Busy second week - TV ad competition, Ambassadoring & Alphabet Patch

Sorry that this is such a long post! This week has been very busy! As well as directing and producing Alphabet Patch, I am also producing Jack's short film - Falling in Love (a black comedy about suicide - very different to Alphabet Patch!). 

I spent Saturday working as an ambassador for Falmouth University at their first Open Day of the academic year. Although tiring as it was a very busy event, I always like working as an ambassador on Open Days and UCAS interviews as I get to meet people who are really interested and enthusiastic about the university and in particular - the animation course at Falmouth. Now in my third year I have seen the course improve and evolve every year (the single animation studio has now been expanded to three studios - so much space!) and I'm really proud to show potential students and their parents around the department and to tell them about the course.
Many of the people I have meet at these days have since gone on to become students on the same course as me, which is great to see!

Jack and I working as ambassadors for the Open Day at Falmouth University
Source: https://twitter.com/FalmouthUni
This week we were also given a 3 day competition project to create an animatic for a John Lewis-esque Christmas advert. This was in collaboration with the TV students. I learnt a lot from this project, and it was wonderful to have students doing the script writing, sound and editing - us animation students just helped with the ideas and drew the animatic. We had to make a one minute and 30 second version - our group choose to focus on the making of a teddy bear which represented high-quality products and also was heart-warming. This was my first time working officially with Jack, and we found out that we work very well together, which is great considering I am producing for him this year. Our group of 3 animation students and 2 TV students won first price in the competition, but even so it was annoying to have this urgent project to work on whilst we were so keen to start working on our third year films. 





Above: my two favourite animatic sequences that I drew for the TV project

With that competition out of the way we can now start to concentrate on our third year projects.
Over the summer I wrote a script and made an animatic for the pilot episode which I was fairly happy with but it was by no means the finished story. This week James Henry came in to do some tutorials with us concerning scripts. James is a professional writer who has written for Hey Duggee and Shaun the Sheep - hence he was super helpful for Alphabet Patch. He gave me some great advice not just for the pilot episode but also for the whole series in general and the professional pitching process.

I've put together a 'story group' for my project consisting of Sophie Rippington and Midnight Sparkle - who so far have been absolutely wonderful. James Henry suggested that we approach the episode stories with more of a formula - this makes it it easier to write 26+ episodes and also to get different writers to write episodes.

We also decided that Paddy the gnome should have some 'magical powers' - in this case he has a green thumb or green fingers. This means he can make plants grow quickly and the episodes won't just consist of waiting for things to grow. James also suggested that the characters should have a reason to come together every week - so now Paddy and co are looking after a community allotment. They turn up every episode to help maintain the garden and in return they all share in the crops - which often will be baked by Dotty the ladybird into a delicious treat. We can reuse most of the story ideas I came up with over the summer, but will be re-developing them to fit into our new formula.

Alongside story, this week I'll be doing some re-designing of the characters and starting to do turnarounds:
  • Terryl the butterfly has been dropped from the pilot episode, and needs a replacement (although now a minor character)
  • Cecil the snail needs hands! Or at least some method of holding things - this reminds me of when Pixar were designing the cars for Cars and they encountered a similar problem 
  • Tony the cat needs some more legs so he can walk around and not just sit on his bottom all day (although he would love that)
  • Plus a couple more bits and pieces
  • And not forgetting to research for my dissertation (it's about the very interesting topic of Animated Documentary but I will save that till another blog post)
I'm hoping to find some Celaction animators among the 2nd years - I've had a browse through their blogs and highlighted some potential crew members. 2nd years will be pitching their skills to us in a few weeks as well and I'm planning on running some Celaction sessions so they are ready to animate on Alphabet Patch.

Phew! Lots of things to think about, but I'm still very excited about Alphabet Patch and thrilled to have the opportunity to be working on it this year.