Very excited to be able to show the UK trailer for Robozuna, an ITV/Netflix original coming soon to CITV, which has been keeping me super busy storyboarding of late! It’s been a great to work with KidsCave Entertainment and their top team on this epic series that has pushed me all the way. I’m afraid this trailer only plays in the UK. I’ll post the international version when it’s out. Robo-robo-zuna!
I was honoured to be invited to give a storyboarding masterclass at Fest Anca, Slovakia earlier this year. Incorporating theoretical and practical exercises, I worked through my ABC’s of storyboarding (Acting, Blocking and Cinematography) to cover how to work with scripts, directors and other production team members to create powerful storyboards on fast paced television schedules.
Deconstructing scenes from classic films and my own work, we explored character development and how the assembly and juxtaposition of shots have a profound effect upon the audiences’ emotional responses and comprehension of a story.
Two projects dominated last Year. In November, Dennis and Gnasher Unleased! which I'd been storyboarding all year for the team at Jellyfish Pictures launched on CBBC. I had a fantastic time storyboarding on the series, under the direction of Boris Hiestand. The series topped the CBBC's ratings on its first week.
2017 was also the year Hull was put on the map as City of Culture. I've worked in Hull a lot over the years in education, and have family roots there and it was a real privilege to lead an animation project once more at Bricknell Primary School for an educational case study for Hull City of Culture using animated filmmaking to bring history to life.
Teaming once again with my friend and Bricknell wonder woman, Sarah Newton who really came into her own as I was so busy on Dennis. It was great to step out the studio and into this work created by children. We had an incredible team of pro's support the children, including Jon Dixon Adamson, Madeleine Thorne, Charlotte Blacker. All inspired by Lilly's Granddad who sailed the Arctic Corsair. A Trawl Through time won Best Animation (Under 12s) at Cinemagic.
After a great opening year in 2016, I was delighted to co-curate the 2nd Animation Central, an animation celebration for all the family, as part of Leeds Young Film Festival - the UKs biggest family film event.
To celebrate the release of The LEGO Batman Movie, we pulled together a festival full of Brick filmmaking. LEGO art director Tori Davis visited from LEGO HQ in Denmark to talk about her work, and help children turn themselves into a LEGO mini figure by learning to draw the LEGO way!
LEGO animation director Tony Mines from Spite Your Face Productions gave a masterclasses and a series of workshops, while other groups created a soundtrack.
The result was 'ICE CREAM HEADACHE: A LEGO Batman Film" made by over 150 young attendees on the Animation and Sound workshops at #LYFF2017's Animation Central - get your popcorn and have a watch!
On the main stage, we screened films and hosted fantastic live events, including a BAFTA kids Premiere screening of The Amazing World of Gumball.
I hosted a daily Animation Show: an interactive family event where families watched cartoons together, tested their animation trivia knowledge, and went behind the scenes to discover the secrets of some of their favourite programmes. Special guests - who also led their own workshops included Tori Davis (LEGO), Paul Couvella (Scream Street) and John Ashton (Postman Pat).
Animation Central 2017 closed with the World Premiere of the ASIFA Workshop Group film, Metamorphosis. As well as welcoming back our young animators who took part in making the film during last year’s festival, we broke new ground by connecting with groups at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies in Yerevan and Dilijan for a live Q&A.
Along with an exhibition AniMotion, and drop in workshops from flipbooks to Blender, it was an incredible way to spend Easter in Yorkshire!
I'm thrilled to be part of the storybaord team at Jellyfish Animation on Dennis and Gnasher Unleased, for Beano Studios, due to be broadcast on CBBC in late 2017. Directed by Boris Hiestand with a fantastic London based animation team, it's much fun to work on. I've been bevering away on this since September and the renders and animation coming out look amazing.
I'm really looking forward to speaking in an interactive Bob the Builder masterclass with director Stuart Evans for the Into Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival, on 17th November. Tickets are selling fast, with just a few left. Tickets for schools are FREE! Perfect for 5-14 year olds, children will be guided through the production process and the day in the life of a director and a storyboard artist. If all that wasn't enough, it's accompanied with a screening of an all time animated classic!
I'm really looking forward to taking this storyboarding workshop for young people at CineMagic Film Festival in Belfast this half term. As well as showing clips from some of my boards, we are going to do lots and lots of writing and storyboarding to make a short film in storyboard and animatic form, complete with voices! Places still available from the festival!
What an animated Easter I had! A massive thanks to the team at Leeds Young Film Festival for inviting me to co-create a brand new animation strand for the BIGGEST FAMILY FILM EVENT in the country!!
I spent Easter like a kid in a sweet shop dreaming up what would make the ultimate family animation weekend. Thanks to the industry support we received, the Arts Council and our supporters at BAFTA Kids, we gave Leeds a super special Easter gift.
From talks and workshops from Great British children's TV favourites Clangers and Bob the Builder, to a closing night preview of The Prophet with Q&A from segment director Tomm Moore, there really was something for all the family!
Thanks to HiT Entertainment and my director Stuart Evans for taking time out to talk Bob the Builder, Clangers stop motion animation John Aston for a great talk and workshop, the voice of Miss Rabbit - Sarah Ann Kennedy for a great performance workshop, and Scream Street animation Paul Couvella for a armature animation workshop - to name a few! And of course the wonderful Tori Davis for designing our logo.
