Back in 2009 I wrote The Dance for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. Sarah is a maidservant in the court of the king when a magnificent ball takes place. Though she is cleaning, Sarah is asked to dance …

For Sarah’s clothes I took directly from this Crows Eye Productions video. It’s worth checking out their YouTube channel for more videos on period costume!

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Manaus is Rudy’s son and as such has been through many of the trials she has.

There is something very interesting about the ‘relationship’ between a writer or artist and their characters. It’s possible to be very cruel to them to serve a story. I don’t remember thinking much of it at the time, but looking back now I feel very sorry for Rudy.

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These drawings are from last week, but it took me until now to cherry-pick the best to upload. They’re all studies from Bodies in Motion; most of them are of neutral expressions but some of the short poses (between 30 seconds and 2 minutes) were of a variety of emotions. With the longer studies I really focused in on the eyes, nose and mouth to get to grips with the structure and form.

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Recently I taught some animation workshops for groups of mainly high school aged children and youth. This is the first time I’ve taught animation in any depth, though I ran one workshop on pixelation a few years ago. My main goal was to give a basic framework for people to think about animation in a different way, and teach skills that they can use themselves.

In the two and a half hour workshop everyone drew a character or object on a piece of animation paper. This became a key frame. I gave a very brief overview of key frames, breakdowns and in betweens and explained charts so each person could add a chart to their key frame. Using the chart, everyone then created breakdowns and in betweens to morph between their key frame and the next. For anyone who is unfamiliar with 2D animation, this blog post may help if you want to learn a bit more.

I ran two of these workshops, and you can see the results of both in the video above.

At the end of the workshop, I gave everyone paper and clips to make flip books. I left the direction of these completely open, and the results were varied and brilliant.

The final session I ran was a day and a half long specialism workshop, where I began by going much more in depth with the technical aspects of animation. I showed a few short animations as inspiration including The Illusion of Life, which is a brilliant little video summarising the 12 principles of animation in a clear way. As individuals and as a group they worked through a couple of exercises exploring timing and weight. I was impressed with the way people picked up on some of the principles from the video, thinking about squash and stretch and anticipation in particular.

After drawing thumbnails for their ideas, they began animating on paper. I encouraged everyone to key out their animation, using their thumbnails as poses. The group really thought about how many drawings they wanted between each key, and after the exercises they’d learnt a lot more about breakdowns and in betweens, especially the fact that they don’t have to be exactly halfway between one drawing and another.

Given that there was only one lightbox I pushed everyone to learn to flip the pages, and seeing people pick it up in only a couple of hours was incredible. Flipping the entire scene was also fantastic. I think there’s something really tactile and fun about animating on paper, and I’m glad I could share that.

The films that were created are far beyond anything I anticipated. Real thought went into the making of them, and everyone made an effort to put into practice principles they’d only just learnt. The end results are beautiful and funny. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.

Create

I’ve been going along to several events at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this week. As part of the EIFF’s Youth Hub events I took part in a filmmaking competition. Each entry had to be made in under a week, and include the dialogue “young and the wild” and the prop of a mobile phone. “Create” was my entry, drawn in about a day and a half. It won second place.

The narration was kindly provided by Philip Todd. You can see more of his work here: philip-todd.com

I’ve also added “Create” to my Shorts page.

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