Well, here it is, the final completed film!
If you go to Vimeo, you can watch it in HD.
Thank-you to everyone who helped in one way or another,
hope you all like it, let me know what you think!


For this project, I had set myself the personal learning outcomes of developing a substantial and well-rounded piece of work, that would stand well on it’s own as a piece. Also, that it should be based around the topics I feel strongly about; humanism/empiricism and education.

I wanted to achieve this using what I had learnt in Specialist Study One, that being the use of texture and leaving the ‘hand of the artist’ visible in the aesthetic of the work, and making it a feature.

I planned to achieve these aims through the continuation of study of stop-motion and fabrication, the implementation of mini-projects and creative concepts to achieve a high quality of completed work. Some of the new ideas and techniques I wanted to introduce myself to during the making of this project were that of getting a book printed up and ready to sell, trying out new illustrative concepts, and working with puppets and/or props that were produced by outside sources.

Scheduling the production pipeline for this project was done in a couple of different ways. The use of planning on a calendar for the various sections (fabrication, shooting, editing, e.t.c.) that needed completing in certain timeframes was helpful, but the implementation of using spreadsheets to produce dynamic Gantt charts to show the progress of the project, along with the time remaining was even more of a help to myself. I find it much easier to process information when in more visual forms.

The actual fabrication side of this project involved several sets and puppets and had to be well planned to a given scale as well as time-frame for shooting etc. Putting the production of one of the puppets into the hands of another person (Michael Price) helped achieve me aim of working with resources produced by outside sources, as well as working with other people to a strict design template and deadline.

Gathering feedback from people involved in the project (Michael, Ashton, Faye) as well as people outside of the project (friends, tutors, family) was all very helpful in steering the piece in the right direction, be it from using the right wording in the poem, the right font in the book or the way the puppets act in certain scenes.

Looking back at the project, now that it has come to an end, I can say I’ve fully achieved what I set out to, even if not to the full quality I’d have liked. A few minor setbacks with things like lighting and flash rendering held the quality back in certain areas. However, the areas I was more focussed on, those of stop-motion fabrication and visual aesthetic, I was more than happy. I managed to keep the ‘hand of the artist’ in the piece, keeping it tactile and textural while the practicality and usability of the puppets was excellent and they are holding up much longer than any previous efforts. I put this down to good time management and planning, as well as having learnt from all of the mini-projects and previous experiments with the medium. On the subject of mini-projects, the book turned out well, and rounded off the entire project nicely, with plenty to show for the industry show that I’ll be proud to have viewed.


Here are a collection of a few of the things that've inspired me throughout the project, be it for the visual aesthetic, such as the ones above, or for the narrative structure like the ones below. SunGuy heavily influenced my flash animation part of the piece, with the hand crafted textures in a digital medium. Bottle also has some lovely textural elements going on, as well as a lovely narratively told simply and beautifully.

During the filming of the piece, I wanted to incorporate a few different shots and angles, but had decided against using the MILO for two reasons:

1) After seeing some of the other students having used it, it was incredibly smooth, and after deciding to go with a purposefully hand-made feel to the piece, it didn't seem right. A little shake is all about keeping the 'hand of the artist' in the piece, which as you should know by now, I'm mad about.

2) It'd take too much control away from me for my piece. Using the MILO means having to put my shots in the hands of someone else, which, while they may have much better professional training than myself, may not fully understand what it is I want from the piece.

So with a few markers and a bit of basic maths I managed to pull off the shot's I wanted myself, and kept them within the visual aesthetic I was going for.

Job done.

After giving my printed book a bit of a pass around, Steve reminded me of something that hadn't crossed my mind, but is actually perfect for this book. The writing font wasn't quite right so he suggest doing it hand-written. This would suit everything about the book, as the hand-made aesthetic that I'm going for is all about leaving the imperfections in, and there's no better practice of this than hand writing. Plus I find that using a larger brush to do it with keeps the writing 'soft' and friendly, and a little bit lighter for the kid's book.

My handwriting isn't the best, but that's the point!

This being the first time getting any of my work printed into a book, it was all untrodden territory, but after reading a few reviews I decided to go with self-publishing website Lulu.com. It seemed to have a good range of options available for getting your book printed and the most reasonable prices I'd seen so far too! 

This did cause a little concern that the quality wouldn't be up to much, but thankfully my fears we allayed yesterday when the first copes showed up on my doorstep. I only ordered a couple just to see what the quality was like, and to get some feedback on (and spot any mistakes) before sending off for a more substantial batch for the show. I went for the cheapest of the options (standard paper, paperback, saddle-stitched) but with a nice 8"x8" square format for the pages, as almost all kid's books I'd read before were square for some reason.

The quality is really nice as far as I can tell (not that I know a whole lot about paper types and printing). A thicker glossy cover with nice matt pages, and just the right size in the hand. Anyway, enough gushing over how nice it is to have it all printed up in a nice book, Lulu I'd definitely recommend, and might go for a hardcover something next time.

