Author Archives: David Jefferson

About David Jefferson

My name is David Jefferson and I live near the historic English market town of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. I have a background in print and graphic design and was the editor of Animator magazine between 1982 and 1995. Animation has been one of my hobbies for many years. I have explored most methods of animation including drawn, plasticine/clay, puppet and computer. The disciplines learnt creating animation help me as a designer of stitching card and string art patterns. I created the patterns available from the Stitching Cards, Form-A-Lines and String Art Fun websites.

Ogilvy and Aardman shake up the traditional laundry product demo

Ogilvy, in collaboration with the Aardman animation studio, has redefined the product demo for Unilever’s laundry brand Persil. Children and adults alike were treated to a first-of-its-kind animation entitled ‘Monster Stains’, when it launched in cinemas and online this week.

To demonstrate Persil’s stain removal power, Ogilvy came up with the innovative idea of creating a stop-frame animation using school shirts as the canvas and tough stains as the paint. Aardman was chosen as the ideal partner for its best-in-class animation techniques. They created a unique colour palette using 28 common household stains, including everything from gravy and jam to grass and chocolate ice cream.

It took a team of ten artists and nearly three months to complete the 60 seconds of animation featured within the film. The meticulous method included painting a single frame of animation on a shirt, photographing it, washing the shirt clean with Persil, drying it, ironing it, and preparing it for the next frame of animation to be painted on. This process was repeated 2,576 times in total, after which, all the photos were stitched together to create the animation.

Monster Stains image.

Monster Stains image.

Monster Stains font creation.

Monster Stains font creation.

Monster Stains animation studio.

Monster Stains animation studio.

Monster Stains animation creation.

Monster Stains animation creation.

Monster Stains font exploration.

Monster Stains font exploration.

The two-and-a-half minute launch film introduces a couple of animated monsters who end up learning to overcome their fears and getting dirty in the process – illustrating Persil’s philosophy that ‘Dirt Is Good’. The two characters then re-appear in a series of five shorter content pieces that will be used across social media and eCommerce.

Ogilvy used the same tough stains to create a complete bespoke typeface especially for the campaign.

They also partnered with Kode Media, an international production company, who produced, shot and edited all of the live action elements in the film.

James Hayhurst, Brand Equity Director at Unilever said, “These entertaining films bring a whole new slant to the traditional laundry product demo and the idea that where there’s a stain, there’s a story. The characters capture the fun-loving spirit of the ‘Dirt Is Good’ brand philosophy and the short form content is a perfect way to connect with our consumers on their mobile devices and in the e-commerce environment.”

Andre Laurentino, Global Executive Creative Director for Unilever at Ogilvy said, “We wanted to take Persil’s product demos to the next level. We of course knew how the stains would be removed. So we spent time thinking about how we got them on. We got messy, we had fun, and we learned a lot – a typical ‘Dirt is Good’ story.”

Merlin Crossingham, Creative Director at Aardman commented, “At Aardman we have a history of embracing big challenges and when Ogilvy came to us with such an interesting project, we jumped in with both feet. The finished spots are playful stories with delightful characters, created in a truly unique way and we hope you enjoy them.”

Watch the main launch film: https://youtu.be/MDtnoG6MgBc (Monster Stains)

Click Here To Select Your Free String Art Pattern

Aardman short helps raise awareness of macular degeneration

Creative agency Caroline has enlisted the help of the Aardman animation studio to bring to life the star of its latest charity marketing campaign – a character called ‘Mac’.

Mac was created by the team at Caroline to spearhead a campaign for The Macular Society, a small charity that supports people with central vision loss.

The campaign will raise awareness of a little known eye condition called Age-related Macular Degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in the UK.

Keen to carve out a place for the campaign in the competitive charity sector, the agency approached Aardman, also based in Bristol, to see if they would be willing to help design the character and create a short animation involving Mac to help launch the campaign.

Aardman agreed to come on board and the film was completed by end of February.

