I’m a curiously creative individual,
developing my voice as an artist,
and questioning my reality.
Here’s my latest animation project, an idea I’be had for a while now, but finally had the time to work on it. I got the idea from experimenting with animation techniques and mediums during my foundation last year. Inspiration for this project includes the work of Caleb Wood, Gary Carpenter and Paul Bush (if you haven’t heard of them and you like this project, look them up).
As for the animation itself, it was originally meant to be a very small doodle-animation idea I had, thinking it would take maybe a couple of days or something. However I kept going back to it and refining it, something I don’t generally do with small project ideas.
After I finished animating, I made a little soundtrack, something very simple in logic, musical loops to fit the motion, so the visuals and audio match. Later I was lucky enough to get a professional sound person on-board to create a uniquely fitting soundtrack. I was really happy with what Steff Willow did with it, she followed my guidelines really well and also put lots of personality and style into it.
While I was in the in the process of printing, cutting, numbering, sticking and photographing the stickers, I had the opportunity to be featured on the Welsh TV channel, S4C. They were looking for welsh artists to talk about their current/recent projects. This was perfect for me as I wanted to make a behind the scenes video for this project anyway. So it was, again, great to have a professional covering this area of the project, and for it to then be featured on TV was a bonus.
This is the result of completing my Foundation in Art and Design last year at the Carmarthen School of Art. It was screened and nominated for 3 Awards at the UK's leading Film and Animation Festival, Encounters. This timed perfectly with me starting my animation degree in Bristol, where the festival is held.
After the screening, I was invited to attend a Q and A, answering questions from members of the audience. I was honored to be sitting next to so many skillful and talented filmmakers, and also very awkward.
I was also interviewed for ITV News about my achievement. Check it out here
When I first started my foundation, I was mainly interested in developing my observational drawing skills. Although I did much of this, and improved a lot, I was also obligated to experiment with art and design in general. They encouraged us to broaden our creative horizons, and always tried to get us out of our comfort zones.
At the start I found this a bit annoying, I just wanted to get better at drawing. By the end of the course however, I had gained experience in a wide variety of creative mediums, many of which I continue to do now. At the end of the course, we had to make a Final Piece, and had about 2 months to produce whatever the heck we wanted.
I initially wanted to make a mish-mash of techniques, into some form of abstract narrative that fitted around the theme ‘connection’. I chose this theme because it's very open to do whatever you want, during the course I chose lots of loose concepts like this, to let the idea to develop as I thought about it over time.
After watching ‘Furniture Poetry’ (by Paul Bush) in a lecture a few months before this project, I was really inspired, it was something that felt completely new and exciting to me. At the time of this project I was also really interested by Caleb Wood’s work, he seemed to be able to animate anything and find animation everywhere.
Sean Vicary, my tutor, was also a major influence on this project; he encouraged me to continue animating in this medium after I showed him a small test. He also gave me the best feedback on my work, helping me understand what I was doing, and pointing me in all the right places. Check out his amazing animations here.
I didn’t think much of it at first, but over the first month of making animations like this, I became hooked on it. It combined photography with animation, and was also about exploring the real world in search for ‘visual links’, to create a consistent motion through the variety of visuals.
I also got to animate outside, something most animators can only dream about.
After much tests, exploration and investigation, I had finally began to break into this abstract medium. I had a month left to make my final piece, so I decided to explore both an urban and natural environment, for contrast. I spent 1 week animating for each environment, then spent a bit more than a week animating some 2D interpretation sequences, and spent the rest of the time editing and developing the sound design.
This was my first commission work, a band called ‘The Dapper Cadavers’ wanted me to make them an animated music video for their song ‘Biology’. At the time I had just started my animation degree in Bristol, learning to be an animating student. I had some help from course-mates, Efa B-M made the quirky cut-out characters, which I then animated, and Llinos Turner made an effective digital painting.
As I had a lot of freedom with this, I wanted the different sections of the song to be in different styles/mediums, because I wanted the production to be as fun and wacky as the song is. I originally wanted the vegetable characters to be stop motion, using real food. However I ran out of time, and wasn't able to get the studio space before the food went moldy, so I settled for a digital cutout version instead.
I was also hoping to get someone to help me with the 2D animation, but they were too busy in the end, which is why parts of it look a bit iffy. This was a fun project to get on with, I’ve always wanted to make a complete music video, this was the perfect excuse to do so, I learned a lot through the process and hope it wont be my last music video project.
In July 2015, I participated in the Ani-Jam, this is a 48 hour animation challenge set in Bristol, run by Show me the Animation and linked with Encounters Film and Animation Festival. We had to create a short animation based around the theme ‘Hero’ which they announced at the beginning of the 48hours.
We ended up winning the Audience Vote, so we had the most votes from the general public. However we didn't get any votes from the judges, so we didn't get the top prize. Still not bad considering we were competing against animation degree graduates, and people working in the industry.
