We started the week with a talk from Barry Purves and in that talk he told us about his work and the opportunities that arose for him when making animated films. In this he told us about his puppets and the bonds that he has made with his puppets. He started with recommendations about being successful in the industry and they include trust and support design instincts. He also talked about the importance of organising your work so that it is easy to find pieces and find sections of your work. He also made a point about not letting the design role be a straight jacket for your idea and don’t shy away from certain ideas. He then talked about working hard and maximising opportunities and go through doors as they open as they lead to other open doors.
After that he went on about advancing in your career and in this he once again emphasised the importance of trusting your intuition. After that he said never stop being a student always prepare to learn new things and new techniques to try and experiment with. Another piece of advice was that real world experience is the best and biggest life skills that you can achieve.
Then inspiration, so to think about the qualities and values that we have and the things that we aspire to and let them influence our work as it adds real passion it. We also talked about the importance of reflection on our work and not to regret it as at worst it is a learning experience, as bad projects gives us an insight of what we do that we shouldn’t do and to avoid it in the future. This lead onto the fact we shouldn’t forget bad ideas and as we can look back and reuse them and they can teach us things about what we did that was wrong.
He also talked about the three steps of a story, step one, set up a situation, step two, is to complicate the situation and then, step three, resolve the situation.
Finally in animation he told us to let animation read and you don’t need complex faces as they might not read. To let an animation read let expressions and actions take time.
A Film editors story
This was presented by Peter Hollywood a freelance film editor, who talked about his work and the history of film and how editing used to be done. He talked about his experience editing the casting for the new James Bond and the different challenges that he has faced in his long career. He showed us a piece that he edited from the film The Adventure of Baron Munchausen and he talked about the difficulties in filming and editing the piece. When talking about the old film he talked about how it was done about splicing the film and sticking the pieces together. He even showed us a movie reel of a film that he had edited and pulled some out as he showed us the frames on the reel.
Ian MacKinnon is a co founder of the company MacKinnon and Saunders which is a company that builds puppets for stop motion movies and TV shows like Bob the Builder and Pingo and movies made by film maker, Tim Burton. He showed us some examples of the work that they have done includes a few clips of animations. He then went on to talk about his route into the animation industry and how the film ‘The Sandman’ made a big impact in his career. This was important to know that one film can make a big impact on our career. He talked about ways we can get into the industry through work experience and internships, and the fact that show reels are important in the process. We need to keep our show reels short and show off our very best work. He also talked about the importance of persistence, so send out emails and letters and show reels to companies so that we get ourselves known in the industry. When contacting companies get to know the company make it personal to them and talk about their work as it makes them realise that you admire and like their work. This was useful as it pushed me to contact firms in America about possible visits and it helped me understand how to make contact. Just after I got a guaranteed visit to a company called Charlex, which will be a massive boost to my career. I will also use the advice to contact other companies in America to guarantee more visits, this will ensure I have my foot in the door in a couple of animation companies in New York and other places in America.
A 3D career in AR
In this talk we heard from Matt Dewdney who has worked for companies like Zapper and Aurasma. He worked on Despicable Me and Pirates of the Caribbean augmented reality and he showed us some of his work on his Ipad which was good. He talked about the process of lowering polygons on the projects, he also talked about the uncertainty the industry brings because permanent workers are a rarity even for the big companies like EA. Companies focus on freelancers and the fact that you go from company to company.
Creating visual concepts for music videos
This was a video conference that took place in which a British born producer talked about his experiences in the music video industry. It was interesting to listen to how he entered the industry and the things that he had done and seen whilst working and the people that he had met. Overall this was helpful as we are making a music video for university which meant the tips that he gave could be used to make better projects for our university work. The overall message was that the budget wasn’t the defining factor when making a music video it was the story, the shots and the way the visuals go with the audio.
An unlikely career in Animation
The talker was called Owen Stickler and he worked for A&O Studios, the talk was about the animation industry and ways into the industry mainly TV shows and children programming. He then talked about presenting ideas to directors and the importance of researching directors so you know what they’re looking for and the best way to present your ideas to them to give you that advantage against others presenting the ideas. He talked about how money isn’t made in making the TCV show the money is in the merchandise that you can spin off from it and that is what you need to think about when making a TV show it is not the show but the merchandise that you can spin off from it. He advised us to go to the children’s media conference as it is an excellent place to meet people in the industry and to meet directors of major TV networks and to get the foot in the door. He also told us never miss out on a contact because you never know when it will come in handy or when you can use it to get an idea through or get a job. Advised to make likable characters, make them simple so they are easy to turn into merchandise.
