Monday, 6 December 2010

Stoke Your Fires

We've just had a visit from Stoke Your Fires Animation Festival Who pitched their event at the end of Feb beginning of March next year. They also spoke about the possibilities of getting some Graphic Illustrators in to perform some workshops. Hopefully I wanted these to be based on drawing skills and possibly visualising the narrative. The poster above is a new one and shows the new hand in is 24th December now for short animated films, but there is also an option of entering the 48 hour film competition which I think would be excellent for animators to help them build up their speed while animating, it will stop them being to precious over the design and an over long and complicated storyline, Simple is smart!!

Paul Wells from Loughborourgh Animation Academy also did a talk at the event. I've already written a short bit on him at the Bristol Encounters and will probably expand on what he has said in future posts as I do believe in what he says about script writing and how, especially animation students don't actually understand the format that they are using. Anyway I'll leave that for the future

To get us back on track of cartoon and comics and a possible area that students over look as an area where they may actually break into the industry is story boarding. Above Curtis Jobling one of the lead storyboard artist for Bob the Builder scribbles a character down at last years Stoke Your Fire Event.

Last year saw an increase in Stop Motion Films being plugged as Coarline and the Fantastic Mr Fox were released. Above one of the lead model makers from Coraline. Below are 2 legends of British Animation Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall, to show my age again, they brought us Chorlton and the Wheelies and Dangermouse to name a few.

Finally the Event will take place in the Hanley Museum and also the "Air space" Art gallery. Last year Stop Motion Students puppets were exhibited at the event 


The Spanish Invasion

I'm also happy to say that mark Webster from the Arts and Culture part of the university is introducing me to Nacho Casanova ( a Spanish illustrator  along with Nacho is Rosa Martí ( Peri (published novelist and writer of children’s books) and his partner all of whom I'm hoping can help out on the content of Cartoon & Comic Arts Award and also build some international ties with!! So the new award is going from strength to strength and hopefully will soon have some international recognition as well.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The scribbles of a mad man

While being away for the last couple of weeks I've taken my sketch pad with me and I've been frantically drawing away and I thought I'd post some of the stuff up on line and write the ideas behind the concepts.

When I popped down Forbidden Planet in Bristol I was surprised to see Wacky Racers and I ended up thinking to myself, "Now there is an Animation due to a make over, after all they made a live action Flinstones!" OK maybe not the best choice as an example but I'm sure you get the idea!
Dick Dastardly was the main protagonist and he reminded me a lot of Graham Hill or Leslie Philips in appearance at least! I also thought about his car and thought that must be due an update as well!

Another idea basically lifted from Jonah Hex, I brought the Blue Ray disc to watch, while it wasn't a half bad film it did lack a little punch and the main characters flaws weren't really given the air time they needed. The main character is a mercenary, a hired killer not a nice bloke who basically confronts death and realises that he's heading for a nasty place when he dies. He tries to change his life, but he is what he is, a murderer and hired killer. The film doesn't really pick up that these are the skills that God has given him and there is more than one way to be redeemed, by using these skills for good.... as good as killing gets! Anyway, rant over, but in one scene he gets crucified and what really struck me was the look of the human figure hanging there, how do you draw weight in a character, I know a bit morbid and yes my feet have fallen off the bottom of the page!

I was recently on line seeing what Mark Millar of Kick Ass fame was doing, and he's running a new comic called "Clint" (Yes as in Eastwood!) But one of the things he's offering is for everyday folks to have a 4 page spread included in the Mag! The theme this week was based loosely on "The Twilight Zone" (This is where I start to feel old) as I remember these. There were one off stories not interconnected in anyway where something paranormal would happen! I was watching "Primeval" where all these dinosaurs come in from these parallel universes, and there was an hint that this may have happened a hundred times through out mankind's existence and this is what things like the Loch Ness Monster are and why we can't find them, same with the Yeti and Big Foot!

This is a quick comic strip I knocked up, I had a new pen that draws excellent lines and you can quickly colour in big areas in pure black. I'll write a bit more about that characters in time as I've got an urge to go and drink beer!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Interest in the New Cartoon & Comic Arts Award

I've just come back from London where we went to pitch and recruit people for the Cartoon & Comic Arts at Staffs University. I'm happy to say that after a slow start there were actually people there who had done a bit of research and found the award and asked some interesting questions about the award! I'm off to Manchester Monday 29th November - Tuesday 30th November for the UCAS fair there! This is the main recruiting area for the university so I'm hoping the award will take off there, though I need to get a bit more of a presence on the internet and website!
I'd just like to write a few notes down that I took about script writing that applies to both Animation and Comics, as these 2 forms of media do share a common form. Paul Wells delivered an excellent lecture that though brief was very insightful. 
The main problem that scriptwriters seem to forget is the fact that there are writing for a medium that has some many possibilities, so why animated a man walking into a room and talking when there are some many other possibilities. Our art form allows us to travel in time! We can control how fast things happen! We create incredible and impossible characters (though they need to be rooted in reality so we can relate to them!) Symbols can represent the invisible, think of a wind or a force field. An arrow on a map can represent a marching army.  Our art form allows us to penetrate the impossible, to see the internal workings of the human body or view the smallest microscopic element or the largest and most incredible construction ever. Some time people forget these basic principles and fall into a indifferent story. So bare this in mind when designing characters in future and what they do!

