequence in Wallace & Gromit's The Wrong Trousers as being one of the best action chase sequences ever put on film. He also told us how he was once going to direct an animated version of Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy (I can only imagine how cool that would have been!) but in the end it just never came together.
Meeting someone who so clearly loved film and filmmaking totally inspired me so now all I want to do is get straight to work on my next film!

Until then, here are some more sketches..

Sunday, 13 September 2009


Schools back and Project 3, 'Working to a Soundtrack' has begun.

For part of this project we got the chance to make some short experimental sequences with our tutors, Stuart Hilton and Robert Bradbrook.
As a group we filmed a very short pixillation sequence of a chair spinning and falling over and then, using that as our base, we had to visualise it in lots of new and exciting ways..

Take 1 Chair

Using a pin, meticulously poke holes in black card around outline of chair

Discover that the Camera Department is closed so build the bizarrest rig ever seen!

Pray for sunlight and... Voila! Shiny Sparkly Chair!

we only had 4 days of experimenting but I still have a list of ideas to try out so will have to fit them in whenever a quiet moment pops up..
Until then..