Career in design (Dave Boydell)
He mainly works in the game industry and he used the software Flash and Unity in making the games. He talked about bad experience he has had with companies and good experience he has had on work experience and internships. In work experience Internships don’t worry about money the contact and the experience is more important than the money as it may lead to much bigger things like a permanent job.
The Accidental photographer
This was an unexpected talk as I expected it to be about a photographer but it was actually about setting up a company and expanding the company. The speaker gave us his story and how he became an entrepreneur which started by selling things on the market. He then talked about the opportunities that are available to use when going it alone and the course that he runs to teach people about business and markets. He also told us about the financial help that is out there, like a £800 grant from the government if you are between the ages of 18 and 26. He told us about the different ways we can get into business so, for example, selling things at the market or setting up a production company. I found the talk to be inspiring and educational because he told us about his story which was inspiring and when he amazed me by telling me about all the opportunities that are out there if I want to set up my own company and the many different approaches that I will be able to take. I will think about doing the course on setting up my own business, as this might be a good plan B for me. I was inspired to think more about merchandising and creating my own design.
Overall there was a lot of useful advice in Creative Futures about getting into the animation industry and what the industry was like. It was also good to see people that had been so successful in the industry, a good example is Ian McKinnon in as he had done and achieved so much in his work and his company had been part of so many massive and popular projects. The reoccurring theme in this was persistence in the industry and work hard to get your foot in the door, send off a lot of emails to companies and get internships and work experience.
At Blue Zoo we had a talk about the company and were told about projects the company has done and is currently doing, this was interesting as we were being told a history of the company. We were also told about how the company started and the way the founders got into the industry, and how the company secured their first projects and how they made a name for themselves in the industry. They talked about the work they do with the BBC and Cbeebies channels and that they vary from doing short films to children’s programming and advertising. They told us about how the company works and funds itself and how they develop new techniques to make sure that they are constantly improving their work. We then went for a walk around the studio and in doing this we saw the way the studios work, we saw the animation section and how the places were set out. In the tour we saw someone working on the layout of a Lego short and a couple of people experimenting with fur and metamorphosis on Maya. As a computer animator I found this extremely fascinating. On the second floor we were shown the render farm which is one room filled with a massive computer that does nothing but render the scenes which was something that I had heard of before London but seeing it was still a surprise on how big it was. There were also people animating characters for a new film that the company was working on. On the third floor we saw people working on lighting, composition and editing, they had to work in a dark space so that they can see the colours perfectly. We went back down to the conference room and we were told about how they mainly hire freelance people and only have around ten to twelve permanent staff members. I then got to ask questions and in this we learnt about how to go in for internships and how to get our foot in the door of animation firms. This trip was a great start to the London experience as it was everything that I could have hoped for as I am a computer animator and I love the styles that Blue Zoo have experimented with.
Artem specialises in set design and set building, They have built a mechanical Churchill for the car insurance advert for Churchill Insurance. They have also done work for the Olympics opening ceremony as they built the beds and the giant Voldermort puppet. We started by having a brief talk on what they did and this didn’t last very long. We went for a tour of the studio we first saw someone modelling a bird’s head for an advert in which a bird has to regurgitate some food. We then went to where they store all their special effects equipment, like snow and rain machines and mist creators. After that we went to where they keep their gigantic robotic arm that cuts materials into specific shapes we saw a polystyrene tree stump that it had cut. We then went outside to see a sleigh they had built for an upcoming Christmas movie. We saw the 3D printer and the things the 3D printer had made. The 3D printer was really starting to change how sets are built. After that we went up stairs to a conference room to ask questions and there we were told a few ways to get into the industry and how they personally got into the industry.
This was a disappointing trip as it was only a tiny studio and we saw the work but didn’t learn much about how the industry works. We watched the animatic of the Christmas special they were working on at the studio for the BBC. We also saw the characters in the software cel-action which was good. We were told about the styles and techniques that they use for their animations. The studio was empty as they hadn’t got their freelance animators in, as they had only finished the storyboard and they were still building their characters and rigging them appropriately. They talked about 2D animation prospects and the way the computer is used in the 2D process and that in today’s industry you have to accept the computer as part of the process because it makes it cheaper and quicker and gives a better final quality.
