It was an incredibly sad day on Saturday as it was the final day of the Bradford Animation Festival set in the incredible Bradford Media Museum.
The day started off with a decision between Brave 3D or watching the talk on the Lifetime Achievement Award to John Halas. I didn’t actually know who John Halas was until that morning as well but because BAF was giving him the Lifetime Achievement Award I thought it’d be a good time and idea to find out. So I went into to the talk that was for John’s work in which we watched a documentary about John which was written and directed by Professor Paul Wells. The documentary had gone on for around 60 minutes and then after that we had watched three of his most famous short animations and then Paul presented his daughter, Vivien Halas, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for John. It was interesting to see the work that John created this was also more intriguing due to how Paul was describing his work as one of the create animators that are sadly not given the praise they deserve. John Halas’s career was vast and varying with 60 years of animation experience, and the animations aren’t exactly what you’d expect with the change in animation over the years. The documentary went through John’s life and then career with him setting up one of the most longest running and refined studios, with his wife Joy Batchelor, Halas and Batchelor. The animations were very different from one another but they followed a very common theme of being animated to emit emotion and to display emotion especially within music and sound. It was interesting and great to see with one animation that does feed into what I am doing at the moment, but it wasn’t the sort of work that suits my taste but I can still appreciate and understand the work he created.
I then had some lovely time to relax and chat to friends and various people again before heading to the exciting talk by Will Becher who is an animator at Aardman. Although I did hear his talk at Canterbury with model maker Jim Parkyn, it was great to see a much more focused talk on animation as well as it being different but still incredibly fun and interesting. Will had gone through the process to creating the animations but focusing on Aardman’s most recent feature film ‘The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists’. It was interesting to see that although they do still focus heavily on stop motion animation, they do implement the use of CG and other techniques to create the animations. Before Will had really gotten into his role and the work they had done within Pirates, he had talked a little bit about his past and then how he got to work at Aardman. He had actually showed us a clip of his short animation he created within his last year of University which focused on a stopmotion character, very simply animated but incredibly well already with him mentioning to focus on showing character based animation interacting with another character, if you are wanting to work for a studio after University. This was all about making sure we are aiming for the right studios with the correct demonstration of your work.
He then went onto a detailed description of the process with some lovely images and footage throughout the talk. Once again BAF and Will’s talk didn’t fail to let me down with some amazing information that’s inspirational and interesting which also made me want to look more into stopmotion once again. You also know it was a great talk when he discussed all the little tips and tricks that he does also that really opens up this closed off work and adds even more of a human touch to the animation. The talk also cleared up a lot of questions and methods that I’d never been able to get my head around such as how or if they block out the animations and that process in detail. I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it seems as though they also do use dope sheet styled layouts which break down the animation, this is great because I’ve been able to get my head around these now and understand them to use and write one up, but they are very ‘fiddly’ and a long process. It was good to also hear the expectations of an animator for instance, having each animator usually create 2 seconds of animation each day, but this is after all the pre-visual and development work with sound, acting out live parts and dope sheets. It seems to be a big focus within a lot of animators I got to speak to over the festival, is the use of live footage and real life reference and analysis and then adding that exaggeration and animators touch. Will had even brought along Captain Pirate and his trusty dodo to show us how he animates the face and just to allow people to look at it a bit closer!
After the talk and then getting to watch the film in 3D, I was able to talk to Will for a little while, asking him questions on his work and methods as well as asking about what he believes is the most important point in creating a believable character animation within stop motion. It seems though that a lot of focus again is centered around understanding the character and giving it that personality through careful animation. I also asked him about something around my dissertation with the 12 principles and animation theory. From the answers I got over the festival period, it seems as though a lot of the animators still use, although they don’t specifically aim or work from the list of principles and theory, all the principles and theories naturally within animation else it won’t work. With stop motion of course it’s a little different because they don’t have the ability to squash and stretch as much as you would for hand drawn or CG.
I then had time to just mingle and relax before the closing ceremony and awards event at the end of the night. I was able to speak to two of the guys from ‘Boy And The Dinosaur’ an upcoming kids animation series Directed by Paul Couvella and David Bunting. David Bunting and Matthew Stephenson were at the festival to, of course, check out all the festival events as well as reviewing portfolios and showreels as they are currently looking for artists, animators, designers and management staff. They were able to have a look at my current winter showreel which I’d asked about just to get some feedback and advice. The talk was great and it was really interesting to hear what they had to say about my showreel. I didn’t actually notice a lot of things that they’d mentioned which just shows how fast they notice even the smallest detail. I’ll now be able to work over my showreels in the future and just give a lot more thought to the content. Overall though I’ve been able to get some great feedback on my work and showreel to get it to a higher standard but it’s also given me a lot more confidence in my work as I’ve had a lot of very positive comments about it. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to speak to a lot of the animators again and talk to the guys behind ‘Boy and the Dinosaur’ as it looks like a fun and interesting little animation I think I would love to understand more. If you’d like to find out more about the show and the current openings they have then be sure to check out the website I’ve linked below.
The night then went onto the awards and closing night celebrations. It was great to review all the animations with the great Barry Purves once again being the guest speaker for the night and seeing the lovely animation winners. To check out the winners be sure to head over to the Bradford Animation Festival’s website which I’ve linked below which goes directly to the award winners.
I must admit that I do love ‘Oh Willy…’ by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels and ‘Buy Buy Baby’ by Gervais Merryweather which ‘Oh Willy’ I first saw in Canterbury and ‘Buy Buy Baby’ through BAF. Both of them are very different animations but both lovely and incredibly well thought out, if you haven’t seen them, then you should.
Here are their trailers..
And finally what was a lovely day, ended with a fun, humours but still very animation educating night with all the different people from the festival. It was great to be able to just have a drink and chat with all the different people in such a relaxed environment. I was also able to some what interview Joanna Quinn for my dissertation but this went on to just having a chat about the festival, herself and general chat. It was great to hear more about her which is something I love about festivals like BAF, being able to know the human side to these idols and behind the animations. It was an eye-opening and great talk with Joanna which I’ve luckily been able to have with a lot of other brilliant animators with an incredible amount to take away and learn. Thankfully the festival has given me the confidence, inspiration and the knowledge to know what I need to do and clarify where I want to go and a very confusing and tough time as it’s now the last year I’ll have within education completely unless I choose to do a Masters course.
Whether I get to volunteer or not next year or if I’m working, I’ll most defiantly be there again.
Here’s a short video of some of the highlights of Bradford Animation Festival that they were able to put together.
Underneath is also a link to Skwigly’s good look at the highlights and winners of the festival with some lovely photos, the trailers of all the winners from the festival and of course a great photo of the BAFettes! Woo!