Sunday, 8 February 2015

Gallery

Artwork from The Last Belle - black lines photocopied from ink drawings onto
cel, with hand-inked shirt pattern, and cel paint on the reverse.

Long time - No blogging...

The usual excuses apply: I'm in the middle of drawing a fun, but time consuming job. But the interesting thing about this project is that it could prove to be (possibly?...probably?...) the final traditional pencil-on-paper job I ever get paid to do. The Cintiq, and software like TVPaint, are spreading through the 2D animation world at a rapid pace, and almost all the London animation production companies are now operating paperless.

Of course I'll always have pencils, pens and a stack of paper at home for my personal work - old habits die hard, and I can't think of a more immediate way to connect my imagination to the outside world. But in the working environment the noise of a room full of flapping sheets of paper is being replaced by the low hum of computer fans, and the sound of scratching, swishing pencils is being supplanted by the silence of nylon nib sliding over glass. Only the muttering, sighing, and outright swearing as you try to get your drawing just right remain the same as they always were.

One of the upsides of non-digital work is that you're left with actual, tangible pieces of artwork you can hold in your hand, or stick up on your wall. Over the years I've collected (or rescued from the bin) bits and pieces from various films and commercials (and due to my connections with the Richard Williams Studio, many are from there). Looking at them up close can give you a real insight into the craftspeople who produced them, and how they worked.

So with that in mind, here's a gallery dedicated to an almost lost way of working...


An original cel from a Harlem Globetrotters commercial animated by Richard Williams
and (I think) Tom Roth. Soft waxy pencil on frosted cel, cel paint on the back.


Here's a close up of that head. Bear in mind that this commercial
was mostly animated on ones, so 25 of these 'drawn-paintings' would have
to be produced per second of screen time! 

To see the final commercial (unfortunately very low-res) Press Here!



Another insane amount of work, this time for a commercial animated by Richard
Williams and Simon Wells. The style had to mimic the work of famous
newspaper cartoonist 'Kal'.
 
 
Here's a close up of all that cross-hatching. You can almost smell the late nights
spent at the studio producing this commercial!
 
 Here is the final commercial, once again in appalling ultra-low-res, but better than nothing...
 
 
 
 
Artwork painted (in guache?) directly onto cel by Richard Williams. I love how
delicate the brushwork is - this really can stand up to being framed and mounted
on the wall!
 

 
You'll find this piece of artwork about 47 seconds into these Titles.

 
 
 

 
Wax and soft coloured pencils on frosted cel, cel paint on reverse. This commercial
(for breath freshener!) was animated by Russell Hall, assisted by Bella Bremner.
 
 
 
Up close, I love the different textures here: sketchy, but controlled, linework;
rendered light and shade; hot and smelly looking smoke, shaded and smudged.  
 
Here's the final commercial, which I remember being a big success with audiences at the time. 
 
Personally I'm excited to see where the new technologies will take us. Taking the best of the old, and mixing it up with the best of the new, should open up all sorts of fresh avenues. But I love to have these little fragments of artwork around me. Etched into their surfaces, trapped for all time, are the brushstrokes, penstrokes, and sheer skill of the amazing artists who created them. 
 
I'll have more goodies from the archive in the next post. Stay tuned... 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

100,000

Champagne!

 
A huge Thank You to all our YouTube watchers who have raised The Last Belle viewing figures to 100,000 this holiday!

Though the making of The Last Belle was totally analogue and traditional, the chance to put it online where it can find friends around the world is still an amazing thing to me.

So to all our viewers, and blog readers, in the UK, the USA, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, India, Russia, Australia... all of you everywhere... many, many thanks for your support. And to those of you who celebrate it, may we wish you a very Merry Christmas and New Year!

Keep reading in 2015 for more behind-the-scenes stuff. Thank you! Merci! Danke! Gracias! Grazie! Spasibo! Dhan'yavada! Cheers!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Pure, Distilled Charm..!


A wonderful review of the recently released score to The Last Belle, courtesy of film music website Movie Music Mania

"Hancock has concocted a compact work of pure, distilled charm!" screams the headline.

"The performance by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra is rich and vivacious, and Hancock knows how to write music that really lives and breathes. What's more, he demonstrates a knack for detail, the minor flourishes he adds and emotional shades he is able to execute really elevating the score to an impressive level of complexity. Don't be fooled by your preconceptions of a "short film score", because Stuart Hancock once again demonstrates that good things can indeed come in the smallest of packages. Bravo!"


You can read the full review HERE.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Score Is Released!

Calling all fans of exciting, romantic and fun movie-music: the award-winning score to The Last Belle will be available to buy from today (Dec 2nd)!


All 14 minutes of the lush score, recorded by the mighty Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, are being released by Moviescore Media and will be available as a digital download either directly from them, or from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and many other outlets.


