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.

The story of ‘Brigitte, Bruno and Ben’ animated by Lucy Izzard for Aardman

A 70 second film entitled “Brigitte, Bruno and Ben” tells the story of Ben who helps entrepreneur Brigitte in the ‘developing world’ by directly lending her just £10 through the website Deki.org.uk. Previously Brigitte struggled to feed her family on less than 80p a day.

The film was written and animated by Lucy Izzard for Aardman and Deki. This story emotionally engages the viewer by focusing on particular people and showing the positive effect a loan can have.

Deki loan 3 Deki loan 1 Deki loan 2

Animator Lucy Izzard was born in Sydney, Australia, and moved to the UK at the age of four. Creative from an early age, she spent most of her childhood in Kent, fashioning cuts and bruises out of her mother’s makeup for murder-mystery home videos. After graduating with a First class degree in Illustration and Animation, Lucy won the BBC Three New Talent Animator Award in 2005, and began working on short films and commercials for companies such as Slinky Pictures, 12foot6 and the BBC. She currently resides in Bristol with her family, where she continues her passion for animating in her work for ArthurCox and Aardman.

Lucy Izzard’s website: www.lucyizzard.co.uk

Watch the Deki film: youtu.be/iBrYjSeTpkU

Aardman create new film for Imperial War Museums

Aardman and ad agency Johnny Fearless have created a new film and campaign to promote IWM London and the new First World War Galleries (opening 19 July) and to commemorate the First World War Centenary.

Flight of the Stories 4
Flight of the Stories 1
Flight of the Stories 2
Flight of the Stories 3

The 90-second film, “Flight of the Stories”, depicts the journey of personal stories and letters written by those who never left the fields of Northern France during the First World War.

In the film, ‘quotation mark’ characters symbolising these stories emerge as lines are read from letters and diaries entrusted to the museum by relatives during and at the end of the First World War. As the voices gather, the bird-like characters join to form a flock, taking flight across Northern France and the English Channel, over London, and finally resting at IWM London.

Paul Domenet, Executive Creative Director, Johnny Fearless, said:
“ We wanted to bring people to IWM London to see and hear the words of those who lived and died through the war for themselves and encourage them to reappraise the First World War in a way, which is different to the stereotypical mud and blood imagery. “

Aardman combined 2D illustrations and 3D CGI animation techniques to create a hybrid effect, bringing to life the bold landscapes and muted palettes of war artists from the era.

Darren Dubicki, Director, Aardman, adds: “We took an idea that was to create a powerful piece of imagery that is suggestive of the paintings from the era coming to life, and therefore a stunning promotional piece for the Museum’s commemoration plans.”

“Flight of the Stories” will be screened online and in cinemas from Monday 7 July as part of a multi-platform campaign supported by posters, press, radio and online ads promoting the new First World War Galleries.

The posters feature the stories of personal objects will run in Underground stations on cross-track and platform posters, tube cards and digital panels.

Johnny Fearless was appointed by the IWM in an AAR-organised pitch in April 2013.

“The film is both beautiful and poignant,” says Penny Hamilton, Head of Brand and Marketing, IWM. “I think it captures exactly what we were trying to convey – for whilst it is true that some of the people never made it back from the fighting front, their stories have, and it is our duty at IWM to ensure that they continue to be told. This what we will be doing in our new First World War Galleries.”

IWM London and the new First World War Galleries will reopen on 19 July 2014 ready to mark the official start of the Centenary commemorations.

Watch the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lZUTMS8uLA

Behind the Scenes of Maynards TV ad by Aardman

Aardman have created a miniature world bringing the hedgehog family to life with stopframe animation for Maynards Discovery Patch. These are a new range of fun-shaped fruit flavour jelly and foam sweets. The ad took nearly three weeks to shoot, frame by frame.

aardman-maynards-4

Directors Karni and Saul had a very specific visual treatment in mind for the spot: “We were looking for a textured, intimate and handmade look so we decided to opt for needle felting finish which gives the puppets a realistic, yet cosy feel.

