Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interview with editor Adam Krik

Well yesterday was a huge day in any measure of a film. While I’ve been in York teaching animation to school pupils and staff from the National Railway Museum, Jess and Simon have been doing the final picture edit with our editor Adam Kirk. To mark the event, I asked Adam to share the process of editing animation with us - you can read the interview on the Astronomers Sun Blog here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All in a days work

Well in case anybody wondered what I'm paid to do, here you go! A mini film we made today as made as part of an animation training workshop for museum staff. Animated in Pixilation (starring Rachel Preston from the National Media Museum) – we covered animation acting and timing, (anticipation action and reaction – beginning middle and end, I Can Animate, I Movie and Garage Band. The staff edited the film and recorded the soundtrack themselves. As you can see, we even covered how to download to a movie format suitable for web upload!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Leeds Pals films now on YouTube

The award winning animated film "Leeds Pals", made my pupils at Kell Bank CE Primary School is now on You Tube! if you've been following the news about this film on BBC Look North, BBC Radio York or the local press, this is what it's all been about! The film commemorates the 750 people who died from the Leeds regiment on July 1st, 1916 and draws on the expertise of the entire community including local artist Simon Palmer. It was an absolute joy to help KellBank realise their ambitions to make this film. To see all 5 animated Nidderdale films on the big screen, visit us at St Cuthberts Primary School on Monday at 6.30. It's free entry and all are welcome to attend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Notes from a small shed

Check out animators Steve Warne's brilliant post on 4mations "The Astronomers Sun". I first had the pleasure to meet Steve when I was training in feature film storyboarding at Aardaman Animations last year. He was studying animation at the Edinburgh College of Art and had hit the jackpot doing work experience at Aardman. Well, he's still at the ECA (now in his final year) has spent more time at Aardman (he's even animated a shot on Shaun the Sheep) and spent most of his summer holidays animating some of "The Astronomers Sun" most heartwarming shots. He is a prodigiously talented young animator, and a great guy to boot. I can't wait to see his graduation film.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nidderdale animated film wins 2 awards at Fresh Flix Film Festival!

Well, WOW, another week and two more awards!

The animated short, “Leeds Pals”, made by pupils at Kellbank Primary School as part of my Big Lottery Awards for All community animation project, took home 2 prizes at Fresh Flix, part of the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol on Saturday! It won Emerging Talent: 12 and Under and the Best of the Festival Audience Award. The judges were Noel Goodwin from the British Film Institute, Anne Threkold from the UK Film Council and filmmaker Geoffery Taylor.

The film commemorates the 750 people who died from the Leeds regiment on July 1st, 1916 and draws on the expertise of the entire community including local artist Simon Palmer.

“The Lion at Home” (Anim8ed Stories/Bricknell Primary School) was also shown in the same category making this its second nomination along with “Cool it” (Creative Partnerships/Creative Junction/Animation Station/North Oxfordshire Academy) which was nominated in the 13-15 category.

Kellbank Primary took their pupils all the way to Bristol to see their film play in the festival. The film was up against live action as well as animated films, which makes it even more satisfying.

Head Teacher Kathleen Allison said, “I thought the whole event was fantastic. For our pupils to see their work brought to life on the big screen, was an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Commenting of their success, pupils said:

“I was speechless when I found out we had won because there were so many good films.”

“I was amazed to win because we are such a small school and it was such a big competition.”

“I really enjoyed the whole experience, drawing the soldiers and making the animation. Winning was just the best.”

Encounters is the umbrella title for two of the UK's leading film festivals, now combined, with a host of cross-over attractions, at venues in and around the Harbourside area of Bristol, UK. . Kell Bank Primary School will creating their next animation entry with the help of an HD Web Cam and some Pro Animate animation software thanks to prize sponsor Kudlian Software.

