BBC Three Snapchat

Ian‘s work at BBC Digital Guerrillas recently involved a takeover of BBC Three‘s Snapchat channel. Ian and Rob Linsey made some nice documentaries for it and commissioned some ‘pick-me-up’s to go between them. Here’s Louis’ week-themed contributions:

BBC Three Snapchat: MondaysBBC Three Snapchat: HumpdayBBC Three Snapchat: Friday

GIFs for BBC

Since Ian started full time at BBC Digital Guerrillas I’ve had the chance to work with him, churning out animation on some different projects for BBC. Here’s a little round up of some of them.

BBC Shakespeare

BBC Shakespeare ran activities on Shakespeare’s 400th Death-iversary and they wanted some animations for their social media channels. I made a few Gilliam inspired animations that fitted the tone. The ‘Hamlet’ animation below was also projected at the BBC Mailbox studio. I also made a daft Birthday/Deathday Cake GIF that didn’t get used but I was quite pleased with.

BBC Shakespeare: HamletBBC Shakespeare: IdentityBBC Shakespeare: Infinite MonkeysBBC Shakespeare Birthday/Death

 

BBC Odd Taste

Digital Guerrilla’s did a week-long reactive comedy takeover of BBC Taster. It was a really interesting project that lumped together comedians, developers, illustrators, photoshoppers and animators into virtual writers’ rooms on Slack and Google Hangout. Here’s a couple of things I made for Jimi Hendrix’s birthday and Wear Your Band T-Shirt To Work Day.

Jimi Hendrix Birthday

Wear Your T-shirt To Work Day

 

BBC Three Launch Vines

As BBC Three moved online I was asked to make a couple of mashups of their launch video for use on Vine. They got a nice reaction but weren’t used in the end. I suppose Greg Davies mucking about the apes from 2001 is a bit of stretch for the younger demographic.

Croissant at Encounters

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!

Encounters 2016

Fish4Dogs – Fine Dining For Dogs

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

Voices: Myles McLeod and Sinead Keenan

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.

Fish4Dogs Designs

Cowboy – Happidy Burdibay

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.

Croissant April Screenings

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Flatpack film festivalCroissant has a bunch of really interesting screenings coming up in April.

First up is Birmingham’s own Flatpack Film Festival during, Once Upon A Time In The West Midlands, Thu 21 April, 6:30pm.

It will also be part of the Shortcuts Screening, Fri 22 April 33:45 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.

It’s main selection screening is at the BFI during: LOCO Shorts Sunday Programme 1, Sun 24 April, 1:30pm

 

 

LOCO-LOCALThere 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

 

BarbicanThe 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.

 

 

DuckManBoy Behind The Scenes

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:

PRE-PRODUCTION:

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.

DuckManBoy Character progress

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.

CASTING:

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 HardikerMike Wozniak and John-Henry Falle you feel obliged to try to match the gold they’ve given you.

DuckManBoy Cast Photo

 

Animation Production:

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.

Other notable shoutouts go to animator Tom Lucas, who I now call the Miracle Man Of Cardiff, and Vanessa Hill who powered through the vast majority of colouring of the film.

Ross Butter and Hendrick

Leaving CheeseDuck Caller

 

BACKGROUNDS

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.09 Lair wide shot 08 Zoo07 Skyline 06 Bedroom high angle 02 TV Sponsored

11 Portrait Curtain

Music:

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:

 

Nickelodeon UK:

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:

DuckManBoy WatercolourHere’s the full cast and crew credits:

Rasmus Hardiker – Dwayne
Mike Wozniak – Neil
John-Henry Falle – Sir Richard Battenburger

CREW:
ProducersLouis Hudson & Ian Ravenscroft
Director – Louis Hudson
Writer – Ian Ravenscroft
Additional WritingRob Frimston

Animation – Louis HudsonRoss ButterTom Lucas, Matt Walker
Studio AssistantsVanessa HillAlex JolliffeWaheeda Rahman

MusicRob Connor
SoundMark Ashworth
Dialogue RecordingSoho Square Studios

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:

Vimeo Staff Pick for DuckManBoy

Our Nickelodeon short, DuckManBoy, has finally gone online and within a couple of days it became our 4th Vimeo Staff Pick!

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.

Vimeo Staff Pick

NRC – Lessons From Baghdad


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.

research

NRC Character Designs

NRC Mock Up city clearingNRC Mock up 5
NRC Mock up 8


NRC Mock up 4
NRC Mock Up ArrowNRC Mock up 2NRC-Mock-up-3




 

 

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

 

 

8th-10th Feb: BAA Public Choice Screenings 2016

BAA Dice banner

Together with Birmingham City University, we’ll be hosting the 2016 British Animation Award‘s Public Choice Award screenings.

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.

 

*EDIT*

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:

IMG_3293 IMG_3301 IMG_3302 IMG_3306IMG_3290IMG_8422
IMG_8402 3_smallIMG_8411

IMG_8412 IMG_8418