Tree Fu Go!


For the last 10 months I’ve been busily beavering away as part of an amazing team of splendid folk at Blue Zoo Animation working on series 5 & 6 of kid’s TV series Tree Fu Tom. Series 5 is currently being aired on the CBeebies channel and the first episode I worked on was shown today and can be seen on the BBC iPlayer in the UK. Here are a couple of gifs of shots I animated from episode 4 “It’s a Kind of Magic”:





They Both Explode now on Vimeo

A year and many festival screenings after its premier at Animated Exeter, my short film They Both Explode is now available for all to see on Vimeo. To see it in lovely HD, click here

The film was made mostly out of card and found objects and shot using a primitive multiplane system made from a desk, some picture-frames and an old pillow case. I used Dragon software and a second hand Lumix FZ50 camera. It was all done ‘in camera’ so there is no compositing or anything; what you see is what the camera saw, lying on the floor, looking up through panes of glass with lights shining down on it.

Annecy 2013 mind dump

It was my first time at Annecy and it was tres bon, magnifique, incroyable, really really good fun and fully knackering. Annecy is astonishingly beautiful and the festival is vast. I’m still amazed that my little film (They Both Explode) was in the official selection. Administative error or not, I fully intend to repeat this slight of hand sometime in the future!

Annecy is a place to consider and reconsider where you fit in the grand scheme of the animation world. It is a place to think big thoughts about impossible things. It is a place, most importantly, to ride pedalos and then dance with new friends ’till the wee small hours. I met innumerable fun and inspiring people and only fell on my arse in front of them once (walking in bowling shoes, slipped in someone’s spilt drink. Full slapstick prat fall. Beer retained. Pro.)

It’s only possible to catch a fraction of the films shown at Annecy but I’ll list a few of my highlights here:

Tito On Ice by Max Andersson & Helena Ahonen

For me Tito on Ice was the surprise highlight of the feature films. A part live action and part animated documentary that defies all explanation. It has a cracking soundtrack with a load of 80s post-punk from the former-Yugoslavia.

But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørnsen & Anna Mantzaris

A friendly but troubling creature enters the life of a man who already finds society extremely worrying. A very pleasing film.


Rabbit and Deer by Péter Vácz

I love it when the animation techniques used in a short film are integral to the plot. This film does that really nicely.


Persistence of Vision by Kevin Schreck

Tragic documentary about Richard Williams’ doomed attempts to create an animated masterpiece. Richard Williams refuses to talk about the film to this day and the old interviews with him make the whole endeavor look like a lesson in dramatic irony.

Not Over by Toru Hayai

This one is very short and already online. I saw Toru Hayai interviewed over breakfast on Saturday morning. At first he just wanted to make some nice landscapes but then later decided that maybe a character would help. I think I can safely confirm that it did.

He summarised his own reading of the story something like this: So often in life we just want to get on with the thing we like to do but somehow the world conspires to make everything into a competition. Ain’t that just the truth.

Other goodies:

Taxandria by Raoul Servais – a lost classic mostly live action 90’s Belgian fantasy film. It was screened in a castle courtyard as the stars came out. Magical.

Wildebeest by Ant Blades – funny internet hit, still makes me laugh

A Flood Story by Maarten Isa – my heart sank when this started with some text saying it was ‘a landscape’, a 17 minute installation designed to be played on a loop in a gallery. My trepidation was misplaced though, somehow it proved constantly engaging on a big cinema screen.

The Event by Julia Pott – The brilliant Julia Pott’s most enigmatic work to date mixing video and animation to visualise a poem by Tom Chivers.

In The Air is Christopher Gray by Felix Massie – A twisted sentimental reflection on the blinding power of young love. Darkly funny.

Room On The Broom by Max Lang & Jan Lachauer – Another hit Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler picture-book adaptation from the makers of the TV versions of The Gruffallo and The Gruffallo’s Child. The performance of the cat steals the show.

Ziegenort by Tomasz Popakul – a strange, discomforting and long short (or perhaps short long) film that drew me into its wobbly-lined 2D/3D mysterious world. Mostly black and white and morally grey.

The Big Beast by Pierre-Luc Granjon – A good fable.


Right, I’m now off to track down some of the films I missed and look-up all the people I met by sifting through my memory and the stack of business cards I amassed. See you next year?

Watersprite debrief

Last weekend I spoke at Watersprite, the Cambridge student film festival. Of all the film festivals I’ve been to, this was certainly the one with the highest number of costume changes and the most beautiful venues! Thanks to Bernadette Schramm for inviting me and to all those who came and listened to my rambling. I hope it gave you some idea of the things a character animator does and thinks about. Thanks especially to those who hung around for extra chat afterwards, I think that was the best bit!

Aside from my talk I took part in a number of other events including the award ceremony in which I was very pleased to don a dickie bow and present the award for animation to Iria Lopez for her brilliant film Jamón. Here’s the trailer:

It was great to see animated films nominated (and winning) in so many other categories. Too often animation gets segregated away from live action into one category but at Watersprite animated films won for their Screenplay (Jamón), Cinematography (Nyosha), Soundtrack (Nyosha) and Sound Editing (Jamón). Yes, two films really swept up this year! Here’s the trailer for Liran Kapel and Yael Dekel’s beautiful film Nyosha:

Before the award ceremony I had a brief chat with fellow Watersprite guest, inveterate name-dropper and writer Neil Gaiman about the genius of Stephin Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields). Apparently they’re planning on writing a Grand Guignol together. Potentially amazing! Neil blogged about the festival here

The festival featured an amazing array of high profile speakers and more about a few of these can be found on the blog of VFX House The Mill.

Watersprite Festival


In further festival news I have been very kindly asked to speak at Watersprite, the Cambridge International Student Film Festival. I’ll be talking about my work and about animation production in general. Other more illustrious speakers will include graphic novelist Neil Gaiman (Coraline, The Sandman), Make-up artist Jenny Shircore (Notting Hill, My Week with Marilyn), Sreenwriter John Logan (Skyfall, Rango) and composer/former-member of Dire Straits Hal Lindes (The Lucky One, Reckless) amongst many others.

Watersprite takes place 1-3rd March.