Sunday, 27 November 2016

Episode III

If you are looking for an explanation then, alas, I cannot give you one. Where have you been Thomas? The truth is I'm a lazy git. It takes an enormous amount of energy and discipline for me to sit down and write a load of rambling malarkey. But ramble I must. The deal is this; you suffer the amateur hour that will be my unpracticed writing [typing] and I will buy everyone who likes my blog post something nice (and cheap).

There you go; that's my long awaited re-introduction into blogging and it relies heavily on bribary. 

Over seven months have dwindled away since my last entry, whereupon many significant and bothersome events have come to pass. Don't worry friend! I shan't be divulging into anything politial or socioeconomic because, to be quite frank, I barely know the meaning of those words. Besides, that's not exactly what this blog was originaly about; opinions of the real world...who wants those? When you can happily remain in the quintessentially [fucked up] world of animation. I was actually talking to my old tutor Laura Weston at the Manchester Animation Festival about my blogging and where it all began. As much as I'd like to take credit, it was infact part of a course module entitled Futures, where self promotion was the name of the game also. Anyway, lets talk animation folks. ANIMATION.  

The Manchester Animation Festival (MAF) is very young, only turning two this November, but it is attracting people from all across the nation. This year had an additional attraction, being Aardman's 40th anniversary celebration, where Peter Lord and David Sproxton came to recieve their Fellowship Award. Little fun fact for you... the trophy was actually made by model makers at MacKinnon and Saunders.

The Art of Aardman is their new book and I was lucky enough to get it signed! The book is a visual diary; a compilation of storyboards, designs and set photographs covering everything from Morph to Pirates! Unfortunately, the festival (as wonderful as it is) takes place during the week, so it's tricky to attend everything. I only managed to see one programme, which was a series of animated films from around the world. One film, Fox and the Whale, stuck out for me with stunning visuals and very charming characters.


I would definitely suggest that you look out for this spectacular film when it is released. I am rather gutted that I only watched a handful of animation, especially as it seems to have taken a back seat in my busy little life. I haven't sat back and enjoyed a series of short animated films in bloody ages, let alone do anything myself. But wait... I still have an ace up my sleeve because I have successfully reinstalled Dragonframe once again

After wasting valuable time animating my ugmo* face, I did finally get around to practicing the art of stop motion. Regrettably I have lost my ball and socket armature given to me from University (I may have griped before about this) so, naturally, I used my Star Wars models. It was the simplest of set-ups (a table and two pot plants) but it was literally just to get the ball rolling and remember all the bloody buttons. So, bearing that in mind, the video below is one of five snippets that I did animate and export as an MP4 file - they haven't even been properly edited!

It may sound like common sense, but the more skills you aquire from experiences and projects, the more employable you become. I am in no position to preach about what you should or shouldn't do to your presence in the animation world, especially as I'm constantly 'almost' out of a job. It's not a stable industry, I must admit, but if you have a wide spectrum of skills that you can offer, then the same studio could ultimately employ you for a different role. I found myself working in the rigging and puppet maintenance department for the childrens show Twirlywoos and I haven't had any real experience beforehand (I hope nobody from management reads that!). 

There is a new series of the Twirlywoos this upcoming week (28th) on the CBeebies channel, 9:30 each morning. I only started work half way through production so I don't think the first batch of episodes will credit me, but fingers crossed it won't be long until you see me! 

There is a very interesting documentary on Netflix called A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman and it's rather good. I must admit I've only watched about twenty minutes of the hour long programme but by the time you've read this I'm counting on finishing it. This chronology of Aardman's 40 years highlights everything from the original 'Aardman' superhero, Morph and Creature Comforts to the feature films of Chicken Run (my favourite), Flushed Away and Pirates! Not to mention Wallace and Gromit who have, with good reason, become British treasures. 

I'm sculpting again! Albeit a somewhat forced frame of creative mind, it's still something that I'd wanted to get back into for bloody ages. Above is my work desk. It's not messy; just an organised jumble or something along those lines. Sure, Matt has the tidier desk but I can still remember where my tools are. It's the working man's desk! Am I trying too hard to justify this?
   I'm sure Hey Arnold! wouldn't mind a messy desk. He can't see it just yet because I haven't sculpted his eyes, but I'll eventually get there folks. This was just a basic wire armature, drilled and glued into a block of wood using two-part epoxy, then gradually built up with Newplast. I'm hoping to get this little guy done before Christmas but the world is full of distractions. My latest one was a Star Wars Lego AT-ST from the Rogue One range, though it was worth every brick. Speaking of Rogue One... ROGUE ONE! It's out in little over two and a half weeks and with midnight tickets booked, the countdown has never been more exciting! Although I do think that I've seen too many trailers (the International one has even more footage) so I'm going to have to wait. But, as Yoda once said, the boy has no patience. That boy became a Jedi Master.

And finally... here is a beautifully eerie animated film recommended by fellow colleague Stephanie Bolduc (check out her website). Enjoy!

* you recognise the word eh? Lisa Simpson

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