Monday, 28 February 2011

Stoke Your Fires, Oscar winners and animators!

Oscar Winners and top world animators come to Stoke-on-Trent

Just a quick word about the Stoke Your Fires Animation festival this week which will have some of the most influential people in the current world of Special Effects and CGI.

One of the talks I'm interested in attending is on Wednesday 2nd March 3.30pm is by Double Negative, the Oscar nominated Special Effects company who recently won the Oscar for best Special Effects for the film "Inception" Other Films include the Batman Film "The Dark Knight" and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost latest outing "Paul"

Other people talking is an old favourite of Staffordshire University, Barry Purves. Barry recently delivered a master class at the university talking about his part on the Peter Jackson remake "King Kong"  Barry played a major part in the now infamous scene of Kong fighting the T-Rex tag team. This time Barry is going back to his roots and has asked some of the students to help in the realisation of his new project based on the orchestra.

Other people who are giving a talk are from Britain's biggest animation studio Aardman. Tim Allen Model Animator gives a talk on the Friday along with the Aardmans CGI department Andy Lavery and Matthew Rees.

Also on the Thursday Tony Dalton the Curator and writer of one of the worlds best loved stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen. Also at the event is some of Rays drawn work some of which can be seen in Tony Daltons books.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Comics and Film Why?

Comic Book Heros and Film?
A match made in Heaven

Why do so many films being made nowadays use established comic heroes stories? One view is that the stories are more rounded and complete and everyone likes an origin story. We all know Peter Parker gets bit by a radio active spider, we're all aware that Bruce Wayne witnesses the death of his mother and father. So these are stories ready made to be consummed by the public. Is this true though? Can we be that trusting of the Hollywood money making machine? I think a more acurate take on why Comic book heroes are turned into films is a lot more synical! Money. Comic books have done all the hard work for Hollywood, they have already established a fan base which Hollywood count on to support the film, they also have the advertising all tied up as well, all you have to do is by the next issue of Spiderman etc and they know they have a captive audience who if they pay £3 a month for an issue will surely pay £8 for the pleasure of seeing their hero coming to life.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Tumblr website up and running

I'm just currently adding a bit of content to the new Tumblr website which will main host a lot of the art work for people to view and comment on. Have a look a

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Monsters Review

the changing tide of feature films in the UK?...

I recently went to the Stoke Film Theatre along College Road to view "Monsters" Not really knowing to much about it I happened to update my status on Facebook to ask people what they thought of it. I went and I must admit though it wasn't what I expected, I did enjoy the film! I was surprised though by the number of people who ripped into it for various reason and it is because of this I actually did some research, and thought I'd write a little bit of a Review. It is by no means suppose to be a definitive account of the film, but hopefully it will high light some areas where students graduating from Art Colleges and schools up and down the breadth of Britain may choose to seek employment. The first thing that it is worth to mention is that it was made on a budget. Wikipedia states $15,000 was spent on the filming equipmet with the overall cost being under $500,000, nothing as much as the giant movie makers work too! Lets put it this way James Cameron would only be able to shoot one scene of Avatar on this budget.

Gareth Edwards the British born director of the film quiet happily confesses in SFX Magazine #203  "Monsters"  definitely wouldn't have been bigger and better with an additional $300 million to spend" The other great thing about the film was the size of the crew and cast, with only 2 paid actors on the books the rest of the extras were locals of Belize, Guatemala Costa Rica and in Texas USA. 

The special effects were also added by the director Gareth Edwards back in the UK using nothing more than an above average PC and software that we are all familiar with...
"It was mainly all Adobe. So it was edited on Premiere, the visual effects were all composited on After Effects, and most of it was painted using Photoshop. But for the 3D, which is mainly the creature stuff, I mainly used 3DS Max." ScifiNow Nov 2010

So as I said at the start it wasn't a big review about evolving characters arches etc, it was more to point out what is happening in the world of entertainment and possible areas where you might want to get jobs in .


