Thursday, 23 April 2009

Backstory

Since January I have been working with Lois Taylor of JLT Management, in the creation of a children's preschool animation called the 'Bugbabes'.

At the end of 2008, Lois contacted me via Martin Allen, a friend and fellow website designer - Martin is responsible for the development and management of the Bugbabes website.

What was fantastic about working for Lois was being given complete creative control over everything outside the characters. I was very keen from the start, to try to play a part in teaching the audience and it wasn’t long before I settled on an idea.

I wanted to try to communicate nonverbally to the child through image recognition. To create simple designs of plants, common to Europe (e.g.: ferns, nettles, daisies etc.) that any child could recognise from having spent time outdoors.

It’s my hope that at an early age, children will have a closer bond with nature through this experience. I read somewhere, that presently children can recognise more corporate logos, than they can name images of plants and flowers. This ties in nicely with something David Attenborough said once:

“Every child is interested in nature. You've got only to look at a four-year-old turning over a stone to know that. If you lose that connection, you've lost something precious.”

The Weekend magazine, Daily Mail Saturday 9 Sept 2006

Pre production

When Lois and I first met, she arrived with a stack of production bibles, character graphics, storylines and an injection moulded model of Bartie Bee - I was a little blown away that she was so organised! Her enthusiasm and energy was infectious and in early January, I began sketching concepts for the environment. By the time February arrived, I was ready to start building them in Flash.

Production

The first stage of the project was to design a ‘turnaround’ for each of the characters (a 360 2D model), allowing me to then break the character apart and manipulate the pieces into the required key frame positions, whilst also having the added benefit of preventing the character from going ‘off model’.

For the pilot, it was only necessary to design three of the eight characters, leaving me to concentrate the rest of my time on the environment and the animation. I wanted the plants that grew there, to be based in reality and to be recognizable to a young child and the environment as a whole to be bright, clean and colourful.

Around the tree stump there are four trees; a beech, a birch, a sycamore and an oak and I chose these as I felt that they were probably the most recognisable. The plants around the tree stump follow the same principle with a few random exceptions that I didn’t have time to remove (if we get further funding to make it into a series, I have to spend a little time organising where specific plants go!)

Software
  • All design work was done in Flash.
  • Background artwork was optimised in Photoshop to help with streaming and file size.
  • Camera moves were arranged by exporting swf’s of the Flash layers, into Adobe After Effects.
  • Composited in Adobe Premiere and exported as an mpeg4 movie file.

Hindsight

This was a big project to turn around in such a short timescale but I’m pretty happy with the end result. There are always little tweaks that can be done but at some stage you have to stop and say, is it worth it? Is anyone going to notice?
So in hindsight there are things that I would do differently but that’s the whole purpose of putting together a pilot, it provides you with the initial first platform, on which to then build.

Conclusion

Animation can be a powerful teaching tool and with regards to the Bugbabes project, it's our hope that our young audience will develop a respectful and appreciative view of the natural world and an understanding that it needs to be equally enjoyed and preserved. Of course when you're four, you'd probably prefer to stick your head in a bucket of jelly!


Bugbabes website - Under construction

I am currently working with Martin Alen to design and build the website for The Bugbabes. Initially it will be quite basic, offering a glimpse in the characters and their environment, but in time we hope it will be host to an assortement of interactive games and animations...














NB: The website is due to go live on Tuesday 5th May 2009

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Crown Hill Nursery website - now live

Here is one of the pages from the Crown Hill Nursery website.


www.crownhillnursery.co.uk

Starting work on AKA

Yet another chance to work with The Brothers McLeod! Wahoo!! More details to follow....

Monday, 20 April 2009

Cardiff's Stag-Do Flyers

Here are some flyers I put together for a friends stag-do. If you have a stag-do coming up, then drop me a line and perhaps I can design one for you..?

'Penrith Dangerous'














'In Penrith, no-one can hear you scream'



















'Back to the Stag-do'