Friday 24 May 2024

Animation Project Update

The short story: I have decided to put my feature film on pause for the time being and make a short film instead.

The long story: I completed my last short film, ‘Bear’ at the end of September 2022, so coming up to two years ago now. I have not created much animated work in the interim either- well a few small test clips here and there, but nothing major and to be honest, it’s really rather agonising. When I have a project on the go I am at my happiest, so inevitably I’m bursting to make something of my own again.

I started developing up some ideas for my feature and wrote a few outlines etc, but most of the ideas I was coming up with lent themselves towards the short film format instead. Maybe this is because I’ve concentrated on that medium for so long and wasn’t allowing myself to think bigger or longer. Or maybe it’s some other reason and/ or a mixture of things (most likely). But regardless, I am shelving it for the time being. I am desperate to satisfy my creative urge to make another film and I feel a feature won’t do that justice at this point in my life, because the time it will take to create. I can likely have the short made in around about a year, whereas the feature will take several. Meaning I won’t have created something complete for, say 3-5 years since finishing up on ‘Bear’. And that doesn’t sit well with me! So that’s where my head is at now with what I’m doing.

I have an idea for my short which I’m super excited about. I won’t be giving a synopsis away just yet, but the film is quite personal (like most of my projects- animation is my way of expressing myself and I find it hard to work on projects which don’t do that). Though the working title is ‘I Wish I was There’.

So far, I have scripted the film- though unconventionally and also started the storyboarding process. To be honest I was having a hard time writing it in the usual script format- you know where you write INT/ EXT WHATEVER LOCATION and it needs to be in a certain font and in a certain layout. I found this extremely restricting. The story was hard to make flow because of the constraints in how it “needed" to be written. And every time I sat down to write it, I felt really put off and unenthused. So I scrapped my Fade In script doc and started writing it afresh in Google Docs. And it came to me so much easier. I didn’t feel trapped and I could write what I wanted without feeling the need to satisfy some arbitrary age-old format. It was much easier to visualise the story this way. I had never questioned it before, but realising I don’t have to follow these rules especially on a personal project, I doubt I’ll go back to writing scripts in the conventional format. Everyones brain works differently, so why should we all have to squeeze ourselves into boxes that don’t fit.

To help me develop my story further, I used the storyboarding process in tandem with my written document. I thumb-nailed each shot and section, coming up with new ideas as I went, which worked better than the ones I had written. It allowed me to see my script as a film in the visual manner that it is intended and easily weed out what was/ wasn’t working so well. I have a complete draft now- which of course needs refining and iterating, but I have something to work with. I’m sure if I continued in the traditional script writing format, I’d still be struggling for ideas and probably wouldn’t have got so far with my story.

I’m excited to start drawing the storyboard up from thumbnails into clean panels and turning it into an animatic- something I have never done with my own projects. For the last almost two years, I have worked assembling animatics for a TV series and I can really see how valuable they are to the filmmaking process. It’s essentially another rewrite of the script and it allows you to see what scenes work (or don’t), if the story holds up, what can be added or taken away and so on. I always thought because I work in rotoscope, a storyboard would just be sufficient, because it was akin to creating a live action film (or at least in the first instance). But as I found out on ‘Bear’, not everything in the storyboard translated to my live action edit of the film, meaning lots was cut and I had essentially wasted precious shoot time which I could have used better in other ways. I also think that using the live action footage as the animatic edit made it difficult for the people I asked for feedback off to visualise what was going on, because the backgrounds were all pretty much just the same.

So, I’m thinking an animatic might be a really useful way of seeing my film before actually seeing my film, if that makes sense! I think as well, it’s much more important in this one, because I don’t have a traditional script as explained above, so it is also acting as part of the writing process. Every film I make is different and therefore requires a different approach in creating it. Though so far I am really liking this way of making my film. It feels like I’m getting stuck in right from the start and it’s suiting my preferred way of working. I’m definitely more of a visual person, so being able to script out my film in the means of images is a work style I feel I might continue using in the future. Maybe if a future film I make requires a traditional script for the purposes of funding or something, I could do all this and then write the script from the animatic, because I’ll just be copying what I see off screen rather than creating my story from the start in that rigid way. PSA for anyone who needs it: there’s more than one way of writing your film: if the ‘normal’ way isn’t working, then try something that does! Though obviously don’t listen to that if you have to do it for an assignment or something, but maybe for your personal projects…

Right, as usual I have rambled on and outstayed my welcome on my own blog. So I’m out of here for now, but I am mega excited about this project and can’t wait to share more about the process on here. To follow my progress for this short, check the ‘Animated Short 2’ tag on the sidebar where everything to do with this short will be posted. Regular readers will know that it is not the second short film I have made, but it’s the second I will have written about in detail on here!