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Comics & Graphic Novels & Literature I've Read or reading

I was recently recommended by some one (Bunny Panda) on the blog to look at "Y the Last Man" I really enjoyed the concept of the idea in this book, a disease as wiped out all the men in the world with the exception of Yorrick! We are lead to believe that the Y stands for the "Y" Chromosome the genetic make up of mankind, but it also could stand for "Yorrick!" as well! I was struggling to remember if there might be some cross over with the Shakespearean Character of the same name, but seeing as he died lets hope not! It looks as if every male creature in the world has died out with the exception of Yorrick and his pet monkey Ampersand. So a lone man in a world full of women, so like a potential dream, but not in the hands of Brian K.Vaughan. I liked it and will be looking out for the other books in the series!
Currently on the bedside cabinet is Jamie Hewletts "Tank Girl" I picked this up just because of the cartoonist Jamie Hewlett and hie impact on British Culture. I think that this is probably the closest think in style that crosses the bridge between Manga Art and British cartoon drawing. Hewlett know also for "Gorillaz" also did the animation for the BBC China Olympics Promos. Taking an old character "Monkey" and reinventing him in his unique style!


When I first took up the challenge of doing a cartoon and comics course, the one name everyone shouted at me was Scott McCloud! If you are serious in doing anything creative with comics there are 2 gods who you must read. The other is Will Eisner who I hope to write a bit on in future blogs. Scot has produced 3 outstanding books the first "Understanding Comics The Invisible Art" is an insight into comics that many of us have never thought possible. The way images are drawn and perceived, he explains in depth how the panels work to help to portray the passage of time, and probably the most important element is the bit the reader never sees, the space in between the panel!
Above is the "Making Comics. Storytelling Secrets of Comic, Manga and Graphic Novels" 

His other book is

"Reinventing Comics. How to imagination and Technology are revolutionizing an Art Form"

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Storyboarding Concepts to design

This is just a quick outline of a project that was brought to me late on last week where a small crew wanted some one to knock up quick story boards to help them tell their story. From the initial out line with the director/producer these were her ideas.

Above is the quick sketches that the director brought after she had scribbled them down in her  note book, I scanned them in to my computer to act as a starting point.

Above is my attempt at panel 3 of from the sketch book. In the first panel there is a dog, that we both felt is under used after the initial scene, but we both wanted it to make more of an appearance all the way through the production.

I liked what the director was doing with the final scene above, with the introduction of the Fox Character by silhouette. Below is my interpretation of that scene

The final scene needed to have a punch line after the Badger had repossessed all the items from the man, and I tried to copy an earlier scene where the Man having acquired all his goods with the money, is setting about plugging in his new TV. Obviously the joke is here that there is no power points in the forest!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Results out for the Stoke Your Fires animation festival competition and I'm happy to say that one of Staffordshire Universitiy' sup and coming starts Chris Hazeldine has managed to get short listed with his minor 3rd Year film The Song of the Damned. The film was also shown to the Producers of "The Pogues" and Warner Brothers to get the use of the music ok'd. There were impressed and agreed to allow Chris to use their music "The Turkish Song of the Damned" as the films music. Well done Chris. A Full list of short listed films can be found on the "Stoke Your Fires" Website

Best ‘Made in the Midlands’

  • 1984 - Rob Pointon, United Kingdom
  • Keep The Flags Flying - Adam Georgiou, United Kingdom
  • The Song of the Damned - Christopher Hazeldine, UK
  • Diglake - Christopher Butler, UK
  • The Demonic Furby - Robert Markland, UK
  • Run - Anderson West, UK

Aardman Ads

I've just been tweeted by Aardman Ads with an opportunity for up and comming artists and designers of comic characters.
Aardman Ads
by cartoonandcomic
looking for character designers who do Marvel/DC comic style illustrations for an exciting new pitch. send links to