Monday, 22 November 2010

John Charles Ill

I've been informed today that John Charles will not be able to come in to the university this Friday due to illness. I can only hope he has a speedy recovery and wish him all the best. Hopefully we will arrange this for next semester.
Get Well Soon

Friday, 19 November 2010

Andy Serkis talk

Here I am blogging live from the andy serkis blog. Peter Lord is in the building along with a few members from the Aardman CGI department.

I had a great time in Bristol and it was great to catch up and talk to some old friends about what they are doing.
Above is a picture Peter Lord drew for me while we were propping up a Sailor Jacks Rum Bar. The one thing I always remembered about the Bristol event is how much alcohol flows freely and I mean freely. The first time I met Peter he had just finished shooting Chicken Run and he was planning his next feature film that was the Hare and the Tortoise. Unfortunatley this never happened and Flushed Away was made in the USA. Anyway this is one of the characters from Aardmans new film Pirates to be realesed sometime next year. Quiet a few ex students are working on it so fingers crossed for it being a success.

While in Bristol I caught up with Jon Lendrum from Aardman modelling department and here I am with some of the goods. Recently Dave Sproxton from Aardman came and did a talk on the making of the Ware Rabbit. I'd actually saw he do a similar talk at the IBC Conferance in Amsterdam a few years earlier when there was a buzz about it's realease! Jon is above with my Collegue Laura Weston.

I also attended the Andy Serkis talk on Motion Capture, Sorry, Performance Capture! I managed to get a talk with Andy and asked him if there was ever a conversation during the filming of Kong where they thought about putting a Gorilla into a motion capture suit.
"Know Peter (Jackson) I'd be surprised if there wasn't! After all you put dogs in motion capture suits! But I don't think you would have gotten the performance with the emotional archs with a real Gorilla!"

Andy has set up his own motion capture studio to help games companies to employ actors who can use motion capture.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bristol the saga so far

just to bring you up to speed, we arrived in bristol with out much to report, though I few people got side lined because of ticket problems... We all got here in one piece. Result! Unfortunately yha didn't have list of staff and we were initially put in with students. After much disagrements between staff n students the problem was resolved and we headed off to our first function and first party. Meet up once more with Peter Lord straight from the set of Aardman feature film Pirate. I need post up some of his artwork once I'm back in the office. Met with jamie. Typing this from iPod hence the spelling mistakes.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Leaving for Bristol

As we speak I'm just getting ready to head of to Bristol in teh pouring rain. I'm Armed with my trusty pencil case and a new A5 Sketch pad and a rolled up copy of SFX for the train journey. Already we've been networking and been invited to several after festival drinks....sorry networking dos! I'm going try and keep this blog up to date while at the festival to see if it is possible to blog on the go, so wish me luck. Hopefully I'll post something when we get there! 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Missing FMX 2011

One of the things I'm going to miss next year is teh FMX festival in Stuttgart! Over the last few years I've gone in my capacity as an Award leader for CGI, but now with me taking on the new Cartoon & Comic Arts Award I'll have to aim for more comic based conventions... San Diego... If you're going do comic conventions you might as well do it right! But I'll still miss that little bit of geekishness, finding out how the special effects have been done etc Whats coming next, having access to free movies Sigh!

Anyway, while at FMX I broke away from the normal party.... I think there was something going on about steroscopics or something, and found myself walking around a small exhibition of German students work. I decided to take out my camera and shoot some stuff which has until today lay hidden somewhere in MyPicture Document folder on the laptop. I got a bit inspired by these images and felt a bit sorry as a lot of teh people there just ignored them as they weren't moving, jumping around, produced in sterosopic etc ! But I thought I'd post them and discuss what I liked about them!

Cover design for a comic book, Film Nior Detective story. I never thought students looked to close at this stuff and the visual impact it can have. The reason why I'm saying this is because I knew at 20 I didn't really look at this stuff and it's only later on when you've travelled a bit and seen something of the world that you try and find something new and different!

