2016

Animated day to day happenings

2016

Postby Barry » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:01 pm

3rd January 2016

and so here we go....last year was the best of years and the worst of years. Lots of celebrations and retrospectives with great people in interesting places for my 60th. all great fun, but pushing me into danger of being an old fart who just talks and reflects on previous work. Now is the time to move forward, and to get out of debt caused by people not paying money owed for work done, and now is definitely the time where I have to move projects forward, new projects. I have to get the feature going, the feature that I worked so hard on. I'm a bit worried that Anomalisa may have stolen our thunder - suddenly people are talking about stop motion, especially stop motion for adults, as if it has just been invented. And shock horror, the idea of puppets having sex seems to be a new idea. Afraid not.
Darn I hope I can be creative and judicious with money and actually earn a living this year.
May we all do that.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Fri Jan 15, 2016 9:22 pm

January 16th 2016
Tw o weeks in and I've worked my butt off on a project, and we started filming this week. Great to be back in the studio - it's not the feature and I really don't know what's happened there. All my work on the script, which is ready to go, and not a penny seen for that. But this project is fun, and it's great being back in the studio, rushing round like crazy being both organising and being creative. We've not had pay day yet and it will take a good few months to recover from the disaster of writing a feature film. Let's hope it happens one day and one day soon - it was alarming to see both David Bowie and the glorious Alan Rickman pass away at 69 - that's too young and too close. What men they were.
The Oscars were announced yesterday, and another year goes by without making something of my own. I do have a sigh of professional jealousy, among the cheers for friends up for the awards...a sigh not that I SHOULD be there but that I COULD be there, given the chance. Anomilisa was there and I can't wait to see it but I'm truly sick of a naïve press muttering about this fantastic art of stop motion, and adult themes - what a brilliant idea. Hang on a moment guys......
Little culture but I did see a wordy but gripping production of The Price at the Garrick, and Into the Woods at the exchange was gimmicky rather than theatrical and seemed to resolutely be intent of removing every ounce of magic from the piece.
And an offer of another book has reared it's head. So much work for so little money but oh how satisfying.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:45 pm

January 24th 2016

Rushes - there's a thing that never gets easier. In the days of yore, when rushes were on film, and silent of course, we would watch them all together. When projected they still had all the cutback frames, and mistakes, and no dialogue, so whilst Mr Toad might have been reacting to a sudden noise off screen, we couldn't hear that and his reaction looked ridiculous, and there would often be terrifying silence. Rushes were indeed a raw exposed experience. Happily today any duff frames are usually removed when filming, and there is dialogue synched up so we get small bites of the real thing, but they are still terrifying, and even more terrifying is waiting for approval. We do expose ourselves, and are so critical of our on work.

A full on week, and Brief Encounter, like Laura's fateful train is gathering speed.

I'm still thinking about the book offer. I don't want to repeat myself in any way, so I am trying to find a new angle. I want to broaden the scope but there is still the naivety that animation is in it's own bubble.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:40 pm

February 6th 2017

So much juggling this week, that I should be in a circus. The tv series has been exciting, and the adrenalin flowing, but heck, it's a complicated jigsaw at the moment.
And Brief Encounter has started rehearsals but like the above juggling what to rehearse is exhausting. That person is not here this day, and then that person not here that day......but already there are some amazing sounds coming from the cast, and some of my staging already works. We could however listen to the Rachmaninov for hours.....it has so much history and those opening chords invoke all that history. Over at the main stage, whilst we were rehearsing an actor collapsed before he was due to go on. What everyone feared was a stroke as in fact dehydration. Much relief all round, and in situations like this it was good to see the Garrick family kick into action.
And away from work, things are pretty chaotic and fretful and causing me to lose sleep a bit.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:55 pm

February 20th 2016
A whirlwind of activity, and productivity and some feeling of achievement at the end of this week at work. We are producing excellent footage, under rather odd circumstances, and of highly complex shots, but it all seems to be working. I'm a bit brain fried I have to say, but in a good way.
And Brief Encounter is finally taking shape. I fear the audience will be initially thinking 'WTF' as the film it is not. But as a piece of theatre with a big heart it is excellent. Do come and see it.
So Edmond won best short animated film at the BAFTA's - an astonishing film and rich and complex and dark and twisted. I still have a huge fondness for Richard William's Prelude - a moving masterpiece of perfect technique.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:33 pm

