Tuesday, 16 December 2008

pictures of little face

I have made a couple of publicity stills for Little Face. I don't think they will stand up to billboard size scrutiny but they do the job. More will follow.

Monday, 15 December 2008

little face achieves italic status

Before Christmas comes and goes and flowers start growing again it seems appropriate for me to update my blog. It has been quiet sometime since I last updated my blog and some people thought I had died. At least I assume that is the case. No one has called.

I also think my co-worker and flatmate Felix Massie has become tired of saying "you should update your blog Matthew" to which I always reply "I know, I will". The other week I even teased Felix Massie with the possibility by spending an hour and a half writing an extensive post detailing the months exploits which I subsequently failed to post.

This is not that post. It is all new (except for the paragraph about the UK Film Council, I copied and pasted some of that).

Two events of note have taken place in the many weeks since my last post; Little Face was completed and I went to Taiwan. But not in that order. That was the order I hoped those events would happen but Little Face (note the italics, that is because it is now an actual film and not a film-to-be) has been like the Duracell Bunny, he just keeps going and going. Or at least he did until we finally finished it just over a week ago. Even the Duracell Bunny will die eventually. Surely.

We did have some last minute comments from the UK Film Council (who funded the film) during the last week of production. They had various problems with it and had a lot of comments and suggestions. It was frustrating at first, a few of the comments we disagreed with, but some we did agree with and it made us look at the film in a new light and try to address some issues that we had been ignoring or failed to recognise before. It was good because I think we had got to a stage where we were so close to the film that it was hard to have any perspective on it. I haven't liked the film much for a while now but I've not been sure if it was because it wasn't very good or just because I was utterly sick of it. The feedback helped Ben (Lole, co-director of the film) and I take a step back and recognise the things about the film that we didn't think were working and that could be improved.

I am very pleased that Little Face is finally finished although my feelings about the film itself are mixed; I am somewhere between completely hating it and not liking it very much. I have been too close to it for too long and am very much sick of it so hopefully my opinion is not an accurate reflection of its qualities. People who have seen it so far seem to have liked it but its going to be at least two years before I can watch the film with sufficient distance to decide if they were being truthful or just polite. Chris Grimes, the voice of Little Face (no italics here as I am referring to Little Face the character not Little Face the film title, I don't know why I have explained this in brackets or even made that distinction), said he really enjoyed it so I was really pleased about that. Adam Buxton, who played Nathan, has not seen it yet so he does not know what he thinks of it.

Regardless of whether the film is any good, Ben and I are pleased with what we achieved. It was a good experience that we learnt a lot from. I look forward to making a live-action film that doesn't involve the added head-ache of trying to incorporate an animated character with out any prior technical experience. On the subject though, I think the compositor Jon Biggins, did an excellent job of making Little Face look as convincing as possible next to Adam Buxton, who was very convincing.

I will post a clip and some publicity photos when we can bring ourselves to do the work necessary to make that possible. It has been nice spending a week doing things that have nothing to do with Little Face. It has been a year since the film was commissioned and it is strange that "How is Little Face?" is no longer a very valid question.

Now for that other event; Taiwan. That was much more fun then Little Face and I only allowed the fact that Little Face was not finished worry me a little bit. I went to Taiwan for the Golden Horse International Film Festival in Taipei. John and Karen was nominated in the Animation Shorts competition. The festival is primarily feature films and lasts 10 days, the animation competition took place over 2 days in the middle of the festival. I was there for 8 days altogether and I had a really good time. I did not want to return (and not just because Little Face was waiting for me). I loved Taipei, especially the night markets. The food was really cheap and really good, I don't think many people cook in Taiwan. They all eat out.

I hope I can go again sometime. The more time I spend outside of the UK the more boring I find the UK. If I was a politician or a celebrity I would probably have to apologise for that comment but I mean it. I'll take night markets over Joe Kebab any time.

Karen was on the other side and she was also to scale!

Probably a restaurant.

The traffic in Taipei consists of mopeds, taxi's and other.

Shilin night market!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


A bit late this post but being the last week of animation on Little Face I have been a bit busy.

Anyway, last Friday I unexpectedly found myself flying to Santiago De Compostela in Spain for the awards ceremony of the Curtocircuito short film festival (www.curtocircuito.org). They rang me on Thursday morning to tell me that my film John and Karen had won the prize for best animated short and wanted me to come and pick up the award. That evening I was checking in to a hotel in Stansted for an early morning flight.

Once in Santiago De Compostela I discovered that I was sharing the award with Jeremy Clapin for his extremely excellent film Skhizein. I'm not really sure why I was sharing the award since Jeremy's film, being as extremely excellent as it is, should logically have won the award alone. I'm not complaining though.

You can learn more about Skhizein here; www.skhizein.com

Also, Felix Massie (co-worker and flatmate) received a special mention in the same category for his single-flash-file epic Keith Reynolds Can't Make It Tonight. So that was good. He wasn't there though. But he was in Chicago so I don't think he minded.

You can visit Felix Massie here; www.balancedthere.com

I was only in Spain for one night but it was a good night (not sleep wise however).

Sunday, 19 October 2008

new pen and cartoon (2)

I bought a new pen on Thursday. A brand new medium non-permanent green Stabilo marker to replace the old one. With five great british pounds in my pocket I went down the road to to Stationary World to buy the pen. There was a moment of panic when all of the pens they seemed to have were Staedtler. There was a brief moment of weakness where I contemplated a medium non-permenant Staedtler marker but then I thought no. No.

