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.

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