Monday, November 11, 2013



Adrien and I visited Frederikstad for a couple of days last week to present some of our work in progress, it was a busy couple of days as Bruno Coulais the composer was sending us music demos and compositing from Serge Umes team still needed to be checked but we managed to work and still enjoy the festival. It was fantastic to see some if the composited images on the big screen - I took a couple of snaps with the iphone but because we showed so much of the artwork from the film we asked the audience not to record our presentation for fear of spoiling the story so far ahead of the release. 

Next week Im doing a video link up with CTN in LA to make a similar presentation - hopefully it will all go towards creating a good buzz for the film amongst animators and animation fans.
It will be live streamed online too anyone can watch ...

We were lucky enough to have "the king of indy animation" in the audience , Bill Plympton , whose new movie Cheating looks really impressive . Also we met Benjamin Renner of Ernest and Celestine as well as  some old friends from the Norwegian animation scene - my old college pal Olve and Yaprak from Frame by Frame where we did one of our first WIP presentations of Kells back in 2008.
We met many new friends and saw some impressive footage from a new stop motion Norwegian feature film.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ode to Denmark

A late ode to our friends in Noerlum who are busy finishing some of the hardest acting sequences in the film at the moment.

Heres some photos from a trip to viborg fabian and i took some weeks ago -

Many of the crew have already finished up but theres still a big portion of the climatic sequences to be animated by remaining team - may your fingers and wrists stay strong and may your cintiqs never crash my friends! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our latest visit to Studio 352

Fabian Erlinghauser and I have been on the road lately catching up with the animation teams in luxembourg and Denmark.
First up was Luxembourg , as usual we were happy to see the team in person instead of over Skype and Hobsoft. The team is entering the last weeks of production on some of the trickiest sequences in the third act , with lots of integration between efx and characters so there was much to discuss. But the work is , as usual , of the highest calibre. I really feel that with Tvpaint we have managed to get some really full and subtle animation , ironically with more fluidity and life in it than we could have done on paper with such a small team and budget. Every frame is still hand drawn but we can manipulate and tweak much more than we could on paper with lovely subtleties in the expressions and gestures . We are really lucky to have the cream of European 2d animation talent on the film and I hope we all get to work together again soon. 

 Background supervisor Pascal and a talented young intern Sidonie.

Basque animator Denis Figueiredo animating Ben swinging a hurling stick. He showed us some photos of a sport from the Basque country that seems to be related to hurling ... Certainly I've heard of a connection between Basque and the Celtic countries before...
The very talented Nicolas  who is seen here working on a great scene he animated of Ben and Cu being reunited . Lovely character interaction and joyfulness in his animation.
Giovanna  is snapped here animating some owls and some magic ... But anymore info would be a spoiler! Giovanna has done some gorgeous animation of Saoirse with loads of appeal and charm.

Geoff is busy animating some characters that are a mix of effects and character animation . Geoff has done some great cartoony yet emotional scenes of Ferry Dan and Cu as well as our main characters..

Beth is one of the amazing clean up and assistant animators working in 352. Their work is some of the most important and technically challenging as its the final line that will end up on screen. 

Tom is a long time clean up artist with Studio 352 , the clean up team not only make the final drawings but also have to prepare the files with different coloured transistion lines for where we have textures applied at ink and paint and the sometimes complex layering needed when characters interact with each other or the backgrounds.
Randi is another talented clean up artist -  I must say although i didnt manage to get a snap for the blog  of all the talented artists working In 352 that they are all doing top notch work under a very short schedule .

Heres the one time salooner Danas who has done some great animation of Na Daoine Sidhe playing traditional instruments - maybe he got some mental reference from the sessions in Ryans pub while he was in Kilkenny?

And heres Gilles the animation supervisor whos heading up the whole team , Gilles is one of the longest serving animators in 352 and has worked on many beautiful european features and tv series. 

Stefan , Fabien , Gilles ,Fabian  and I had dinner in Stefans place on the last night of the trip... Stefans dog Choco seemed to be auditioning for the part of Cu -a big friendly fella he is too , he hangs out at the studio sometimes , I guess he was good reference for the animators.. 

As its probably the last time Ill visit Luxembourg during this production Im looking forward to seeing everyone again at the premiere :-) ...but before that we have a few more minutes of animation and cleanup to get thru ... So its heads down for another while yet...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A day in the Saloon

Since most of our team have either left for home or new projects in the studio i took a few snaps the other day in the saloon. We have a few seqs left to be animated in house , Sean McCarron and Sandra Anderson  will continue until the end of next month with myself and Fabian hopefully getting to animate a couple of scenes too. We have an amazing group of interns from Viborg in Denmark helping out too , doing clean up and some animation, without Clara, Anne Katrine , Edith and Dionysus I dont know how we would have managed it. We have been lucky as well to have Galway girl Grainne Fordham helping out too. 

