Archives for posts with tag: animation

Towards the end of last year I had the pleasure of reuniting with Wish Films to art direct the second series of ‘Melody’, the popular BBC – CBeebies show.

Melody is a partially sighted girl with an incredible imagination. Her adventures come to life through animation, as she visualizes stories and characters conjured up by classical music.

The new series can be seen on weekdays at 11am from March 16th 2015

 model sheet

For Series 2, I’ve updated the character design and refreshed the overall look of the show, working with the RNIB to make sure the animation remains accessible to a partially sighted audience. In the first series we often relied on using bold black outlines to make things stand out, which could look a little heavy. In this series I wanted a fresher look, so to achieve contrast we used carefully thought out colour combinations and clear layouts.


One of the great things about art directing this series was working with four fantastic animation studios, each with their own unique style. They have created richly imaginative responses to 20 stories, featuring the music of great composers from Mozart to Gershwin

So, a big thank you to everyone at  Keyframe, Tentacle, Finger Industries and A Productions.


Here’s an interesting project from Autodesk Research: ‘Draco’ is ‘a prototype sketch-based interface from that allows artists and casual users alike to add a rich set of animation effects to their drawings, seemingly bringing illustrations to life.’

I love the idea of a sketch based interface, whereby you can control motion paths and other properties by drawing directly into the work area. This feels very intuitive, especially if you’re using a tablet or an interactive pen display such as a Wacom Cintiq. I’d like to see a hybrid interface for something like After Effects, where sketch based controls can be fine tuned with more traditional methods like keyframes and the graph editor.

I worry about all this though. I worry about the idea of bringing illustrations to life. Why would you do that? Is the predominance of screen-based media making us all so distracted that we can’t sit and look at a static image anymore? And in any case, part of an illustrator’s mastery is creating life and movement through draughtsmanship.


One of my favourite illustrators is Ernest Shepard. This lovely picture of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet tells you everything you need to know about a windy day. It certainly wouldn’t be improved by a bunch of animating leaves whirling around. Quite the opposite in fact.

I also worry about animation being automated and controlled by algorithms. It’s great that you can make things bounce and ease and wobble at the click of a button. There are some great tools around for this, like the brilliantly named Ease and Wizz for After Effects. But it does feel like animation – and motion graphics in particular – is becoming rather homogeneous. You see the same kind of movement everywhere and design often seems driven by whichever plug-in effect happens to be in fashion.

Animation is about feeling. You can really see this in a traditional animator’s pencil tests. (This is Shere Khan from The Jungle Book, animated by the great Milt Kahl.) Pencil tests have such a lovely quality. They’re so direct – from brain to hand to page. And created with nothing more than acute observation, great draughtsmanship and a pencil.  The feeling of an animation comes from the personality of the animator. You can’t automate that.

MTV logo

I recently spent three weeks with the nice people at MTV, providing graphics for various promos. As a child of the ‘80s it was great to work with this iconic brand from my youth. You can see examples of this and other promo work here.

’80s Architecture


The MTV building in Camden was also something of an ’80s icon. Originally the HQ of TV-am, the 1983 building was designed by Terry Farrell, and famously features 12 giant egg cups on the roof. The postmodern structure has recently undergone a controversial revamp, replacing the entire ’80s facade. (The eggcups remain though.)

And there’s more…

grimshaw flats2


A few hundred yards from MTV there’s another architectural gem by Farrell’s former partner, Nicholas Grimshaw. These striking modernist flats, built in 1988, were influenced by car manufacturing techniques.



Slightly tenuous this, but on the subject of ‘80s icons, the first gig I ever saw was The Smiths in 1985. They were supported by the then, relatively unknown James, who have just released this beautiful and touching video for Moving On, created by brilliant animator, Ainslie Henderson.

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