Tree Fu Go!

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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”:

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Inspiring auteur animators of now

Three animations by three animators who are making great work in the world exactly right now.

1) Kirsten Lepore – Bottle

Bottle is ambitious, funny and moving. Kirsten Lepore knows when to be slow which is a costly, time-consuming kind of knowledge when animating in this way, at this scale and outdoors. She uses the medium of stop motion animation in perhaps the strongest way possible. The materials photographed are intrinsic the stories. Without the sand and the snow in Bottle, or the cakes and the veg in her earlier film Sweet Dreams the stories wouldn’t and couldn’t exist. I’m happy they do exist.

2) David O’Reilly – The External World

David O’Reilly shows how stylistically blinkered and bland most of the computer animation in the world is. He’s often puerile, sometimes offensive and frequently hilarious. There is a subtlety and a clarity of vision here too and that’s where his work passes from rendered schoolboy doodle into genius. He happily draws attention to the fact that this is computer animation while the rest of us are desperately trying to stop things from looking ‘computery’. Computer animators can sometimes be drawn into thinking that authenticity is a matter of successfully faking other mediums. Not O’Reilly. At times he’s like Chuck Jones showing the pencil of the animator in Duck Amuck or Brecht flooding the theatre stage and the audience with light.

3) Mikey Please -The Eagleman Stag

Mikey Please likes things to be white. Not black and white, just white. The Eagleman Stag has great humour seeping through the lead character’s despair. The choices that have been made with the materials and colours (or lack of) cement his world together and highlight his attitude to that world. Look out for the tactile drawing – a beautiful visual idea sprung from the self-imposed restrictions set by the film maker.

Insanity Max!

This is a little acting test I’ve been working on recently. The voices are taken from the film Pi by Darren Aronofsky. It was animated in Maya 2012 using the the brilliant ‘Morpheus’ rig by Josh Burton. The Morpheus rig is probably the best and most customisable free character rig in the world. I can’t praise it highly enough. Many thanks also to my good friends Felix Ilsley, Nick Rodgers, Yeray Diaz Diaz and Jim Bending for their feedback as I was animating this. If you like this sort of thing then go and have a look at the 11 Second Club where they do acting tests to film dialogue all the time. I didn’t use the 11 Second Club myself because I didn’t want to compete or do the same dialogue as 100 other people… So cowardice basically… Hope you enjoy it!