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Man In A Cat Online

After almost exactly a year of festivals, a smattering of awards and a photo with Barry From Eastenders, Man In A Cat has finally popped its head out of the internet! It’s also been released on Future Shorts’ YouTube Channel where it’s gathered some nice comments already.

Now that everybody in the world can see the film, we’d appreciate your help in making every one of them watch it whether they want to or not! Hooray!!

 

 

Writing for animation (and a new project)

Writing is crucial to animation. There’s a blank world that needs populating by a writer or director and imagination and storytelling need to be employed from the very start of most animated projects. Here’s a look at an adaptation we’re currently working on to give you an idea of the writing process.

The project

We’re about to start working on a side project. It’s an animated comedy short again, but this time we’re working in a completely different way to how we’ve worked before. I won’t go into much detail about the content (because secrets are cool) but this post will hopefully give an insight into how we’re approaching this project from a writing perspective.

The film will be an animated adaptation of something originally written and recorded by Kevin Eldon, the voice of Yorkie in Man in a Cat and all-round comedy leg end. The audio Kevin has already recorded is hilarious, and being fans of both Kevin and laughing, Louis and I got in touch and suggested we turn his work into something new and visual. Luckily, the recording is one of Kevin’s favourites so the project got the green light and we’ll hopefully be making a funny short film from it.

Being an independent adaptation, the project has thrown up some interesting freedoms and limitations. We’re free because there’s no funding, no deadline, no brief, and no sign-off (apart from Kevin’s approval of course). However, we’re limited because there’s no funding, we’re adapting another writer’s work, and the dialogue is already recorded. So on one hand we can do what we want, and on the other we have to find the time and resource to get it made and work to a locked down set of audio recordings. Thankfully, the freedoms are outweighing any limitations at this stage.

Challenges

Despite having the dialogue already written and recorded there are several challenges on the writing front. First we have to cut down over 10 minutes of dialogue into a more palatable length for a short animated film. In doing so we have to keep the jokes and story intact, add a new ending without additional dialogue, and add visual gags and signposting to our new ending. We also have to create a whole visual world and language for the story that will be developed further through design and direction.

The first port of call when writing the adaptation is the original audio. We have no script to work from, so I listened to it many more times than I already had to absorb the characters, story, jokes, and feel of the material. I then transcribed the whole script from the audio, cutting out sections of exposition (descriptions of the setting etc) that could be replaced visually. This reduced the run-time significantly and started to create layers in which visual jokes popped off the dialogue and vice-versa.

The next phase was to cut the audio to match the new draft script. This presented the story in a new form and allowed me to listen for any continuity or pacing issues, but also allowed me to visualise the material from a new perspective and feed that back into the script, adding jokes or story points. This is as far as we’ve got. The next stage is to flesh out the script with visual direction, sight gags and build up the world that will guide the design process. We also need to lock down an ending.

Endings

In my opinion the ending is everything. Without an ending a story is not complete. It has to deliver the message (or messages) of the film whilst tying up all the loose ends and providing a satisfying and logical conclusion to what you’ve just seen. I think it’s telling that of the most successful shorts tend to be the ones with water-tight or surprising endings. We’ve identified what our ending needs to do and have several ideas, but the current task is to condense those themes into the most efficient and effective scene we can, being mindful of runtime and continuity.

As a side note, Kevin’s original recording doesn’t have a bad ending. It’s just that we’ve identified an opportunity to add a whole new satisfying conclusion that stays true to the spirt of the rest of the material. And it can be done without dialogue. Win. Handily, Kevin wants to be involved in the process, so we’ll be sending over script drafts to him for for his unique input into the visual side of the project.

The next steps

So once the edited dialogue, sight gags, and story is locked down the director/designer will take over. The writing process for animation is so important. ‘Reshoots’ (or re-draws perhaps) are expensive, time-consuming, and can throw continuity and pacing completely out of the window.

We’ll try to follow this post up with more production notes but we really don’t know how long the process will take. If you’d like to fund this endeavor or help out, then please do get in touch.

 

Finalists at the British Animation Awards

January’s been a bit of news-gasm, but do bear with us. It can’t go on like this all year (or could it…?). Anyway, the latest bit of news is that All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) has been selected as a finalist at the British Animation Awards in the Best Short Film category. Whoop, and indeed, de-doo.

This means we’ll be going along to the glitzy awards ceremony at the BFI on March 15th. (See artist’s impression of the awards).