MacInsideEye Wobbly1 Gloria Mac_Grandchildren Mac_sickAndy Purnell, joint Creative Director at Caroline says: “The Macular Society is a (by charity definitions we’re medium) small and relatively unknown charity, but they are doing some amazing work to help support people suffering from vision loss, primarily those with AMD, a condition that is becoming more and more common in our society as we all live longer.”

Purnell added: “Charity advertising is not easy – it is a very, very crowded market. With a small budget we wanted to do something that would make us stand out from the crowd.”

“We came up with Mac, an engaging character that would help bring a complex issue to life and we were delighted that Aardman agreed to come on board to ‘bring him to life’.”

The short film, directed by Bram Ttwheam, chronicles the part Mac plays in giving Gloria, his elderly ‘owner’ a wonderful and active life, of which vision is key to. Sadly, Mac succumbs to AMD, and poor Gloria’s full and varied life is severely affected, as, of course, is Mac.

It will be used alongside a number of other activities, including road shows, events, materials and additional channel activity to raise awareness of the condition of AMD and the essential role the Macular Society plays in helping sufferers and funding research to find a cure for AMD. The campaign will also be appealing for donations to help the Macular Society in its vital work, and to increase membership.

Heather Wright, Executive Producer and Head of Partner Content, Aardman

“We love making films for charities like this one for the Macular Society, because it gives us the opportunity to use our creativity in a meaningful way beyond simply entertaining.

Animated characters can be a powerful tool in helping people to understand a complex or difficult subject such as macular degeneration. Mac is an endearing character to look at and we use a lightness of touch in his performance that isn’t frightening but clearly explains the issues. He seems benign and happy to start with, but then as the condition worsens we understand the symptoms that sufferers will recognise and other people can empathise with.”

More than 600,000 people in the UK are affected by AMD. The condition causes damage to the macula, which is part of the retina at the back of the eye. It is only the size of a grain of rice but is responsible for all of our central vision, most of our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see.

About The Macular Society
With over 22,000 members the Macular Society is the voice of people with macular conditions. It provides free information and support to improve lives and ensure no one has to face macular disease alone. There are around 300 Macular Society support groups around the UK and beyond. It also funds research into macular disease.

About Caroline
Caroline is a creative company, founded by experienced people with bags of awards for effective creative thinking. Caroline is part of a group of creative companies under the umbrella of the Blue Flint Group. www.hellocaroline.co.uk

Watch the film: https://vimeo.com/164249629 (Gloria’s Mac)

Seattle’s first ever Pencil’s are Drawsome festival

Tony White sent us this press release about the Drawtastic aninmation festival to be held in West Seattle, USA.

DRAWTASTIC

Definitely pencil this one into your diary folks! DRAWTASTIC is West Seattle’s new and exciting festival of drawing & animation.

This festival is entirely unique as it pays special homage to the ‘humble pencil’ in our modern digital world. So much focus is given to today’s new technology that the poor old pencil has become undervalued, forgotten and even dismissed. However, those who know how our modern creative industries work, realize that most foundation work invariably begins with a pencil drawing – and sometimes throughout the whole process too!

West Seattle's new and exciting festival of drawing & animation

The organizers feel its time to put the pencil back on a pedestal where it belongs! To start this process, Artists, Animators and Vendors are working side-by-side with Workshop Presenters & Top Industry Professionals to share their love of the pencil with art, illustration and animation fans everywhere. Add that to the 62 amazing animated films from around the world that they will be showing on the day and you’ll see that this amounts to a pretty incredible event that totally defines ‘Pencil Power’ at its best!

The best news of all is that everything is entirely FREE – except for a small charge for their Speaker Presentations that will help cover the costs of it all. (And even those are cheaper if you buy your tickets online before the day – especially if you go for the ‘Events Pass’, that will effectively give you 5 discounted events for the price of 4!)

So why not join them for this day of art & animation magic? Bring the family too! Additional FREE fun events will include learning how to draw caricatures, or how to make animated flipbooks – as well as other spontaneous happenings! Last but not least, at the end of the day in the theater, the best animated films will be presented with their respected ‘Golden Pencil Awards’ after which, everyone will be able to chill out at their last ‘Meet ‘n Greet’ event of the day (purchased ticket required) where Artists, Animators, Presenters and Fans can hang out together and share their pencil stories!

