Archive for ‘November, 2013’

The making of: Trial and error

Not the result I expected – Trial and error.

So today was the start of my animating adventure. The green screen studio was booked, the camera set up and ready to shoot and the props prepared and ready for action.

With the help of Fabian de Boer, we set up the studio, which turned out to be more work than I had anticipated. Lamps and cameras don’t seem to do what you want them to do when you need them to do it.

But we got it done and Fabian became my puppeteer and I directed him with my book puppet, the Dave puppet and his arm which will eventually grow out of the set.

All seemed to have gone according to plan, until we sat behind the computer to key out the green backgrounds from the footage we had shot. (Keying is a term given to removing a selected area in a piece of film. Often this will be a green or blue background that you have filmed the subject on, so as to make the whole keying process easier). Easier being the operative word! And easier was it not! It turns out that you need perfects footage filmed with a decent camera, great lighting. And it seems that this, we did not have! Not only that but I also I learnt that when keying it is not just a question of pressing a button and abracadabra you have a free standing moving subject. There is also an element of animating involved.

The result of todays experiments were not fantastic but we learnt a huge amount. I have learnt that studio preparation is priceless. I have also learnt that there are several different ways of keying out backgrounds in both Adobe Premier and After Effects.

The footage we made is usable but could be better. And what we learnt during this process will always be taken in to consideration.

Check out the making of film:

The Making of: Props! Getting my hands dirty again.

For this animation project about visual culture, I have chosen to work in mixed media. Meaning that I am planning in working in a combination of animation techniques including Frame for frame, stop-motion, real-time and After effects. I must be mad! But I want to experiment and get my hands dirty again and then mix it up with digital editing and effects. Plus this is a great excuse for me to learn how different softwares work and, it represents visual culture in all it’s glory!

But first things first, I need to make props and then get in the green screen studio.

I decided that there are several ways I could animate the main character (Dave) these are: Frame for frame, Stop-motion or a Real-time mix (Where the body is filmed in real-time and the features, arms and legs are animated in the computer).

So considering I have the studio booked to film on a green screen this week I chose to make a Dave puppet and a couple of other props ready for filming, photographing and animating.

Below is a time-laps film of me making some of my props.

The making of: Part I

The ‘Making of’ Begins!


I was presented with a project to make an animation to promote visual culture for the House of visual culture in Breda  the Netherlands This is a brilliant opportunity for me to make a mixed media animation, exploiting visual culture for all it’s glory!

But where to begin?

My process always starts in the head, think, think, thinking. I then go to books, you tube, websites of other inspirational artists and bureaus. I collect huge amounts of images and write notes, thoughts an ideas in to my trusty sketch book. I then start to visualise the ideas which have started to form in my head and give them a little space to germinate in my sketch book. Eventually there are a few ideas which take root and start to grow in to possible animations. I tend to focus on just two or three final ideas.



Sketches-1For this project I had to pitch my ideas to the house of visual culture, which involved a presentation of my storyboards, ideas for style and techniques and explanations. If you are interested in seeing what I presented (image wise) click on the link which will take you to a pdf :-



I’m not a natural when it comes to presentations, I go very red! But I made sure I had a story and knew what I wanted to say. So although red, I didn’t stand there like a melon with nothing to say. With the feed back that I received at the end of the presentation, I went away to re-write my storyboard and sharpen up my idea.The final pitch is this coming friday! And I will be pitching the storyboard below. So as to better understand what it is that I will be making I will give you a short explanation…


 Storyboard explained


Imagine the film as though it is being filmed through a hand held camera.The camera will take you through a landscape of visual culture and eventually focus on a character (Dave) happily licking his ice lolly and playing with his iPhone. A voice then calls out to him “ Excuse me?” Dave looks around a bit surprised. “Yes, You!” says the voice. “Have you ever imagined a world without Visual Culture?” Dave looks confused. But then the objects around him in the landscape  start to fall down like cardboard cutouts. He is left in an empty space. Suddenly his clothes disappear. His lolly and iPhone disappear and the film becomes black and white. The film them breaks which concludes in a world with no visual culture.


I can’t wait to make this!


I will be using After effects, stop-motion, realtime and possibly frame for frame to make this little animation. A huge challenge but great fun.


I will keep you posted with photos, sketches and films as I go.

Final storyboard




The making of: Playgrounds Festival 2013

As I previously mentioned, I will be blogging my way through an animation project I am currently working on. Plus giving you insight into my research and findings of areas of the animation industry which interest me, as I venture in to my ‘new’ career.

So… Where to start?