We’re also up for the BAA Public Choice award so if you see the film at a BAA screening be sure to vote for us! We’re hosting a Birmingham screening of the Public Choice films at The Custard Factory on 9, 10, 11 Febraury. You can book tickets for the screenings (which include a free drink courtesy of Light House) on our Eventbrite page at: baawardsbham.eventbrite.com

 

 

Oxfam International Women’s Day video

Here’s a video Louis designed, animated and directed for Oxfam’s International Women’s Day. It was commissioned by Infinite Wisdom Productions who produced the script written by Matt & VinceChris Warren assisted with the animation.

The existing branding heavily uses silhouetted icons, so silhouetted characters made sense in terms of style and turnaround speed. The tapered character designs and painterly stamp textures helped give the video the elegance and dignity it needed. I also made sure to shoehorn in a few character animation techniques to give a little sparkle to the movement and acting.

Everything had to be turned around in about three weeks over Christmas, but I think we managed to make the limited style and schedule work to our advantage.

In preparation, I looked closer at Saul Bass‘s work and was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the line based character in his title sequence in It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Graphical animation usually needs to chuck out some real-world physics to accomodate the abstract imagery, which can clash with the mechanics of comic acting.

Here’s some stills from the title sequence of  It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World:

Man in a Cat picked out by Sight & Sound magazine

sight-and-sound-logo

It’s been a busy old news week, hasn’t it? So busy that we forgot to mention that All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) had been picked out by Sight & Sound magazine in it’s top-nine films at the London Short Film Festival, which is more than nice of them.

Here’s what Sight & Sound‘s Dylan Cave had to say about the film:

The festival opens with this weird hand-drawn animation about a tiny man who lives inside a stray cat. The cat is given shelter by a lonely young woman and the little man inside immediately falls in love with her, making plans to leave his feline home. An original, cheeky, and surprisingly coherent piece.

That’s right, “surprisingly coherent”. Louis says he wants that on his gravestone and I may hold him to it. And just so you know they’re not any old jokers:

Sight & Sound was first published in 1932 and in 1934 management of the magazine was handed to the nascent BFI, which still publishes the magazine today.

So there.

We’re going to be at the London Short Film Festival awards ceremony on Sunday 15th Jan so if you’re going to be there too say hello!

Shortlisted for Best Comedy Short at London Short Film Festival

In more awards news All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) has been shortlisted for the LoCo Award for Best Comedy Short at the 9th London Short Film Festival. We’re in the top three alongside Tequila (dir Jon Drever) and Tumult (dir Johnny Barrington).

The winning film will screen as LoCo’s Discovery Short, highlighting the best new talent at the London Comedy Film Festival, at the BFI Southbank in January 2012. The winning filmmaker will also receive a free place on their LoCollege course ‘Kickstart Your Comedy Career’, worth £100. Thanks to LoCo.

Here’s hoping, eh? We’ll be at the awards do on Sunday 15th Jan at the ICA so if you’re going along say hello! We’re @Ravonski and @Louishudson on the Twitters.

Shortlisted for the British Animation Awards

man in a cat british animation awards shortlist

All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) has been shortlisted in the Best Short Film category at the British Animation Awards. Woo!

The British Animation Awards is a totally unique event: the only one that brings together all the key players, and emerging and established talent, from the many and varied sectors of the UK animation scene, for an evening that is very different – and we think rather more fun! – than most Awards events.

The BAA shortlisted entries will be seen by the main jury in mid-January, who will decide on three finalists and a winner and it’s very exciting to be in the mix.

The film is also in programme three of the BAA Public Choice awards

The Public Choice Programme offers you – the audience – the chance to select your favourite films from a fantastic range of animation films made over the past two years.Three programmes containing a mix of animated shorts, music videos and commercials are screening at 21 venues across the UK.

So if you see the film out and about give us a vote! You can see the venues and screening dates for the Public Choice awards here.

Wish us luck!

Merry Christmas From Them

December got silly busy very quickly, so we didn’t have a chance to make you a jolly Christmas greeting. Instead, here’s a new Christmas card I designed and animated for Danish company, Go’Proces. They provided the script, which I’m not sure even makes sense in Danish.

In other news I’ve been busy directing/animating a nice little video for Oxfam with Matt & Vince and Infinite Wisdom over the last few weeks. More to come on that soon.

Man In A Cat Trailer

Here’s the long awaited trailer for Man In A Cat! Watch, like, share, leave comments… go nuts.

I’ve neglected a lot of the Man In A Cat‘s behind the scenes, but enough time’s past now for me to be able to deal with the post-traumatic flashbacks. So more behind the scenes to come.

Pitstop campaign animation

An animation we produced for Take a Pitstop has made its way online.

The idea was to raise awareness of Lymphoma in the under-30s so we tried to make something funny but got across a very serious message that could affect people’s health.

We worked with animator Matt Partridge with art direction from Zinc Design. The voices were done by Louis and Tom and the script was written by Ian.