Saturday, October 27, 2012

Voice records

Nora , myself and David Rawle
Last week we completed the first block of the voice records .

It was a lovely break away from the studio and the stresses of preproduction.
We stayed in Bray by the sea and I got reacquainted with why I wanted to make the film in the first place. Just being able to walk by the sea and and see the horizon stretching off into the distance every morning and evening was refreshing.

Will Collins joined us to help with any last minute ideas or changes to dialogue, his insights and contributions were a big help to Nora and myself.

Fionnula Flannagan was spellbinding in her roles , she recorded on the first day and it was an amazing kick off to the week. Fionnula brought such humanity to the characters and had fantastic suggestions for how to phrase and pitch her lines . She brought the calm air of professionalism and experience to the proceedings and it was much needed as I was very nervous to be finally recording the final voices after four years of writing and boarding.

The finality was a bit terrifying after the ongoing reworking I'd gotten used to with scratch voices.
But Fionnula and the other actors did such great work that I felt shivers hearing it played back on the big speakers , my challenge now is to match their performances with the visuals.

Young David Rawle was fantastic as Ben and his performance will carry most of the film.

David turned 12 that first day too so we had a little party at the end of the records.
He headed off to a premiere with his mum that night ... Chris O'Dowds new film The Sapphires.

I don't remember what I did on my 12th birthday but I doubt it could compare with Davids !

Although he's getting used to working with big stars like Fionnula and Chris he is a lovely down to earth young man and a pleasure to work with.

I'm already looking forward to the rest of the records with him next week.

We also recorded Jon Kennys characters and he brought a warmth and humour to the lines that made the characters his own.

We had a great laugh listening to his impersonations of various west of Ireland characters.

Colm O'Snodaigh was there to coach David and Jon thru the singing parts and as usual he brought his calm zen to the proceedings and coaxed lovely performances from both of them.

Nora was voice directing and was just brilliant , drawing the characters expressions on the script pages to help David visualize what was happening in the scenes, running around and jumping up and down with him to get the right energy.
As the main editor of the animatic so far and in her role as head of story she knows exactly whats needed from each scene and has spent the past week picking the best takes and putting them over the boards so we can adjust them and match them to the actors performances.

Kairen Wailloch was our coordinator for the week and made sure everything ran smoothly and without any stress.

Its six years since Kairen, Nora and I worked in Ardmore on the voices for Kells , which is hard to believe in some ways.

Ardmore is a great space to record in, a big room and no pokey little booths so we could work with the actors very organically and they could see each other and perform against each other.

David is no stranger to the place having just finished shooting the second season of Mooneboy there.

I always enjoy the aura of a live action studio like Ardmore - so much more impressive than an animation studio full of drawing tables and computers!

Here are some of my iphone snaps plus one or two taken by Will.

Updated November 1st with some better photos!

Jon and David
David Rawle

David Rawle

Fionnula and David

Colm and Jon
Nora and David

Fionnula Flanagan

Jon Kenny, David Rawle and myself.
Will Collins looking writerly.
Nora Twomey voice directing.
Ardmore studios entrance.
David Rawle AKA Martin Moone AKA Ben
The script marked up by Nora
Fionnula and David celebrating his 12th birthday.
Colm ,Nora , Will, Kairen, David and Jon
Jon and David chilling out between records.
Fionnula and David /Granny and Ben.
 Fionnula Flannagan
Kairen and Nora

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Lately  Fabian Erlinghauser (who is working with me as AD as well as looking after another important Saloon project right now) has started filing and organizing all my sketches and "beatboards" that I drew on paper with pencils and brush pens while we worked on the animatic.
I've posted a few of them here with  a few thoughts on the story boarding process .

I've been really lucky to have  Nora Twomey working as "Head of Story" - shes editing , drawing boards, doing scratch voices , helping with rewrites as well as advising on music and sound effects - whew.
Nora of course co-directed The Secret of Kells and she is a partner here in Cartoon Saloon .