The resulting films can be seen closer to home at St Cuthbert’s Primary School, Pateley Bridge on Monday 30th November at 6.30pm, completing a tour through Nidderdale. Village halls have been packed with appreciative audiences who have enjoyed watching all the films and were delighted to have this unique glimpse of life in the Dale past and present.

Right: School Governer, Ian Whittiker accepting the award. He said, “The response of the audience to the showing of our film was one of the most moving experiences I've ever encountered.”

A special news report was broadcast on BBC Look North Leeds tonight and on Sunday Radio York running an interview at 11am. Maybe I'll see some of you on Monday at Pateley Bridge!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Immersion emergence wins BAF award!

Well what an amazing day Saturday was! "Immersion Emergence" won Best Film Produced by Young Animators at the Bradford Animation Festival 2009!

A tale of doomed love, the story of Sohni and Mahiwal is one of the world’s classic tragic love stories. Told in cutout animation and inspired by Arpana Caur’s painting “Immersion, Emergence”, was made by year 8 pupils at Titus Salt School, Bradford and inspired by a trip to Bradford’s Civic art gallery, Cartwright Hall. Produced as part of the anim8ed stories educational outreach programme which I am currently delivering for the national media, supported by DCMS. The Jury said, “We were very taken with the style, which expressed the narrative very well. We were extremely impressed by the discipline exercised in this school project, which achieved the set task within the self-imposed limits. The combination of warm colours, coherence and depth makes this film an all round achievement.” The school also won a copy of ToonBoom Studio.
Titus Salt School richly deserve this award as they proved to me last year the value of Anim8ed in a secondary school contest. Brining in the music department and running after school workshops were examples of the commitment and value Titus Salt School placed on the education programme. Congratulations!

My sincere hope is that, particularly in the present funding climate, this award will go some way to creating awareness of the value and quality of the work we have been doing with Anim8ed, and help make it possible for these type of project to continue into the future.
It was wonderful to see so many people connected to Anim8ed Stories at BAF. I also presented a special preview of the BAF Kids: ASIFA Workshop Screening. ASIFA Family Learning Animation Project: I Have A Dream, followed by a live interview on BBC radio Leeds. And that was all before the late night party! Quite enough excitement for one day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

3 nominations at Fresh Flix!

The Lion at Home, (Anim8ed Stoires/ National Media Museum/Bricknell Primary School/ Ferens Art Gallery Hull), Cool it!, (Animation Station, Creative Partnerships, North Oxfrodshire Academy) and Leeds Pals (Kell Bank Primary School, supported by the Big Lottery through Awards For All) have all been officially selected to screen in competition at Fresh Flix: Young Peoples Short Film Festival 2009.

"The Lion at Home" and "Leeds Pals" are playing in the 12 and Under programme and "Cool It" in the 19 and under programme. The film will be eligible for the following awards: Emerging Talent: 12 and Under, Emerging Talent: 19 and Under & Best of the Festival Audience Award. The awards will be announced at the main Encounters Short Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday 21 November at 19:00 at the Watershed.

Encounters Short Film Festival is celebrating its 15th year showcasing new talent in filmmaking and providing a platform for emerging filmmakers to screen their work. Over 150 films in competition will be screened over five days with a chance of winning one of 12 awards and up to £15,000 of prizes. The films and animations are a selection of the best new dramas, comedies, music videos, documentaries and animation from 58 different countries.

Fresh Flix will be celebrating its first year with screenings, workshops and events all in support of young people’s creativity in the short film format.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Duchy Parade Film's Cinema of Horror, distributed by the British Film Council has special Halloween screenings!

In the South, you can see it at Horror UK!

