I’ve just finished cutting together a new showreel of some of my work from the last year or so. Most of these are for various corporate presentations, but the Irn Bru clip toard the end is from the ad I directed for Sherbet; the cinema crowd is from the Lee Evans DVD “Roadrunner”, and the retro-styled b/w clips of the burglar and the couple having breakfast in bed are from some ‘Top Tips’ I animated for the recent Channel 4 Viz cartoons.
Apologies for the long hiatus, it’s been a busy year. Trina and I took a well-deserved day off a few weeks ago and went for a walk in the Kent countryside – here’s a few photos.
Apparently this blog site often appears on searches for freelance animators, which is what I do, so if it’s my animation work you’re looking for, follow the links on the right.
I’m currently editing a new showreel of my work from the last year or so – I’ll have it online shortly.
In April 1986 I was working for a small company in Alnwick and had the opportunity to accompany the boss on a networking trip to America and Canada. I was just getting into photography at the time and though I probably couldn’t have named a single famous photographer other than David Bailey, I read all the photography magazines and learnt basic principles pretty well. I took the opportunity to make this a serious photography trip, and spent a lot of my meagre wages on a second Olympus SLR and a bagful of film.
With paper and chemicals being expensive, I only printed up a few of the black and white photos when I got home – the ones that looked most promising when held up to the light – so I had never seen most of these until I dug out the negatives and scanned them into Photoshop recently. Tantalisingly, at least two reels have gone missing over the years and another never saw the light of day as I bathed in the wrong chemicals when I developed it, but this selection represents the best of what’s left, and provides an interesting glimpse into North America in a time that is now a whole generation ago.
I got my first cine camera when I was 15, in 1981. In those days, I think making your own films had a little more magic than it does now. This was before home video, and I was the only person I knew with a cine camera, so the rarity value had something to do with it – but it was also the fact that it was silent.. and a bit grainy… it felt like holding a filter up to the world; more so than with a modern video camera. Plus it wasn’t cheap – a four-minute reel of film cost £12 – and that was in 1981 money – so you used it sparingly; never shooting anything without thinking about it first. It was a good film-making discipline.
This film is a record of one of many days out cycling with two of my school friends. The area around my home town, Alnwick, is perfect for cycling – quiet roads, and a variety of scenery from castles and beaches to hills and moors.
A few years ago I did some work for a company in Newcastle who provided videoscreen to display information in public places, along with content to keep the screen intersting in between information updates. My job was to churn out as much silent animation as possible in the form of 20-30 second sequences – sometimes several a week. I did dozens of the course of a few months; this film is a re-edit of a few of them.
It’s been 14 years since I made my first ‘Public Information Film for Hamsters’. I’ve wanted to return to my favourite creations ever since, but whenever I’ve had time for a personal project I’ve always felt obliged to use the opportunity to learn some new software, or develop some new style or technique.
I started animating this film on paper, but later decided that it would be quicker to draw straight into Flash, and was glad to find that I could do it that way without losing the ‘look’ of the characters.
I wanted to take the opportunity to speak out on an issue I care about, namely freedom of expression, and how it can be stifled by political correctness and – in my view – misplaced sensitivity.
I’ve recently finished my most fun job for a long time – working at Sherbet, directing the animation on this ad for Irn Bru.
The animation was done by first working traditionally with pencil, then tracing those drawings into Flash to duplicate the traditional brush-on-cel look. (Simply scanning the drawings into a trace-and-paint program would have given a more modern look than we wanted.)
For the animation, we needed people who were specialists in this style and were lucky to get Teddy Hall, a Disney veteran who worked on Hercules, Peter Dodd, who recently animated much of Sylvain Chomet’s new feature “The Illusionist”, and the tireless Paul Stone, who seems to have worked on almost every London-produced traditional production of the last twenty years. Denise Dean had her work cut out as cleanup artist but somehow managed to keep up with these three.
The Flash team of Malcolm Mole, David Bell and Martin Oliver achieved a nice line quality on a challenging job from day one, and the After-Effects guys, Alex Robinson and Tony Comley wrapped it all up with impressive skill.
Since everyone made the directing role so easy, I found time to keep my hand in on the animation – I did the dancing meat at the end, and helped out with the Flash work.
Sherbet was a great place to work – the regular staff there -Adam, Ben and Sarah (get well soon!) were incredibly helpful and made my first directing job there a real pleasure -and thanks again to producer Jonathan Bairstow for offering me the job in the first place!
I’ve decided to beat the rush this year and post some seasonal work before they even get the selection boxes into Sainsburys, which is due to happen in about two weeks. Here’s some cards I designed a couple of years ago.
As a freelance animator, most of the TV work I do is designed by other hands, so I thought it was worthwhile putting a showreel together that consists only of work I’ve done myself – both design and animation. The work here is a combination of work from student films, personal projects and commissions. The only parts of it I can’t take credit for are the painting by Monet (animated in After Effects), and the original designs on which a couple of the characters were modelled (the dogs on the obstacle course, and the alien on the DNA strand).