Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Episode XI

So July has been a month of good news and countless propositions for me. Some have been honourable with a multitude of career prospects, whilst some have a more personal touch and giving me titles such as The Godfather and 'that guy who filmed our wedding'. Either way, even without getting the job down in Kent for the Animate and Create Studios, I deem it a productive month for networking and getting that little bit closer to freelancing glory. I shall talk about the interview later, however, because I have an incredible announcement to make. I was told by The Man not to promote this until the 23rd July, which has obviously been and gone, but I have literally just this moment uncovered the online festival programme with the line-up so I have no qualms whatsoever in confirming that The Money Tree animated film has been accepted into the Bristol Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival

Yes, the final major project I was involved in (alongside three of my esteemed animator colleagues) has been chosen for this international competition after I thought it would be a sin to not even submit it. I hadn't watched The Money Tree for many months and upon revisiting Barney and his abnormally colossus woodland friends I was still grinning in admiration at our work. 

Inserting this image somehow makes it feel official

The festival opens near the end of September (18th-23rd) and I shall most definitely be attending. I was planning on going beforehand and now I guess I would be a fool indeed to not go at all. If you are having difficulty in believing that our film has been entered then this link HERE will take you to the listings for this years line up (permission to feel smug?). 

So that is the ultimate news I have to offer from this blog entry. I am afraid that everything else will be overshadowed by the opening two paragraphs, so feel free to retire after I finish this sentance; unless I decide to keep writing (I could do this but I am prone to good grammer). Damn it. 

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The video above is an exclusive preview of my next animation which does in fact involve Barney, the star of The Money Tree. There is no sound, but at this stage I just wanted to get some feedback possibly? I got some fantastic advice from Barry Purves on how to prevent the puppet from leaning forward too much during a walk cycle, as this is a constant problem with self built wire armatures. I have unfortunately (and most annoyingly) lost my Animation Supplies standard armature, which would normally cost £79.99 but we were given one from Staffordshire University for free. Constructing your own armature has many benefits, most of which concerns the scale of your production (sets, props etc) but to have a stronger one with actual joints very rarely gives you any hassle when animating a walk cycle. Barney has actually been a very sound puppet to work with. His detachable head (with removable mouth pieces) is still in great condition and I have only needed to make one extra set of hands during the 18 months of his existence. Although I must confess; the wire armature you see in the sequence above is actually that of George the Knight, minus his bulbous head. 

My animation table is set up once again, alongside some humble lighting and new 'office suite' for our hero Barney.




So I mentioned earlier about this month being filled with 'propositions' or opportunities perhaps. I have been talking to multi-award winning animator Drew Roper and have been invited to visit his studios in Birmingham. Not only that, there is also a chance to become part of a work experience programme that he is running in August, which is bloody soon, so I shall have to keep my eyes open on that one. 

Another recent proposition was only today, when I received a phone call off Daniel Waterman (director for animation production company Carse & Waterman). He asked if I wanted to help with their animated music video for the new single by British pop artist Mr Hudson. I have to admit that I struggled to acknowledge the name but I understand that he has worked with Jay-Z and is in fact signed up to rapper/producer Kanye West. To be involved in something like this would really be something spectacular, so I should hopefully be meeting with Dan this Thursday in London for a chat and model making session. 

I have also been asked by my (ex) boss to return to the College for work. However, not as the undeclared title of dinner man, but with the more respectable role of 'hospitality agent'. My friends have assured me that such a title only exists to lure me back (knowing full well that I would be enticed by the title 'agent'). What can I say? these dinner ladies know me!


As you can see, my sculpt of Danny from The Bash Street Kids has been completed and mounted. I have to say at this point that charity shops are ideal for shiny wooden bowls or boxes, which can then be turned into stands for such models as this. I managed to finish painting him the day before my interview at Animate and Create Studios in Kent, as I had decided to take this sculpt, as well as Fender and Leonardo, with me to hopefully impress the panel. So with them carefully boxed up I ventured off down the long road to the coastal town of Whitstable.




The interview was in two parts. An official talk with the panel from the studio (of whom I recognised from the website after my thorough research of the company) and a 45 minute animation test with two characters they chose. The questioning I got from the panel was rather hard work to answer, as I had not been in an interview situation for over three, perhaps even four years. I had a suit on and I was sweating buckets. How embarrassing. They were impressed with my plans of moving to Bristol (as part of my five-year-plan) and my obsession with sending my show reels to California, as it seems to be one of the bustling places to be for budding young animators. 

I wish I had recorded the animation I did with their armatures. I left my mobile phone in the car to prevent any likelihood of an untimely phone call during the interview. But that aside, I managed to create a 5 second long animation within the time frame and still had time to role my sleeves back down and do my tie up again. I played it back for the panel a few times and they seemed to really enjoy it. 

But alas, I did not get the job. I did however reach the final 6 out of 70 applicants and therefore have been proposed (such an over used word in this post!) to being a freelance animator for their studio. This may not be an immediate or official position but I shall definitely be informed of any projects that could need an extra pair of hands to help.




Upon recieving the email confirming that I would not be joining the team, I decided to double my efforts with other animation studios and send out more of my CVD show-reels. The video above is a new addition to the DVD: it is a slideshow of my illustrations, sculpts and other pieces that are not part of an animation, but I wanted to show the studio. It captures that classic blend of images fading in and out, with hand picked royalty free music playing merrily in the background. I do hope you enjoy it. 

