Sunday, 21 September 2014

Episode (from bed)


This blog post is dedicated to all the brave souls who have succumbed to the tyranny of flu (non- gender specific). For I have become a bed ridden blancmange and therefore missed vital studio time where I have been practicing the art of silicone moulding. But we are not here to wallow in my snotty pit of carcoon, as I have been inspired to divulge into the world of stop motion after recently watching an episode of the 1984 animated series of The Wind in the Willows. This was, of course, when Cosgrove Hall was in it's prime. But despite the closure of this legendary studio, the area surrounding this part of Manchester is still teaming with animated life; a new hope to young graduates.

I have had the privilege of meeting and becoming acquainted with Barry Purves, director of The Wind in the Willows, so it's quite a different experience when watching these animations again because they feel even more personal (due to my career choice). I know about the lengthy process behind the character development, from concept to puppet; I know about set construction and how to make props; I've been behind the scenes! So the experience of viewing my childhood films and TV shows is somewhat enhanced. It feels like it was all amounting to something greater, as oppose to simply watching them because I was a child.





Upon recovery I was perusing the tube of You and discovered a few little gems. It turns out that there are hours upon hours of Disney and Warner Brothers classic cartoons online... for free! I know it's frowned upon to stream or download, but when it's given to you on a silver platter then you have got a fine day of viewing ahead of you my friend. And these short episodes are exactly the 'research' us budding animators should be referring to anyway, so it's actually considered homework in my eyes.


I also watched an award winning stop motion film by Cosgrove Hall called The Fool of the World and the flying ship. Perhaps a little trigger happy on the wording there, but it was pretty awesome to see some more of the legendary animation created within their studio. In fact, I am going to dedicate this blog post not only to the sick and the poorly, but also to classic childhood animation! (particularly those who were born in the 80s, the 80s).



This is only part one of six I think... so get a playlist going!


As it usually takes me a while to write these posts, I am actually feeling much better now. I have been out of bed and frequently walking to the garden and back *smug face*. Yet I still had time to continue my journey and uncover more of these animations I watched when I was yay-high*

*made up measurement tom uses to describe his height when he was younger

So I began looking at the other stop motion shows I watched, such as Camperwick Green and Trumpton. Overly excited I became. Nostalgic and wide eyed I was. For the casual onlooker I was clearly on drugs.




And, of course, when I was introduced to Star Wars I was absolutely blown away with the animation of the Imperial Walkers (AT-AT and AT-ST), although at the time I had no knowledge of the concept of 'stop motion'. I wish that I could remember what was going through my head upon first experiencing the battle of Hoth or how the AT-ST Walkers reacted to the incoming logs that ultimately became their downfall. Such genius in animation!




And the search just got more and more thrilling...or hilarious!










You all get the gist. 80s and 90s for stop motion was really quite something. But then every decade has had revolutionary animation, dating back to the 30s and 40s with Willis O'Brien, the 50s and 60s with Ray Harryhausen and the 70s when Aardman Animations was founded. Obviously there are many more animators; honorable mentions to the Brothers Quay, Jan Svankmajer and of course Mackinnon & Saunders. I'd probably get my arms ripped out of their sockets by a wookie if I didn't mention Factory TM , the studio behind the upcoming reboot of the Clangers. Good grief and what about smaller studios like Yaminations?! We made the Cravendale advert! Yes, stop motion is certainly a niche industry, but people like us will make damn sure the next decade continues to be fully animated. Fuck yeah.

I'm actually feeling much better now and have made a full recovery (this is 3 days prior to my initial sick day). So much so, that I thought I would share a video portraying my short acting career during my University days. You see, normally I wouldn't share this. But I'm a good mood. It is called Stoke Force and I stumbled upon it again whilst I was high on Tesco brand cough medicine. Enjoy.




If you're lucky and tell me beautiful things, 
then episode two will follow.



Monday, 1 September 2014

Episode V

In the words of Samwise Gamgee, well, I'm back


Yes, and a very jovial greetings to all bloggers and bloggees. I have returned from the continent of South America with many tales from afar, all of which shall be generously condensed into a collection of photographs and 'witty' one liners. Please don't think that I am hoodwinking you folks with an abrupt album - I am only showing you a small portion because, after all, this is an animation blog. And boy do I have news on the animation front. 

But it has indeed been a long while since my last blog post, and for that I apologize. Even with the surprisingly regular access to WiFi, more so than places in Europe, (not to give South America a stereo-typically third world slap in the face, but, you know) it didn't feel quite right to write a blog when Machu Picchu was over there. So I shall use this post to get back into the swing of writing things.

Unfortunately, there were a few floaters.

This was actually a very steep
hill. A backpackers nightmare!

Getting lost on an island. I see potential for a TV series!

It's huge! Buenos Aires is pretty
big as well.  

I found these guys after being legless
the night before.

Old Lima was looking very grand. 

