Our Manchester based animation studio is a fusion of endless creative opportunities and concepts. It’s the epicentre of our imagination. The fulcrum of our creative gusto. The magical space where the room lights are always dim, and the gaze of our post-peeps (a post-peep is a post-production person) are eternally transfixed to the viewing monitors that have enticed them into a world of originality and inspiration. Animation and Manchester are made for each other. Animation doesn’t care about the weather, if it did it probably wouldn’t like Manchester.
The atmosphere of an animation studio is of paramount importance. Whether it’s a sole animator or a team of animation wizards. The mood and tone must be right. There must be a positive and efficient vibe, but a creative edge in the atmosphere is needed. An uplifting mood cloaked with a veil of serious serenity. A bit like on a video production set. Mind fulfilling and thought-provoking animations can be created anywhere in the world. Often with weather cloaking blackout blinds in dark rooms (like most post in video production). This ensures not one pixel is missed by the animator as they view their creation coming to life. Being shrouded in darkness helps with perfect screen viewing of your latest animation and also highlights that it’s irrelevant what the weather in Manchester is doing outside. Everything outside the animation suite stops. The world is on pause.
The Final Sequence
Imagine this. A dark room captivated by an unbridled energy. Gently lit by a rich and colourful vivid set of monitors. One screen is lighting a producers face as she gazes on in absorbed glee. Her face tells a story. A story of near completion. A story that has been all consuming for the last six months as she’s battled with ideas, creatives and budget. She’s witnessing the final sequence coming to life and can’t hide her emotion.
The other identical monitors rays of light accentuate the dust particles dancing in the dark and vignette the face of an accomplished animator. Comfortable in his own skin. Comfortable in his own skill. He’s well accustomed to working in the dark and lighting up colleagues faces with awe. He’s been here before. Been through the tricky post-production patches. Always reminding himself and his team of animators that each hurdle is there for a reason and in turn lifting the production values to the next stratosphere. Each challenge, storyboard and script change will be overcome and managed. He can sense the relief and delight by his colleague’s aura. His now content work mate.
Sat there in the dimly lit room both animator and producer alike know a spellbinding animation will be broadcast to the world very soon. The world will never know the late nights though. The system crashes. Workflow meltdowns. The blood sweat and tears that went into it. But they will. They know only too well. They know they created this stunning collaboration of engaging animation in this dark room in Manchester.
They’ll be onto the next animation or video production gig soon, but for now they’ll enjoy this moment and they’ll enjoy it even more when they show it to the world. On this day they’re a happy and content triumvirate. Producer, animator and animation. Three have briefly become one. They’ll be glad to move onto the next all-consuming gig. This has been intense. The best animations often are. They will miss it though. It’s become a part of them. Like two roommates raising a child. They love it but are happy to let it free once it can take care of itself. They could never keep it from the world. It was created solely for mass consumption. It’ll shine bright and touch many people. It’ll be remembered. They’ll remember it most.
When collaborating on an animation as a producer, director or both you often spend a lot of time alone with the lead animator. When I say a lot of time, I mean you practically live together for a few weeks or even months. To the point that you should probably declare your new living arrangement with the local council as it will undoubtably affect your council tax obligations. This isn’t unusual in video production and even more common in post-production. There are a few reasons why you spend so much time together.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Firstly, and most importantly like anything that is aiming for excellence and to be the best it can be, collaboration is key. Two skilled operators are always going to create something that little bit more special than with one talented individual. The cliché that two heads are better than one is absolutely true in this instance. You might have all the ideas and technical skills to implement an idea and create an animation. However, because you are so absorbed in the project you might miss a few subtleties.
Animation – In the Detail
These tiny details could be the difference between a very good animation and an absolute masterpiece. Maybe it is the way in which one of your 3D characters moves in a certain sequence. Or the way in which a sound design tweak emboldens a few seconds of a 2D animation that makes the end user feel a certain way. Maybe it’s a simple suggestion that instigates a slight change in thought process which in turn improves the overall flow of the animation. It could be many things, but a collaboration is definitely better than an individual effort. After all, the aim is always to create the best animation possible. You want your client to be blown away. Team efforts always help you achieve this.
Different Types of Animation
There are many different types of animation and VFX all created and used for different purposes. There is traditional animation which is 2D animation that was often hand drawn. The other type of 2D animation is vector-based animation which is using digital assets. Next there is 3D animation which is CGI animation. Then there is my personal favourite, stop motion (Claymation, cut-outs), think Wallace and Gromit and the like. Finally motion graphics are also part of the world of animation which involves animating typography.
The one thing all of these types of animation have in common is that they can literally be whatever you want them to be. The sky’s the limit. It is always possible to create something original when it comes to animation. This is often more difficult in other forms of video production as there are less possibilities. With animation every creation can be unique. The imagination of the creators and the budget are the only limits. If an idea can be conceptualised and developed into a tangible storyboard, then the only thing that could possibly get in the way at this point is the financial resources available to produce the animation. For a more detailed explanation of the different types of animation check out the animation section of this blog.