2016

Animated day to day happenings

Birthday day

Postby Barry » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:33 pm

3rd July 2016

Yep, another birthday, and I leapt out of bed and made a decision that animals were the answer today, and off I headed to Chester Zoo. I'm a bit ambiguous about zoos, having seen some very sad ones, but Chester Zoo is so unobtrusive, with not a cage nor a bar to be seen, and the animals do look very healthy and looked after, and yes I had a brilliant time - walking intot eh butterfly sanctuary was extraordinary - like walking into a rainbow. And the giraffes, all nine of them being fed at the same time, was like watching Ray harryhausen's hydra in action. A beautiful boat trip has been installed, and I came away buzzing. I went by myself and went at my speed, and stared at some for longer, and so forth. When an elephant looks you right in the eye it is hard to forget. Lots of beautiful incidents crammed into five hours. I did feel sorry for families struggling with buggies and kids who were more interested in 'Frozen' ice creams than the joys of the penguins. Ah, and those three foot bats. Yikes. a lovely relaxing birthday.

Not much animation news, though I am going to an animation festival in Poznan, Poland next week if anyone should be there.

And I have Shakespeare in my head. Whilst I am not only designing Romeo and Juliet, I am playing Chorus - hurrah, though, heck the lines don't go in any easier with age.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:50 am

July 9th 2016
I'm over in Poznan, Poland at the Animator festival, all rather well organised and very friendly. There are several venues and I haven't managed to meet up with everyone yet, but have just checked the venue for my talk tonight - a huge monumental, operatic venue - yep that will do nicely.
But oh the angst of being away from the studio whilst things carry on - I can't help it. I'm sure everything was fine, but this has been a complex week, with hugely complex shots and a reduced crew.....yes I've been waking up at night fretting about how to achieve certain shots. It never gets easier. But achieve them we do.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:24 am

July 23rd 2016
a rather full on couple of weeks. Catching up after the trip to Poland has been a bit manic, and the series seems to be full of monumental shots, which we are rather taking in our stride now, which is hugely satisfying.
I'm also immersed in the world of Romeo and Juliet. I'm designing the piece and also playing Chorus who gets a couple of meaty and very beautiful speeches. Learning lines does not get any easier as you get older, but, here's the thing, once you find the internal logic of the story and the structure, it all makes perfect sense. In a sentence there will be a through line, but he does go off on a tangent before coming back. It's all about keeping that line. Look at that punctuation. We had a read through this week, and obviously there are words that have since died, but I was surprised at some of the words common to an older generation that the younger actors had no idea what they were. I guess every day you pick up a new word - like bloody brexit - and assimilate it into your vocabulary.
We also had a production meeting for Romeo and Juliet and my set model was greeted with deafening indifference. Ah well, such meetings, and that theatre, is worthy of it's own drama. We laugh at how our government at the moment makes Games of Thrones look tame. Well that's nothing to the Garrick. I think I've done quite a striking design, that is in keeping with the production, but being not literal, it still raises eyebrows there. anything not literal is often beyond comprehension. I've tried to be bold with this design, but it still comes down to an entrance either side, with a disguised entrance upstage, and a raised area........and that seems to be the design that has worked through the centuries - The Globe, Epidaurus. It allows for people getting on and off, and reveals. Perfect. All my designs work around this basic structure - and not a French window to be seen, though those French windows act as the concealed entrance, the curtained entrance, the reveal, I guess.
And heck, romeo and Juliet is good stuff. So well plotted. Like Caesar, it changes gear as soon as Mercutio is gone. Definitely a play of two halves. And oh that language.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:22 am