aardman-maynards-3

“The challenge was creating a world – part hedgehog, part person – that humans can relate to. It was loads of fun coming up with the small details in the set like the nature themed elements.”

aardman-maynards-5

The advert, which runs from 9th May, features a family of hedgehogs trying Maynards Discovery Patch for the first time and exploring the questions on pack. The ad has been produced by Aardman, the studio famous for popular characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph.

aardman-maynards-2

The Maynards Discovery Patch range includes four themed variants – Discovery Patch Animals, Discovery Patch Body Bits, Discovery Patch Myths & Monsters and a multipack of treatsize Discovery Patch Mini Creatures. All packs feature fun facts or quizzes on the back of pack to inspire moments of family discovery. There is also a Maynards Discovery Patch app which you can unlock by scanning the pack, giving families an opportunity to discover even more through an augmented reality experience.

aardman-maynards-1

The TV campaign is part of a £3 million UK media investment of this year, which will also include cinema, video on demand, out of home (close to stores), digital, experiential PR and in-store activity.

Kaitlin Williams, Brand Manager for Candy at Mondelēz International, said: “We’re hugely excited to be working with Aardman for our first TV campaign for Discovery Patch. The hedgehogs are the perfect fit with the quirky and curious personality of the product, and we expect the ad’s going to be a big hit with consumers.

Watch the ad: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGfGJIhZkb0

Making of the ad: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku7u2gygtAg

NFTS applications now open for 2014 course

Aardman Animations has hired three graduates from the 2013 NFTS Certificate in Character Animation.

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) has confirmed that it is to run its Certificate in Character Animation course in partnership with Aardman Animations following the successful of the inaugural course last year.

shaun-the-sheep_movie_cameras_rolling_HD

The intensive 12- week course offering training for 12 CG and stop frame animators was launched last June to meet the growing demand for animation talent in the UK. The 2014 course will run from 15th Sept to 5th Dec 2014.

Taught at Aardman’s Bristol studios by industry professionals, tutors included Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists) with one-to one feedback sessions with Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park (an NFTS graduate), Peter Lord and Shelley Page (Dreamworks talent outreach).

The course also attracted top masterclass speakers such as and Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and six major animation companies including Sarah Fell (Series Producer, Turner, The Amazing Adventures of Gumball), Darren Walsh (Director Passion Pictures), Oli Hyatt (Co-owner Blue Zoo), Sarah Cox (Director at Arthur Cox) and Andy McEvoy (Supervising Animator, DNEG).

David Sproxton, Aardman co-founder and producer said: “This first Aardman/ NFTS animation course proved beyond doubt the effectiveness of linking a strong training institution with a first class industry player when it comes to high-level skills training. From the selection of the students to the finer points of the curriculum this was a very strong partnership. Having the students training alongside working professionals at our studio in Bristol was a great experience for everyone. The results speak for themselves, with excellent work being screened in the final showcase event, demonstrating imagination, verve and strength in character animation. We look forward greatly to running another course.”

The training gives 12 selected students the core practical skills needed to become professional animators. The majority of the course is practical with participants working on animation exercises to improve their skills, knowledge and experience. This is also supported by animation theory. It culminates in a short character animation sequence – pre-planned and boarded – to showcase the skills learnt during the course. You can view the 2013 student showreels here http://vimeo.com/81089765

Loyd Price, Aardman Head of Animation, added: “Without exception all of the students’ animation, acting and understanding of performance greatly improved over the 12 weeks and they produced a final sequence far in advance of what many of them believed they would ever have been capable of.”

Asked what were the highlights of the course, the students said:

“Having one-on-one time with legends like Nick Park and Peter Lord, the chance to pitch a feature film to them and be in a studio like Aardman every day.” (Adam Watts)

“I genuinely felt like I came away a better animator. ” (William O’Neill)

“Getting our work looked at and critiqued by Nick Park and Peter Lord was not only a rare opportunity but was a great experience.” (Hannah Wright)

“There’s just nothing to beat actually being at Aardman and standing in the lunch queue next to Nick Park.” (Alexandra Kogl)

This is one of six new courses launched by the NFTS last year with partners from the film and television industry. Many of these courses include employment opportunities and work placements for graduates.

NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “When students invest in education, they want to know there is a chance of a job when they graduate. The success of this NFTS course and the contracts offered by Aardman goes to show how valuable it is for film schools to partner with leading companies to train talented people for the UK’s growing film, television and games industries.”

Apply before JUNE 5th deadline for the NFTS Certificate in Character Animation in partnership with Aardman Animations. http://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/certificate/character-animation

National Accident Helpline / Aardman animation competition

Aardman animation competitionNational Accident Helpline has teamed up with Aardman to run an animation competition. Aspiring animators are being invited to create a short animation on the theme ‘Success against the odds’ for a chance to win an animation lover’s experience including a tour of the Aardman studios, ‘Make a morph’ workshop, original Morph artwork signed by Peter Lord, travel and accommodation. The winner and shortlisted entrants also get personalised feedback on their animation from Aardman.

More information and entry pack available here: http://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/success-against-the-odds

Entries must be submitted by 18 May 2014.

Aardman plan to bring back Morph

MorphFans of Aardman may remember Morph, the loveable clay character who could change into lots of different shapes.

After an amazing response from the public, Morph creator and Aardman co-founder Peter Lord is launching a campaign to bring Morph back for a new series of adventures!

Using Kickstarter, Peter is appealing to fans for backing in return for a host of exclusive rewards and the chance to be involved in the production process. Find out more on his Kickstarter page.

Scratch and the Yellow Dustbin released on YouTube

 

Yellow Dustbin is a seven minute animated film starring Scratch, Itch and Eve. It is the first Scratch film to be made in thirty years. Scratch last appeared on British television in 1983. In the meantime Scratch and his cartoon pals are alive and well, and appearing regularly as a strip cartoon in the Salisbury Journal.

Armed with a simple love story, Paul Thomas has set his new film in the town of Totnes, where the Scratch strip cartoons are published. Paul says the architecture proved to be ideal for the backgrounds creating a nostalgic English feel. The surreal images were inspired by Dada and psychedelia.

We asked Paul about the production of Yellow Dustbin.

David Jefferson: You were making short animations for the BBC Take Hart programs in the 1980s when film ruled the day. How do the digital tools available to the present day animator compare with shooting on film?

Scratch last appeared on BBC TV with artist and children's television presenter Tony Hart in 1983

Scratch last appeared on BBC TV with artist and children’s television presenter Tony Hart in 1983.

Paul Thomas: There was tension and anticipation when awaiting the delivery of a 16mm cutting copy being processed over night at the Rank Film Labs. Hoping there were no scratches on the neg and I always did mixes and fades ‘in camera’ which too were a risk. Then watching the precious piece of film on the Steenbeck editing table, breathing a sigh of relief that all went to plan.
Then later in the process to have Peter Harwood (the voice of Morph) create a soundtrack to picture. I relished the challenge to bring all the creative contributions together for a short animated film fit for broadcast on national television.

In comparison all the previous processes can be achieved digitally on a computer without leaving your seat. Yes you bypass time consuming activities. Yes you can create everything yourself with the aid of software packages but I always enjoyed the adventure of going to BBC TV Centre. I felt a part of the programme while being able to drop in the production office on spec. Sit in on editing and dubbing. Having the privileged position of watching unedited sequences of Tony Hart unhindered by music overdubs as he performed to camera.

DJ: What were the main software tools used in the production of Yellow Dustbin?

PT: My home computer was the main tool used to create Yellow Dustbin. I used Windows Movie Maker software to assemble the images. It’s a godsend. I can make my crazy illustrated films with The Hare and The Moon on tap. I wished to maintain the rouge edge look of the original Scratch films and that was achieved through the artwork and the various mediums I used. It was the first time working without a rostrum camera so my work was simply scanned in using a peg bar taped to the scanner.

The music, vocal and Matt Dean’s photographs were loaded from emails and CD’s. It was the editing though that made the film. I was surprised my computer offered so much for me to achieve what I wanted. The ability to drop images in here and there. Pull the soundtrack into line with the picture and move entire scenes around at the click of a button.