All summer Daniel Christenson was working with us on the first pass animatic contributing lots of ideas and suggestions with his storyboards.
 I've also been lucky enough to work with Alessandra Sorrentino who did a lot of key animation on The Secret of Kells on some important sequences,
Etienne Willem from our partner studio in Luxembourg has been doing some great work too and Julien Regnard who has ended up boarding a huge amount of the film , working from my scrawls to build up a working animatic.
Our animation supervisor Sean McCarron storyboarded a couple of sequences  too and early on Rosa Ballester a great designer and board artist helped out as well.

Making the animatic has been a long iterative process where myself and the team draw up a version of the sequence ,then we edit it and put some scratch voices on and try to analysis whats working, whats not working and then start drawing again.
To divide the work I prepare these "beatboards" either as kicking off images I want to see in the movie or as suggestions for retakes.
I think I may be misusing the term"beatboards" actually...but basically I would ask the artists to find ways to work these images or ideas into the sequence, sometimes they last right to the end sometimes they fall away very quickly as we find better solutions in the process of making the animatic.
I did thumbnails for each sequence in the script as well  - trying to give a frame work to build on.

We are nearing the deadline now to finish up and move on to layout. There are a number of sequences still in progress and I really wish we could have another few months to revise and rework everything but the train is leaving the station now.

I've been so lucky this time out that I got a lot of feedback on the first pass animatic from friends in the industry and their notes have really helped tighten up the whole thing.
Will Collins the screenwriter has skyped in on a few story meetings to help us out of tricky spots and has been invaluable giving notes and feedback.

Our biggest challenge over the next few weeks is to edit it down to 85 minutes maximum from the current 97.
We are recording some of the final voices this week in Ardmore and hopefully with those we can start to lock sequences for layout.

Its a challenging ,fascinating and frustrating process and I have come to the conclusion that the film is basically working or not at the rough animatic stage.

 I'm heartened by the fact that a number of people who saw an early assemblage of the animatic said they enjoyed it , understood it and some people have even found it already quite emotionally resonant at certain parts.

Nora's young son repeatedly asks to see it when he is in the studio as well.

Given that its just scribbly black and white drawings with scratch music and voices , I'm hopeful we are at least going in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Merigeau and Friends

We have begun to build  a great Scene illustration/Key Bg team around the very talented Mr. Merigeau.
So far we have been joined by Lily Bernard - another Secret of Kells Key Bg artist, Amelie Flechais and Mr.Steve McCarthy

A talented bunch to be sure .
Its so lovely to look from desk to desk and screen to screen and see the world of the film evolving in ink , paint , pencil and photoshop .

We have also been joined this week by our Danish coproducer Frederik Villumsen who is helping out on modelsheets and Janos Szabo , an talented guy from Hungary who animated in Kecskemet Film on The Secret of Kells.

Its exciting times...

Song of the Sea

Lately Bruno Coulais has started sending me ideas for the theme song , the Song of the Sea , its a pleasure to hear the various melodys he is trying out.

Today Colm from Kila will begin to work on combining his lyrics with Brunos melody and hopefully some of the same magic that happened with our last collaboration will happen again ;-)

Its lovely to work again with Kila and Bruno on the music, even though Song of the Sea is a different film and not a sequel to the Secret of Kells, we hope to retain some of best elements of that production and make a new project that has some of the same artistic signature styles.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I'm reworking a sequence today that means we have to cut one of my favorite images created during development..its the right thing to do to tighten and strengthen the story but its always sad in  its honor here is the concept by Ross Stewart that I am sorry to see go.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jon Kenny

It was great to meet up with Jon today and chat about the characters he will be playing in the film.
Amazingly he is currently sporting a bushy beard just like Ferry Dan's !
He is appearing on stage in "The Field" and has grown the beard for the part.

Definitely one of the nicest things about making our own projects is the chance to work with artists we admire . We have all been huge fans of Jon for years and its exciting to have him involved .