In Yorkshire at Hebdon Bridge:

FRIDAY 30TH OCTOBER, TRADES CLUB, screening at 9pm

And in Huddersfield at:

SATURDAY 31ST OCTOBER, LAWRENCE BATLEY THEATRE, rolling screening thru night.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anim8ed training at NRM

It’s been my pleasure to train learning staff at the National Railway Museum for Anim8ed this week. Over the next couple of months I’m working with the learning department to develop, pilot and support the training for a bespoke education outreach programme that will see the National Railway Museum work with primary schools in York to bring to life their collections using animation as an enabler for learning. I worked closely with the NRM last year with Anim8ed Stories but this is the first time I’ve been responsible for training museum staff, all of whom are so incredibly talented and inspiring to work with. They made my time with them a delight. This week we workshoped the chosen programme and I’m looking forward to working with them again after half term when we take it out to schools for a pilot run! Anim8ed is a DCMS funded programme with the National Media Museum.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The co-op film fest and the Attack of the Killer Naan

I was delighted to be invited back for the 3rd year at the Co-op Young Peoples festival yesterday, giving my Animation Unearthed talk to a room full of young fillmmakers as well as a couple of flipbook workshops. I had the pleasure to screen a sneak peek of the 4mations digital short, "The Astonomers Sun" which is looking very promising. For an extra bit of razzmatazz, I animated a simple candle flame in front of the audience, and composited it with a painted background to demonstrate some basic principles of traditional fx animation. Despite several seamless rehearsals, the software froze mid way through my demo for a heart stopping moment but I got there! Hopefully it added to the talk and not just my nerves!

I've attached a movie of some of the great flipbooks some of the Young people made in my workshops during the day. Awesome stuff.

It was great to see Clinton Osborne who traveled up from the Animation Station in Banbury for the festival. After the fun of the festival we sampled the wonder that is a Bradford Curry. The size of Omar's Naan bread has become an urban legend in Oxforshire, thanks to Clinton. If all of that wasn't enough for one day, we went to see the hugely entertaining Star Treck in Imax. Days don't get any better than that!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Guest DOP

We were honoured to have a special guest at the Astronomers Sun studio last Wednesday. Director of Photography Alistair Mckenzie, who brings 20 years experience in live action cinematography, including Duchy Parade Films 35mm cinema short, “Wilfred”. He loves animation and even turned down a DOP job at Cosgrove Hall! He kindly offered to spend a day looking at the film’s most complex lighting set-ups with Simon and Jess.

Alister’s says, “We talked a lot about the ways that I approach a live action set and how I split lighting the background with the foreground subject. These rules can easily be translated into lighting a miniature. We also talked about how the lighting of a scene is governed by the light that we have least control of ... in my case that is the ambient light of a location, in their specific case it is governed by the light of the LEDs which have a limited maximum brightness. We also looked at when having a light source in shot (The Orrary) it is also essential to have supplementary lights to mimic the effect of the light on the rest of the set.

They certainly have taken on an ambitious storyboard for their first film, but the results so far look great and I can't wait to see the finished film.”

Further information about the art of cinematography from Alistair Mckenzie can be found on the Duchy Parade Film’s website here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Holy cow! 5 nominations and a special ASIFA screening at BAF!

A whopping 4 films from the National Media Museums educational outreach programme, Anim8ed Stories, which I taught last year, have been selected to screen in competition during the 2009 Bradford Animation Festival as part of the “Official Selection: Films By Young Animators”.

Evacuation Devastation” National Railway Museum York/Lakeside Primary School, “Immersion Emergence”, Cartwright Hall Gallery, Bradford/Titus Salt School, “The Lion at Home”, Ferens Art Gallery Hull/Bricknell Primary School and “The Fish Market” Ferens Art Gallery/St Ricards Primary School. In addition “Cool It!” (Creative Partnerships Slough, The Animation Station & Creative Junction) has also been nominated.

In recognition of the importance of developing talent, the winner of the Best Film by Young Animators Award will be announced at a special screening on Saturday 14 November at 3pm at the National Media Museum. The shortlisted films will be screened and the winner presented with their BAF Award. BAF is the UK's biggest and longest-running annual animation festival and this award is one of the most prestigious in the country for Young Peoples Films. There are a total of 8 nominated films up for the award from around the world, so it is destined to be a very exciting day.... to say the least!