DJ: The voice of I.V. Webb has a beautiful clarity. Is she a professional actress?

PT: No. I.V. Webb is a singer songwriter currently recording an album in the UK. Once the music for Yellow Dustbin, composed by performed by The Hare And The Moon, was complete I sought a vocalist. I found I.V. Webb. On hearing the warmth and tone in her voice knew she was the one. I was fortunate I.V. took a shine to the script and I made a return to the old ways by taking her into a recording studio to put the vocal down.

I.V. Webb records the voiceover for Yellow Dustbin.

I.V. Webb records the voiceover for Yellow Dustbin.

Paul explained that Yellow Dustbin is structured as a four part symphony.

Part 1. Home: Sitting on a bench in Totnes high street Paul reflects on his animated cartoon characters. They escape once more from his imagination with help from the music of The Hare And The Moon, the voice of I.V. Webb and photographs taken by Matt Dean. Scratch in his Yellow Dustbin is lifted above the top of the steep high street looking down to his destination as oranges race by Itch mouse.

Part 2. Sky: Itch decorates the sky with whimsical waggish dazzle. Scratch is side tracked but entertained.

Part 3. Remember: As the sky display dwindles The Gallery takes us back to where it all began with Tony Hart. Hanging on a pink wall are scenes from those first animated appearances in Take Hart.

Part 4. Love: Unaware of his interruptions as she dreams of their romance Eve waits for Scratch at the bottom of the high street. It’s clear they are in love. Paul bids us thank you and goodbye in a very Dylanesque way.

Totness museum poster

Totness museum poster

NFTS launches new animation course with Aardman

The NFTS (National Film and Television School) has launched a new animation course in partnership with the Aardman Animations to meet the growing demand for animators in the UK.

The exciting new three-month Certificate in Character Animation course will be taught by industry professionals, including main tutors Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists) and Mathew Rees, Supervising Senior CG Animator (commercials for clients such as Serta, Chevron, British Gas, Hershey’s as well as work on Pirates!).

The Pirates! from Aardman Animations.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists from Aardman Animations.

Loyd Price said: “The UK is very much a powerhouse of animation at the moment. Our continued success at Aardman and that of others such as the NFTS means that people are travelling to the UK from all over the world to learn our style of stop frame and CG animation. We’d like to build on that success by developing home-grown talent to work in this exciting entertainment industry.”

The Bristol based studio has enjoyed continued popularity at both the box office and the Academy Awards. It has won four Oscars and had 10 Oscar nominations including the animated feature film Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film this year.

The NFTS’ stop-frame animated film Head Over Heels was nominated for Best Short Animation this year – the only film school nominated for an Oscar in 2013. The School’s stop-frame animated film Miss Todd is also a finalist in the Oscar qualifying 2013 student Academy Awards (a competition it has previously won 5 times) and its charcoal-drawn animated film Magnificent Lion Boy is the only UK film school film in Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Nik Powell, NFTS Director said: “We’re looking for applicants with a real passion for animation to join this flagship course.”

Jon Wardle, NFTS Director of Curriculum and Registrar added: “This course will give participants a chance in a life-time opportunity to train with Aardman animators and gain the highest level of animation skills that can help them get jobs in this growing industry.”

The 12 –week intensive course will take place at Aardman’s Bristol headquarters and provide the core practical skills needed to become professional animators. The majority of the course is practical with participants working on animation exercises to improve their skills, knowledge and experience. This will also be supported by animation theory. It culminates in a short character animation sequence – pre-planned and boarded – to showcase the skills learnt during the course.

Don’t miss out – Apply before the Friday 21st June 2013 deadline for the Certificate in Character Animation course that starts in September 2013.

Shaun the Sheep returns

Shaun the Sheep makes his highly anticipated return to the UK small screen this month with twenty brand new episodes – proving that life is never dull on Mossybottom Farm. Shaun and the gang return at the end of February, Monday – Friday from 25th February at 3.15pm on CBBC.

shaun-the-sheep

Shaun and his farm friends cause mayhem in the 20 x 7 minute episodes when they get involved in high jinks with hand gliders, dinosaurs, ducks, graffiti, crows, window cleaning, bulls, skate boards, old home movies and even a piano – in an iconic Laurel and Hardy moment!

