The world of animation is everywhere you look.
From blockbuster movies like Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo to cult
TV shows featuring The Simpsons and Southpark characters.
In May 2003, BBCi in Norfolk approached students
at the Norwich School Of Art and Design with a project to create
an animated short to promote the entertainment pages of this website.
Suzie Hanna, the senior lecturer in animation at
the NSAD, said she was excited about the partnership: "I
thought it was a real opportunity for the students to do something
professional rather than purely academic.
"The BBC has been hugely supportive throughout
the project. Always available to the students with help and advice
about the practical requirements of television, explaining issues
regarding music usage, copyright and helping to find the right voice-over
artists," she said.
The NSAD has students from all over the world,
but Abi Wood is from Norfolk and she knows her local history.
"Norfolk was once a huge area for Vikings
so I went with this medieval feel," she said.
"I had this thought, where did medieval people
get their information about where they could go? This is how I came
to Vikings searching the internet for ideas. I did a lot of brainstorming
before I got to the Vikings, but they just seem to work.
"As the trail was for Norfolk, I also added
music from The Darkness when you see the Vikings dancing at a gig.
It's a subtle touch, but has made a lot of people smile," she
The animation industry is booming. The console
games sector alone now rivals Hollywood in size and there are more
TV channels needing content than ever before and web design features
more and more animation.
Graduates from the NSAD course are already working
in fields as diverse as special effects on Lord Of The Rings to
3D character design for computer games and model animated kids'
TV like Fireman Sam and Bob The Builder.
"The audience expectation of animation is
now so high, I think people are beginning to be connoisseurs of
it these days, " said Suzie Hanna.
"A few years ago 90% of the British public
would have said animation was cartoons for kids, but now with companies
like Ardman, Disney and Pixar it's much more in the public eye.
Dan Upton puts down the sound of Blobit's voice
"I think also the overlap of animation and
special effects in films like Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings
makes the public far more educated and far more interested in what
animation can do," she added.
Get into Going Out
The trail brief from BBCi producer Martin Barber
was to concentrate on the Going Out section of the website.
"As a format, animation seemed the perfect
vehicle for promoting the site and our entertainment section in
particular - especially as the medium is used so much in television
at the moment.
"Having visited a few end of year shows, I
knew the students at the NSAD had amazing talent and I
wanted to give them an opportunity to work to a live brief and as
a result showcase their work to a BBC ONE audience in the East region.
"The project has been a learning process for
us all and we're all delighted at the final results. The different
styles of animation and student interpretations of the brief is
Dan Upton specialises in the field of 3D animation,
creating virtual environments and characters inside the computer.
"Blobit came from a few drawings I was doing.
Martin from the website loved this idea when we were breaking down
the possibilities and treatments for the trail," he said.
"Blobit looks like he's made out of plasticine,
but he's entirely created within the computer.
"I hand drew the character from as many different
angles as I could and then loaded them into the computer to create
Blobit and his world in 3D. It took quite some time to get everything
down," he added.
Pedro Tavares comes to the NSAD from Brazil. He
has called his character Karinha, the Portuguese for 'Little Dude'.
"I had this idea for a computer moving around
and then Suzie suggested we created a dancing computer, more like
a pet. The computer then became the main character of the film,
supported by the guy he was interacting with.
"I love to do hand-drawing and cell animation,
but I want to work with stories, to create something that passes
on a message.
"As a result of the project I feel more confident
in actually being able to finish something, that's been great for
me," he added.
Scores on the doors
Whilst the project has been a unique opportunity
to showcase the work of all the students involved, it also plays
an important role in their academic work.
"All the students will be assessed on this
work as part of their degree," said course lecturer Suzie Hanna.
"The initial brief was to just come up with
ideas, but they've all gone on to create a completed work. As third
year students both Abi and Dan will have this film on their graduating
showreel this year so it will count towards their final degree.
"The students themselves are really proud
now they've done it. They can't quite believe their films are being
screened on television and that thousands of people will see their
work," she added.