I don’t normally find myself speechless, but 5 nominations has just flawed me. I’ve been expecting someone to call and tell me they made a mistake all week! It really a testament to huge amount of work and commitment of all the people who worked on these films and most of all, to the sheer amount of raw talent there is out there in the next generation. I love working with children and young peope to find their own voice and teach them the incredible art that animation is, so they can put their voice on film. These awards are so important in celebrating the creative talent of the young and raiseing aweness.

If all of that wasn’t enough excitement, then I’m also presenting a special preview screening for BAF Kids with an ASIFA Workshop Group Screening of our entry for next years special AWG film, celebrates the 50th Anniversary of ASIFA in 2010.

Six families with children aged 10-14 took part in a week-long project to make a two-minute film on the theme of peace, human values and international communication in August 2009... all with a piece of string!

Last year I was honoured to accept the prize for Best Film by Young Animators Award with Bricknell Primary School in Hull and my good friend Jess Wolff for “Up, Up and Away”.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Postcard from Skye

Sorry for the long radio silence - In between setting up my new portfolio website, producing the 4mations "Astronomers Sun" production blog and generally being very busy, I seem to have fallen down the blogging abyss with my own blog. I've just come back from a wonderful family holiday in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Here's a few doodles from my holiday sketchbook.

Pen & ink. The coastline of Skye is a series of peninsulas and bays radiating out from a centre dominated by the Cuillin hills.

Pen & Ink. This impressive rock formation on the Isle of Skye resembles the sort of stark rock faces you might associate more with a spaghetti western. The mountain range and its strange formations are the result of ancient volcanic activity.

Quick Pen sketch of Seagulls at Portree harbor, situated off the Sound of Rassay, Scotland.

I drew these quick sketches on a small boat trip to see a seal colony around the loch of Dunvegan Castle in Scotland. Watching the effortless and relaxed poses of these playful sea mammals lying on the rocks reminded me a little of my cat back home!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

4Mations interivew

Check out this great 4mations interview with directors Simon Cartwright and Jessica Cope about their film "The Astronomers Sun". Co-producer Peter Kershaw and myself popped over last Friday. All very exciting - after months gearing up, we entering animation production proper this week. Hurrah!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Culture Shock Festival

I know its summer again when the Culture Shock Festival is back! This year the festival moved to Pickering for 3 fun packed days in my flipbook tent. These really are some of my favorite workshops. You just can't beat the fun and creativity of making flipbooks. In 3 days we made 300 flipbooks! Now that's a lot of animating! For extra fun we filmed some of the flipbooks on a rostrum stand - you can see the results below. Thursdays flipbooks were made by secondary schools. Fridays by Junior schools. These workshops were just 50 minutes each - so we didn't get to film that many. Saturday was a drop in day - very chilled, which more time to make flipbooks and film them. Enjoy.

For those eager to see their flipbooks - check back soon. I'm had problems uploading to my blog today - but never fear - they will be up very soon!

Selection of flipbooks made my Primary pupils at the Culture Shock Festival, Pickering 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Green light for Astronomers Sun

Yippiee! After months of hard work of story development in script and storyboard, "The Astronomers Sun" has been given the green light and will be moving into production for 4mations Digital Shorts, backed by the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, Channel 4 and Screen Yorkshire.

Alongside my co-producer Peter Kersahw, it has been my pleasure to consult and offer guidance to writer/directors, Simon Cartwright and Jessica Cope , as they worked through the executives story notes and crafted their story. It is only by going through the blood sweat and tears of story development that you can really feel the accomplishment of approval as I'm sure Simon and Jess would tell you. A debt of gratitude must also go to editor Dave Long, who's brought pathos and a filmmic structure and to the story reel working to intense deadline.