As well as all those amazing workshops, I was also really happy to team up again with the children's world-wide animation workshop that is ASIFA Workshop Group. So as well as checking in with our guests, I was busy teaching a group of under 15s on a morphing workshop - all by hand, for their entry into the film.
And here's some more videos from the week in short workshops supported by a group of great animators.
The Astronomer’s Sun has been selected in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Film Critic programme,
Screenings of the film will be available to more than 50 venues that partner with KIDS FIRST! Film Festival across the US over the next two years.
They said, "This exquisite short film exemplifies the potential of animation for poignant storytelling and magical artistry."
New York audiences can also see the film play in competition at the Philip.K.Dick Science Fiction Film Festival this Saturday.
The worldwide broadcast premiere of brand new BOB THE BUILDER takes place in the UK on Tuesday 1st September at 7.20 on Milkshake! (Channel 5) and will continue to air every weekday from then on.
Working with the team at Hit is a real joy, and I'm continuing to be busy storyboarding new episodes. While the modern CG refresh of the series looks different to the 90s stop motion classic so many of us grew up with, we've been very respectful to the characters. I can't tell you how much fun I've had going to work everyday with Bob and the gang. They really do bounce of the page and I hope that todays children love them as much as I've loved helping to board their adventures.
So if you’re based in the right time zone, don’t forget to set your alarm and catch the first episode, “Sky High Scoop”.
I'm delighted to announce The Astronomers Sun has picked up it's 17th award at the New Mexico Women in Film, TV and Media Festival for Best Editing! Now while our co-writer/director Jessica Cope is a woman through and through, our editors, Adam Kirk and Dave Long both happen to be men, which shows just how progressive this festival really is!!
The importance of the editing process in an animated film is often overlooked, so I'm thrilled that Adam and Dave has been given this recognition for their dedicated and inspired work on the film.
The 17th award marks a milestone for us and our partners at Screen Yorkshire.
Sally Joynson, Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire says, ‘’We’re delighted to congratulate the team behind ‘The Astronomer’s Sun’, with this 17th award, making it one of the two most successful short films ever funded by Screen Yorkshire. It’s a phenomenal achievement for the filmmakers, but comes as no surprise as it truly is a stunning animation and a fantastic example of the home-grown filmmaking talent that hails from Yorkshire’’.
Camilla Deakin, Executive Producer at Lupus Films for Channel 4 said, "From its inception it was clear that Directors Jessica Cope and Simon Cartright had a singularity of vision which translated very powerfully on to the screen and resulted in a moving and mysterious film.’
It is in the editing process that a filmmakers vision is tested, refined, and boiled down and no more so than on The Astronomers Sun. We brought senior drama editor, Dave Long in early on in the scriptwriting stage, to create the animatics for the film. As a drama editor, Dave was able to bring his huge experience of cutting drama and offer practical help to Simon and Jess who were wrestling with in the script in those early days. These animatics in effect replaced the scripts our our primary tool in refining the story, which of course has no dialogue. These animatics were sent to our script consultant and executive producers in the 3 incarnations of the film we created with storyboards, temp music and effects, before being green-lit for production.
From there, Adam Kirk, took over the reigns, first in the capacity of assistant editor, but quickly rising to editor steering the film through production and into post for broadcast and festival exhibition worldwide. Not only did Adam contribute enormously to the visual storytelling of the film, he was also responsible for the stunning HD prints for cinema and web. Originally commissioned in SD, back when SD was the standard delivery format, Adam championed HD for us, and created a production pipeline to do just that. Thanks to Adam, The Astronomers Sun was one of the first short films to be mastered in the latest cinema format, DCP. Adam is now an in-house editor at Reef Television in London.
To discover more about the process of editing "The Astronomers Sun", you can read this fascinating interview with Adam Kirk.
I've had a blast working with ToonBoom over the last few weeks to create this 7 part video tutorial on hand-drawn effects. All the time I was doing this I was thinking - boy, I really love animating effects.... along with remembering how long this would have taken back in the heyday, and how the software to do this kind of thing back then would have been about as expensive as a small house! So it was a real privilege to play with this (excitingly affordable) high end software and rediscover an art form I love. I put a lot of effort into making these tutorials as rich in the animation principles as software technique - hope you like it.
My first Chuggington episode aired last week on CBeebies. Chuggington series 5 is currently honking in at 8.20am everyday with new trains and a new epic location - the docks. This was the first series I storyboarded in 3D using pre-vis tool Redboard, and this series really goes all out for for its cinematic credentials. I'll put some examples of storyboards up over the next few weeks in the storyboard section. For now, be sure to catch the series on CBeebies!
I'm going to be giving a special behind the scenes talk on my work on storyboarding in children's TV at The Film House, Leeds Young Film Festival, on Friday 17th March. Thanks to Aardman, I'm going to be giving a special behind the scenes insight into the Shaun the Sheep TV series from script to screen, and showing how the storyboarding process plays a vital role in defining the animation on screen. I'll also be showing some of my animation in films and on Easter Friday and Saturday I'll be hosting some flip book workshops too at The Film House! Just two of the great things going on at Leeds Young Film Festival this Easter.
Screening in Egypt! Congratulations to all at Titus Salt School, UK and Amandus-abendroth-Gymnasium in Germany for the musicians of CuxAire, a modern retelling of The Musicians' of Breman, and the young people from Barnsley Museums for their very personal animated film, "Women of the Working Class", 30 years on from the minors strike.Read More
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.
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
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.
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!
My Bricknell, last 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.