Croissant is going to be screening at Encounters Festival in Bristol. It’s one of our favourite festivals, and we’ll be sharing our Late Night Screening on Thursday 22nd with some regular festival buddies, Brothers McLeod, Lee Hardcastle and Ben Mallaby. Croissant’s also on the front cover of the festival programme!
Here’s an online advert made for Fish4Dogs for their new luxury range of treats. The treats are pure squid without any additives so the aim was to promote the purity of the food and the tongue in cheek nature of treating your dog to the fine dining experience. Fish4Dogs came with the central idea of high class dogs in a restaurant, and their new branding was pretty strong. Taking those as inspiration, it was a fairly easy process taking that forward.
Written and Animated by Louis Hudson
Sound Design: Pete Styles
Dialogue recording: Tom Angell
Music: ‘Royal Garden Party’ by David Tobin / Jeff Meegan / Jim Gailloreto. Published by Audio Network.
A fair amount of time was spent choosing particular breeds of dogs that suited the character’s personality types. Meanwhile I settled on a UPA style of design that lent itself to a sense of style and comedy.
Here’s a doodle animation Louis made for Flatpack Film Festival‘s Ian Francis’ 40th birthday. It features cowboys, beans and exuberance. The sheer amount of textures and beans broke the video format so watch the video in 4K mode if you can.
It will also be part of the Shortcuts Screening, Fri 22 April 3–3:45 pm.
This screening will take place in an inflatable ‘Action Space’ that will be invading Victoria Square. I’m not sure if they all come pre-haunted with clarinetists and multiple Danny-From-The-Shining’s. I hope so.
Next, Croissant is appearing several times over LOCO Film Festival‘s schedule.
There will be several screenings during the LOCO Local strand, which shows 10 British shorts from the festival’s programme to smaller film clubs and societies across London that wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Pitshanger Pictures, Ealing Wed, 27 April, 8pm
Hackney Film Club Thu, 28 April, 6:30pm
Bernie Grant Art Centre, Tottenham Thu, 28 April, 7:30pm
The Science of Laughter + Panel Discussion, Barbican, Thu 28 April, 8.30pm
This night will include a screening of LOCO comedy shorts followed by a discussion with neuroscientist Sophie Scott, comedian Jamie Wood, and Wellcome Trust Fellow Nicola Hill about why we are so compelled by things that make us laugh.
It sounds like a pretty similar experience to the Looking In Looking Out event that Man In A Cat was part of a few years ago.
Thanks to everyone who has watched and shared DuckManBoy so far. It was an honour enough to be a Vimeo Staff Pick but it’s now become one of Nickelodeon’s most viewed International Shorts. Here’s some material around the making of DuckManBoy, including a podcast interview Ian and I did with Skwigly Magazine‘s Ben Mitchell:
Originally DuckManBoy started life as an off-the-cuff pitch for Channel 4’s Blap series. It was a much more adult orientated version of what we pitched to Nickelodeon, involving a man-child addicted to savoury meat shakes facing up against Fat Barry, an evil pub landlord. There were a lot of things we really enjoyed about the pitch, particularly the influence of the low-budget nature of the 1960s Batman. We also wanted to make the most of the mixture of mundane and surreal that’s encompassed a lot of our work.
At the time it was called Duckman. We hadn’t heard of the 90’s TV series of the same name. Still haven’t watched it.
When we found out we were one of 8 pitches selected from over 600 submissions we set about refining the story and characters. We spent a lot of time working on the dynamic between the characters and their own motivations. Specifically, Dwayne needed to be motivated enough to drive his own plot, but still retain enough flaws to make him absurd.
A lot of the writing process was spent replacing foes with equally left-field characters who better served the plot. Originally, a crew of Nuns looked after Dwayne (“Nun&Nun&Nun&Nun&Duckman“) before we pitched to Nickelodeon. We then changed them to be evil minions. The very good point was quickly made that the U.S. are particularly against the idea of religion in kids’ entertainment. Ian subsequently reinvented Fat Barry as naturist-gone-insane, Richard Battenburger, ruling over an army of zoo animals. Suddenly all of the ingredients of the story were literally using themselves up, which freed up a lot more time for energy and jokes. It also meant we were making a kid’s short based in a sort of nihilistic abattoir – in a good way.