We had to be in groups between 2-4, so I gathered 3 other team members who were also interested in doing the challenge, Kelly Mann, Efa B-M and Meg Houghton, all of which I met at the BFI Animation Camp the previous year.
It was a very stressful and chaotic 48 hours, so many things went wrong and it appeared that fate was generally against us during that time, lots of problems stemmed from the fact that we had no Internet access in our accommodation, and that we were far out from the actual town of Bristol, so when we needed anything it was a real hassle to get anything done quickly or efficiently.
The people I worked with each had their own unique skills and talents that really benefited the animation in various areas. Because of this we decided to create a mish-mash of animation techniques and processes, and we felt an animated documentary featuring various contrasting and unique opinions about heroism would best suit this collection of styles and ideas.
We thought this would make us stand out in the competition, after watching various previous entries to the challenge, we came to the conclusion that most people would create a 2D digital animation, based around the traditional storyline and narrative about some heroic figure and his goals etc. We thought an animated documentary featuring a variety of techniques and mediums would give us the edge.
We brainstormed ideas about the kind of questions we could ask people, the most interesting ones were where people would talk about their personal views or stories about heroic people in their life, or when they have been a hero themselves. We wanted to show the everyday hero, not a super hero.
After interviewing everyone we came across on the streets of Bristol, and editing the best bits together into a concise soundtrack, it was time to start animating.
Each team member offered his or her own unique skills and talents, which worked well when we mashed them all together into a jumble of visuals.
Kelly Mann’s specialism was towards 2D flash and character animation.
Efa B-M had created 2D cutout illustrations before and was generally a brilliant artist/filmmaker.
Meg has an impressive history with stop motion animation, very skilled in this medium and was going to be starting her final year of the UWE film-making degree course.
All in all I was very happy with our team, I felt we had produced lots of very strong work in just 48 hours.
I also like that each of us tried something new during the production. Efa had never done cutout animation before, Kelly had never used ToonBoom before, Meg had never animated in plasticine before and I had never animated a pillow or outside before.
I’m really happy with our final outcome, it was a great way to spend the weekend during the summer in Bristol, and a great way for me, Kelly and Efa to start our animation degrees later in September too.
During my foundation they assigned us a brief where the main theme was ‘Respect’. We were completely free to interpret this however we wanted and our final outcomes were exhibited in a local art gallery for 2 weeks.
Before this project I had been spending most of my time drawing, painting and generally trying to develop my traditional and fine art skills. I had not made an animation for a while and was feeling the urge to animate something.
After watching ‘Procrastination’ by Johnny Kelly, I was immediately inspired to create something in a similar fashion, playing with techniques, ideas and conflicting opinions that make people question what the theme is all about.
I started with making lists, lots of lists about what respect meant to me, respectful things that happen in my life and so on. I came up with lots of things, but ultimately decided that the most interesting ones were the more personal experiences that people encounter every day. I wanted to get more of these gems of respectful actions, so I made a questionnaire about it and handed it out to everyone on the course, gathering everyone’s unique experiences.
After refining them to the most interesting ideas, and putting them in an order that tells a story, I got various people to read my list aloud while being recorded with a microphone, so I could then chop them all up and mix various voices together into one soundtrack.
I wanted the animation to express diversity and variation in everything, which is why I pulled everyone’s ideas and voices together into one seamless experience, it’s also why I tried to incorporate as many techniques as I could think of, which then led me to new techniques Id never tried or even heard of before.
The variety of techniques I incorporated into this include: 2D traditional, 2D digital, traditional cut-out, stop motion and pixilation. Through this I also learned new ways of working and was able to experiment with different ways of achieving the illusion of motion through new mediums and techniques.
Because our course was open to whatever facilities the college had, I decided to take advantage of my access to their laser cutter, I created an animated sequence and laser cut out each frame, and photographed each against a different background (maintaining the cut-outs composition each time).
After experimenting with this I decided to create a full colour animation sequence on the computer, where I then used the colleges high quality printers to print each individual frame out, and went around various areas of the college asking people to hold different frames (in order) while I took their photo (again making sure to maintain a consistent composition of the frame so that it links up fluidly when watching it back).
I was really pleased with the results, and liked the imperfection of the process, the contrast of an animated sequence with the large variation of people in the background, as it cycles through the frames.
All in all, this was a fun way to experiment with ways of doing things, it led me to new ideas which I am still interested in, and am still developing now.
BFI Animation Camp 2014
In February 2014, I won a place at the BFI Animation Camp, this was a week long course where a group of 30 aspiring animators (aged 16-19) were shown various techniques and ways of working. We got to attend animation workshops, run by 3rd year students of the Bristol School of Animation, and lectures by professionals working in the animation industry.
After they showed us some basic skills and ways of animating, inspired us with lectures and screenings of a diverse range of short animations (about 2 days), they set us the task of producing short animations our selves, split into groups of 5, all working on separate films.
