Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Astronomers Sun preview screening

Editor Adam Kirk outside the mighty 4.

Mentor Sara Mullock, Director Si Cartwright, Director John Williams

Director Jess Cope talking to Producer David Bunting

If you live in York and care about the Arts read this!

I am shocked to read proposals that the community arts budget and the arts education consultancy service budget are proposed to cease as part of the savings process in York.

This means that the two community arts posts will be lost, as well as the three schools consultant posts within the Arts Education Service.

In the words of the council, "This will obviously have an impact on the range of services provided and offered to residents and the community, education and arts sectors."

No kidding! These people do small miracles every day that make real difference in peoples lives. Cutting the arts is an easy hit in a recession but it's in times of hardship that these services are needed even more.

If you live in York and want to see the arts survive, The public is able to formally respond to specific proposals through email to your local ward councillors.
Ben Drake (Unison representative) -

Any comments or views should be sent by Monday 25th January.

The recommendations arising from the Decision Session will be put to the Council budget meeting on 25th February 2010.

An example of the valuable work York were part of is the BioMation programme which explored heath issues through animation with patients, medical professionals and artists. The Aspergers film, which I was proud to work on won Best Short Film at the Edinburgh Mental Health Festival and is now considered an invaluable aid in helping young people and families diagnosed with aspergers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hand drawn special effects - The Astronomer's Sun

Lots of job sharing occurs in the making of short films, so it feels in the spirit of things that as well as co-producing “The Astronomers Sun”, I also got stuck into the film making like everyone else.
Back in 2001, I animated effects for another 4mations short film, the multi-award winning “How to Cope with Death”, directed by Ignacio Ferreras at Tandem Films. So I was proud to lend my expertise to “The Astronomers Sun”, climactic effects showstopper.
As a stop motion film, we were all keen to ensure that the effects reflected the ethos and style of the hand crafted world. Digital effects tend to jar and look out of place in stop motion films. For “The Astronomers Sun”, we used a combination of effects elements, optical, miniature, drawn and digital, with many shots combining several techniques to achieve the final look.

The majority of the drawn animation elements I produced were used for the transformation sequence. Henry was filmed with an LED light in his chest and shot using a Vaseline filter which gave a wonderful rich glow. I added hand drawn sparks and vaporous smoke.

Before and after: TOP: The original stop motion footage, complete with an LED light and Vaseline filter, and ABOVE, the final composited image with hand drawn smoke and light particles.

One of over 700 tonal charcoal drawings made of the main smoke pass, all animated on 1’s.

The sparks and smaller smoke elements were animated with a wacom tablet straight into ToonBoom Animate Pro, which sped up the production work flow as well as making it possible to create incredibly rich painterly shots. The drawn smoke elements then went to Kevin Herbison who created mattes for the smoke interacting with Henry and other objects in the scene. Finally, all of these elements were exported and sent to Zoe Matzko in London for compositing in After Effects. What’s exciting in tackling drawn visual effects now is how much modern compositing has transformed the toolkit of possibilities of open to drawn effects artists. Zoe took all of these various layers and made them work together like one beautiful and seamless photograph.