August 13th 2016

Oh lawks, three weeks since the last entry, and I'm rushing about today. But I had four glorious healthy days in Ireland with Amanda. Much walking and rambling and many scones and cider, all in wonderful sunshine And a tremendous new take on an irish dance show. And beaches, and boats and blue skies.
But missing a few days at work takes forever to catch up, and it has been pretty full on in the studio - well the sequences seem particular complex, but , crikey, the animators are rising to it. some truly amazing stuff being produced.
I took some students around and somehow one of them ended up wearing the suit of armour I have inherited. He was a happy student, well graduate.
And we have started rehearsing.....it's tough for me to shut my mouth and not wear my director's hat. But I have enough to worry about with the set and my two big speeches. I think they are now locked in my head, until some random thought pops in to distract me and I get life and death the wrong way round making nonsense of everything.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:11 pm

August 27th 2016

Juggling even more than usual on the tv series, with broken legs, slipped discs, holidays, secret projects that need testing, and some slow detailed shots - all very satisfying but complex. There's some footage we are shooting that was pencilled in to be done as CG but rather recklessly I suggested that we do it, and the results are astonishing - at a cost as it has taken ages but it really is beautiful, and probably more alive than the CG might have managed. Hard to tell, nor how long the equivalent might have taken. The new Laika film has opened having been trailed with dozens of short films about the making of it. On one site there is a rather heated debate about how stop motion in Laika films is crossing a sketchy line and becoming removed from its' stop motion roots - that's both a huge compliment and not. Many animators and audiences love that the puppet is always seen as a puppet. Sometimes now, thanks to budget and technology, it's hard to tell any more. Of course the technique should be just a tool to tell the story but if you have a puppet it would be a shame not to utilize the limitation and qualities of what makes that puppet. I remember Adrian from Handspring talking to me about the War Horse puppets. Whilst the movement, thanks to the visible operators, is credible and stylized, they refrained from giving the horses eyeblinks as that would have crossed this line.

Rome and Juliet continues apace and we are only three weeks away....I've still not done my pieces yet, but it's all coming along wonderfully. The fight scenes are terrifying, and the nap sounds so well timed that we all think there's been a hit. With a graduate friend I did find myself standing in a muddy field in pouring rain, filming my friend in a heavy suit of armour, for a brief video sequence. The rain and mist added an appropriate atmosphere. The only one dog walker did not even blink to find Henry V rampaging his way through the field.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:55 am

September 11th 2016

Lots more juggling on the tv series, and it's been hard work but heck there is some impressive footage being shot.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the premiere screening of Kubo, and that was a pretty magnificent event, with lots of friends and familiar faces. I did come away feeling very second rate, but someone happened to say that without films like mine Kubo could not have happened. Maybe, maybe not, but it still would have been good to have been involved. I am so aching to do a feature, to be able to contribute.
I am contributing to Romeo and Juliet in a big way, and we have been slogging away at it. there's a lot of extra aspects in this production - I'm hoping we can have a last surge with Shakespeare before we open next Monday. So many people have put so much work into this, and I go through my speeches, in the pool, on the loo, in the garden, everywhere about twenty times a day, and then when I step out in rehearsal it's all different anyway. If we get all the stuff I have asked for in the set and design, it will be a very striking show.
I forgot I had been asked to write a chapter for a book - that had to be done at great speed, and I rambled all over the place, but by the end, it was a rather observant ramble.
Suddenly there seem a lot of talks coming up, and a fair bit of travelling - maybe not too high profile but they should be fun.
I'm also judging an award and again I forgot about that. a good few late nights this week after rehearsals watching some very grim up north police dramas (is that all we do?) and some contrasting animation.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:33 am

