Studio report

Animation Stroud closes

The Acre.

The Acre, Stroud, Gloucestershire, a studio once owned by Halas and Batchelor has been sold – thus ending a tradition, started by Anson Dyer at the commencement of the Second World War, of basing an animation studio in Stroud. Harold Whitaker started with Anson Dyer in 1940 and has been head of Animation Stroud since 1972. He will continue working in the Stroud area as a freelance animator.

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball.

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball.

A 90-second animated title sequence opens the recently released feature film The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball. The production is intended to raise funds for Amnesty International. English Markell Pocket undertook the title production for the lowest possible price – no fee at all. The designer given the task of making something for nothing was Glenn Carwithen. “There was no script from the client,” says Carwithen. “I was given a drawing of a secret policeman and left to build a sequence around him.”

He took his storyboard to Sergio Simonetti at Dragon, who, when told there was no money, responded, “That’s fine. With some jobs you worry whether you will be paid. In this situation, there is no problem.”

The black and white title sequence has the look of a forties detective movie. A plain-cloths policeman enters the Amnesty offices and begins a clumsy search which results in his being hit in the crutch by a drawer. His ‘third ball’ drops to the floor and up pops the film title. The music is by Bill Wyman and voiceover by Bob Hoskins.

Dr Scratch (Paul Thomas)

Scratch animation complete BAM

Dr Scratch of Tiger Trax Animation has announced the completion of BAM, a short film for Channel 4. Paul Thomas, producer and director, describes it as follows:

A film conceived around a piece of live action footage that developed into a series of images based around the personalities of five women.

Certain themes became important, eyes, metamorphosis, the face, disintegration, the head. Also important, to allow the marriage of music and images, the time, to have an effect. ‘BAM’ is the nick-name of the women in part two.

A scene from BAM.

The film is by Paul Thomas and David Skinner, sound by Paddy Bush, editor Steve Herbert.

Paul has also completed five animated segments for the TV programme Hart be at. These will be broadcast between October and December.

Trekkin’ across the universe

Scene from the Star Trekkin pop video.
Super Heros pop video.

The Film Garage, who were recently described by the French magazine BAT as “the avant garde of British Animation”, have made their first number one pop video, Star Trekk in’ for ‘The Firm’ on Bark Records. This follows the production of several promos which never got beyond the lower echelons of the charts. The promo features the S.S. Bark piloted by potato headed stop-frame animation models of Captain Kirk and his crew.

Animator with a puppet.

“The idea”, said co-director Pete Bishop, “is that Kirk has been out in space too long, and is hallucinating – about food.” Hence the potato heads. Hence also a version of the Enterprise built out of pizza and sausages, with the pizza splitting in half to reveal the work ‘Kirk’ in cheese in the manner of a Pizzaland commercial. The video was made in seven days, directed by Pete Bishop and Marc Kitchen-Smith; lighting cameraperson Cinders Forshaw; stop-frame animation and models by No Strings.

Characters from the Super Heros pop video.

The pair have also recently completed several commercials. In one, a boy robot fits a girl robot with Varta Batteries bringing her to life (Agency, Wight Collins Rutherford Scott: Producer Kate O’Malloy, Creatives Robert Campbell, Mark Rolf). In another Berol Pens scribble on live action characters (Agency HCM Homer Collis Kirvan: Producer Mark Parsons, Creatives Ruth Yee, Sonja Smith). The third features toy creatures called The Grumples. When you squeeze one it sticks out its tongue and blows a raspberry (Agency Ted Bates: Producer Maggie Blungell, Creatives Mike McKenna and Ian Peck). Production manager on these commercials was Alan Dewhurst.

Film Garage recently completed the video for The Firm’s follow-up record Super Heroes. In the video stop-frame ants rob a bank, Cricket-Bat Man scours the streets for villains and muscular men in silly costumes admire themselves in dustbins. The credits on this shoot are the same as Star Trekkin.

Report from Jeremy Clarke.

The front cover featured a picture from this article. Click the pic to see a larger version.

Printed in Animator Issue 21 (Winter 1987)