Group Animation – Our First Attempt

Character made up of circles.
Character made up of circles.

I slunk off and did a few sketches on this paper and photographed them – I did a whole minute of the start of the film to see if I could do it. No one knew, just in case, and when I got the film back I couldn’t believe it – it worked – not too well – but it worked! I couldn’t wait to show the rest of the group. We were in business. We decided to do the drawing and filming and story in easy stages, so to keep the enthusiasm of the group – if they could keep seeing little bits of film, – the results of their labours, then this would keep everybody together, for I realised as soon as I started drawing that this wasn’t going to be a couple of months job, so it was vitally important to keep everyone together.

The Job

A storyboard was the first thing to start and we would have each shot numbered – this was an absolute must, don’t attempt even the simplest film without one – in fact I did copies for the entire group so that they could keep in touch with the story. The first mistake we made was to work on the story itself, also, a little at a time. We should have got the storyline sorted out first, because we would not possibly know how long the film was going to be, even though I purposely kept shots as tight as possible, I could see, although I didn’t let on, that we could be faced with 15 – 20 minutes of animation. This terrified me and I was always eager to not use an idea, so as to save work, unless of course the idea was really good.

The arrows show all the moving parts which work at different speeds. Six overlays were used.

Many times, I wished we had picked a simple idea; to plunge headlong in to such a complex film seemed, at times, idiotic. I mention all this because you may at this moment, be in that situation, to which I say, stick with it – good or bad, it isn’t a film at all until it’s finished! I was now determined to finish this one, even if I had to do it alone. Now as I have said as the storyline developed, the cels were also drawn and painted and filmed. I think I should make it clear at this point that I didn’t draw a complete set of paper drawings and then film them to see if all was O.K. Having to keep 5 people supplied with cels this was out of the question so it had to be O.K. first time, also because of the pressure on me, as I have said, I couldn’t spare the time to draw on paper then trace onto cels – in fact most shots were done using only one sketch with all the moves

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