‘33’ A celebration of SCRATCH

This is a guest post by Paul Thomas.

‘33’ years have passed since SCRATCH first appeared on a blank sheet of paper. Now is the time to celebrate and bring together his history in one place in Devon, the Totnes Library.

Scratch 33 poster

It’s another world since his first film for TAKE HART was broadcast on the 23rd of March 1983. It had been made at BBC TV Centre, a dream factory in West London. Once the selection from a vast archive of material was made I realised this would be the first time ever the collection would be seen. It was overwhelming to see the story of SCRATCH on display hoping to enchant the public.

ROOBARB

ROOBARB

The exhibition opens with ROOBARB. He appears as I began my career aged eighteen at Bob Godfrey Films in London. Bob’s most memorable character was a star by the time I arrived. It was while at this studio I received my breakthrough commission from the BBC.

Paul Thomas introduces the exhibition.

Paul Thomas introduces the exhibition.

The exhibition celebrates too the creative process of the animated film from idea to transmission print. Included are letters from the BBC. A storyboard and script. Production cels. The strip cartoons with over two hundred published in the Totnes Times and the life size cut out of SCRATCH in his Yellow Dustbin.

With such a time span of thirty three years the process and the TV show are history. They are also educational and my audience after the exhibition was opened by the Mayor of Totnes was St John’s C of E Infant School in Totnes. I enjoyed the many questions and was very pleased with the attention the children paid to my story. It was also an opportunity to pay tribute to Tony Hart, Bob Godfrey and make a reference to Kate Bush.

A recent image of SCRATCH as a comet has been very inspirational. I set up a project for the children to design the comet tail following the head I painted on A3 paper. It will be a long piece of work and have its place on the library wall for a while before being put up at the St John’s school.

Scratch 33 exhibition

It’s been quite a journey from an alley behind BBC TV Centre to Totnes high street yet after three decades and more SCRATCH has remained vibrant and full of fun.

He and I hope you enjoy his past, present and future.

Aardman’s Peter Lord presented with a Blue Peter badge

CBBC’s Blue Peter presented Morph’s co-creator, Peter Lord, with the show’s highest accolade, the gold Blue Peter badge, in an animation special on Thursday 9 July 2015.

Peter Lord Blue Peter badge

Each year only a few gold badges are awarded in exceptional circumstances for outstanding achievements, or showing amazing and unique bravery, courage and citizenship. Peter Lord joins the likes of the Queen, David Beckham, and JK Rowling on the prestigious list.

Peter Lord is the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Aardman. Peter founded Aardman with partner David Sproxton in 1972, which has since created some of the world’s most iconic animated productions, such as Morph, Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and Shaun the Sheep.

Peter appeared on Blue Peter on Thursday, returning with their first creation Morph, who hasn’t appeared on the show for nearly 35 years. Adding to his list of honours, including his very first blue badge received in 1981, Peter’s gold badge is in recognition of his work for British animation on the world stage.

On receiving his gold badge, Peter said: “This is fantastic. It’s a dream come true.”

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor of Blue Peter, said: “The Blue Peter audience love watching and creating their own animations. We are delighted to award Peter his gold badge nearly 35 years after his first appearance on Blue Peter. Peter has created some of the most well-known animated characters including of course Morph, who had a starring role on today’s show.”

The Halas & Batchelor short film collection released on DVD

Halas & Batchelor short film collectionHalas & Batchelor were responsible for over 40 years of ground breaking animated films. If you are interested in the history of British animation then the Halas & Batchelor short film collection is well worth watching. Not only does it contain 18 complete H&B short films it also has a Clapperboard interview with John Halas plus 3 other documentaries with numerous clips from the studios prolific output.

Clapperboard was a weekly show produced by Granada television and headed by Chris Kelley. In 1980 Clapperboard devoted three half-hour shows to the H&B studio to mark their 40 years in the animation business. All three programmes are in this collection.

History of the Cinema. Halas & Batchelor.

The History of the Cinema. Halas & Batchelor.

