Thursday, 9 January 2014

Episode 2013


...*stretches his fingers*

It's taken me over ten days to write this blog so there may be some really hurried sections. Or some really naff sections. For this I can merely bequeath you to enjoy the photographs rather than my grumpy typing. There are sentences in past tense, present tense and stuff all over the bloody shop. It's just been all Thunderbirds are go at the studio in Birmingham.

So I have decided to summarise my 2013 year in a post with as little writing as possible and as many visual aids (stop that) as I can muster. As the new year has already begun, I shall be typing furiously to finish this post, but have immediately jeopardised this by watching the Christmas special of Father Ted.

So fifty five minutes later I can continue. It has certainly been a productive and progressive year for me within the animation industry. I have placed a hat upon my head especially to take it off again to Mr Drew Roper because without the support from him and the studio I know for a fact that I would not be at this level I am at today. I have been at Yamination Studios for close to fifteen months now and the work experience phase is certainly over because we are now taking on projects for clients and other studios. Paid work. I'm getting paid... with money!

Many of my friends might find this concept quite a novelty, especially within the line of work I have been so determined to pursue. This means that I can finally leave my job at the college and regrettably denounce my title as 'dinner man'. I will still run the animation workshops for as long as I possibly can, because after all, we do have a film to make!

So I have a new tool box, new tools and off to indulge even more... perhaps my very own hand drill? The tool box was a kingly gift from Drew and alongside our own personalised desk space it feels like our little art department is truly kitted out and pumping for 2014. We have already begun constructing the sets for this new project, which will take roughly a month to complete (painted, dressed and ready to animate upon). Our head of department Yossel has entrusted me to be the 'chippy' for a lot of the set bases and walls before they are painted and dressed with props. Supposedly the most straightforward of all tasks, it still requires millimetre precision and a keen eye. As I have the eyes of a hawk I felt quite at home.

I apologies. I was having a terribly mad hair day. But
two 45° cuts that are as flush as a tush makes up for it!

I have been getting used to the larger scale tools and machinery to cut the straightest line, such as the festool which is a rotary blade that slides along a rail to cut lengths of wood. I'm cutting 45° angle sections, using a high-pressured nail gun and becoming incredibly protective over my pencils. I think our head of department keeps thieving them. Yes Yoss, that's you!

I have also maintained a great connection with Factory TM studios in Manchester where I have worked in the art department on episodes for the CBBC television series Strange Hill High. It's always a pleasure to experience different studios, particularly in the years following graduation, so I would implore everyone to do so. Be an optimistic pest; email, call up or even turn up with a box of your things to show them what you're capable of. Make sure it's all animation related of course, not a box of socks.

Although with the excess of socks I got this year for Christmas I'd say that's a bloody good idea.

Anyway, here was my 2013...

I'm not even going to pretend to remember this month god damn it.

As you can see, this month was dominated by retro gaming upon discovery of the most amazing 80's and 90's collectable shop at the Custard Factory. They had the Ghostbuster's fire-house for goodness sake! Lucy and I also went skiing for a long weekend in Germany. We had 'snow' problem getting back on the slopes for some mighty fine slalom action.

I sculpted Jemima Puddleduck for my dearest Mother, whilst Bartholomew danced a jig for red-nose day.

I found a suitable stick for hiking with, but was soon thwarted due to scruffy lookin' obstacle.

May was a month of inventions, creations and gadgets. Unfortunately it was also a month of incredible loss upon the animation world. Stop motion legend Ray Harryhausen sadly passed away aged 92. His mythological beasts and creatures shall live on forever in the most beautifully animated films he so skilfully crafted.

I also completed my first freelanced project for a local band called 55 BPM. It was a music video made up of live action mixed with a stop motion character named Pablo.

I sported a worthy pirate hat and Drew had a cheeky little birthday party.

I triumphantly pitched a tent over in Wales whilst my animated E4 sting received over 300 views. Now that is good enough for me even if it wasn't chosen to viral-ate (made up that word) the channel. I rather think the stork needs a spin-off episode. 

I found a lesser stick but it sufficed for another Welsh expedition. I also bought tickets to take Lucy to see the Lion King Musical at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. It still absolutely blew my mind, as I'd already seen it when I was yay-high. Simply beautiful. Go and see it. Now.

I became a part time teacher! *cough* erm actually I have only been knighted with an 'educational support' title, but I am still over the bloody moon! I began an animation workshop for Princethorpe College and it's still going strong today. I also spent some time at the Factory TM studios up in Manchester where I helped on a CBBC programme called Strange Hill High. This is where I met my all time hero, who was being shipped into storage after the series ended and Pat had posted his last letter. I'm pretty certain that I'm not supposed to be showing this photograph online.

This time I sculpted a Minion. I led my first lecture to around 30-40 students (I swear they turned up eventually) and also became a caricature for the Yamination studios' kickstarter project led by Drew. I have sat myself on the top left-hand corner, wearing my bobble hat of course. I really ought to wash it soon.

Me and Lucy were in Croatia for my birthday, so this event sort of strays across the borders of October and November. Either way it was surprisingly hot for this time of year. The Coca Cola can represents the first official job that the studio took on; an advert for the popular fizzy drink. And the first official INVOICE I wrote out for working on this project of which I cannot speak about (but it comes out some time in February!). The kickstarter project raised an amazing £13,872 to help fund the rest of the At-Issue short film.

The high street set had its final re-dress and was firmly agreed to be its finest. And to celebrate the ever-changing, continuously-expanding, noisy and dusty pleasure zone we call Yamination Studios... we had our Christmas party at our local pub. Then went to a gay bar. Standard.

My latest festive sculpt. A super sculpey robin set on a varnished log.

So I shall bid you farewell 2013. And hello to you 2014... do you come here often? Oh yeah I do, and I like to cut wood. Because I am now a carpenter, a joiner, chippy, artisan, woodworker, woodcarver, wood-chuck-man. And with this in mind, I have been comfortably building sets for the upcoming animated Cravendale advert. So watch this space 2014, you maverick renegade. 

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