What Pre visualisation display would be complete with out the obligatory Steam Punk Robot?!! THough this isn't the best one by miles, it does demonstrate a bit of thought as gone into the composition and character. I sometime think that the character is in the detail. I like the chiminey, some thought has gone into how the character would be powered! So often stuff like this is missed out....till someone does it and then it appears everywhere. I often say that in the remake of Godzilla, one of the best bits it where the monsters tail smashes into the windows after it has long since departed from the shot. Simple, effective, beautiful!

Colour. If Supermans weakness is Krytonite, mine is colour. This image is blue! So many shades of blue it's impossible to understand, but it works, and the areas where it isn't blue are subtle enough that they actually stand out and draw your eye into the shot!

This image above got me thinking. What came first the picture or the quote..."I said ... I think you know my Father!" It tells a story, something I feel is actually lost when students produce portfolio's. Nothing ... well hardly anything makes me ask, how did we get here or what happens next in the picture, there is no sense of character and no story being told.

Another area that cartoon and comic arts is looking into is storyboards. Once again strong colours but probably more importantly dramatic shots and great composition. Is it possible to teach someone this?

Cartoons, characters. I love the style this is finished in, the black and how the shadow morphs. A character with the weight of the world on his shoulders... or is it just washington DC?

I don't know if you can actually make this out as it is a bad photograph and I'll take full responsibility for it! But this once again comes down to storytelling. It is a character crouching down behind a metal truck, two guns loaded as he's being shot at! Something like this makes me want to know about the character. How did he get into this situation and how does he get out of it?

So just finally, here is the stand at last years FMX festival.

Getting Ready for Bristol Animated Encounters

I've included the link to the web page below.

Only a couple of days left till we depart to the Animated Encounters Festival in Bristol. As you may know Bristol is one of the main areas in the UK for the Animation industry and after a recent email from a collegue, it looks as if the BBC might also have it ear marked for their new animation department as well! Apparently London is getting to expensive so they are looking for somewhere outside of it to make an impression. Bristol was one of those places mentioned along with Manchester! So some good news for animators!!

Above Jamie Bakewell & Kolin Humphreys

While at the event, we are hoping to meet up with a range of ex students from the university who have made it big in the animation industry from Jon Lendrum (Model Maker!) Jamie Bakewell (CGI-PreVis) Artist, Kol Humphreys (was freelance 2D Flash designer but now on contract) to Liam Wardle (Space Cadet!) No I joke, he's working at the British Space Agency (Yes there is one) PreVis and concept designer in 3d. (Now how cool is that!!)

Liam Wardle at FMX

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Walking Dead

Another one of the best Graphic Novel is Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore which I started reading over the summer and tells the story of a group of people who are trying to stay alive in Zombie run land. Its quiet political as peoples allegiances change and it focuses on the group of other survivors along the way and how their attitude may differ from the groups!

It's recently been made into a TV show being aired on FX & FXHD (For posh people!) and so far it looks very good! Friday 10.00pm watch it if you can!

One of the best thing about the Graphic novel is that it has great Black and white illustrations and have not sub come to the bright and colourful style of a lot of its contemporaries. It relies on the story as the main selling point, but the style is excellent!

Today is also an open day at the university so hopefully there will be some potential students to show around and talk to!

Friday, 12 November 2010

John Charles to Visit Staffs University

Just a Quick note that John Charles graphic cartoonist/illustrator is coming to Staffordshire University Friday 26th November 12.00 in the film theatre. Many thanks to Mark Garner for setting this up.

Reading Material at the moment

Just thought I'd write a little bit about what I've been reading at the moment. As far as Graphic Novels go, a big thank you to Chris Hazeldine who introduced me to Garth Ennis and the Peacher series. It's about a Priest from a small Texas town who's basically lost his faith and who is now the in possession of the ultimate being made up of evil and good and so powerful even God is a bit wary of him! Along the way Jesse the Preacher meets up with Casidy an Irish Vampire...Is this ticking all the boxes yet, if not, there is a hot blonde, a religious cult, the saint of killers just to keep you topped up!

Off the back of this, enjoying Garth Ennis sense of humour there is The Boys. This is basically a group of CIA backed people who police the Super heroes. Excellent read and one of the characters Hughie who bears an uncanny resemblance to Simon Pegg!

Thursday, 11 November 2010


This is my attempt to try and get an image up on the site....

Excellent, I've managed to get a comic page up on line! This image is my attempt at doing a Zombie comic book, especially off teh success of the Walking Dead Series that's appearing now on FX Channel Friday nights. THe image is actually drawn on an A3 sheet and inked in using a combination of Ink and fine liner, (Laura would love that!!)

Starting Out

This is the first Blog for the new Cartoon and Comic Arts Awards at Staffordshire University.