Also, sorry for the lack of pictures in this blog- quite ironic for a visual person, I know! So have an unrelated pic of a recent bowling alley I went to and me skateboarding:

See you in the next one xo

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Road to Wembley- COMPLETE!!

WE DID IT!! After a couple of failed attempts since the 19/20 season (which are also documented on this blog), myself and my parter Ben finally completed our ‘Road to Wembley’ quest: attending a match from each round of the Women’s FA Cup! And what an incredible journey- taking in games from grass roots in the early rounds right through to fully professional set ups in the later stages and everything in between. The FA Cup provided us with a real cross section of the football this country has to offer, which is the beauty of the competition and why it’s the best competition in football (I say that as fact)! Each match day experience was enriching in it’s own right, whether that was in front of 273 spectators as Kiveton Park Ladies took on SJR Worksop Women in the Second Round Qualifying or in front of 18,000+ fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at Semi Final stage.

2534 was our total miles travelled (house to stadium by car), the longest round trip being 418 miles (Crawley Town FC for Brighton vs Man Utd) and the nearest at just 20 miles was Kiveton. We saw 45 goals scored and number of photos taken was far too many to count!

The final at Wembley was incredible- the crowd of 76,082 was the highest attended game I have ever watched and the atmosphere was great! It rounded off our FA Cup journey extremely well. A strong Manchester United side won 4-0 against (touted underdogs and first time finalists) Tottenham Hotspur, with their efforts rewarding them the clubs’ first piece of major silverware.

The FA Cup will start again in a few months, so if you’re willing to take on the challenge, then get ready! If you’re so inclined, you can see all the games we attended by clicking the #RoadToWembley filter. See you at a game then, yes?!

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Recent Embroidery

Hello hello! Pretty much the title of this post: I have some more embroidery to share! This first one I completed back in February, but as it was made as a gift I only wanted to upload to here once the recipient had received it:

It's the main character from the most recent TV show I worked on: The Rubbish World of Dave Spud (currently streaming on ITVX- go check it out, it's the best)!

And then the piece I finished this morning was just for fun- maybe I'll stick it on Etsy and see if anyone buys it, but not sure yet... It's the Dreadful Flying Glove character from the 1968 Beatles film: Yellow Submarine. At the start of the year I completed a jigsaw puzzle based on the film and really liked the eye catching design of the glove and thought it would look cool as an embroidery. I have seen the film but years ago, though the animation has long stayed in my memory. I reckon it's due a rewatch...

Pretty much all the embroidery I do seems to be either animation inspired or part of animations I make. I think I quite like animation!

Friday 3 May 2024

Polaroid (Instax Mini) Fun

Around 8 or 9 years ago, I purchased an Instax Mini instant film camera. At the time (and for several years after) I thoroughly enjoyed using it and it was a lot of fun. I then took a break from it for a few years- the film felt expensive to me at the time (I was broke) and I remember not really liking the results of some of the photos. So with those two aspects combined, I shelved it for a while and concentrated more on the digital side of my photography.

I had been thinking about getting a battery and some film for it again for several months now and it was a few weeks ago I just thought: 'yep, you know what, I'm just going to do this!', which is just what I did! And to my surprise it still worked! Having had a break from using it, I've come back to it with a different mindset and I'm really enjoying the results. Yes, not all of them come out well, but that is the nature of analogue photography. And the more you use it, the more you learn about how to use it and the types of subjects/ lighting it works best with...

Few of my favourite recent ones below:

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Hand Embroidered Animated Background

Helloooo! I finally have another new piece of animation to share- yay! It was November last year since I last completed a moving clip. So, yes, new work is still going quite slowly, but that’s not to say I’m not working on anything bigger behind the scenes (more on that in another post)…

If you’re a regular here, then you’ll know that embroidery is quite a big thing in my life at the moment. So naturally, I wanted to test out how an embroidered background would look against some animation drawn digitally. Back in February I started a short animated clip of someone walking up some stairs- just to kind of get me going again after having worked on a 16 month contract as an editor. I liked what I created for the character side of it, but I was really struggling to know what to do for the background. I have had the thought in my head for a while of trying an embroidered background, so a few weeks later, I put two and two together and decided that’s what I’ll do to finish this piece!