During the Clapperboard interview John Halas talks about how the studio got started with information films made for the British government in 1940, how it progressed with advertising shorts, an example being one for cornflakes, and the production of their feature length film Animal Farm. The program includes clips of the films being discussed. We learn that in Animal Farm, Winston Churchill was the inspiration for the character of the old major pig in his swan song speach. We are also told that H&Bs satirical cartoon History of the Cinema irritated the film industry to such an extent that the then head, wanted to ban the showing of the film.

John Halas and Joy Batchelor at work.

John Halas and Joy Batchelor at work.

Another of the documentaries is Ode to Joy. Joy Batchelor was the the other half of the H&B animation team. The commentary tells us that in spite being one of animations most important figures, today she is one of its unsung heroines. Examples of Joy’s work show she was a brilliant graphic artist, not only as an animator but also as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines when animation work was scarce. We are told that her illustrations set the house style for the studio. Her roll was to translate a clients brief into an engaging story, in order to persuade, sell or entertain. She also excelled in managing the work of others with the unfortunate result that she is uncredited on many of the later shorts. However, on Animal Farm she is credited with script writing, direction, production and design.

A 67 minute documentary An Animated Utopia, written and directed by Paul Wells, gives an in depth look at the character of John Halas as a humanitarian. We are informed that Animal Farm was covertly funded by the CIA as part of its strategy during the cold war. For Halas it was a labour of love enabling him to make a serious feature using animal characters. A politically charged film addressing everything from animal rights to conflicting ideologies. Another type of H&B production was demonstrated with an amusing clip from the ‘Tales from Hoffnung’ short film Birds, Bees and Storks with Peter Sellers as the voice of an old duffer explaining the facts of life.

Hamilton the Musical Elephant. Halas & Batchelor.

Hamilton the Musical Elephant. Halas & Batchelor.

The Owl and the Pussycat.

The Owl and the Pussycat.

As well as the film clips in the documentaries there are 18 complete Halas & Batchelor’s short films ranging from the whimsical The Magic Canvas to the profetic Automania 2000. They include popular titles such as The Owl and the Pussycat, Hamilton the Musical Elephant, Tales of Hoffnung: The Symphony Orchestra, Foo Foo: The Stowaway, Butterfly Ball, The Figurehead, The History of the Cinema and Autobahn.

The Halas & Batchelor Short Film Collection is released on DVD (RRP £12.99), and Blu-ray (RRP £14.99), from 29 June 2015.



Morph returns to children’s TV after 15 years

Aardman’s classic character Morph returns to CBBC and a brand new generation of fans.

Morph on telly

Everyone’s favourite terracotta clay hero, Morph, will return to the small screen on CBBC. The new adventures of Morph will be broadcast on the channel next month.

Morph is returning home to the BBC after more than 15 years away from our television screens. Originally created in 1977 by Aardman, Morph first appeared on the BBC Children’s art programme ‘Take Hart’ alongside the artist and presenter Tony Hart.

Staying true to the original format, the new episodes are shot using clay and traditional stop-frame animation at Morph’s original home at the Aardman studios in Bristol.

Peter Lord, Aardman Co-founder and Co-creator of Morph said; “Both Morph and I are equally delighted that his latest adventures are back on the BBC. Although he’s been away for a while, I’m delighted to report that he’s as lively and full-of-fun as ever – and rather more youthful than his creators! It’s fantastic to see him back in his rightful home.”

Cheryl Taylor Controller of CBBC said; “CBBC are delighted that Morph is back on our screens this year. His playful and curious persona has always been a delight and we know that viewers of all ages will welcome him with open arms.”

The new series launched in the summer after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised over £110,000 which part-funded 15 brand new one-minute episodes. The episodes, which have been released throughout the second half of 2014 on Morph’s very own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/MorphOfficial) have been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.

Follow MORPH:
YouTube: www.youtube.com/morphofficial
Website: www.amazingmorph.com |Facebook: www.facebook.com/amazingmorph
Twitter: www.twitter.com/amazingmorph | Instagram: @amazingmorph