Cusco in Peru really shone for us.

Due to laziness, we arranged this cardboard
cut-out to be taken to the summit.

Nothing like messing about on the river.

'What do they have in there.. King Kong?'

Upon my return to the UK I knew I had very little time to set a financial stability that would keep my credit rating at good grief and not WTF?. I applied to whatever money making scheme I could find and it whittled down to three local jobs that could help me get back on my feet; a sandwich delivery boy, waiter or an ice cream man. As you may well guess, I simply must work with food if it's not art related. 

But as I finished my first shift, which comprised of Steve driving me around Coventry, teaching me how to talk (with supposed panache) to people and enlightening them in the ways of sandwich service, I received a call off Barbara from the Factory Transmedia Studios. There was work for me! This was such a lifeline, especially due to my worry that the studio may have others involved with the current projects. 

I have been working on the new production Scream Street of which I'm very excited about. The style and colours are very vibrant and I've been given some pretty cool things to make for the sets. I obviously can't reveal much (but are you surprised?!). So essentially that was the big piece of animation related news... and I can't tell you anything about it! But I shall indulge briefly on what this means for me as a freelance model maker. This may help you, or it may not; or it might begin to help you before getting suddenly distracted by

THIS PICTURE OF A LLAMA


Becoming self employed is something that has always daunted me, but equally intrigued me. It may be down to Hollywood's funny, bumbling and lovable perception on the regular self employed person; they're the underdog in many cases, and yet we all want to root for them because they're so bloody nice. I always think of Roger from Disney's 101 Dalmatians and how happy he is with what he does. He has a beautiful wife (albeit a 2D character), a lovely house and a job that he adores. I wanted to be Roger! And I think that after I graduated from University, my confidence was knocked slightly because of the reality of the big wide world once you leave the bubble of education (as my tutor Laura Weston puts it). Because it is daunting and hard work, and it takes time to establish yourself as an artist. This is why I was so hesitant in becoming self employed in the first place, simply because I was afraid of failure. Failure of putting all my faith into one line of work and knowing that I'd need to earn 'x' amount to earn a living. I didn't have a backup plan; unless it was to remain in the catering industry with my bad ass crew of dinner-ladies. 

I knew from the start that this line of work wouldn't grant me riches, yet this wouldn't phase me and still hasn't done so. I'm not materialistic, at least for nothing more than the materials I need to make a model. So having this sense of utter faith and confidence in my trade, regardless of money, is quite freaking awesome. I literally had no idea when and where I would be working upon returning from my South American travels. Now some might find this endearing...others, absolutely stupid. I reckon you need to be stupid to be endearing. Enter Tommy Grainger.






Are you having trouble sticking polystyrene together? Of course you are, who isn't? Well I have a fine
solution for you. Expanding foam (found in any half decent hardware store) works a treat 
and will hold blocks of polystyrene together with incredible strength. DANGER! You must wear
gloves because this stuff is very irritable and near impossible to get off your skin. Apply with ease.



Water colour  painting of Tatooine. More fantasy-
based landscapes on the way!


Whilst working at Factory TM for the past few weeks (yes, this blog post consists of past, present and future tense due to how long it takes to write the darn thing) I bumped into one of the recently graduated Staffordshire University students, or Stafflings, as I so frequently call them. This was Rob Millard. I had already spoken to Rob (prior to this pleasant meeting) via Twitter and also when I returned to the University to perform my homemade lecture on 'life after Uni'. I hadn't actually known Rob was in the crowd but I was very honored that he was, for he is a delightful chap. We had a fine ol' chat about animation at Staffs Uni and how it had progressed from when I had attended the course to now. It was great to hear that Laura Weston and Daryl Marsh were still holding the fort and getting these young whipper-snappers to burst their university bubble in preparation for the wide world. 

I have recently watched Rob's final major project and thought it was absolutely bloody marvelous. He mentioned his music video when I met him at the studio, and how many requests he's getting to animate more music videos; and to be frank Rob... I don't blame them! And I don't even know who Frank is! Anyway, here is the video [track - Frank Turner 'We Shall Not Overcome']. You stay classy bloggers. 




Friday, 30 May 2014

Episode IV



Good day to you all. I am very rushed to get this blog post out, as I am departing for South America very soon. I have been winding down with work and the studio. I've practically ended my rein at the College, which means, alas, no more animation club for the students. But more importantly, I am free of the catering side of things (although, just wait and see... I'll most likely end up working there again!). 

So I think the Yamination Studio and all of its members have pummelled out the new Cravendale advert as much as possible, however, there is more! With Drew filming as much of the production process as possible, it was all compiled together to create a very nice 'making of' video. So take a look see above.


Getting some lovely publicity here...

For the full article please click HERE


Two new characters I've painted, for some short and
rather sarcastic adventures. 