To support the new series launch, CBBC have commissioned another five Championsheeps games to add to the existing suite of popular online games released during last year’s summer of sport. The games were produced as an experience with on-going appeal which is both engaging and entertaining for fans and encourages friendly, social competition and interaction with the show’s characters.

The new games, which are available on the CBBC website, were developed by Aardman’s in-house digital team who have made significant updates to the suite including new animations for the main hub and new ways of reporting high scores and achievements. A special unlock code feature has also been created and fans will be provided with codes at the end of each new episode giving players access to special features in each of the new games.

The team have been working closely with Aardman’s expert CG artists in order to progress the look of the characters in the game by developing 3D models, enhancing the game experience both aesthetically and mechanically as the 3D elements provided far greater flexibility than a 2D graphic with the movement of each character. In turn this allowed the Digital team more creative freedom to produce five visually appealing and addictive games for Shaun fans to enjoy across the world.

The Staves Winter Trees Video from Aardman

Aardman have collaborated with Atlantic Records and British folk rock trio The Staves to create a visually stunning music promo to accompany their latest single Winter Trees from their debut album Dead & Born & Grow.

 

Aardman directors Karni and Saul talk about the making of Winter Trees:

“The weird thing for us about this video, is that for a song called Winter Trees we wouldn’t normally base a story in a forest with trees but saying that when we first heard the song, we wrote ideas down separately just brainstorming it… and we both wanted a forest. So we guess it had to be that way, its the feeling the song gave us. So beautiful but slightly sad and bare too – like a forest. Something emotional.

“Then we bashed out the idea back and forth between us – coming up with slightly hybrid animals escaping something and an ‘owl lama’ with a man/spirit on its back.

“We knew from the girls, the song was based on a relationship so we wanted to take it wider and further by showing creatures escaping a flood and hanging precariously of tips of trees. It reminded us of the fisherman who sit on tall poles in the sea, it was a very visual scene. We wanted it to feel emotional while not too twee and have a story that was symbolic of a relationship and slightly surreal.

The trees represent the three staves sisters in a very loose way.

The trees represent the three staves sisters in a very loose way.

“We also wanted to make the trees the musicians, so there are three trees that represent the three staves sisters Emily, Jessica, and Camilla in a very loose way.

“As for the visual treatment we wanted to base it on 3d laser-cut wood puzzles – which we’d been researching it for a while. We made some art work examples and ref images and Saul sketched the rabbit squids and the lama owl.

“After that we showed it to Atlantic and the girls, who loved it and gave us the green light.

“Then we had to figure out how to make it, together with Aardman’s animation and CG team. Obviously we are based in one of the best places in the world for animation, so we figured it out pretty quick. It’s a mix of techniques; hand drawn, flash and CG animation. None of it is classic stop frame though.

The Staves Winter Trees Video“We wanted that hand drawn emotional feel with the ease and 3D model feel of the real world that CG can give. So we mixed it up like we usually do.

“Then it was a matter of an animatic and making it look like wood, giving it dramatic lighting, deciding on shape/style of animation/colours and all that.

“The girls were very trusting in us and the vision and so we could just get on with it. It was a tight schedule and budget so we had to work fast and make everyone else work very hard with us. But they were all so enthusiastic about the visuals and song that they were willing and super collaborative.

“We are really pleased with the end result and the label and girls are too. It seems to have struck a chord with people, it’s getting quite a bit of attention, maybe because it’s something a little fresh visually that’s still delicate and has an emotional story.”

The Staves. Emily Staveley-Taylor - vocals, Camilla Staveley-Taylor - vocals and ukulele, Jessica Staveley-Taylor - vocals and guitar. Photograph by Dan Curwin © Atlantic Records UK.

The Staves. Emily Staveley-Taylor – vocals, Camilla Staveley-Taylor – vocals and ukulele, Jessica Staveley-Taylor – vocals and guitar. Photograph by Dan Curwin © Atlantic Records UK.