The design style took it’s cue from Don’t Fear Death, with an eye to fit the characters in more elaborate watercolour style backgrounds. In terms of character design, Neil, started his stern life almost fully formed. He felt like the perfect embodiment of someone clinging onto their dignity but by their very nature can’t. Having a daft duck’s head also puts him through a kid’s perspective of how adults are always trying to be adults. Neil became the irreplaceable part of the film and so the other characters started to follow his lead.
Dwayne took the longest to work out even down to his proportions. In the end I was happy with the style of scruffy kid who might turn into a stoner one day, but it would have been nice to have completely cracked his look in the way that Neil manages to sums up his character.
Battenburger was a lot of fun to design because his personality shifts so much. He quickly established himself as a flabby riff on David Attenborough with a dash of Alan Whicker thrown in. He was also an excuse to have most of the main characters wearing suits…. Maybe Dwayne should have a suit too.
Ian’s already written about our experience of the casting and voice recording HERE. In brief, we like to prioritise specific casting so that the characters’ performance can really live. Recording sessions are always the most exciting part of productions. The script, rhythm and character foibles are all set in place. It draws a line under many tweaks of the script, and it injects a huge amount of inspiration for the long manual slog of animation production. When you’ve captured a performance from a great cast like Rasmus Hardiker, Mike Wozniak and John-Henry Falle you feel obliged to try to match the gold they’ve given you.
As usual all of the scenes were animated in Flash and composited in After Effects. Flash was the first animation software that I learnt and I still use it for most productions because so many other freelancers have access to it through the Adobe Suite. Which means that people are either already trained up on it or have access to it when working remotely. It’s certainly never been perfect but hopefully it will be slowly redeemed now that Adobe have refocused on it as ‘Animate CC’.
We had a few people working in the studio. Ross Butter was on board for the longest. He travelled down from the Highlands to to help lift a good chunk of the animation. He also designed all of the animal henchmen, including Hendrick riding a meat trolley pushed by Party Cow. We sent him off with at least a fortnight’s worth of Polish cheese and a duck caller.
The watercolour effect for the backgrounds came about as way to be more ambitious with the style but not compete too much with the central characters. The washiness of watercolour lent itself to a more stained, shabby world. The backgrounds were drawn in Flash so that it would be easier to control how characters interacted with them. The line art was then given texture and painted in Photoshop. After a search I found some watercolour brush presets designed by Michael Koran. You can download a copy of the brushes at his Stumpy Pencil blog. The results were surprisingly believable and the technique was quite forgiving. I’ve now discovered Kyle T Webster‘s watercolour brush pack which is really flexible and can produce very realistic results for the right sort of job.
Rob Connor created the music and Mark Ashworth did the sound, working in a similar way to how they did on Don’t Fear Death.
For the opening sting we gave the brief of a surf/garage version of the 60s Batman theme, and Rob nailed it. Also, an impressive amount of craft went into orchestrating the bad-guy lair theme so that it co-ordinated with the jokes and different tones. A lot of the humour comes from people bigging themselves up and being immediately undercut, so demanded a lot of drops in the music and playing around with percussion.
Mark’s work really brought everything alive. Like last time, we focused on a realistic soundscape so you could really feel the environment. The exception being Neil’s duck-torrets. The call is actually a sample from a poor quality YouTube clip of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Mark did a great job of cleaning it up, but it still retained a dirtiness that made it really jar in the best possible way. We gave both Mark and Rob duck callers to integrate into what they were doing, but when it came to Neil there was no need. Here’s Rob noodling around with the newly found lyricism of duck call samples:
We can’t understate how thankful we are to everyone at Nickelodeon for believing in us and letting us go through this process. Particular thanks go to Alexi Wheeler who’s emphasis was on being creator lead. We started out fully expecting everything would have to change, but all of the notes and meetings were very limited and concise. The rest was left to us to express ourselves and work in the way we felt best. That was really empowering and helped us retain the personality that we were going for without second-guessing what was expected too much. Here’s a present I painted for Alexi afterwards:
Here’s the full cast and crew credits:
Executive in Charge of Production – Alexi Wheeler
Production Co-ordinator – Matt Kilroy
Consulting Producer – Suzanne Lang
Special Thanks to Nina Hahn, Jules Borkent
If for some reason you haven’t watched it yet, here’s DuckManBoy:
As a curated website that is geared toward creators it’s a real privilege to be featured on the front page of Vimeo. Having that Staff Pick badge is as nice as any festival laurel because we’re aware it has been chosen by someone who sees tons of great work daily. The exposure we’ve had from the Staff Picks have changed our career and the way people receive our work so we’re really grateful that the people at Vimeo keep thinking our work’s worth their attention.