Studio AKA is a computer animation company that makes short films and adverts, they have made adverts like the Lloyds TSB advert. We went into a conference room and a man called Ren gave us a presentation on the work of the studio. He also showed us the different stages of production for the pieces. One of the projects we got to see was a piece for the Vancouver Winter Olympics which was good to see it come from a storyboard into a 3D and the final render. We saw the development work they do and we got to see experiments with fur and particles for feathers and the cloth of the beds which was interesting to see the process in which the particles are created and achieved. We then talked about the work force and like Blue Zoo they only hire around ten to twelve permanent staff members because they bring in most of the employees as freelancers. He also talked about the ways into the industry like internships at companies and runner jobs. He talked about how the company get projects and how they have to go through pitching They to pitch ideas and other companies pitch their ideas and then the decision is made on whether or not they get the job. We also discussed ways how to make ourselves stand out in a show reel and improve our applications. The advice they was to keep them short but make them unique and different as they will stand out. For the show reel they said turn off the sound and watch it so you concentrate on the animation.
This was a great visit as we saw them make the new animated Mr Bean episodes and we saw it go through the process of production. We started by going into a small room where we were told what projects they have created and are currently creating, and after that we went to see the projects being animated. They used the software Cel Action, and there were people building sets and props for new episodes, and then we saw the animators animating some of the scenes. We then went into a conference room to watch an animatic of a new episode which took Mr Bean into a carnival. We also were shown all the different sides that have been built for Mr Bean and the different mouth shapes that the character has. It was enjoyable to see something so well known and popular being made in front of us. We saw the process of making a Mr Bean episode and the attention to detail needed even in 2D animation was a surprise to me. 50 drawings of Mr Bean worked as a 360 degree so that he can turn and they also needed hundreds of mouth shapes.
Here they made adverts and short films. They seemed to be similar to Blue Zoo and Studio AKA but they played around with different techniques and styles of animation. We started by viewing some of their work which included a film from BAF called In The Air With Christopher Grey which was good as it was a film that I particularly enjoyed. We then went for a tour where we saw the different stages of production. The studio was a lot smaller and more compact than the other studio. It wasn’t as big but they did have a greater variety of software that they were using because they were a lot more experimental. We were also shown a test they were currently doing which was a film that you could interact with and it included a doll house and projectors. This company was interesting to visit because of the variety that they have in production and projects they have completed. They worked in 2D animation, 3D animation and stop motion so there was a great variety with in the studio.
Overall London was a great experience and it was essential I believe in getting our portfolios together for when we leave university. It was good as we were given advice about getting our foot in the door of the industry I will be going to a couple of companies in New York over the summer whilst I am doing Camp America. It also helped me, and gave me confidence about those trips I have organised as it made me realise that the people in the industry are just like me and were all students that needed that break and chance to get into the industry. I also know what sort of things to ask and how to approach the people when I go there and how to introduce myself.
Official selection: Professional one
Professional one is a showing of professional short films up for the BAF award for best professional short film at BAF. There were a couple of films that I enjoyed and found quite inspiring. A film that I found to be useful in this category was In The Air with Christopher Gray. The Story was very clear and told in an effective way. The technique to use very simplistic figures almost like stick figures as characters was very clever and effective. There was humour involved in the film and it was a popular film that went onto win in the professional category. There were also films that I didn’t like, Canis was a short that I found to be long and boring with a style that was very hard to watch. I deemed it to be aimed at a very specific audience that I didn’t fit into which is probably why I didn’t like it.
Overall this was a good event to go to because it offered me a good insight of what to aim for. I am a big fan of computer animation and the film In The Air offered me a new look to experiment with. I can also learn from the films I didn’t like I looked at them to note what it is I didn’t like and I can make sure that I don’t do that in the films that I make.
Official selection: Student one
Student one was different as there weren’t films that I liked and films I hated there were parts of each film that I loved and parts that I hated. The winner was The Dewberry Empire it was a film with good story and high quality detail with excellent characters. But I didn’t like the way they animated it as there was a very low frames per second rate which made it more like a comic book sequence rather than an animation. The film When One Stops which was hand drawn is an interesting story line about looking at how the world keeps on moving even when you stop everyone else keeps going. This was very good to look at as it showed that there can be a story in everything and there are so many ways you can go about it.
The other films were very odd and out there in either technique or story a good example of an odd story is The Bungled Child which is about twins that end up getting killed. Then The Carousel Family film was strange in story which was about a family that lived on a merry go round and wore horse heads for hats.
Dave McKean master class
The Dave McKean talk was helpful because he talked about his career and the projects that he has done and projects that he is currently working on. He was talking about the project he did in Port Talbot with the actor Michael Sheen and he showed us his work from all aspects of the entertainment industry, He talked about his illustration, Directing and animation work.
