Flicks Films have produced five TV commercials for Harrods using graphics that were animated, traced and painted, shot on a rostrum camera with slit scan special effects enhancing the animation effects. That material was put onto video so that video effects could be added. “There are certain video effects that you can do in animation that you can’t do on a rostrum, certain things on the rostrum that you can’t do on video and it is very interesting to combine all these elements,” says Ward. “The graphics field in film is accelerating into different areas very fast now that we have video and computer animation. If you can come up with ideas that enable you to use all these elements together it makes life more interesting.”
Ward likes the advertising agencies to bring him in as early as possible on the planning of a commercial. “Some agencies don’t accept your input until a later stage”, says Ward, “but a lot of agencies will bring you in when they have a rough storyboard or rough script, especially with animation. Some clients I have, such as Harrods, do not use an agency. I sit down with their creative people and the ideas are basically mine enhanced by Harrods themselves. I almost have a free rein to do whatever I want, which doesn’t happen very often. It makes it as interesting as doing series work. Really that is what one is after. If you can do your own thing and get paid for it that is even better.” Adds Ward with a chuckle.
Just as an actor can become type cast so animation studios can become known for a particular style of animation. The agencies tend to pick an animation company because they know that they are good at a certain style of animation so they can be sure of getting the required result. “When our show-reel goes out people are slightly confused by the fact that so many different styles are included,” says Ward. “Often one loses work because the agencies can’t actually tie you down. It works to my advantage when a certain style goes out because you can continue in a different direction. If someone comes up with a new style and it wins an award then everyone wants to copy that style or have that animator do it. That is especially true of the pop promo side, you find that young people are breaking away from well established production companies, or are coming out of film school, with some new ideas because they have not been tied down to a routine in the industry. The agencies pick up on this new style and feed them with material. So you find that for 6 months, a year or 18 months there is a certain style running through commercials. These small groups grow and you get off-shoots from them, like hydra. A company grows and the young staff that have created new ideas move away and enlarge, the agencies use these and they grow. That has happened throughout my 20 years in the industry. The amount of off-shoots that have grown up in the business is amazing.”
We asked Terry Ward what qualifications he thought were needed to become a good animator. He pointed out that it was difficult to say because for some aspects of animation you don’t even need to draw. He continued, “Making children’s series is totally different to making commercials. If you are making commercials for an agency then the business side is the most important aspect. You can’t go off and animate wildly to your hearts content, you are tied down completely from beginning to end. You are working with a team from client, to account executive at the agency, director, producer, animator and the team is important. Young people coming into the industry sometimes forget that that’s what is going to happen. Also you are creating things instantly. Art school students have had 6 months or a year to work out their ideas, often in the real world you are forced to come up with ideas around a table, over night or during the lunch break, and you have got to put them into operation.