When I started to animate I made a conscious decision to keep the animation as loose and as simple as I could, to avoid too much laborious painting and colouring. The subject matter was lively and fluid so I wanted to keep the animation that way too. To give the film a ‘drawn’ quality, I used Berol chinographs which are quite nice to work with on cel. The colouring was done with anything that worked on cel, chinograph, permanent markers and best of all, the chunky Stabilotones, which I discovered when I was already half way through the colouring! The only problem with colouring m crayon is that they are almost always translucent, so whenever a cel needed to be opaque, I would paint the back with white paint. I didn’t like doing the colouring much so I got as many people as I could to help. This included my two brothers aged eight and twelve who’s concentration span lasted about five minutes. I eventually had to show them the door when Daniel, the youngest, was moaning about being hungry, and accidentally slid across thirty wet cels on the living room floor.
I was lucky enough to be able to video line test each piece of animation as I went along, asking second opinions from a range of friends, most of whom knew nothing about animation. I find asking advice from non-animators invaluable, because they are critical about far more fundamental things like the storyline or the characterisation.
I thoroughly enjoyed making the film but in retrospect I realise I should have paid far more attention to the initial structuring of the production, with detailed and thorough storyboards. Instead I kept various sketch-books in which I’d collect all sorts of reference pictures and ideas for various scenes. In this way the sketchbooks were my storyboard. I’d finish one scene, design the next, finish that scene and go on to the next. Even when I was two thirds through the film I still had no idea what the ending would be. I enjoyed working this way at the time but I’d never do it again. It was much too uneconomical since I ended up scrapping some scenes because they had become totally irrelevant.
I moved to Cardiff about a year ago and since that time. I have become far more involved in the independent film sector. Much of this is to do with Chapter Film Workshop, which is an active workshop situated in Cardiff s Arts Centre ‘Chapter’. The film workshop has been in existence for about ten years but has only recently become involved with animation, running regular courses for both children and adults. The workshop likes to encourage animators to come and talk about their work and in March this year Robert Breer, the New Work animator came over on a residency, to help workshop members produce a variety of films. His visit was an invaluable experience because he shook up all the preconceived ideas about animation and actually talked about it in terms of creative film-making and not pegbars and graticules.
Twenty films have been made so far, plus a number of films made by children but the ammators are now embarking upon the workshop’s first joint project, commissioned by S4C. The film is six minutes long and aimed at twelve to fourteen-year olds. All the animators seem to be working well together and the film will hopefully be fin ished by the end of the year.