Friday, December 19, 2014

A look back at 2014

Here's a few of the projects that made 2014 so special for me.

Shaun the Sheep Series 4 hit TV screens. I had a ball storyboarding on a couple of episodes last year. The series went on to win the BAFTA for Best Children's Animation.

Inline images 8

I've been doing a lot of storyboarding for Children's TV this year, working on CBeebies and Disney favourite 'Chuggington'. And right now, I'm busy storyboarding a new series of 'Bob the Builder', which is set to premiere on Chanel 5's Milkshake in the UK in the New Year.

Inline images 10

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure to work with Barnsley Museums on a film for an exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike, assisting a group of young women from the youth panel at Experience Barnsley Museum. They re-wrote verses of the anthem, 'Women of the Working Class' that the Women Against Pit Closures sang on the picket lines, recording their version with some of the original singers.
Women of the Working Class went on the win a string of awards this year:
Best YF Mixed Media. 14-17 yrs Hollywood International Family Film Festival
Youth Jury Animation award, Kids for Kids UK
3rd place. Middle School Animation Category, 2014 MY HERO International Film Festival
Inline images 3

I was also chuffed to get a nomination as Director this year, for my other collaboration with Barnsley Museums; an advert promoting children's animation workshops. Lego Heist: Barnsley Museums was nominated for Best Commissioned Film at the Bradford Animation Festival.
Inline images 4

In September I was thrilled to be invited to work with my wonderful old storyboard mentor, Frank Gladstone on him most recent trip to the UK. If it wasn't for Frank, I wouldn't be doing what I am now, that's for sure.  I taught his new story trainees at Lupus Films ToonBoom Storyboard Pro as part of a Skillset training programme. A great team! Frank went straight back to LA for the Annies and the premier of his feature film, The Hero of Color City.

Inline images 2

My Bricknelllast years offering from Bricknell Primary School in Hull continued to do well at festivals this year earning 2nd Place, Elementary Mentor, at the MY HERO International Film Festival, in California and 2nd Place at the Hollywood International Family Film Festival 2014. Here's me and some of teachers and pupils at last years Bradford Animation Festival were it won the Young Animators Award.

Inline images 5

Sending all my Christmas Wishes, and hope to see you all in the New Year.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Animation SOS

Animation SOS. I'm just back with a heavy heart from the 21st Bradford Animation Festival hosted by the one of the greats Barry Jonathan Crabtree Purves An special time in the year when friends and colleges from around the world come together to celebrate, network, rejuvenate and inspire themselves. But celebrations turned to disbelief when news broke of the cruel axing of one of our industries biggest champions, festival director Deb Singleton, along with her team. Apparently this is what the National Media Museum mean as "an opportunity to pause" as they consider the fate of BAF as part of a "thorough review of their film festival strategy" which has already cost the postponement of the Bradford Film Festival. As part of this review the museum state they are consulting with their audiences. So animation fans and animation people everywhere, let's help them by saying very loudly and very clearly that BAF is part of the lifeblood of the industry, vital for it's future, vital in showcasing one of this country's most successful industries, vital for the animators of tomorrow, vital for the wider economy of the region, vital for the National Media Museum to continue to be able to declare itself the "best media museum in the world" and vital for Bradford to continue to claim it's status as the UNESCO City of Film.

I fully appreciate that the Science Museum is in a torrid situation in having to find still more savings due to deepening government cuts. But how does it help government strategy to be helping our industry with one hand in giving much needed tax breaks to put us on an even playing field, while taking money away in another. BAF, and Animated Exeter, which we also lost this year, do not take money out of the economy. They generate money. Sacking the people who have built this festival into the UKs biggest and longest running animation festival seems a very odd way to "establish the profile and reputation of the Museums Film offer." It's taken 21 years to build this festival into the UKs biggest and longest running animation festival. I personally owe a great deal to BAF in furthering my career as do many others. Let's please not destroy in one year what has taken all these years to build. And let's urgently reconsider the false economy of loosing one of this counties greatest champions. It's time to be All Animated about this one.
Happier times. Collecting my first BAF with Jessica Wolf for Bricknell Primary School's film Up Up and Away, which marked a new chapter in educational work.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Storyboard Pro training at Lupus Films

Following last years successful course, I was privileged to be invited back to Lupus Films this year to train their new storyboard trainees ToonBoom Storyboard Pro. They are all super, and as you can see, it was a lot of fun! My story mentor and theirs, Frank Gladstone, is to the left. The course is supported by Creative Skillset, Toon Boom, ENVY and Film London. Wishing them a whole lot of luck, and looking forward to seeing their boards.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Riding the rials on Chuggington

Well I've been so busy this last 6 months, I've been a bad blogger, but one of my most exciting projects since October has been storyboarding on the 5th series of the hugely popular and Annie nominated series Chuggington. And as I've now started my LAST episode of the current series, I thought it was high time to get a post up! For my money, for cinematics and it's one of the biggest and most exciting challenges children's series on TV, brining action adventure genre to pre-school CGI animation. The team at Ludorum are amazing, and it's been another opportunity to work with supervising editor Jane Hicks. What's been really fun on this, is working with new pre-vis software Redboard and going much further in boards to define CG layout. It's really brought storyboard and layout very closely together, which has been a huge challenge, but a really satisfying one. Look forward to being able to share some storyboards soon.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lego Break-in Barnsley

I had SO much FUN producing and directing this commercial advertising a new series of children's animation workshops which I was also asked to devise and write, I can not begin to express it. Paul Couvela, who animated this using real LEGO, is also helping me train the education staff at Barnsley Museums who will run it. If you know children in the Barnsley vicinity who like animation - let them know about it. It's going to be so special, it makes me want to be a kid all over again!!

Here's a few pictures of Paul playing (animating) with Lego and the sound Mix. From left to right, Dave Dunn-Birch (music) myself and Dave Aston (Sound Desing). AKA The 3 Daves.

Must also give a big shout out  to Vylius Antanas Leonavicius and Rosario Rivas Leal, two of my students at Sunderland University, who we brought out of lessons for some professional paid up work experience, and did wonders in a very tight schedule. 

Rather excitingly, the whole commercial was filmed using a web camera and Animate It from Kudlian Software - the same equipment the children will be using on the workshops! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lego Museum Break-in

Master stop-motion animator Paul Couvela in action, animating a commercial I'm directing for Barnsley Museums. The 1 minute advert,featuring a trio of Lego robbers breaking into Barnsley Town Hall, advertises the launch of a 3 year animation workshop programme for children, which I'm also developing with May Redfern at Barnsley Museums.