MARCH 12.03.2016

Oh darn, three weeks since the last entry, but that sort of sums it up. Yep, the tv series is pretty crazy, made so by trying to get ready for a week away teaching in Barcelona. We are doing some rather amazing footage I have to say, defying the laws of physics in every shot. Rigs are such a pain, but the nature of shooting on digi and having rigs removed allows for such a more kinetic style of animation than I ever did.
But the play Brief Encounter has taken all my free time, and here we are on the last day of performances, a two show day. This has been an extraordinary experience, and has raised all manner of questions. Being an animator where every frame counts, I still expect every word, every vowel to have meaning, every prop to be right, and I do get frustrated when it is not. But we got there, and it is a mighty fine piece of theatre - and that's a clue. It is not the film, and the rather complacent audience on Monday night gave a collective sigh as they did not get the film. Theatre cannot be about reproducing the literal nature of film, with its' film grammar of close-ups and quick cuts. We can't do that. we have to do other things, and we certainly have, but some audience's simply can't get that - the same audiences who would struggle to accept Joey, the war horse. I want to go into a huge didactic piece about the nature of artifice but I have to go an do a matinee. I have wondered if I have gone too far with the artifice in this production, but I don't think so. Most of it is there in there script that wowed audiences seven years ago. I had to make a few compromises but I think the show is a terrific piece of theatre telling the story of three couple, as well as suggesting questions about the nature of film and theatre and the brief encounter we have with them. The cast are brilliant and the ad-libs, which I have encouraged, have brought the show to life. are ad-libs acceptable - yes of course they are, in the spirit of the character and to fill any awkward pauses.
And sadly it is the last day of War Horse today. What an influential show.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:12 pm

March 26th 2016

I must try to find time to get these diaries in order....I've got a bit confused with them all.

Anyway two weeks since the last entry and it's certainly been a hectic two weeks. Recovering and tidying up from brief encounter certainly, but I raced over to Barcelona BAU for a weeks teaching. I was not quite sure what to expect. another animator had been there before me and he'd done more acting based exercises. I was worried about what puppets I would be able to work with, as even the tutor admitted the student's puppets were a little disappointing. However, someone had kindly made nine rather brilliant armatures, about seven inches high. So I had those and some big enough areas of perforated steel. No magnets but we had tie-downs, and I went right back to basics, beign very picky about how to control and hold a puppet, doing very clean animation. That was the theme I guess, making sure the animation was clean and read. Some struggled initially and didn't see the point, but after a few sessions there was some pretty amazing and elaborate animation. As usual, as soon as my back was turned one animator ignored all he had learned and did a throwaway piece of animation and it was terrible....such a shame as his exercise had been excellent. But it was good for the students, and what a great bunch they were, to have some discipline and structure and the results were superb. I did not see anything of Barcelona, not a single Gaudi tile, but had a good time all the same. I had a screening of familiar and less familiar work and the venue was packed, with some people even coming from Vienna. There was much love in that room that night. More love than I had for the airport on the way home......agitation running wild.
A weekend to recover then a full on week on the tv series, and I worked on good Friday just trying to catch up with stuff I can't do when there are six shoots running. It was odd sat in the studio by myself - it's full of very odd noises, the ghosts of previous animated characters running wild at night perhaps.
Grateful for a few days over Easter to catch up.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:22 pm

April 8th 2016

Sorry, not much to report, just head down on the series, running around crazy, and between us all, we seem to be producing some rather amazing footage. My heart sinks to see all the rigs that are necessary for the jumping and leaping about that our characters do, but that is a side effect from digi film production. I'm not sure I have ever used a rig....there's been little money for post production or time enough and I still try to make the image as pure and raw as possible, but the ability to remove rigs has led to such a kinetic style of animation these days. Ha, I remember trying to get Shakespeare to jump on fishing line (appropriately called Shakespeare fishing line), and painting the line out with a black felt tip pen. It worked, but it wasn't too controllable.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:56 am