Remember I was getting Mike to build one of the puppets for me?

Well here he is, in all his glory! He's a great little chap, and moves really nicely and sturdily too, couldn't have asked for anything better! All I need to add to him is the various mouths for animating, and some plasticine eyelids for the blinks.

Mike was  a pleasure to work with, keeping me informed throughout, hope we can collaborate on more things in the future!

Lighting the church set was a little more complex than previously, so a real collection of different lamps was brought in to make up the angles, anything I could scavenge really. Overall though, pleased with how it turned out, as I wanted to keep the scene pretty dark, even with a mostly white background, and without loosing any detail on Mike's puppet.

My only regret is the scene being fairly short so I don't get to use this wonderful puppet more!

To go with the preacher scene, I was having to make a lot of 'sausage'-mouths for the kind-of-lip-syncing (I say kind of as there will be no actual words spoken, just the appearance of speech, so much easier). On the left you can see the first lot [painted sculpey] which turned out to not work as they need to bend around the curvature of head, and stuck out too much. So I moved onto the second batch (on the right) of all plasticine mouths, and toning the colour down a little.

As a part of this project I really wanted to get the story into a printable-book form, so I've been slowly converting images from the animation into a bit more of a kids-book-friendly-layout. It's all going pretty nicely, and I'm quite excited to see how it'll all look printed, even if it's awful, as it's my first time getting anything printed out as a nice book.

I doubt with the printing timescales involved it'll be ready for assessment, but I'm hoping I can have a few out for the show, all done and dusted.

Anyway, see above for a peep at a few of the pages.

It's all been a bit quiet for the past few days hasn't it? That'd be me beavering away on Flash for the cartoony segment of my film. See the bunch of assets above for an idea of the kid-friendly style I'm going for. Flash and me don't get along all that well, but this time things were going pretty smoothly, and I thought we'd put our previous quarrels behind us. That was up until I wanted to export the thing and somehow get it to a quicktime movie format.
Exporting straight to quicktime left frame-rate problems due to some high quality blurs I had happening, and the fact it only records as fast as it can render. Maybe I'm missing something but that's a bit awful.

Exporting to .swf was my next attempt, and all looked rosy with it to begin with. However, when it was imported into After Effects to convert to a .mov, quite a few of the Movie Clip symbols simply didn't play. There're probably people who know flash out there who have an easy answer to all this, but my Google-fu couldn't bring up any solutions.

Anyway, onto attempt 3: exporting as a Jpeg sequence, then re-compiling in After Effects. This time the masks didn't work properly and were visible during the entire animation.

The final solution was to export via .swf, however I had to convert all of the movie clip symbols into something more direct on the main timeline, which took a lot of faffing, and slowed me down a fair bit, but I got there in the end. I lost a couple of nice 'smoke-puff' effects I had in there during the process, but I don't think it's too much of a loss, plus I'm running out of time, so it's going to have to do for now. If I get some spare time later on I might go back and try and find a way to add them back in.

So yes, Flash. Hmm.

One of the problems I've had with flash in the past is everything looking so blocked-in colour-wise. I wanted to keep everything textural and a bit handmade looking for this piece, as well as keeping a more simplified cartoonish visual aesthetic, so have been producing all the assets in photoshop. Here are a few I'm working with as we speak, to give a bit of a taste of the style of this flash segment.

A few stills from the completed scenes so far. Also good news in that I was right to avoid using the MILO camera, I've managed to do what I wanted just fine at home and it's turned out nicer than planned! I didn't have a problem with using it, I just preferred not to as I know it wouldn't always be available for me to use and I wanted to know I could do it without one.

Also, honestly, I don't like having control of aspects of my project taken away from me all that much, and I know using the MILO would have changed the scenes. The lighting may have been better with a professionals help, and the pans/zooms etc smoother, but this takes nothing away from the fact that what has been completed is mine, and I know I've done it solely on my merits.

 And that's satisfying.


This is a lovely example of using textures in a digital context, and aslo aimed at the age range I'm going for in mine. Notice the soft lighting on the textures to make them stand out. In fact, a lot of the TMBG videos make use of these textures to appeal to a more 'children's book' aesthetic:

In fact, the more I look at these videos, the more I realise this is exactly what I'm going for with my own digital section of this animation. They're for kids, but not dumbed down. They have lovely visual aesthetics and textural usage, to the point where they feel hand-crafted. Quirky and original, without being too outrageous or obnoxious.

I am still alive see? Just a couple of the stills I'm working with as part of it all. One from the beginning and one from the end. Anyway, must crack on.

Taking over the spare room...

A lot of experimenting to get the right layout and lighting is going on (with more to come I fear), but this is it in one of it's iterations. Not a whole lot of room as you can see, but beggars can't be choosers. Mixture of desk-lamps, builders lights and reflectors to try and get the right kind of light going on. I know it's going to be edited a little after but the more I get right now, the less I have to do on the computer.