sticking point

By writing my recent progress report, I became aware of how little practical activity I’d achieved so far in 2016: a creative year, but I also remembered later that I’d taken some night photographs in Edinburgh recently that I didn’t publish here. For some reason, WordPress always reports an error every time I try to upload a photo from this shoot, but I’ll keep trying.

St Andrews Square was host to an installation by Groupe LAPS called Keyframes. It’s worth following the link to see other versions of this installation. But better still, go and see the installation in situ, it’s there in Edinburgh until 28th March 2016. Each stick figure lights in turn, giving the impression of movement, thussuccessfully combining static sculpture with animation, which, together with the soundtrack, made it an impressive piece.

And following that discovery, I went out on another night photography expedition, and I’m working my way through the resulting images this weekend, so I will post the results soon.



Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 animation, photography, sculpture No Comments

the phantom tollbooth

After recently discovering the existence of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, I promptly downloaded a copy from Amazon and read it. Wow! It’s crying out to be animated. Yes, I know MGM released a film of it in 1970, but I’ve never seen it, and I don’t want to until I’ve developed my ideas of how I would tackle it. The movement in one scene really stands out for me:  where Humbug, Milo and King Azaz the Unabridged are discussing whether or not Milo should rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Castle in the Air, with Humbug believing and arguing two contradictory points of view. I can clearly imagine Humbug sliding back and forth from king to boy, alternating between outrage and persuasion.

It’s such a stimulating story that I’ve started using trello to plan a film. Its system of lists and cards that can be dragged and dropped (or should that be drag-and-dropped?) is perfect for experimenting with different arrangements.

Saturday, February 7th, 2015 animation No Comments


I don’t normally write here about my work, but things are so exciting that I want to record and share what’s going on.

This year, being the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War is getting everyone in the museum world  thinking about how to commemorate the events. So it’s not just Michael Gove’s little tizzy about ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’. There’s going to be a lot more discussion of the subject everywhere.

St Neots Museum is planning an exhibition and associated activities, including building a mock-up trench, making simple periscopes like the ones used by soldiers in the trenches, and some more stop motion animation. This time, however, instead of holding specific workshops for animation, which result in a lot of separate, very short animations, we’re going to leave a set, laptop and camera in place, so that visitors can add a sequence to an ever-expanding film.  Bruce, one of the museum volunteers, has built three sets which can be swapped out at any time. One is a seascape, complete with waves and deep Atlantic rollers, incorporating slots for ships and submarines to glide along and capacity for plumes of water caused by torpedo explosions. Another scene comprises an intricate trench complex with anti-tank defences, removable slabs for craters caused by bomb explosions to appear and simple paper tanks for children to colour, cut out and and assemble then animate.  The third set is for aerial warfare with cut-out biplanes ready for dog fights.  My next task is to draw up a storyboard to suggest ideas for sequences.

We spent last Friday testing the sets, which was a useful experience because Bruce could make some minor modifications over the weekend. We’ll shoot another series of tests tomorrow. Some people think I get paid to play, but I call it Research and Development. And yes, I enjoy it, but there’s nothing wrong with that!


Monday, January 13th, 2014 animation No Comments

thinking big

30 seconds of animation, requiring 20 animators, 4 weeks of filming and 288,000 candles? That’s thinking big.

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 animation No Comments

baf 09

I’ve just returned from the Bradford Animation Festival, where I saw some excellent films, some good films, some not so good films, some interesting films, some strange films and, as you’d expect, some downright bizarre films. Perhaps the best session, though, was the script-writing workshop led by Alan Gilbey.

Normally I hate group work, especially with strangers, because it’s usually treated as a pointless ice-breaker, but in this case the warm-up exercises really were a warm-up to idea generation and development sessions. I won’t be taking any of our proposals further, but I was impressed with how easily a group of strangers could encourage each other to develop some interesting ideas.


Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 animation, writing 1 Comment

look on my works, ye mighty, and despair

James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar and a 3D remake of Yellow Submarine… Proof, if required, that Hollywood is equally good at producing expensive new trash and messing about with old classics.

Friday, August 21st, 2009 animation, film No Comments

cat vs tv

I like this TV Dinner animation, but I think I like it particularly because, for a brief while, Chloe deigned to allow me to look after him (yes, I know the genders don’t tally – there was a fundamental error early in his life, poor chap), and I recognise many of Chloe’s traits in the film.


Sunday, July 26th, 2009 animation No Comments

txt island

Thanks to Tom for sharing an excellent animation called ‘Txt Island‘, created using letters and peg board. Very clever, and very funny.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 animation No Comments

for those in the know…

I went to see Coraline yesterday. It looked great, the story was intelligent, the models were wonderful, the detail in the animation was amazing, the 3D was effective, there was progression and development, the film was genuinely involving at times, I liked the lack of neat explanation at the end and yet… I don’t know why, but it failed to satisfy. Perhaps it was the weight of unfair expectation or perhaps I was distracted by thinking about how it was made, but I found myself resisting.

Maybe it was because the neighbours in the “real” world were too extreme. Maybe the cat was too unappealing (or, if it was meant to be unappealing or ambivalent, then there was no reason or point at which it chose to join with the girl). Maybe it was because there was something missing at the core – something to do with the price of staying with Coraline’s other mother and father.

I suspect that there was something significant that I missed about the grandmother introduced at the end. Perhaps understanding that would have helped. Was there any significance in the cat disappearing at the end? I googled the “For those in the know” phrase at the end of the closing credits, but the results were irrelevant.

Or perhaps I’m just over-analysing it.


Monday, May 11th, 2009 animation No Comments

attack of the 50ft e.t. creature on the independence day the earth stood still

I keep struggling to work out how to sort out the CircleLine sketch, so over the weekend I temporarily gave up and went to see Monsters vs Aliens instead. In 3D of course.

The 3D is great, it’s amusing in places and it has the feel of an updated 1950s, but once you get past all of the jokes and references to science fiction films and creature features, there isn’t much left. The character movement is grotesquely exaggerated, but I suppose that’s the point. Roll on Coraline.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 animation No Comments