I will start with sharing an article I wrote about the Playgrounds Festival 2013 that I attended this November in the Netherlands.

playgrounds folder


Playgrounds was an inspirational event, with back to back lectures and workshops from the crème de la crème of the creative industry. With artists such as Jon Bergerman and companies as Pixar I was in awe and lapping up the stories they had to tell about there careers and how they got to where they are today, there work processes, plus much much more.

An event I strongly recommend to those aspiring to a successful creative career.

Below is a short article I wrote about Playgrounds and what I took a way from it. Enjoy!


Playgrounds 2013 – Recipe to creative success

Samantha Williams 
26 November 2013


If you are a creative professional, i’m sure that there have been moments in your career when you have longed for a recipe to creative success. Wanting to earn a living in the creative industry is one for not only the strong hearted but also for those with determination and a love for their work. As a creative myself, I know this feeling. So when I attended the Playground’s festival 2013  I was intrigued to find that there are recipes to be found. Each artist giving a lecture at Playgrounds had found there own ingredients and way of combining them to find the perfect concoction of work, play and success.

The theme running through the playgrounds festival 2013 was unannounced but clearly a rule held close to by many of the speakers this year. It was a strong message all creatives wishing to make a career out of there work should abide by.

Repeated in there own unique manner, relating it back to there own personal experiences, was a message which rang true and concluded in there own personal recipes for success.  And this message was simple;

Do what you love, stay true to yourself and never stop playing. Appropriate message for a festival named Playgrounds.

This may seem like a simple and enjoyable rule to follow, yet it is one many will find hard to abide by, especially when we all have bills to pay and live in a society which says otherwise. But there are a select few who really have mastered this skill. They’ve nurtured there own loves, skills and interests to evolve a superbly unique style and techniques, enchanting there audiences and making a successful career out of being creative and individual.

A talent like this not only shines through an artists work but created an enthusiasm and enchantment that radiated through the audience at the Playgrounds festival 2013.

Recipes to creative success

So what is it that turns a creative in to a success story?

Well there are many different methods to cooking up the desired result which will feed and enrich a creatives life. To make a start you will need to have and to prepare the correct tools in order to do so:

In every good creative’s tool kit will be passion and a slight obsession for there work, curiosity, a strong imagination, a rich fantasy and finally, the will power never to give up.

Once you have your tools in place you can try one of a number of methods below to cook up a storm in your studio or work place. Each slightly different in there uniqueness and ingredients, but all the same in result:- Success!

Below are a few chosen examples of what a some of the creatives presenting at Playgrounds this year include in there creative recipes to success.


Julia Pott 

Julia is a successful illustrator / animator living and working from New York, creating quirky worlds full of dark humour and child like imagination.

Sweet & Sour animation/illustration 

  • Clear your work surface, removing any doubt or worries about what other people may think.
  • Take a pinch of bizarre and sprinkle it into a bowl of absurdity. This will enrich your illustrations and animations creating delicious twists and turns never expected by your audience.
  • Mix well with your fantasy. Creating lots of space for your animation/illustration to take a story further than text could ever describe.
  • Knead well with your obsession. Truly believe what you are making and enjoy getting your fingers pressed deep in to your idea.
  • Take your personality and mould your mixture to the edges. Be specific and get personal with your work.
  • You may dust your work with weirdness if desired.
  • Don’t worry about pour structure, it will make for delicious unexpected results.
  • Finally, hold back on the detail. A sprinkle can sometimes be more than enough to sweeten the result.


Jon Burgerman

Jon is the ultimate big kid of the illustration and art scene, making a success out of his doodles, love for bright colours, characters and play. Based in New York.

Tangy illustration

  • Take your unique differences and place them in a bowl. If your talents have gone off avoid using them.
  • Take one large cup of your fantasy and pour over your unique differences, making sure that you create a world for your audience to engage in. Mix well.
  • Sprinkle with anticipation. Be aware of how your audience will view your work. Nothing is worse than serving a snack when they expect a meal.
  • Add something unexpected and new; something you’ve never tried before to get that tangy aftertaste. This will make you and your audience keep coming back for more.
  • Avoid adding too much style, it is the artist which makes it taste delicious.
  • Enjoy the creation while you are kneading it with your hands.
  • Your creation should start to naturally evolve. If not try adding a bit more of yourself and your unique differences.
  • Keep kneading and never look back. This will be the lightest, most enjoyable treat you ever taste.
  • It’s ok if you don’t feel like you know what you are doing this mixture will always work.


Genevieve Gauckler

Paris based digital artist, creating worlds of collage inhabited by her character creations.

