Group Animation – Our First Attempt

Group Animation

Our First Attempt

Geoff Arme tells us about making the award winning film ETHELFRED THE EVER READY recently shown on the BBC 2 Film Competition.

As is practiced in cine clubs throughout the country the ideas of group film making and its obvious advantages over lone workers was seen by my local club some time ago – where small groups would get together to produce a film.

Our particular group had been discussing thoughts of making some kind of historical documentary about the city we live in – Nottingham since it does have rather an interesting past, some comic suggested making an animated documentary, not a cartoon exactly, more on the lines of a humorous animated film, and since one of us, ME, was a commercial artist we are home and dry – they thought.

I was honestly totally against such an idea – I could not at that moment see anything but a great pile of work for ME and I did enough drawing during the day thank you very much, to keep me happy. I was not happy at such a prospect and to be perfectly honest although I could probably draw a character – how on earth could I make it move. I hadn’t a clue and these poor fools around me were all enthusiastic about the idea – I just couldn’t tell them my terrible secret – I must try and go through with it, and put a brave face on.

So we roughed out some ideas one evening of how we were to handle the history of a city. We decided – yes we would show the evolution of the town from the earliest beginnings to present day in a total film time of 7 minutes, just think of that one for a moment – and imagine such a task, now I know this was impossible, an hour running time would have been more realistic – but if we had thought on those lines we would never have started.

Getting Started

Since the task of practically all the drawing would be on my shoulders and yet at the same time the reality of getting 5 other people to paint delicate cels who had previously only handled brushes of 3” size did worry me a little – so first job show them how to do it – I soon drew a simple character made up of circles – he would plod right through the film – we just had to keep it simple. In addition I drew the character using heavy lines. I used a 1.0 pen giving nice thick lines, the idea of this was that the inexperienced artists painting cels would have nice heavy lines to paint up to, at this particular evenings get together and my lecture on how it had to be done – they, were the ones this time to go home with a sinking feeling – I was now feeling a little happier, until I realised I still had to make this character move.

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