Sunday, 5 May 2013

Dance Workshop

Sunday 17th March
Today I went along to a vintage chorus line workshop to learn a routine inspired by Busby Berkeley. I thought as well as being fun, it might inspire me with my project for the dance sequences. It was a really great workshop and we had flowery headscarves and giant swirly lollipops as props, which we used to make the kaleidoscope shapes that Berkeley is famous for. It definitely inspired me and gave me a few more ideas!

There were mirrors in the studio so we could see the lovely shapes we were making. Berkeley was famous for the surreal and huge dance sequences he choreographed for films such as Gold Diggers of 1935 and 42nd Street involving hundreds of dancing girls and giant props which he filmed from above to make kaleidoscope images.

(image from

Beside The Sea

A lot has happened since I posted my creative writing exercise. I have started turning it into an animation! The story has changed slightly from the written piece, but not drastically. I am supposed to be documenting my progress on this blog as I go, but anyone who has taken on an animation - especially a stop-motion animation, will understand why I haven't been very good at this! I have however been keeping a production journal and taking fuzzy phone snaps of my work, so I will post chunks of my back-dated entries on here!

Saturday 16th March
I have been working on my puppet maquette today. It is taking a while because the plastiline that I am working with is really hard and therefore difficult to mould. I have been leaving it on the heater to soften before I use it, then letting it harden to carve into it. It has become quite a long process!

My character designs have been inspired my 1920s boudoir dolls which were fashion accessories of the period. They characteristically have pale faces with large dark rimmed eyes and small mouths and noses. In plastiline they look a little creepy, but once they are cast in silicone and have hair and eyes, they will hopefully look a little doll-like and pleasant! My animation is about swimming attire through the ages, so I felt that a dress-up doll style would be appropriate.

Today I also ordered materials from Tiranti, which is where my producer for Shoes!, Jen ordered many of our materials last year. As I am making so many more puppets this time, I altered my original budget and ordered the 5kg T20 silicone and catalyst as it worked out a bit better. I also decided I did not need any more plastiline, so I took that off of the budget. It was all quite expensive though! I have not been given an estimated time of arrival for the materials, but hopefully it will be this week so I can begin the molds.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

1927: The Animals and Children Took to the Streets

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from The Old Market Theatre in Brighton, in which was a short article about the 1927 production of The Animals and Children Took to the Streets. I have only recently heard about this company and their dark production that integrated animation projected on stage. I read that they had sell-out shows around the world and hoped I would be able to see them someday. Then this email was advertising their show in Brighton and advising we get in quick before they sold out, so I quickly bought a pair and went to the theatre that Friday.

It was pouring it down with icy rain and despite leaving on time, we still managed to be late and were stuck with seats behind people with large heads that blocked my view, but I was not disappointed. It was an amazing show. So convincing was the acting that my guest did not realise that the person playing the male caretaker was in fact a woman.

The stage was bare but for three white screens on which the animations were projected. These animations were simple and dark, beautifully transporting me to the dreary dank world that the dubious characters inhabited. The movements of the animated characters were limited, not unlike the Flintstones cartoons and other animations from that era where animations were made more economical and less complicated. This only added to the charm and surreal feeling of the whole show.

The actors faces were painted white, much like mimes. This made it easy for them to become new characters at a moment's notice and helped to make their world seem darker and sinister, where everyone's faces lack colour and life.  

My favourite character has to be the caretaker (played by a woman) who falls for the ever optimistic Agnes Eves. His is the only character who does not speak on stage, but instead has a voice-over to let the audience into his gloomy thoughts. He spends his life sweeping the dusty floors and spraying at bugs - all achieved with the seamless animation creating the dust clouds and jets of bug spray.

It really is a must-see show. Does it have a happy ending? Well, I suggest you go and see for yourself! 

(all pictures are from Google Images!)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

In my second year at university, each student in my class had to pitch an idea for an animation and a few were selected to go into production. I was lucky enough to be picked and I directed 'Shoes!'. You can have a look at the animation blog for behind the scenes material:

The film could be interpreted in many ways but essentially it is about an old man who finds a new lease of life in a pair of shoes. It is a stop-motion animation, heavily influenced by 1950s design and old MGM musicals. Here are some stills from the film:

You can also watch the trailer for the animation here:


Or for a better full screen quality, visit our Vimeo page:

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Illustrations: Edgar Allen Poe

This was an animation project at Brighton City College that I so enjoyed making and have always planned on taking further. We had to make characters out of broken toys and then design a story around them. I found a poem by Edgar Allen Poe for my two monsters to become characters in. Below are two concept drawings, influenced by Tim Burton's 'Vincent', which coincidentally was also inspired my Edgar Allen Poe! And below those are two images of how I planned on animating the film; paper cut-out seas with the only light coming from the moon, which was actually a torch! I plan on returning to this project in the future.

Illustrations: Help I've Got Hair Monsters!

 A collaboration between myself and author Liesel Bernardo. 'Help! I've Got Hair Monsters' is a children's story explaining what head-lice are and how to deal with them, using fuzzy circus characters. Here are a few illustrations from the story.

These images are a mixture of my own pen drawings and found objects and textures collaged together in Photoshop.