The hoop was big- like 12 inches big, so of course it took it’s sweet time to complete. But I do really enjoy the process of embroidery, I find it super relaxing and love just sticking on a podcast or album as I watch my fabric laboriously take shape and become a picture!

The original background was quite boring in my opinion- a grey wall, which didn’t feel that appealing to make an embroidery of. So I decided to ‘jazz it up’ a bit and make the wall at the back into bricks, using a colour scheme of five different threads. I personally think the result looks really vibrant and eye catching.

The original background

The background I created

At first when I comped the animation and background together, they didn’t really gel that well, but after drawing in a shadow under the feet, it really tied the piece together and integrated the background with the foreground animation nicely. This definitely has potential as a way to go about creating backgrounds for a longer project in the future. I am also thinking of a few ideas for a fully embroidered animation. And yes, I am a bit mad. But I am inundated with various project ideas currently, so I think they’ll have to come before this one! Anyway, as usual, keep your eyes out on here for all my latest project updates/ ramblings etc! Here’s the animation:

Monday 22 April 2024

Aldershot Town FC

Photos from Aldershot Town FC 0-3 Boreham Wood, National League 13/4/24, at the Recreation Ground (Aldershot). Full set HERE. Ten below:

Thursday 18 April 2024

Road to Wembley: Semi Final

For the semi final's, we decided upon Tottenham Hotspur Women v Leicester City Women. This was the first time both of these teams reached this round of the competition, therefore in my opinion this was the more interesting fixture of the two (the other being last years finalists: Manchester United against Chelsea). Making this game even more appealing was the fact it was staged at the all shiny and new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. I was fortunate enough to gain pitchside access to photograph this tie- now the biggest stadium I have photographed in!

I wasn't sure whether I'd enjoy photographing in such a big stadium and I didn't know if my kit would quite be up to it: I don't have the longest lens and I only have one camera body. But it was actually a thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable experience. All the photographers were situated very close to the pitch (I was worried that we'd all be miles away), so it turned out my kit was perfectly fine and I'm super pleased with the set of photographs I took. The stadium is extremely impressive and definitely lives up to all the hype. Would highly recommend a visit if you haven't already been there. Spurs Women actually play there again towards the end of the season for their last home WSL fixture against West Ham.

Stadium praising aside(!), back to the FA Cup fixture: Leicester scored early and held on for the majority of the game, until Spurs equalised in the 83rd minute. Neither team could break the deadlock in the remaining minutes, so 30 minutes of extra time followed. Before Spurs faced another penalty shoot out like in their previous round, Scotland international Martha Thomas hit the back of the net in the 118th minute in front of 18078 fans, sending Spurs to the FA Cup Final for the first time in history! They will face Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 12th May and I am so very excited!

You can view my full set of photos HERE and as usual, 10 below:

Thursday 4 April 2024

Road to Wembley: Quarter Final

Almost 4 weeks on from the match we attended for this round, I finally got round to editing my photos: ta-da! The match was Brighton & Hove Albion Women against Manchester United Women, with the hosts losing four goals to nothing. This was the second time seeing both clubs in this season's FA Cup and I feel the result was rather predictable...

Ten below as usual and you can view the full set HERE!

Sunday 31 March 2024

Latest Embroidery

My most recent creation out of thread:

This cute little Totoro: a birthday gift for my Mum. I'm extremely pleased with how this one turned out. I went for a pretty abstract background, because I didn't want to take the attention away from the character and feel this really focuses the piece on Totoro, without the background being too plain or empty. Absolutely loving embroidery at the moment!

Recent 35mm Photography

Last week, I got a couple of rolls of 35mm developed. One had been hanging around at 70% full since October, which I finally finished off earlier this month and the other, I managed to start and finish within about two weeks.

I tend to reserve my film camera for trips away/ holidays as I usually find more interesting things to photograph- or at least different to what I'm use to seeing day to day. And with the weather getting nicer and 'better' light, coupled with a two week holiday this month, it made for a perfect way to finish these 35mm rolls.

I'm really pleased with how a lot of these came out actually as I honestly wasn't too sure that they'd be any good. Film photography isn't exactly easy and using this camera has been a bit hit and miss, but in my opinion something seemed to have clicked of late and I'm not just talking about the shutter noise! Now I just need to buy some more film- let's hope it's a bit easier to purchase this time around...

Below are a few of my favourites, which I used Photoshop to enhance. A few needed cropping/ straightening, plus wanted to reduce some of the highlights/ fix the exposure and colours/ white balance.