Character mix

  • If you don’t have any drawing skills don’t panic there are always ingredients to sweeten the drawing board.
  • Take your imagination and sprinkle over any images, photos, shapes and colours you may have lying around.
  • Add a spoonful of yourself and personality and stir in well
  • Cut and paste them in to a desirable mould, preferable one which creates the desired effect, shape and size.
  • Add to taste the world around you and a few things that inspire you. This will add spice.
  • Eventually turn in to a baking tray and allow to rest before baking at a high temperature for final result. Serve without messages if not desired. A healthy portion of just pretty is sometimes enough.

Layzel Brothers

This explosive duo create absurdly humoured animation inspired by the mash up of you tube and there daily obsessions.

Animation cocktail

  • Take a healthy portion of youtube, a large handful of gif films and spoonful of Ren and Stimpy videos and stir loosely together in a bowl.
  • Dust everything in the belief that everything is possible and blend together.
  • While blending make sure that you are playing and not board of your work;This will quickly leave a bitter after taste.
  • Gather up your influences and add to the mixture. Ensure that you have enough to create a style that will make your mouth water because it is full of your interests, passions and humour.
  • Mix well for fun. There should be enough fun for yourself and your audience to keep them coming back for more.
  • Sprinkle with a little of your privet life, to make it unique.
  • Finally if you can’t find the correct mould for your ingredients create your own.


Jonny Hardstaff

Darkly talented with a rich imagination Jonny’s imagination takes you to a place you may wish never to return to.  His imagination governs worlds which have taken over advertising and CGI animation.

Succulent film 

  • These few ingredients are needed to make only what you want.
  • Take a large bowl and fill it with your fascinations.
  • Mix well with your personal interests and developing technology.
  • Keep adding technological advances until you taste the desired sweetness.
  • Place in a warm oven and allow your own distinct and unique style to rise.
  • Remove from the oven and fold in simple work for money so that you may concentrate on your own work in your free time.
  • Lightly dust with commercial work but only on your own terms. You don’t want it to dilute the flavour.
  • Once cooled decorate with a little advertising. Advertising will almost always pay you to do what you want to do.


Job, Joris en Marieke

Character animation is this trios sugar. Rich and sweet there animations will keep you coming back for more.

Character & collaboration stew 

  • Take three designers with unique skills but similar interests and whisk them up.
  • Keep whisking while adding in collaborations and avoid your projects from curdling.
  • Mix in a few characters uniquely clumsy with limitations they learn to live with. This will make for the sweetest topping.
  • Whip up your stories with your interests and humour and fold in some fun.
  • Avoid adding too many pitches for just money or the mixture will become dry. To keep it moist only ever pitch what you will enjoy working on.
  • If there are leftover pitches save them for later. Delicious served cold.


Rex Crowle

A mission to play is Rex Crowels game. Creating video games which reminds you to play like a child and want to get your hands muddy again.

Gaming cookies

  • To create the sweetest concepts delve in to the spices of childhood and remember how it is to be young.
  • Get your fingers sticky and knead in some fun. Set your computer aside and get the cookie cutters out.
  • Sprinkle with experimentation and break in some chunks of enjoyment.
  • Place in a hot oven and allow your ideas to grow, allowing your inner child to sweeten the flavours.



Commercial success and playing with the CGI big boys of the industry.

Bitter sweet bonbons

  • Take some talent and a big chunk of ambition and cut in to small pieces.
  • Roll in some hard work and determination.
  • Put aside personal projects and individuality for another time, these sweets are made for the company not for yourself.
  • Divide in to small balls and dust with collaborations.
  • Cover with chopped stability and a regular income.
  • Put in the fridge and allow to harden while you climb the career ladder.

The making of …

Ok! This is going to be an interesting experiment, for me rather than anyone else.

I am going to be blogging The making of my animation for the house of visual culture (The title is yet to be decided!)

When it comes to my work I tend to be a bit of a hermit. Until I have a nice shiny product to show to the world, not many people get an insight as to how I do what I do.

But this time around I will be letting you in to my creative world and blogging my way through the process I go through to create a mixed media animation…

I will add that this way of animating is new to me, so there will be a lot of trial and error involved. But I will post my notes, finding, photos and films on line for you all to observe and comment on.

At this moment in time I am also researching my specific interests and queries about the animation industry. So as I venture in to my ‘new’ career, I will also be posting my findings and articles that I may write along the way. If you wish to comment or give advice I would love to hear from you.

So… Where to start?

How about showing you where I work!

My studio




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