In 2014, we were approached to create an animation to promote new guidelines developed by the Norwegian Refugee Council for humanitarian shelter response. It was an incredibly interesting project that could help organisations use less resources to instigate long term change in areas that may be to aid.
After digesting the very complex subject matter, we spent a lot of attention with the commissioners working out an entertaining way to illustrate an overview of the concepts while still getting across accurate information. Care was also taken to avoid criticising the existing work that organisations were already doing, and instead offer this as a way to retool their current skills.
The guidelines used quite a lot of roadmap analogies, which helped us to develop a visual language. From there it was a case of nudging wording and working out what benefitted from spoken dialogue and what needed visual explanations to get across the dense information in the most concise way.
These new guidelines came from a case study of shelter crisis in Baghdad. Visually, we wanted to depict the scale of the problems and the diversity of everyone involved, but in a way that treated them with the sensitivity they deserved. While this case was specific to Baghdad, we also wanted to make the visuals general enough to make it easy for organisations to imagine using the principles in the environments that they were dealing with.
Written by Ian Ravenscroft
Designed and animated by Louis Hudson
Music by Rob Connor
Voiceover by Richard Heathcote
Commissioned by in.tar.si.a for Norwegian Refugee Council
Funded by UK Aid
The screenings will be taking place at The Mockingbird Theatre on 8th, 9th and 10th February at 8pm (7pm on Wednesday). All for FREE!
The British Animation Awards take place every 2 years, collecting the best festival-smashing, accolade-winning, Vimeo-Staff-Picking films in one place. Nationwide voting screenings are taking place to decide the Public Choice Award. So, this is your chance to choose your favourite films from a selection of the best animated short films and music videos going. The nights will also be presented by Marc Silk, the incredible voice behind Johnny Bravo, U.S. Bob The Builder, and Aks Moe in Star Wars Episode I.
There are different programmes taking place over three evenings with each screening lasting approximately 80mins.
Drinks and meals are available at the bar, so come down for a great opportunity to meet other animators, filmmakers, and fellow film lovers.
It’s free to attend but it’s worth reserving seats on the Billetto Page where you can also check the full film listings.
Thanks to everyone who came. Here’s some photos from the screenings. Thanks Marc Silk for hosting. Special thanks to Nina Noon, Jack Mugglestone, and Kieran Wilson for helping to run the nights. Kieran took the first five photos in this set:
Here’s some more digging up of the past. In 2013, Bristol-based Wönky asked me to be the lead character animator on a short film called, Dot, Circle, Box, which introduced the Samsung GALAXY Note 3 + Gear. The video racked up 1.5 million views… which is nice.
I was also tasked with working out the best way to reproduce the paint texture in Marion Deuchars‘ illustrations. In the end we went for a combination of layering semi-transparent layers in Flash and adding a washy transparency in After Effects.
A few years ago I created the animation for this advert for Joseph Farms Cheese in California. Originally, I storyboarded it not long out of University in 2009. All went quiet for 3 years until I was given the go ahead again in 2012. Two years later it found itself online with some extra live action added to the end. I guess cheese just isn’t something you rush.
Originally, the style was going to be a more expressionistic style drawn by hand to emphasise the natural qualities of the cheese. However, the client fell for the look of the Flash animated animatic, so I just cleaned that up in Flash and added some texture.
Visualising the natural way cheese is made is an interestingly disturbing fine line. I think people know well enough without having to be reminded directly.
Here’s some design variations: