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.

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NRC Character Designs

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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:

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Louis’ animation for Wonky on Samsung film

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.

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Animation for Joseph Farms Cheese

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.

sample-storyboard_00072Originally, 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:

kid designs cow designsPencil swirl-crunch

 

 

 

 

Creative Black Country

Last Autumn we were asked by Creative Black Country to make a half hour film documenting their groundwork groups presented by Fizzog’s Dancing Grannies.

The aim was to make something that was fun and could be shown in front of all of the community groups at a party, which would be a rare chance for all of them to see what each other do. In some cases it would also be a rare chance to have some respite from their routine.

A gonzo-style exploration was the inspiration for a loose narrative to link the disparate groups together. Fizzog’s Dancing Grannie characters would also be able to disarmingly bumble into the groups they came across. Fizzog knew their characters so well that it made it very easy to improvise interviews and break out of character when necessary.

The main priority was that interviewees were in on the joke, felt comfortable and were respected. A lot of work was done to make sure they knew what was about to happen and who we all were. That way Fizzog could lead a rambling conversation with no pressure on the interviewees. The relaxed, messy style often brought out the funnier confident sides in people. We also made sure we had a tiny set up so that we didn’t crowd out the groups. Craig Bush shot everything, with Paul McHale standing in one day. Pete Styles recorded and mixed the sound. Fizzog rocked up in costume. I directed and produced. In practise, it meant that the day started off like a little tea break with all of the interviewees being privy to any artifice, which could have caused confusion otherwise.

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In terms of any plot, we only had to bookend the film with some motivation and closure. The bus stop idea came about purely from the amount of dancing we’d already filmed and having to fit a new location into an existing filming day. It summed up their role in the film nicely, but I only realised the Gregory Is A Dancer rip-off till afterwards. Anti-Social Bus Stop Dancing should just be a thing that is in all films. Everything in between was them discovering stuff they didn’t know.

What made the project special was that everyone working on the film were also discovering stuff. I’m relatively ignorant to what’s going on in the Black Country and the groups by definition were ‘hard to reach’. We went to some spaces and buildings that are hidden gems, people were going through things that we’d never had to think about, and there were some incredible acts of selflessness.

Here’s the full film

Presented by: The Fizzogs (Sue Hawkins, Jacky Fellows, Deb Nicholls)

Filmed by: Craig Bush, Paul McHale
Sound Recording: Pete Styles
Sound Mix: Pete Styles
Editing: Craig Bush, Louis Hudson
Colour: Craig Bush
Directed & Produced by Louis Hudson
Commissioned by Creative Black Country

Don’t Fear Death at BritishShorts

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Don’t Fear Death is still going on the festival circuit. This time at BritishShorts, aka LichtSpeilKlub Short Film Festival. We’ll be screening at the Animation Special Screening at Sputnik Kino on 25/1/2016, 8pm.

Slimmer Of The Year

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Here’s a video with all of the most Christmassy things in it: Santa, Rudolph, Snow, Cheer, drink driving, loads of spare skin, parasailing… the list goes on.

Despite a hectic schedule Santa’s taken some time out to celebrate reaching his goal weight with a spot of spare-skin-parasailing.

Sound design and ‘Joy To The World’ interpretation was by our recent collaborator Pete Styles.

The animation has also featured on Skwigly Magazine’s Advent Calender as a looping GIF:

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Croissant Broadcast on Canal+

l'oeil de linksWhat do the French love more than baguettes, garlic, berets and even rudeness? CROISSANTS OF COURSE.

Our film Croissant is going to be broadcast on 14th December on Canal+ as part of the show, L’Oeil de Links.

You’re probably not in France so you can watch it here:
 

Croissant Behind the Scenes

About 3 years ago outside a coffee shop, Ian got some croissant on his face and a silly sketch popped out fully formed. The main challenge was how to attach structurally unstable croissants to a face. We asked Twitter and THE Bob Mortimer told us “copydex”. If sticking stuff to your face is good enough for them it’s good enough for us. After Croissant’s first screening we heard Bob had ‘fallen’ and underwent a triple bypass. Sorry it took 3 years to make Bob.

 

 

Kings Sandwich Bar

This summer we wanted a nice excuse to work with our clever mates and have something to show at a couple of festivals. We settled on Croissant, which at first felt more like a sketch, but there were so many weird elements to it that there was a reason we hadn’t braved it yet.