I may have mentioned the Coca Cola advert some time ago, but only now has it been released onto the web in its full glory. The buildings on the street were originally all made out of MDF with moulded (fast cast) arches, window frames, brickwork and roof décor, but it seems as though there might be some elements of CGI texture over the top. Not that it takes away the fact that our studio built the Building, but it is a shame that there's little proof of our carpentry. I showed this advert to a dear friend of mine and he would have assumed it all to be CG if I hadn't convinced him otherwise. 

So that's two lovely (and recognisably popular) adverts under the belt for Yamination Studios and I am very proud to be a part of the team. Now, as I still haven't properly packed my bag, I suppose I'd ought to pair up my socks and stuff them into my boots. Adiós amigos. 





Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Episode III

I have managed to do something rather foolish in the past fortnight. Upon one of my cycling adventures I unfortunately, perhaps due to a lapse in concentration, lost control and ended up crumpled on the tarmac before me. Now, I do get distracted on a monumental level, but I managed to instinctively focus enough to land on my left arm. Alas, it is now fractured and it took me a good twenty minutes to write this bloody paragraph!
 
So I don't really have an awful lot to report. I haven't been able to work and have been advised to keep my [left] arm in this sling for another two weeks at least... and to avoid using it at all for a further month. This is very frustrating.
 
Throughout my boredom I have managed to watch some movies that I'd not yet seen; including Tangled, Wayne's World 2, After Earth (meh), the Alan Partridge [Alpha Papa] film, Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Mary Poppins (I know, I'm a bad man for not seeing these!), World War Z, Office Space, Lawless and Mighty Ducks 3. Quite a selection hey?

 
  
And whilst I've been watching these films (as well as watching The Tribe series again - whoop!) I have been drawing and painting with my good arm. And this is still rather difficult as the natural balance you have whilst putting pencil to paper has been lost. So I've gone for my water colour and fine liner style, which takes inspiration from my favourite illustrator Quentin Blake. So really, it doesn't matter too much if it's a little abstract.
 
Anyway, I was walking down the canal after my hospital visit and spotted a duck and a swan swimming together. An odd friendship, yet it was very intriguing and naturally I began to sing a theme tune for these partners in crime (of which I chose not to include this on the blog). The adventures of Duck and Swan will be something I can work on whilst I rest at home. My carpentry and model making at the studios has been put on hold; much to my frustration!
  

Great spotted Woodpecker
Goldfinch

Nuthatch
Bullfinch

Kingfisher
For some bizarre reason, this
bird remains on it's side.
What a tit!

As you can see, I got a little carried away with the theme of British birds. When I was younger I used to copy them from bird books and write a little fact file next to them - like Top Trumps - but no one at school seemed too fussed about a wren (with +5 agility) versus a magpie (with +3 panache). Oh well. I shall stick to painting them instead. They might possibly end up on the front of a card and wishing somebody a 'Happy Bird-day' (ha!).
 
 
I still remain hopeful that one of you beautiful people might be interested in purchasing ol' Wolverine here?
 
I am incredibly excited about the flurry of news concerning the upcoming Star Wars episode VII, where the bulk of the cast has been announced. Follow this link HERE for the lowdown. What was most surprising about this was the timing of the announcement. It was speculated that the cast would be revealed on 'Star Wars Day' this coming Sunday (May 4th - I'm sure you can work it out!) so with this news a little early, one might hope that something a little juicier may be released instead. Some suggest it could be the title of the episode or even perhaps a brief synopsis of the new saga.
 
Either way I am a changed man. I believe that when I first began talking about the upcoming Star Wars films on my blog I was very sceptical. Well, a year has passed and I have quashed any negative thoughts I once had. Obviously there are still worries that may arise, but for now I am content.
 
 
Phwooar look at that awesome Star Destroyer and that awesome dark Jedi forcing it down. Awesome!
The only thing I am unhappy about (so far) will be the absence of the 20th Century Fox fanfare music that blares out before a long time ago... But my plan is to take my headphones and play it just before the film begins. Good lord I'm a cunning one hey?
 
 
 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Episode Cravendale


 
Good evening guys and girls. So this is the new Cravendale advert that the Yamination team helped make, of which I was honoured to be a part of. Our involvement was the construction of the house interior (Barry's room and the kitchen), the house exterior (with the water-wheel attached on the side), the bridge and the post box.
 
This was our first project as a team that has hit the television, and I think the learning curve has been tremendous. Even though Barry rushes through the house, zipping past our hard work, you can still pause and see the detail (regardless of it not being in focus). We are incredibly proud of this and hopefully is will be a springboard for Yamination Studios and future projects.
 
A few little facts about this advert;
  • that is real milk in the lake and flowing underneath the bridge.
  • Barry is actually a puppet on strings on the close ups
  • I used to have a hair cut just like Barry's new one at the end
  • my favourite biscuit is a chocolate hobnob
  • I'm a Scorpio
  • I like bobble hats, frosty mornings and road trips