April 16th 2016
a good action packed week on the tv series, and we are producing some rather amazing stuff......but paper, oh heck, that's a challenging thing to animate. There seem to be a spate of origami short films recently, and that's understandable. The more that technology gets complex and sophisticated the more people want to go back the other way. With us we have just has sheets of pink paper making steps for the characters to run up. it looks amazing but has not been easy. It is a joy though to see how basic a thing that you can get character out of. It doesn't always need to be about complex puppets. A good idea is a good idea.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:03 pm

April 27th 2016

A little distracted at the moment to say the least, but all good on the series. so much juggling.
Some good Shakespearean distractions, as befits the celebrations. I had a fun talk at the Flatpack film Festival in Birmingham, essentially talkigna bout Shakespeare and artifice, finding links between Hamlet and Yorick, Mary Poppins and her umbrella, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, Jim Henson and Kermit, clowns and their red noses, clark Kent and Superman, and so forth.....all devices allowing the protagonist to reveal himself. The audience might have wondered where this was all going, but it was fun along the way.
And then the RSC Shakespeare Live event was a good infinite variety show ( see what I did there?), with a couple of duff moments, but some sublime moments. They encompassed rap, film, opera, ballet, musicals, jazz, but sadly no animation. I know a short five minute film that would have been a great curtain raiser.
And then I was down in Stratford the day after this event, filming in front of the camera this time. Surprisingly, the RSC haven't come calling yet.
But, heck, Shakespeare still plays a big part in my every day life.....and seeing the celebrations I rather wept at the magnitude of just what his work was.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun May 01, 2016 3:52 pm

MAY 1st 2016

A week of variety certainly. I was buzzing still after the RSC Shakespeare Live event, and buzzing more so as I drove down to Stratford. I stayed in The Stratford and had a splendid meal, and an hour or so reminiscing with the crew for the shoot I was on the next day. You know the situation, a hotel bar, and oh the stories that come forth. Very entertaining. And so I was involved with a day's live action filming, and made very welcome too. I'm not sure that my performance will have the RSC hot foot to contact me, but it was a good day.
Then a frantic few days back in the studio, catching up with things. we are short staffed a bit at the moment with illnesses and holidays and I simply haven't had a moment to myself. we've had a deadline, and thanks to some adept juggling we made it....and made it with some wonderful footage.
And then I finished the week with a trip to London yesterday to see Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, and darn fine she was. the whole production was slick, pared back and flowed like a dark dream. Some lovely touches and a few odd ones, but great stuff, and oh my that script seems pertinent at the moment for so many reasons.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat May 14, 2016 6:34 pm

May 14th 2016

And this bizarre british weather plays havoc with us in the studio. One moment the animators are huddled round heaters, shivering, and the next the doors are open letting the air circulate. It plays havoc with the sets as well, making them expand or shrink overnight accordingly. But at the moment, most of the crew are in shorts beavering away.
I've always taken a slight masochistic pleasure in doing schedules and planning complete films and plays from start to finish - though I am certainly not that organised in my own life. This series is really testing my organisational skills. I don't like to have anyone sat down for long, nor not knowing what we are shooting the next day. It's usually the last thing I do at night - have a mental recap of what the next day holds. I think I have it all watertight but an unexpected trivial thing can throw everything out. This week the delayed delivery of a complex prop has had me juggling left right and centre, but hey, we got there, and no-one died. And there's a satisfaction of having kept everyone shooting - and what tremendous stuff is being shot at the moment. I still get nervous as I wait for rushes to be approved, and maybe years ago, no not even then really, I might have grumbled if a reshoot is necessary, but since it's probably my fault anyway or something I didn't communicate clearly, I just get on with it. I'm still very happy though when the rushes are approved. It never gets easier.
Multitaskign has been what this week has all been about.
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June Ist