Be sure to check out the production blog of the Astronomers Sun, and the 4mations website.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I love flipbooks and have a huge collection from all over the world. There is something nostalgic in flipbooks that captures the essence of animation. In fact some of my favourite workshops I teach use them. As we are getting into the festival season, I'm getting excited about the joy of flipbooks once again. I'm ordering a new batch of flip pads in preparation and thought wouldn't it be fun to add a cover with a few simple tips. I was keen to capture the nostalgic qualities of flipbooks. However my first design looks too old fashioned. It could have been made in the 60's!

Whilst I wanted to embrace the nostalgia, I also wanted to convey a fun and contemporary message that flipbooks are just as cool as they ever have been. So my final design uses hand drawn hands to bring a more cartoony feel, and in doing so I think feels less old fashioned. By the way, the character on the flipbook is from my short film Riffs of Rage made at Bournemouth University!

For all the information you could ever want to know about flipbooks, check out

If you want to catch me at my flipbook tent over the summer, check out the Culture Shock festival in Pickering on 4th July.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fantastic Films Weekend

I'm looking forward to seeing Cinema of Horror which is playing at the Fantastic Films Weekend this weekend in Bradford. From Friday 12 – Sunday 14 June 2009, it’s the festivals eighth annual trawl through the vaults of new and classic sci-fi, horror and fantasy movies and television at NMM, Bradford. Cinema of Horror will be playing in the short programme every day. I directed the opening animated title sequence for Duchy Parade Films.

Monday, June 01, 2009

In the name of art!

The things I do! Here's me being directed to scream by Jessica Cope for scratch track for "The Astronomers Sun". I asked Simon what type of scream he wanted and said he wanted 'to hear the sound of ultimate suffering'. Dutifully I provided. Well, we've just finished the second story reel on Friday during a marathon editing session at Duchy Parade Films. There's been many changes but my screams are still in. While we wait to hear back from the script editor and the executive producers Jess and Simon are gearing up so we are ready to go into production. Check out the production blog for the latest.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Astronomers Sun

One of my most exciting current projects is for the new 4mations Digital Shorts scheme. Over the years 4mations has been the bastion of independent animation in the UK, helping to foster a new generation of independent animators and award winning films, which have been the envy of the world. 4mations Digital Shorts is backed by the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, Channel 4 and 13 Strategic Partners throughout the UK. The aim is quite simple… to fund new and original narrative films. I am honored to have been asked to act as producer for this years 4mations film in Yorkshire, supporting two brilliant young animators - Jessica Cope and Simon Cartwright. I'm co-producing "The Astronomers Sun" with Peter Kershaw at Duchy Parade Films. Right now we are finalising the storyboards and gearing up for a new story reel. Developing any narrative story is a real challenge, and for Jessica and Simon who are working with a script editor and producers for the first time, it's been no exception. As a non-dialogue film, I have been keen for the directors to explore their story though pictures as much as possible, and it has proved to be a very positive move. It is a fascinating experience for me in combining my experience and skills I've learnt from storyboarding and feature storyboard training at Aardman Animations, teaching, animating and producing. To follow the production of "The Astronomers Sun" check out the production blog written by directors Jess and Simon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Creative Arts Week

Well the 10th Leeds Young People's Film Festival was awesome. I had an eager and attentive young audience for my Animation Fascination talk at Leeds exquisite Hyde Park Picture House. It was amazing seeing a film print of "The Tigger Movie" again on the big screen and it brought back a lot of memories. It was a pleasure to meet Adam Graham, Production & Programme Manager, and Martin Grund, Development coordinator. They are both a couple of cool cats who live and breath young filmaking and do a huge amount of great work in Leeds. They tell me it is was their successful festival year ever!
After that I got straight on the train for a week delivering an Easter animation workshop in Chipenham for the University of Bath. It was a pleasure for me to be joined by Aardman animator Dan Ramsay on what was his debut workshop. I first met Dan in the Aardman canteen last year, who originally trained as a teacher. He was legendary, as you can see the Aardman style seeping into the lip sync of this news anchor for a very imaginative "Wilshire news". Simply an unforgettable experience for all concerned. As Josh said on the University's blog, its such a shame that it's all over now. I wish it could have been longer, because 1) I would have liked to do everything in the storyboard, and 2) because it was such a great experience.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Animation masterclass & "The Tigger Movie", in Leeds next week!