The first thing was deciding on who’s idea to pick (before we came to the event, they told us we had to think of ideas for short films and present them at the camp). My idea was just based around the simple action of making a cup of tea, but from the teabags perspective. Everyone in my group liked the idea so we went with that, we only had 1 day to develop a script, 2 days to produce and 1 day to edit and make the audio.
We chose pixilation for the style as it’s a fast way of getting effective results, and it goes with the theme of the idea very well, as its reality (making a cup of tea) but having something fictional about it (animated tea bags). It was great working with such a motivated group of talented people, and I was amazed how fast we got stuff done, and really pleased with what came out of it.
Since it was my idea I got to direct it which was fun, I also did some animating and made all the replacement eyes and mouths for all the different little teabags. Full credit for the teabag armatures goes to Meg, a talented filmmaker/animator currently studying in Bristol UWE.
At the end of this we got to go to the Cube cinema in Bristol, an independent cinema that I later returned to to see the screening of the Wind Rises. There we got to see our completed short films screened, and got to meet David Sproxton, one of the founders of Aardman Animations.
We also got to finish our animations off using the Bristol School of Animation facilities, creating title
and credit sequences, which gave us a chance to look around their environment and meet the animation students.
This is promotional video they made while we were at the camp
Adobe Generations 2012
In 2012 a tutor on my media course suggested that everyone should apply for Adobe Generations, a variety of free online courses where professionals give live lessons in selected adobe software every week for 6 weeks. I immediately signed up for the animation course.
We were learning Adobe Flash, and each week they would show us how to do something, e.g. tweens, loops, etc. We had to use the technique in our own way (based around a different theme each week), and then post our results to the online classroom. It was really cool getting to watch what other people were coming up with, everyone could comment on everything so it was a really interactive environment.
The first week they showed us the basics of how to create a walk cycle using replacement blank key frames, very simple stuff in terms of software. I really went all-out in our first project because I hadn't animated in a while and I had been doing a lot of drawing at the time, so I wanted to use my drawing skills try and make something cool.
In the second week they revealed that they were giving out weekly prizes for the best animation each week, and they awarded mine the best for the first week, I was meant to get a cool adobe umbrella, but there was a mix up and I ended up getting a bunch of colorful adobe notebooks, which were awesome anyway.
At the end of the course they announce some prizes for the best animations, for those who submitted their all their work before the deadline. I ended up wining the Award of Excellence, which included a year’s subscription of the creative cloud, and an iPad Mini.
Green Gathering Festival
After completing my first year of my Creative Media Production course, I had become interested in documentary film-making, after producing various behind the scenes videos to promote the courses collaborative short film with the drama department, ‘Last Day’. I really enjoyed interviewing people and actively shooting footage of real events to tell different stories about what people were doing for the production.
After successfully producing my first promotional video, for Buddhafield Festival, I decided to take on the challenge of producing another music-festival documentary that same year.
I interviewed lots of key organizers of the festival, however lots of them didn't make the cut as the content wasn't very strong for the majority of them.
My sound recorder unfortunately got smashed with the heavy tripod in the bag halfway through the production, so I was limited to the on-camera microphone.
Even more unfortunate was that the best interview (for content) was recorded at the end of the festival when it was chucking it down with rain, and the only place I could do it was under a marquee where you could really hear the horrendous rain on the tarp.
Despite the technical and unlucky situations, I pieced together the best bits from the footage and I feel the only real thing that lets it down is the sound in the interview with Steve Judd.
This was my first documentary I made for an organization. I contacted the festival organizers to see if they were interested in me making a promotional video for their festival, linking them to the work I had previously done on my course. They were fully supportive of my idea, and gave me a heap of meal tickets to enjoy their delicious food at their Buddhafield Café.
I looked at various promotional videos for different festivals and found that most of them simply featured poetic documentary style videos, good cinematography timed to the good music featuring at the events. However I felt that that this festival deserved an informative video about the event, key people talking about how the festival was different from the rest, the conscious awareness that everyone embraces during their time there.
While I was there I also met another filmmaker who had come down from South Africa, who also happened to have her video camera with her, so we decided to collaborate. She got some more B-roll footage for me to work with during the editing phase.
I also had help from my friend Dylan Prazsky, who was in charge of the audio recording during each interview. I know this was very boring for him and I’m very grateful for his efforts in the production.
I had so much footage from this festival, I decided to create a feature-length documentary for it too.
Doing this taught me a lot about all aspects of the documentary film-making process, valuable experience that has helped me in many areas of my projects since then.
It's a Nerds Life
When I was 13, my short stop motion film ‘It's a Nerds Life’ was selected to be screened in the Co-Operative Young Filmmakers festival in Bradford. I got to see my animation on the big screen in front of a large audience, and more importantly I got to have one on one feedback from professionals in the animation industry. They gave me lots of useful and inspiring advice, one of the main things they said was to simply keep doing what I was doing. I also got to participate in various film-making workshops at the event, and attend lectures by people working in the animation industry. This was the first time I had anything screened in front of an audience and I think it definitely inspired me to continue with my passion as I could see the results and received confirmation that I was on the right track.