To quote from Moviescore Media's press release:

"MovieScore Media finds love (and great film scores) in the most unusual places - this time we release a digital EP by award-winning composer Stuart Hancock who once again proves that small films do not necessarily have small scores - in fact, a symphonic orchestral score can do wonders to fill the 2-D animated characters with life! Performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, The Last Belle is a rich, colourful and versatile score which gives you an emotional rollercoaster in just 14 minutes. The music follows the two parallel storylines, alternating between a hopeless romantic ("I’ve Got Myself a Date!", "Giddy Rosie", "Finding Love in London") and a carnivalesque rush which sounds like the most insane moments of Danny Elfman’s career ("Going Down the Tubes", "Rushing to Ripov’s" ). The score recently won the Gold Medal at the prestigious Park City Film Music Festival, Utah."



If you'll pardon the mixed metaphors, it's the perfect Christmas stocking-filler for your ears..!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Musical Gong!



Here's an early Christmas treat: an exciting new award for The Last Belle!

Composer Stuart Hancock has just won an amazing Gold Medal for his score to The Last Belle! The award was part of the Park City Film Music Festival, held in the same area as the Sundance Film Festival. And as if one gong wasn't enough, Stuart walked away with another two for his work on the short film 'Hawk' and the documentary 'The Desert Treasure'.

(For UK readers wanting to hear more of Stuart's work, tune in to the BBC each Saturday for the new series of the action/drama  'Atlantis'.)

For me, recording the score to The Last Belle was absolutely one of the highlights of the whole project. The film was always designed to work as a musical piece, alongside the obvious visual elements, so I'm thrilled the score has garnered this top award - congratulations Stuart!

The orchestra begins to assemble, ready to record The Last Belle...





Sunday, 12 October 2014

Between 1996 and 2000 The Last Belle production was housed in a studio at the delightfully named Wardrobe Place.


It's an utterly secluded little courtyard, and despite being within a two minute walk of St Paul's Cathedral, it's unknown to most Londoners, hidden away as it is behind an dull little tunnel. Inside house number 2 (which came complete with a standard London ghost - never seen by me but spotted occasionally by others) we drew, painted and shot quite a fair chunk of The Last Belle.

It was a fantastic place to come to work every morning. From my top floor room I could stretch my eyes over the rooftops opposite to the dome of St Paul's Cathedral; working late into the night I would be kept company by the chiming bells echoing around the moonlit courtyard walls. It was a pretty Dickensian existence, only with electricity, running hot water, and a 35mm rostrum camera in the basement.

Layout maestro Roy Naisbitt, producer Rebecca Neville and director Neil Boyle on the front steps of the studio. 


Sticking to my rule that every location in The Last Belle must be based on a real place (for new readers to this blog there's more on locations Here and Also Here), I snuck our studio building into the film, whizzing past in the background during a fast camera pan:


I was adamant the right-hand basement windows must be lit up for this night-time shot. The reason? Because it was behind these windows that our rostrum camera was tucked away. As a tip-of-the-hat to our brilliant cameraman John Leatherbarrow I made sure the camera room windows were blazing away in honour of the many late nights he put in painstakingly photographing our artwork one frame at a time.

Each time this shot flies by it reminds me what an amazing job John did - indeed, what an amazing job the whole crew did. We had absolutely no money to play with, but even if I'd been given a million pounds I couldn't have gathered a more talented bunch of artists.

Thank you all! And please switch off the lights when you leave.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

A Moment In Time - Part 3

A long silence from me...

...but finally the holiday season is passing, the Christmas commercial pitches are rolling in, and I'm back at the keyboard of this blog.

Today's offering is a little addendum to my recent posts on the legendarily unfinished movie 'The Thief and the Cobbler'. During my recent surge of studio spring cleaning I came across this little curio, which was made back in 1982:


I believe it was made as part of the drive to raise financing for the film, and was modelled on the famous toy puzzle where you have to navigate ball bearings, in their correct order, into hole-shaped slots. The ball bearings in this version are a golden colour, to echo the 'Three Golden Balls of Fate' atop a palace minaret, part of the storyline from the movie.



I have no idea how many of these were made - I would assume hundreds. Does anyone else out there have one tucked away at the back of their pencil drawer, like me?

And finally, here's a vintage Behind-The-Scenes-On-The-Thief picture taken by Simon Maddocks, the great photo-chronicler of so much British animation history (for which, thanks).


I had no idea this photo even existed until very recently. It shows a frighteningly young me sitting with assistant animator Tanya Fenton at one of the production parties (Summer? Christmas?) in 1991. It's very strange - in a 'Back to the Future' kind of way - to stumble suddenly across an unknown image from your life nearly a quarter of a century before...

All I can do now is marvel at the fact that in those days, sitting cross-legged on the floor all evening was a comfortable proposition...