We feel that animation and live action should only be used when they’re most useful. It would have been easy to make a 2D cartoon, but that wouldn’t have had much impact beyond the amusing concept. The aim was to make the film purely funny in every aspect and have the audience feel the escalation is spontaneously happening right there. However that’s achieved through quite a technical way. The actors and their chemistry have to fit with the correct surrounding. There needs to be some sort of relationship subtext so that you can care about why they’re angry/confused. The transformations should look shoddy but believable.  The pastry levels have to increase in the right increments. The roaring torrent of jam has to be a punchline that can’t be topped (I would have liked more jam).

It felt like it should take place somewhere like a roadside cafe. Maybe because roadside cafe’s feel like strange limbos, but probably because we like greasy spoon cafes. As for actors, Tom Reid was always going to be our number one croissant. John Henry Falle was so impressive on DuckManBoy that we had to find a way to work with each other again. Together, Tom’s small performance versus John Henry’s jangly, booming  performance was brilliant to watch.prop sketches

PROPS:

Next thing to work on was the Croissant head. After a while of painting and glazing, the smell of stale reference croissants started to make me think I had a painted an actual huge croissant.

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The squirty eyes were made under the wisdom of Chris Randall. I turned up with some pingpong balls, jumbo syringes, tubing and twelve jars of cheap jam. Chris immediately rolled up his sleeves. The first test was a thick jam fail. Cordial made a lot more sense and could wash out. We also got bonus Doctor advice to shorten the tubes for less resistance.

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I enquired about a custom croissant handlebar moustache and eyebrows with a French patisserie, but realised it was easy enough to just bake/grill puff pastry to make sturdy but flakey facial hair.

 

Post-Production:

In the script there was no specific dialogue or clear cut emotional ramp until the obvious big transformations. Capturing the spontaneity of the performance took priority so I threw out continuity in favour of building and layered the performance in the edit.  It took about 2 edits to realise this. Up to then, the performance felt consciously cut and snarky. Once the continuity was ruined it was quite freeing to do the ‘croissant choreography’ from scratch, even though this meant removing and adding croissant on most of Tom’s shots. It also meant I could really start experimenting with the rhythm of the edit. The emotional build up of the characters became much clearer too. John Henry’s nervousness is brewed up by Tom’s stupidity to the point where you can see why he would crack. It took a lot of time and we debated whether we should have done things differently, but the only way round would have been a day of rehearsals we didn’t have, or tons of retakes which might have killed the atmosphere.
 
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Craig’s framing on the shoot really captured Tom’s performance and built the tension, but all of my edit meddling lead to inconsistent framing. This meant that half the shots were reframed with tracked background plates. That sounds like an unnecessary amount of work, but it gave the scenes a flow by steadily pushing the camera back and forwards on Tom. By the time I’d gone this deep I went the whole way and fixed a couple of continuity errors, rubbed out jam tubes and rubber bands, painted Tom’s face, and made his butter fascinator melt.
 
Making a jam torrent that would smash into Tom without a ruining the cafe was another hurdle. Genius Chris Randall came to the rescue again. He had the idea of turning Tom on his back against a green screen and pouring jam from above to give the illusion of lots of gravity defying force. Otherwise we’d need to bodge together pressurised equipment full of jam. Buckets full of watery jam were a lot easier.

Crew:

We had one of the nicest teams we could have had for filming in such a tight space.

We’ve done stuff with Craig Bush for a few years now. We share a lot of the same humour and he was the one that chose Croissant as the next film.

Pete Styles is a great sound designer and recordist and wehad wanted to work with him for a while. He’s one of the loveliest guys going, and since shooting this Craig, Pete and me have got to keep the fun going on a few location shoots.

Beth Lowes was amazing and one-upped Bob Mortimer’s ‘Copydex’ with ‘eyelash glue’. We’re really grateful that she chose to use her Sunday to share Tom’s head as a craft project.

Also a huge thanks to Kings Sandwich Bar in Kings Heath. After recceing around town and scouring Google Maps, the only cafe that was closed on Sunday, happy to film, and had the world’s best mural of a full breakfast, was just a mile up the road. Thanks to Lucy from King’s for cameoing as the waitress too.

‘Premiere’:

The film got it’s first showing at Bar Shorts in Shoreditch. By most accounts it got the best laughs of the night. Ian filmed this nice video of the reaction:

GIFs:

Here’s some GIFs. Everyone likes GIFs.