Fortunately after scanning the pens for a few more seconds I spotted a box on the floor filled with a variety of dusty Stabilo markers. They cost £1.75 each so I bought a green one and a red one. I am not sure yet what I will use the red one for but it looked suitable for making some nice big ticks or crosses on a variety of things.

The route sheet is now nine deep green boxes closer to completion. Sixty to go.

Now, to make this post a little less pointless then it already is, here's a cartoon...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

the medium non-permenant green Stabilo marker

Two and a half weeks of animation left on Little Face. Progress has been made but a disturbing development has developed. My green pen, the one that I use to colour in the boxes on the route sheet, is running out.

The deep rich green of previous boxes is slowly becoming pale and unsubstantial. What was once a beautiful block of colour is now becoming an uneven gradient. Rather then one smooth satisfying scribble to fill a box a now have to apply pressure and move the pen slowly and deliberately to make a mark. Sometimes I have to make two or even three passes to achieve a suitably visible shade of green.

I fear that after only a few more boxes the pen will be making marks barely visible to my already short sighted eyes, particularly in the low light conditions of the long evenings ahead of me. I may end up having to make so many passes that I will be spending more time colouring in boxes then I will be animating which in turn gives me fewer boxes to colour in which will create a reductive cycle that eventually leaves me colouring in a single box forever. Not only is it counter-productive it also means I have to re-assess my continued use of the pen. This is unfortunate as the pen, a medium non-permanent green Stabilo marker, saw me through the entirety of my previous film Operator and has made it through the majority of Little Face. I have become quite attached to the pen and, with only a scene and a bit to go, it is sad that it looks like it is not going to make it until the end of the film. This is largely my fault for making a film with so many shots and using an already well-used pen to fill in the boxes.

A natural solution would be to discard (or at least put away) the green pen and use another working pen that I have to hand to colour in the remaining boxes. This is of course a ridiculous solution. To use another random pen will ruin the consistency, symbiosis and psychological constant that the green pen and the coloured-in boxes provided me. I have not been creating a patchwork. I have been creating a solid bar of beautiful green colour that represents my progress through the film, much like the red bar that will show viewers their progress through the film when they watch it on YouTube (although at 12 minutes I don't think it will fit on YouTube). The bar must be maintained and nurtured through to the end, otherwise it will just be like the point at which the viewer clicks the back button when they realise the film is 12 minutes long. The bar can not change now.

I have only one course of action. Tomorrow I will go to the stationary shop down the road and buy a new medium non-permanent green Stabilo marker. If they do not have any medium non-permanent green Stabilo markers I will go to the stationary shop up the road and buy a medium non-permanent green Stabilo marker. If they don't have a medium non-permanent green Stabilo marker then I don't know what I will do, but I will do something.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Thursday, 2 October 2008

little face as of now

This is my workstation at home, I took this photo today. It is situated in the corner of the living room and has been where I have spent most of every day for the last two months. The large, partially green, chart to the right is the route sheet. This represents all the shots I need to animate. When I have animated a shot I colour the corresponding box in green. When the entire chart is green all the animation is complete. This is a very useful chart to have, it helps prevent me sleep at night and gives me high blood pressure.

To the left, above the computer, is the production schedule. This allows me to see how much time is left before the deadline and count the days down accordingly. By cross referencing this with the route sheet I am able to successfully ruin my appetite and weaken my immune system.

You can tell how complicated the film is as I am working on two computers at the same time.

the subtle hues of nathan taylor

Here are my costume designs for Nathan Taylor, the main character in my new film Little Face. They aren't so much costume designs more trying to work out the colour palette and whether or not he should wear a shirt under his jumper.

I went with the shirt in the end and here is Adam Buxton as Nathan during the shoot.

and while on the subject; here are some photos from the shoot...

The film was shot on about seven locations around Bedminster in Bristol over three days. My first experience of a live action shoot and I loved every minute of it.

little face catch up

I am currently deep in to production on a new short film entitled Little Face. It is being produced by Calling the Shots for Southwest Screen and the British Film Council as part of the Digital Shorts scheme. It is about a man who has a chance encounter with his imaginary friend from his childhood and they spend an afternoon becoming re-acquainted.

It is my first live action film, although I haven't strayed too far from my comfort zone as Little Face is being achieved with the magic of animation. The shoot was completed in June and since then I have been mostly busy animating Little Face and struggling with the complicated nature of believably compositing a yellow blob in to a live action environment. Fortunately I have some good help with the compositing, unfortunately I do not have any help with the animation so time is running out and there is still quite a lot to do.

I was intending to post some Little Face stuff on a blog but never quite got round to it so I am now going to post some Little Face stuff on this blog in a retrospective manner. I figure a good place to start is near the beginning so here are the original images that I created for the pitch to Southwest Screen. I used my flatmate and co-worker Felix Massie as a stand in for the character of Nathan (eventually to be played by Adam Buxton who is a better actor then Felix Massie and is on the radio and TV and I have never heard Felix Massie on the radio or seen him on TV but I look forward to when I do).

As part of the pitch I also made the following storyboard for a scene that didn't make it in to the final film...

That was the pitch. It all seemed so simple back then. 'How hard can a film about a yellow blob on legs be?' I thought. Turns out it's quite hard.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

new blog

I have set up a number of blogs in my time and this is the latest. I have decided to do something a bit different with this blog however; I am going to update it regularly.