Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Up Up and Away wins BAF award!

The short film, "Up Up and Away", made at Bricknell Primary school Hull, picked up the coveted Bradford Animation Festival Award for Best Film by Young Animators! The film was animated by Jessica Wolff's year 4 class and was created as a school project to teach foreign language skills in a fun and memorable context.

The BAF jury said, "We were impressed by the innovative concept of this schools project, which combines both teaching foreign languages and children's love of animation."
In the film, two children have an amazing hot air balloon adventure, visiting Ireland, France and Germany. Journeying past the Giants Causeway, the Eiffel Tower and other incredible sights, they try out their language skills, eat ice-cream, and sing songs.
In recognition of the importance of developing talent, the winner of the Best Film by Young Animators Award was announced at a special screening on Saturday 15 November. The shortlisted films were all of an incredible standard. It was an honour to be in the selection, and were both totally lost for words when we discovered Jess's kids had won!

I first met Jess through BBC Learn Xpress, when we made an animated version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", as a tool for foreign language development. It is partly because the BBC were never able to clear rights to show the film and because the project showed such potential that we decided we should find a way to work together again. I had some of my happiest times working on "Up, Up and Away", and it is certainly down to Jessica's belief in the talents of her pupils, her own artistic ability and her commitment to perfection that made "Up up and Away" such a memorable and satisfying film both to watch and participate in. I realised that I never posted anything about the film when we were making it as I was so busy, so here's a few pictures. You can see everything about the film is ambitious. The sets are the largest I've ever worked with in a schools project, filling the whole library. We made a camera dolly using some duplo trains and fishing wire, to provide the pov shots from the balloon.
Jess is now helping me train school teachers in animation for the National Media Museums education programme Anim8ed Stories, which I am currently delivering at schools across Yorkshire. I will get the change to work at Bricknell School again next year when Anim8ed Stories visits Hull. Phil Regan, who project managed BBC Learn Xpress is now managing Anim8ed Stories with me, so the whole team is united again, which is fantastic!
Congratulations to Bricknell School, Jessica Wolff and her most amazing pupils!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watch "Dreams" on Charge TV

Wow! The animated film "Dreams", created by year year 6 pupils at schools in Rochdale, Salford and Liverpool for Verd de Gris visionary arts project Dreams is being broadcast on satalite TV Charge, tommorow, Saturday and Sunday.

Charge is produced by The Media Trust / Community Channel - it's a youth strand that focuses on charity, societal, environmental and volunteering issues. Each week they focus on a different topic with studio guests and featured content - this episode is looking at child filmmakers. The Show is broadcast on Community Channel Sky 539 / Virgin TV 233 / Freeview 87 and online (http://www.chargetv.co.uk/). Media Trust is a registered charity.

Dreams is being broadcast on:

Wed 12th 08.00 (Sky 539 • Virgin TV 233 • Freeview 87)14.00, 20.00 and 02.00 (Virgin and Sky only)
Saturday 15th 08.00 (Sky 539 • Virgin TV 233 • Freeview 87)14.00, 20.00 and 02.00 (Virgin and Sky only)
Sunday 16th 06.00 (Sky 539 • Virgin TV 233 • Freeview 87)12.00, 18.00 and 00.00 (Virgin and Sky only)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cinema of Horror

I completed animation for Duchy Parade Films upcoming short film "Cinema of Horror" this October. I first worked for Peter on his RTS award winning cinema short "Wilfred", way back in 1999. He was the first person to really give me a chance, and placed his trust (and money) on me delivering an animated poem for the film, during my graduation year at Senior College, Ballyfermot. It was wonderful to work with him again, to direct animation for the title sequence on his upcoming cinema short, "Cinema of Horror". A ten-minute drama about three film students who see the world through the fantasy of the films they like, inspired by current trends in Asian and Far East Cinema.
The sequence was based on a design by talented Digital Arts graduate Shuang Nui. I did the first pass on the storyboard before my feature film storyboard training at Aadman Animations, and storyboarding on "Shaun the Sheep", so it was good to go back with the benefit of all that experience and produce a revised storyboard pass and a story reel.
We had a shoestring budget, but the benefit of a wonderful young team eager to learn. Shuang Nui came onto the production, with an eye on clean-up animation, ensuring the style was faithful to the original design, Kevin Herbison, who also worked on "Wilfred", composited the sequence and also helped out on character inbetweens. Rebecca Stothert, of Goole Silent Movie fame, was on GCSE work experience at Duchy Parade Films and was able to see the drawn animation process and help out with scanning, and digital ink & paint. I saw the sequence cut into the film last week with the music and effects track, which is looking and sounding great. I'll post more news, artwork and animation on Cinema of Horror over the coming weeks.

Halloween spooks

I had a fun time taking workshops at the Animation Station in Banbury for half term, helping children make Halloween cartoons. We teamed up with The Campaign For Drawing. who held workshops in 1000 UK venues, from scout huts to national museums in the ninth Big Draw, 1 to 31 October 2008. This annual programme shows that drawing is the perfect medium for observation, self-expression and fun.

Stepney animated film screen in worlds top animation festival!

I have just heard that "Jack and the Beanstalk", made by year 2 pupils as part of the "Animated Solutions" educational program with Creative Partnerships Hull was shown at the 12th International animation festival, Hiroshima, Japan.

The Film was screened as part of the "Animation by Children of the World" program on August 10th and was one of only 12 films showing in its category. 1,656 films from 56 countries entered the festival, with 76 titles selected for the official competition program. A huge congratulations to all involved. Also screening in the same category was the world premiere of ASIFA's Workshop Group Film, "Olympics, Let's Fantasize". I worked with a group of young people at the National Media Museum on their Olympic film for the compilation. This project has been supported by the Lottery through the UK Film Council’s First Light Movies initiative. For those interested in seeing the film, it is being shown on Sat 15th Nov at the Bradford Animation Festival. President of ASIFA UK, Pat Raine Webb will be presenting the film with me.  

Also screening is "Up, Up and Away" made at Bricknel Primary School Hull, which is screening in competition for the Films by Young Animators Award. If that wasn't exciting enough, then I will be announcing the winner of the Best Children's Animated Film at the award ceremony! Can’t wait!