Postby Barry » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:46 pm

Sorry, I'm trying to keep up but things gallop on apace.
The last two weeks has seen filming involving shiny lifts, remote controlled planes, robots, artists sculptures, dancing clams, flying boxes, wedding banquets to name but a few subjects. It's never dull.
Away from work I have been writing like crazy for a submission for a piece at a theatre. I don't stand a chance as theatre is seldom comprehending of how I could contribute.....same skills but used differently. However, I have submitted this piece with a rather famous opera singer as a cohort. Together, we could do something amazing. Keep your fingers crossed. It is certainly a story needing to be told, and a collaboration that could be inspired. still, I have tried, and worked my butt off making every word count in the application's rather limited word allowance.
I also designed a show, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, at the Garrick. we had so many restriction, especially in that it had to be built in three hours. I did something very basic, but it seems to have caught an atmosphere and people were very, very complementary about the set. I think that is me done with that place for a while, or rather it seems the reverse. A couple of big productions should have had my name on them, but the rest is silence.......
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:12 pm

June 11th 2016

after some unexpected sunshine, we are now awash, albeit awash with warm rain. But definitely awash.

I'm just getting ready to head to Belfast tomorrow to do a workshop with 20 teenagers - on Shakespeare. As always, I get a little apprehensive beforehand, worried that I won't be interesting enough, but I suspect I might have a struggle here. Maybe not. I'll talk about storytelling, about how I tell stories and how Shakespeare tells stories. I wonder if they had seen the Russell t Davies Midsummer Night's dream two weeks ago. Kinetic, histrionic, and certainly not tender, but a lot of people watched. Some major plot changes and an ugliest of tone seem to have upset most people.

an epic week of complicated and technical shot at work, but in spite of that, there were some darn fine results.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:16 pm

June 18th 2016

The world outside our limited view of the studio seems out have been particularly brutal this week, and looks to get worse. Sometimes, it seems that what we do is so trivial and unimportant when there is such awful horror going on, but it is important, even if I can't articulate way. I wish there was a way that our work could help tolerance, and make a difference. We've all been shocked by this week, and there has been a notable silence in the studio.

We are all very vigilant about continuity, but something escaped us all - something so obvious, but when you look at something all day every day, you don't always see the wood for the trees. darn, it will be complicated to fix.

I saw a tribute band at the Garrick on Thursday, a tribute band to Simon and Garfunkel, and it is so easy to turn one's nose up at these types of acts, but I have seen two, one for abba, and one for S&G, and both have involved extraordinary musical standards.....the two gents singing S&G were so humble, so pitch perfect with their harmonies, and so warm, and frankly, I would much rather have seen these guys in the intimate setting of the Garrick than seen the real thing in a huge stadium setting. I was in musical heaven. Harmonies always do it for me. And many times, especially for The Boxer, I was in tears. why are you so emotional, B/ The nostalgia? Not at all, but sheer skill and sublime artistry always has me in tears. Not only are the songs masterpieces, but these two lads, calling themselves Bookends, had such musicianship and warmth. I'm glowing.

I was not glowing from a local production of a favourite Sondheim piece. Some of the songs were murdered, and the staging ignored what the piece was about, and I know they had little resources, but this was ghastly, and I'm afraid at whatever level, costumes and lighting and staging do matter. If you are going to do something, do it for a reason and with passion, not just because.

And, oh dear, I had a senior moment, turning up to the dentist, slightly anxious as always - I was too punctual, by a week.

And sadly, I forsook the Wagner ring Cycle. I had bought tickets last year with great excitement, aware of what an event this is, and I did experience a fully staged production for £5 at university. I was looking forward to it, 4o years on, knowing a bit more about music and Wagner, but when push came to shove earlier this week, I just could not take the afternoon's off work, and nor did I have the space in my head to concentrate for so long, as the pieces demand. I would have loved to have heard the opening, and the Ride, and the closing to Das Rheingold but there would have been a lot beside to sit through and my troubled mind would have wandered. As I write this, the audience are gathering for Gotterdamerung. It's a shame not to be there, as I would have enjoyed the event, but an open mind is not what I have at the moment.
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