Well I'm in Bristol at the moment, where I've just had the time of my life doing drawn special effects animation on a really cool production at Hot Head Films. As it's in development, I can't say anything more than that without risk of castration, but I consider it some of the best work I've done, for which a large thanks has to go to the brilliant team who made my time so satisfying and pushed me to do my best.

I'm heading back to Yorkshire brelfy next week in time for my Animation Fascination talk at the Leeds Young Peoples Film Festival and a special showing of "The Tigger Movie" on Sunday 4 April at the Hyde Park Picture House.

Filled with tips for budding animators and behind the scenes clips from the big screen and TV. Animation Fascination is on at 10am and The Tigger Moive at 11.15. To book tickets please call City Centre Box Office on 0113 224 3801

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cinema of Horror screenings

Cinema of Horror plays at the National Media Museum on Thursday 26th March, 20.00 as part of Braford International Film Festival 09. India City of Chennai in the 3rd International Short Film Festival of India on the 28th & 29th of March 2009.Glimmer Hull International Film Festival in the Yorkshire Film Award Competition on Sunday 26th April. I directed the opening animated title sequence for Duchy Parde Films short film, Written and directed by Peter M Kershaw.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Well it sure is busy at the mo! End of half term and in need of a holiday. Boy oh boy. However, I've finally got round to putting into action a new year resolution and got my portfolio website off the ground with work in special effects, storyboarding, sketchbook, showreel etc all in one place.
It's early days yet, but would love to hear what you think!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Anim8ed training at Ferens Art Gallery

One of the highlights of Anim8ed Stories for me has been devising and delivering animation training workshops for museum staff and primary and secondary teachers. The day culminates in a practical workshop where people put into practice the days experiences in a practical animation test, inspired by one of the museums collections. In January we ran the training event at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. Teachers made animated pieces inspired by Conroy Madox painting - The Theorist. The groups had just 1 hour to make their films, with no prior animation experience. The resulits were so exciting I thought I'd share them!

My group combined responded to the mixed media and impressions of reality in the painting by using pixilation and cut out animation.

Digital artist, Simon Collins, group referred to Richard William's memorable phrase for all animators to remember - Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS)

Primary School Teacher, Jess Wolff's group used cut out animation combining objects and drawn elements.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Well what better way to start of the year than with an award nomination! "JIMMY SAVES THE OLYMPICS" has been nominated for a prestigious ACTIVISION FIRST LIGHT MOVIES AWARD in the Best Animation category. My congratualtions to our group of seven 12-13 year-olds, from three different schools, who supported by The National Media Museum, received the nomination for their short 2D animation which they made entirely in their Easter holidays.

“Jimmy Saves the Olympics” was part of a cross continental young people’s animation project celebrating the Olympic Games, “Olympics, Let’s Fantasize”, organised by the ASIFA Workshop Group.
The group are up against two other nominated films from Stockton-on-Tees and Brighton for the ‘Best Animation’ award, chosen by an industry panel and youth jury. As part of the ‘Best Animation’ category and sponsored by Activision, they will be judged by Ben Miller (The Armstrong & Miller Show), Georgia Groome (Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty).

The winning film from each category will be announced at the glittering awards ceremony on 17th March, hosted by T4’s Miquita Oliver and Rick Edwards at the ODEON Leicester Square, London. The ceremony will be attended by a mix of film industry luminaries and celebrities who present the awards across eight categories; Best Drama, Best Horror, Best Thriller, Best Screenplay, Best Animation, Best Fantasy Adventure, Best Film by Under 12s and Best Film by Over 13s.

You can see the film and the other nominations on the First Light Movies website here!