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Clever, thoughtful debut from new director

An email dropped into my inbox yesterday from animation house Beakus that included a brilliant film from its newest director Doug Hindson. The film, DisConnect is Hindson’s graduation film from the illustration and animation course at Kingston University, London, and is made entirely with wooden puppets and shot live-action with strings and rods rather than stop-motion.

All models and sets were made from wood and card by hand, with hundreds of individual pieces designed, cut, sanded, glued and painted.

Its appeal lies in its compelling use of old-school animation to get across a message questioning the usefulness of social media sharing and continual iPhone checking, and whether this really makes us happy. It looks great, it's very well crafted and deserves all the attention it’s picking up after becoming a Vimeo Staff pick.

Here’s Doug Hindson’s DisConnect short:


And here’s the making of…

Posted 27 January 2015 by Jake Bickerton

An FS7 camera test with a difference

Here's another camera test for the Sony FS7. Nothing too exciting there, you might think, but this camera test is a little different to your standard camera test. Not in the way it looks - it's got skin tones, water drops, indoor and exterior shots. All the usual stuff. But it's in the dialogue where there's an interesting little twist. Thanks to nofilmschool for the 'heads up' on the film.

Sony FS7 Test from Jon Cole on Vimeo.

Posted 23 January 2015 by Jake Bickerton

From storyboard to animatic to finished spot

The role played by animatics in devising and developing creative content is largely an unsung role, despite animatics playing a huge part in the creative direction, look and feel of a finished production. Motion graphics designer Jack Dawkins, who works at Monkey Puzzle Studios, which produces artwork for animatics and storyboards primarily used during commercials research and production, got in touch to showcase the work of the company. It’s striking how close the company’s work is to the finished spots.

Monkey Puzzle, a 15-year old company, produces everything from quick black and white frames to high-end animatics, focusing on getting ideas and scripts visualised and animated “in a way that demonstrates their full potential and gives a project every chance of flying through research,” says Dawkins.

“A current example of a successful campaign that we helped through testing is Gordon The Boar for Gordon’s Gin, produced by BBH. We were contacted by BBH in late November with the script and a set of scamps [a sketched out storyboard],” he says.

“There was a very tight deadline (just over a week) to produce the animatic and get it through testing. The script was at a very late stage of development and so our artists were able to jump straight in tracing out the frames and getting the look of Gordon’s character right.”

BBH supplied detailed scamps from Creative Directors Rosie Arnold and Hamish Pinell

From scamp to animatic
Once the rough frames had been approved by the lead creatives and producers Monkey Puzzle lined and coloured the figures and backgrounds, working closely with the producers to ensure everything remained on brand.

Monkey Puzzle's development of the original scamps - through storyboards.... full character development

“Due to the very quick turnaround of this project it was decided early on there would be no character animation in this animatic and all the action would be created using the still frames and camera movement,” says Dawkins. “Despite the lack of character movement, the finished animatic still manages to capture the energy and the tone of the idea, and, as you can see, the aesthetic is almost identical to the finished ad.”

Here's Monkey Puzzle's animatic

And here's the finished spot.

Here's Monkey Puzzle's showreel with more examples of its animatics work...

Posted 22 January 2015 by Jake Bickerton

David Arnold and Billy Bragg talk music for film/ads

One night in early December last year two composers and performers at different ends of the musical spectrum – David Arnold (pictured above) and Billy Bragg – were involved in separate similarly inspiring film and TV industry-related events.  Here’s an admittedly belated run through what each was up to.

First up was Billy Bragg, who appeared in the late afternoon at an event you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see him at – touting his wares for the ad community at one of music supervision and production company Native’s Lounge sessions.

The idea of Native’s Lounge Sessions is for up-and-coming acts to perform in front of invited members of the advertising industry. George Ezra has featured at a previous event. Seeing Bragg performing at the Lounge Session came as something of a surprise – for a start he’s hardly up-and-coming and, well, you just wouldn’t expect to see Bragg at such an event.

As it was, he played an excellent, well-received hour-long acoustic set in the small bar at audio post house Jungle (where Native is based). Afterwards I asked why he agreed to do it.

“I'm a jobbing songwriter, and in times like now when making money from songwriting has become more difficult because of the digitisation of music, we can spend all our time complaining about that and wishing things were back the way they were or getting involved in looking at other ways of earning a living.”

“The reality is I have to find the money to work the way I want to. We all have to make compromises in our careers just to get our records made. If we start to try and engage with these different possibilities and we can engage on our terms, that's got to be worth investigating.”

It will be interesting to see if Bragg or his music makes its way onto a commercial in the coming year. If it does, you heard about it here first!

To find out more about Native’s Live Lounge sessions, click here.

A few hours later, David Arnold took to one of the smaller stages at the Royal Albert Hall at an event sponsored by Avid, BAFTA and PRS for Music, to be interviewed about his career in music and how he managed to land his dream job composing music for Bond films. In what turned out to be a really inspirational conversation, he was open and honest about how luck as well as talent has been heavily involved in his career to date.

“I haven't actively gone out and thought, 'I'm going to go out and do a, b, c or d’. The fact I've done so many different things is less to do with I've decided to do all these things and more to do with someone's said, 'Do you fancy doing this and me saying yes'. It's been a curious cascade of coincidences.”

His first sizeable project, composing the music for Danny Cannon's Young Americans, “wasn't any different to doing the student films we'd done and I subsequently found out it wasn't really any different to the big, big films I've done. Whatever the job is, you're sitting in a room by yourself, there's a series of images passing in front of you and the requirement is for you to solve the problems it throws at you. The only thing that changes is expectation, budget and the fact the whole world has an opinion about what you're doing.”

Arnold then worked on a number of increasingly high-profile film commissions, until back in 1997, he decided to create an album of covers of Bond songs called Shaken And Stirred. “I sent it to Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [G. Wilson] at Eon as I wanted them to be ok with everything. They ended up putting the version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by The Propellerheads into a rough cut of Tomorrow Never Dies, and they liked the feel of that. Then Barbara asked me to come in for a meeting and they let me have a go of it.”

“Most of my life I’d dreamed about writing Bond music and now I’m going to actually have to do it. The first day you sit down and think, well, what am I actually going to do? There’s this tidal wave of history that appears in front of you – the shadow of John {Barry]’s genius appears in front of you and all of a sudden you’re part of a legacy. Ultimately you’re just going to have to do the job – do the dream you’ve dreamed about.”

To find out more about the event, click here.

Posted 15 January 2015 by Jake Bickerton
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