Ciaran Duffy continues to work on some remaining key bgs and checking the clean line bgs from Luxembourg , Adrien is kept busy with the final colour bgs and helping me check the compositing as it arrives in.
And luckily Alice Dieudonne has been able to continue her work on the watercolour seqs from Japan ;-) 

Anyway here are some snaps -
Marion Roussel finished up this week and headed home to France she did amazingly spirited and beautifully drawn work on posing and animation. During the production she decorated her desk with funny gag drawings from some scenes she worked on - 

Then theres our intrepid efx supervisor Jeremy Purcell who is still keeping an eye on things with Mark Mullery doing a lot of the prop and vehicle animation in Anime Studio .

Heres clara cleaning up a scene in tvpaint -

And heres Anne Katrine-

And Dionysus -

And last but not least Edith -

Big thanks to you all!!!

Heres Walter working on one of the last scenes he animated on Song , he will be going back onto Mooneboy soon so he will be continuing to animate to young David Rawles voice tracks for a while yet :-)

Heres Sean McCarron animating on the last sequences - these were ones I was boarding when we both visited Norlum during early preproduction to discuss how we would manage working with Tvpaint to produce the quality needed in the time we had to do it in. Solutions discussed then are really coming into play now - I don't think we could have pulled it off in the same timeframe on paper to the same standard. At the time Sean volunteered to animate the underwater scenes I was boarding - and now he's finally onto them .

Colour sketches by Lily Bernard who is now hard at work designing the world of Puffin Rock - these scenes are actually already almost complete in composit - hard to believe really -

A concept painting by Ross Stewart from about two years ago - Ross is codirecting with me on the section of "The Prophet" feature film at the moment. 

A painting by Amelie Flechais on my much neglected animation disk..

A trip to Digital Graphics in Liege , Belgium.


Digital Graphics is located in a beautiful old red brick farmhouse in Wallonia. 


Sfx Maestro Jeremy Purcell lays out his plans to build up an entire stormy sea from a hand animated library of waves , splashes and foam combined with cg water and watercolour textures applied to the tvpaint animation at compositing .

Sometimes the "painters palette "used for digital ink and paint can look quite strange. Here we see ben in an uncharacteristic shade of pink. 

And ferry dan is a bit off colour looking here too - but all will be well on screen in the final output. The crazy colours help the ink and paint team tell where two subtly different colours overlap .

Damien shows us a scene of grannys car leaving the ferry kicking up a load of smoke. The smoke is designed like several charcoally smudges with lighter chalk lines drawn inside which is then animated with a particle system .

I took these iphone snaps last week when we visited Digital Graphics in Liege who are responsible for all the ink and paint, texturing ,compositing and cg efx in our film. 

Serge Ume and his team are old friends by now and its always a pleasure to visit their beautiful studio. The compositing we saw of a couple of early scenes was exciting and rewarding to see , all the work of the past year comes together at this stage. 

Even though we still have some major sequences to animate I feel like we are entering the final stretch of the visuals. 

The brainy folks in dg have developed some impressive new tools for ink and paint that mean they are basically painting scenes as fast as we can deliver clean up drawings... Its kind of amazing that just five people can handle all the ink and paint for the whole film.

The sequences that use the rougher pencil look and watercolour style are coming together well too , we are benefiting from techniques that digital graphics pioneered on the lovely film - "Ernest and Celestine."

Our hand drawn and anime studio efx supervisor Jeremy Purcell came over and  went thru the plans for the stormy sea sequences which combine a number of handdrawn elements with an anime studio boat and dg water efx. 

Adrien and I were happy to see the characters beautifully matched to the bgs painted in Luxembourg and Kilkenny and our Cartoon Saloon production manager Katja Schumann who is also an accomplished compositor herself came to get her head around the process dg uses in order to best prepare for the final seqs deliveries and to help iron out any last problems.

As usual many belgian frites , 
beers and chocolates were consumed and we arrived home happy and looking forward to seeing all the past years work coming together over the next few months.

Serge Ume , studio head , compositor ,coproducer, architect and Ink and Paint artist at work .
Two of our Belgian comrades discuss how rain falling on some Irish nettles should effect the leaves , they have developed a "plip plop" library of rain drop animations for such scenes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A visit from the stars

We were honoured to show our lead voice actors around recently - young David Rawle snuck a day in between shooting Mooneboy and heading back to school to visit and see how the film is shaping up.

A Lucy O'Connell dropped by with her mum too , she watched the whole animatic and seems happy with the progress o far - phew!

Finally art director Adrien Merigeau and an "away team" of Salooners visited the Saltee islands recently on a follow up research trip to our previous ones.
Amazingly Saoirse herself was there in her seal-form to greet them.