I have recently added a few more pictures and projects to my Tumblr account, as it seemed a little forlorn and weary due to the lack of attention I was giving it. I quickly apologised and now, like my LinkedIn account, it is back on track for thorough online networking. For a look at some more of my work just in pictures (as oppose to reading through these exceptionally long blog entries) then follow the link HERE. If you would prefer a slightly more professional online connection to me then follow my LinkedIn and I promise I will be sensible. 

Part of my Hobbit range of illustrations, of which can be found on my tumblr profile on the page 'out of this world'.

And finally I shall leave you with three more images to peruse upon. They make up a three page storyboard that I sketched out a couple of weeks ago. It could be an animation in the making, but it really is only a short and sweet idea involving some adorable little kamikaze birds. The idea was to capture that moment, before and after, when a bird decides that it needs to fly across the road and only when you are moments away from hitting it. I would really appreciate some feedback because I never really know whether these ideas are  good or whether they have the humour I was trying to portray. 





They are three very psychotic birds; but they need to be due to the circumstances. I really wanted to exaggerate the facial expressions to the point of being abnormal. I am already sculpting Pete from the 'breathes heavily' scene because I just love the determination on his little face as he builds himself up to dive off the branch. 

Anyway, after such a vast collection of stories and media I shall sign off now and leave you guys to mull over this calm and substantially normal Tuesday evening. Yes, I am actually a Godfather to my best friend's baby Mila Rose. Or rather The Godfather (I do love adding titles to my ever growing fantasy CV, which also includes Bachelor of the Arts and Jedi ). And yes, I am filming the wedding of my good friend Steve. Good luck mate!

And finally, go and watch The Dark Knight Rises. I am still on a cinematic high due to the awesometacular finale of what is, without doubt, the best comic book trilogy ever made. Unless The Avengers can top it? We'll see...



Thursday, 5 July 2012

Episode X

As I write this new entry I have actually lost all energy in physical form, however, my strong will to do something productive has prevailed. I have left my job as a catering assistant at Princethorpe College and just returned from an intense seven day drinking excursion to the cultural and peaceful coastal village of Ayia Napa, therefore, this day signifies the new adventures of Tom's Thumb.

In between recovering by the pool and having yet another McDonalds meal (it truly was one of the most unhealthiest weeks of my life; I loved it!) I somehow mustered myself to reach the reception and make full use of the Internet. I logged onto my Hotmail account. I discovered an email from a Dan Richards. The name didn't originally ring any bells but as I opened it and read through, it all became clear...

I finally have an interview for an animation based job!!!



I had applied for the role of stop motion animator and workshop leader in the Animate and Create Studios based in Whitstable, Kent (their show-reel is above if you would like to take a gander). Although I enjoy my optimistic outlook on life I still have a rational side that will accept failures; this essentially means that even though I am tremendously excited about this opportunity, I am not going to be disappointed if I fail to get the job. I have been very patient throughout this year prior to graduation and will keep plodding on if this doesn't work out. 

On the positive side of things, I do think I am ideal for the job. This is the brief criteria from the site:

JOB DESCRIPTION
Successful applicants will have experience in stop motion animation, will be confident in working with young people and adults to provide a great animation experience for workshops. We’re looking for a creative and enthusiastic multiskiller who can undertake a range of roles at Animate & Create and will be a team player who enjoys working as part of a growing team.

So fingers crossed on that one! I am slightly nervous, even now, because I don't think I have ever been for an official 'job' interview that could fundamentally be the doorway to my career. Previous job titles have been the following:

Go Kart Marshall and Supervisor
Catering and Hospitality Assistant (aka Dinner-man)
Barman and Cook (in several different establishments)
Landscape Gardener
School Cleaner (not a janitor) 
Car Park Attendant
Paperboy 
Data Input Drone for a Design and Technology Organistation
Archive Organiser (I'm pretty sure I am making these titles up)
And a semi professional Wall Painter (for more information, great new deals or a 'Mural Quote' check out our Facebook homepage http://www.facebook.com/wallpaintuk)
I am also a freelance Stop Motion Animator with no clients apart from George the Knight. He is a drunk. 

As you can see, the list is quite irresolute and far from the design I would have planned if I was not a haphazard and creative person. But from my understandings, it is far better to have one life goal and aim for it and put up with all the shit in the middle than accept the destiny society has slotted you into. This is not a conformist speech, but it just makes more sense (to me, at least) to have that one little hope and passion. And for the record, when I say all the 'shit' in the middle I don't think I could honestly mean that in a negative sense. Marshalling a go kart track, cooking food in a country pub, using outrageously large machinery to mop a floor with your friends and even making jellies in a school cafeteria IS THE SHIT.


Danny from the Bash Street Kids


Without getting too deep in philosophical tomfoolery I shall turn to my most recent sculpture of Danny from the Beano's 'Bash Street Kids' comic book. Having a week off has certainly scrambled my artistic mind, so hopefully I can get cracking on with this model shortly. I really ought to be preparing myself for the interview; blimey do I need a suit? It's for an animating studio, surely they don't wear suits?!

And finally, just to show that I am still being creative amongst the drunken slur of weekends and holidays, I have got a clip from the music video I am currently filming and editing alongside my brother. Now, I am not sure whether I can do this, but it is only a small clip and shouldn't ruin the sanctity of their new single. And besides, who the bloody hell reads my blog anyway?!


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