Thursday, September 21, 2006

Well done to "It's a Boy!"

I'm delighted to hear that the book, "It's a Boy!", has won the children's book of the year award at the UK Christian Book Awards. Congratulations to Alexa Tewkesbury and Steve Legg who worked so hard on this imaginative re-telling of the Christmas Story. It has been widely distributed to primary schools, and was prompted by Legg’s discovery that many children thought Jesus was named after a swearword. I did a small amount of work on the animated film as a storyboard artist.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I finally had the chance to see Christian Volkmans much talked about 3D computer hybrid feature film, "Renaissance". As a fan of Blade Runner, Akira, Sin City and French graphic art, I was needless to say, eager to see this film. Sadly the film doesn't quite match the giddy heights of either film, but what it does represent is a continuing experimentation in bringing the world of graphic novels, and other sylized worlds to a cinema currently obsessed with hyper-realism.

Renaissance looks stunning in stills, with the kind of beautifully executed environments the genre demands. And in the cinema, the higly detailed set-pieces bring you into this world with breathtaking cinematography. But the animation, created using motion capture, left me much mess impressed. While non-photorealistic rendering worked wonders with environments and props, a 3D model rendered with 2D shaders can never hope to replicate the graphic style of an illustrator who uses flat lines and shapes to create aesthetic style and beauty. And just like rotoscoping made drawn animation look wooden, the same is true in motion capture for non-photorealistic rendering.

While I am excited about the possibilities opening up to animation with the aid of the computer as most people, am I the only person who thinks the characters in this film would have been better hand animated? And the tell tale 3D smoke replaced with graphical hand drawn smoke as respectful to the style of graphic art novels as the sets and characters? I'm hard pressed to think of a film more obvious for such a treatment.

High end-technology may sound more sexy than light-boxes, pencil and paper, but isn't it the end result that's the important thing? In this case, I think both would have worked together to achieve a richer film. But maybe I'm just old fashioned.

See the film French website more more about Renaissance.