Since 2014 I have designed over 30 original characters for Cosmic Kids, whose yoga videos tell colourful stories to kids every week. Jaime, the show's host, wears a costume adorned with patches featuring a handful of these characters, and she recently asked me to prepare a few of the more recent characters to be made into new patches. I've yet to see the results, but the above image was made from the haul of characters that have emerged over the last 2 years. They include Arnold the Ant, Diggory the Dump Truck and a rare humanoid addition in the shape of Ruby Broom, with her enormous hair.
At the time of writing, the content I created for the Cosmic Kids Yoga Pose Universe is also still being released on a weekly basis. Here's Butterfly Pose:
Look out for more additions to the wonderful world of Cosmic Kids in the future.
20th June 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs. Knowing Ourselves Emotionally
Alain de Botton's latest film for The School of Life concerns itself with self-knowledge, and in particular, the difficulty that results from trying to understand ourselves emotionally, rather than just intellectually. The film suggests that the former is the harder proposition, but also, ultimately, the most rewarding.
When writing about my last film for The School of life I said that the films focussed very much on our inner-lives, and in a way, this film took that notion to the next level. The visual challenge for me was to develop a shorthand for the two types of self-knowledge with which the film is concerned; the intellectual and the emotional.
I settled on brightly-coloured swirling shapes to represent our tricky-to-manage feelings, whilst intellectual knowledge was represented by a boxy organisational flow diagram. Everything ordered and in its place. Throughout the film our protagonist battles with these two forms of self-knowledge.
Script and voiceover are provided by The School of Life, then designed and animated entirely by me. My main tool is, as usual, Adobe Animate. You can find a summary of all my films for The School of Life here.
My latest film for TED-Ed sees me yet again grappling with barely understood maths, after what must have seemed a competent attempt at pretending I was all up to speed with Pythagoras. This time around the theme is zero, and more importantly, why you can't divide by it. TED-Ed pose the question "How can the simple combination of an everyday number and a basic operation cause such problems?" This film is the answer.
Script and voiceover are provided by TED-Ed, and the design and animation was all down to me. The challenge on this film was to keep the visuals light hearted and fun, when what I was showing was, for the most part, numbers. I came up with a series of colourful blocks, and built the film around that visual.
My second release for The School of Life in the same week, although I should mention that the first film was made almost a year ago. This time Alain de Botton is exploring the differences between romantic love and friendship. His premise is that it is in friendship that we are our "best selves" and that it should not be thought of as the lesser state.
As always, I receive the script and voiceover from The School of Life, for whom I have now made several films, and then set to work translating it into a series of visuals. The emphasis on human psychology means that all my films for The School of Life have been character led, focussing very much on our inner lives and how we relate to one another. My next film, already in production, will be no exception to this.
The films are made in Adobe Animate (or Flash as it was until fairly recently). Some time I may put together a post about my character design process, but right now I need to get on with making some more characters.
5th March 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How to Be a Good Teacher
My latest release for The School of Life tackles teaching, although not the kind encountered in classrooms. Rather it is about the ways in which we are all required to teach one another. The film lists a series of qualities that make for good teaching in our day-to-day interactions, and to illustrate this I conceived a series of everyday exchanges. A child teaching his grandmother to play a video game, or a colleague explaining a piece of software. The scenes are linked by overlapping characters to show a chain that ends with the first teacher being taught.
The process for making films for School of Life is that Alain de Botton sends his script and voiceover which I then translate into animation. The ideas are his, but the animation provides a space in which to reflect on the words, and to explore ones own ideas in relation to the subject. Whether you agree with the films or not, they always open up interesting discussion.
My previous films for The School of Life have covered many subjects, from lying to ourselves and political correctness, to why humanity destroyed itself. Read more about them here.
Circle World Arts is a global initiative that aims to introduce and explore the world arts in pursuit of cultural connections, artistic development, and personal growth.
Hadi Eldebek of Circle World Arts approached me to create a video explaining his vision. Since the project was then in its infancy, the commission expanded into a branding exercise, and by the time the film was complete I had also designed their logo and established part of the brand identity for Hadi's global community of world art workshops.
The logo was inspired by Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map of the world, although in our pursuit of a globe that expressed CWA's diverse vision, we expanded the number of faces from Fuller's twenty. At the time that we were working on the project, various things were happening in the world that seemed to imply a narrowing of civilization's remit, so I was grateful for the opportunity to help the push in the opposite direction. Watch the video to find out more.
My latest work for Cosmic Kids will be released weekly throughout 2018. Welcome to the Yoga Pose Universe. Somewhat ambitiously, towards the end of 2017, I embarked on a collaboration with Cosmic Kids that would result in 50 short films in total. Each film features Cosmic Kids host, Jaime, demonstrating a single yoga pose together with my animation.
Jaime was shot against a crisp white background which essentially became a blank canvas on which I could doodle scenery and bring characters to life, complementing the pose in question. Hence we see Jaime amongst swarms of dragonflies, birds or even hot air balloons. She startles sleeping lions, blows candles, bubbles and raspberries. It's a vivid world, teeming with life and unexpected outcomes.
My part of the work was created in Adobe Animate, to be compiled together with the final cut of the video later on. However, having a version of the video on my timeline meant I could animate directly onto the video canvas, and time character reactions to Jaime's as though in real time. With so many episodes to create, we refined the technique as we went a long, and by the time we'd finished we knew exactly how we should have started.
Excitingly, our work is not done. If this series is successful, there are as many more poses waiting in the wings for another explosive burst creativity some time in the future. In the mean time, keep checking the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel for regular updates to the Yoga Pose Universe, and much more besides.
Since I started freelancing in 2010 video has come to dominate the Internet. As a result, making short films has become the thing I do most often, and over the last few years, a huge number of these films have been added to YouTube. This being the case, I realised it was time I put some more thought into my own YouTube channel.
Having done so, I initially had very little content, because my films usually reside on my clients’ channels. It was basically just my most recent showreel and a silly thing I made about Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban and the Three Stooges. But then I realised I could make a playlist comprised of all the films I could find across other channels. The playlist may not be exhaustive, but at the time of writing it features 32 films, and will grow as new films are added.
But since so many of my clients need animators like me to keep up with the constant demand for new content, I have also been giving thought to what I could do with my own channel. When I started out on my own, wasn’t the goal always to develop my own IP? Inevitably, the need to pay bills took precedent and my work as an animator-for-hire eclipsed everything else. Putting together this channel has been an opportunity to reflect on that.
This is also my first blog-post for the revamped website. Much as I love the new format, the portfolio approach leaves little room for talking about new releases and smaller projects. So I decided this was reason enough to add a News section, and what you have been reading; this was the news.