Group Animation – Our First Attempt

Filming it all

Bill’s brother Jim did all the filming and he always maintained he was the only fellow around with deeply sun¬burnt hands!!! Jim is one of those guys who can extract every ounce of quality from 8 mm and he certainly did that with “Ethelfred”. It was sharp and clear – in fact quite brilliant compared to many amateur animated films. To help this we did use Phillips Comptalex spot lights – the type they use in shop displays and I personally think this helped enormously – Jim and his Cannon doing the rest.

The Final Touches

The commentary was entrusted to an outsider – a person who became a good friend to all of us. He is an amateur actor and he literally looked once at the film, went off with the historical information and a couple of weeks later I went to his house and we recorded the commentary straight off and when this was put with the film, bearing in mind how short, sequences tend to be, in animation – it all fitted perfectly. That isn’t amateurism, that’s sheer professionalism in my view. I was astounded at the skill of this man. A young fellow with a guitar did the music for us – writing it specially, but when I got him to do strange chords and horrible sounds as well, on his guitar he didn’t seem too happy but all was clear when he finally saw the film and the need for what he had done.

The amazing thing was the total cost of the finished film, which included a striped copy was only £109 not bad, since this kept 6 of us busy for 4 years – yes that’s right – it did take that long, to do l3½ minutes of film.

Our costs did not include any cel material for we were lucky enough to get free off-cuts from a local manufacturer, companies are most helpful, I’ve found.

Our next film

Well there it is – it’s certainly surpassed my expectations in terms of its subsequent success, for I only thought of it right from the start as a nice – viewable film, nothing more. I suppose it shows we can all be wrong anytime. Our next film is under way – its about – No – I don’t think I will tell you just yet, I’ll wait and see how we do first – besides you might run out and use the idea!

Here the man’s legs, eyes, the bike wheel inners and the trailing smoke moved at different speeds.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 6 (Autumn 1983)