Overall it was a good talk about the industry in general and he shows that you don’t have to stay in one section of the industry. But there wasn’t as much on his work in film as I would have liked as he talked a lot about his illustration work and the work he has done which was print based.
Official selection: Music videos & commercials
There was a huge selection of films in this category, There were some music videos that I thought were great but also some that I thought were terrible. The Staves was an animation in computer but made to look like cardboard stop motion and that was visually impressive and very well thought threw. Even the sets were made to look like it was stop motion but it has that clean look of a CGI film. Another film that did this was The Lion which was a 2D computer animation that was made to look like it was a stop motion with cardboard. Fight for everyone caught the mood brilliantly and it kept a quick pace and it held its them the 2D computer animation also worked very well overall a solid film. Then there was Autour De Lac which was hand drawn music video that I thought was poor and the style was not appealing to me and it will be something that I would try to avoid in my work now I am aware of it.
The commercials were visually impressive and many of them were very humorous the advert Dumb Ways To Die was probably one of the most memorable adverts I’ve seen and if I were to make an advert I would go back and look at what makes this advert so successful in my eyes and why it is so memorable. Trash formation has the computer animation effect that I do like because it looks like the world is made of paper and it is highly detailed I that effect. The Lonely Dodo advert was a story about the last Dodo on earth looking for a friend and it is a funny and moving advert and it is one of the only commercials that I connected with the characters.
Official selection: Professional Three
Two films that stuck out for me in this was Marilyn Myller a stop motion that seem to be completely different in theme, style and story to what I would usually watch but I still enjoyed it greatly. Then Mr Hublot a computer animation short film which means that it used my favourite technique and the story was very engaging and it was humorous and emotionally engaging and the character was very charismatic and likable.
Official selection: Films for children
Room on the Broom was a computer animation about a witch that picks up animals and that need help even though her dog objects. It has some big named actors in the film which include Simon Pegg, Martin Clunes, David Walliams and Rob Brydon. Another clever animation was The Smortlybacks which I found to be a clever story about a bunch of clueless animals that follow each other.
Six degrees of Bob Godfrey
This was a big disappointment because when I went to this talk I was expecting a talk about animation and the different techniques and works that Bob Godfrey did. But it was more like the people on the stage were having a conversation and we were just listening to it, I didn’t find it very relevant to animation because they were talking about unrelated topics.
Michaela Paylatova Master class
This talk was a lot more focused on animation but it was based on the eastern European style of animation, But she talked about how she went to the USA and the style of animation changed and you can see that in the work that she showed. The way that she had to change her style was interesting because it shows the difference between eastern animation and western animation and the styles and of course the way there made, The western styles were a lot more technical and pushed what can be visually achieved.
Official selection: Professional two
There was only one film that stuck out in this screening and that was women’s letters it was an interesting way to use stop motion animation. It was about a nurse on the battlefields of world war one helping injured men and patching their wounds up with love letters from home. Everything was made of paper so it was using the style to directly help the story. I have never seen anything like this short film it was a new experience, style and story to me and it was unexpected. The rest of the films really didn’t stick out to me as influential or impressive.
Lifetime achievement award MacKinnon & Saunders
This was a talk which focused on the models that MacKinnon & Saunders made this was extremely interesting. They made many models for some very big films like Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride and Fantastic Mr Fox. They talked about how they build their models and the materials that they use for their human models. They talked about the armatures that they use for the bones to keep it all together and for it to move. They told us about who their contacts are and how they got them one of their main contacts is the film maker Tim Burton.
This movie was enjoyable especially after the talk from the MacKinnon and Saunders model makers. I saw it and I must say that it isn’t something that would influence me because it is a style that I am not a huge fan off, It came off as a bit of a gothic style to it like most of Tim Burtons work.
Adam Elliot in conversation with Barry Purves
The talk from Adam Elliot was good because he was talking about how he got to the industry and about his first animation work. He told us how he started doing other things before he got to animation and then how he found his style and theme for his work. He was talking about how he got his story’s from real life and how his family have been present in his story telling.
Overall Bradford had good moments and some bad moments , The most disappointing event in Bradford was the Bob Godfrey talk as it was completely off topic and the most irrelevant part of the event. The best part of Bradford was the MacKinnon & Saunders talk as they really went into what they do, how they do it and how they ended up were they were doing what they do. The films offered a lot as there were some horrible films that I learnt from as to what I want to avoid doing, and there were some great films that I really enjoyed and I can use them as influences and I can look at why I liked them so much and hopefully learn from it to improve my own work.