September 24th 2016

Well work has certainly been full on, with some extraordinarily complex shots. A couple of years ago we might have fretted enormously, but now we just get on and work out how to do them. I do fret about the amount of rigs we have to out of necessity use, but the results are spectacular. The crew having been coming and going a lot of the last two weeks, and we have had various interruptions but the standard is pretty darn impressive.
I did rush down to London for the premiere screening of Kubo and the two Strings, and wow, that was an evening and a half. I went with a chum and dressed accordingly for the Mayfair hotel - well, it was all a bit laid back actually. But the film will take me many paragraphs to try to praise. Technically, it is astonishing and beautiful, but I can't honestly tell you the complete story. Lots of layers but a bit confusing. It also made me question what is a puppet.....the millions of replacement faces take some of the spontaneous performance away from the animator, with decisions having been made by many people long before the filming - that's purely a selfish thing for us, but the animator is not totally in control - however, it's the final performance that matters, and these performances were so detailed and nuanced. Quite an adult film, and that may be one reason it has not set the box office alight. But every frame is just ravishing, and it does have a lot of incessantly moving hair. But oh those images. One of the lead animators was there and after the Q&A I overheard him chatting to a group of lady students, and mentioning that he had worked with me. That Barry Purves, one of the ladies said, pointing to me a few feet away. Much chat ensued. And much reflection on the late night train.....exhausted at work the next day.
And then I did a morning's judging for an award - it's still uncomfortable to praise and criticize other people's work, and I did get a bit opinionated about the preponderance of police dramas, but a guess a mystery with something being solved and uncovered is probably the most basic of all dramas. But so many police series, with policemen all having different personal lives. but then the policing thing is the catalyst to reveal the human stories. But heck, where are the stories about opticians, for examples. They have just as interesting lives.
And now Romeo and Juliet. Well, here we are on the last performance, and the end of an intense six months. As always I come out with an increased respect for the work - here, so beautifully structured, and such gorgeous language, that really is not hard to understand. Ok some of the references have been lost, but the sheer relish of the words, the alliterations, the puns, the rhymes, the convoluted phrasing and such, well it's downright brilliant. Not only did I design the show but I'm lurking all the way through it as Chorus. Only a total of 32 lines, but two complicated speeches and it has not been easy for me to learn the lines, but now they are flowing out quite happily. I have to go through the speeches several times a day (Monty is just as familiar with them, as is the garden), and literally just before I go on, and they do linger. On one night I substituted 'rage' for 'strife' and messed up the rhyme. I've enjoyed being on stage, but my part is a lonely part, not really interacting but just watching and lurking, and I can lurking well. My second act is more about door opening but i'm back at various crucial moments. And what a production, there are 32 of us on stage and a further 8 backstage......it's a little chaotic, and not everyone prepares themselves with lists, making entrances and cues a little tense. But we have given the appreciative audiences at the Garrick a production to remember. It is very sophisticated and complete and flows imaginatively, and I have to confess that I am pleased with the set. The theatre shouted at me, but happily they like the visuals, and they are quite startling. It's very clean, and it reads, and each of the many locations conjured up with economy. Yep, a very satisfying experience. I would still have liked to have directed it. I will relish having some time free now, but I will miss the rehearsals, the learning, the focussing, and standing in the wings feeling tense. Next up, The Secret Garden.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 01, 2016 9:47 am

October 1st 2016

Ah well, that is Romeo and Juliet well and truly tidied way (though not perhaps in my house, where 40 masks linger, along with various poignant detritus), and I think we can consider it a success. Perhaps not at the box office sadly - and I suspect that the upcoming production of last of the Summer Wine will sell out. Such are the tastes of our audience. I had neither the energy nor the time to be theatrical this week.
And happily the first series of Twirly Woos has been nominated for three Royal Television Society North West Awards. Best pre-school, best animation/puppetry, and best of all, best craft - all up against some real blockbusters. Very satisfying.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:38 pm

October 8th 2016
A very productive week on the series, with us if not exacting sailing through, but then breezing through some almighty challenges. amazing results actually.
After Romeo (and do catch up with the photos on the gallery pages), I've caught up with some theatre this week, and shall do next week as well. The Shakespeare theme continued with BRB's The Tempest, which was big and excellent but didn't really move me in the way some of BRB's ballets have left me drained and speechless. And last night was a movie, a huge budget movie, which I won't name as various friends worked on it, but it was sadly the worst experience in a cinema in a long time. Amazing effects are not enough to save a movie whose plot is quite simply absurd, and with no emotional content coming across at all. It was so indulgent and just fell flat again and again, and certainly did not match the expectations of the trailer. But on Wednesday I was back at Contact, the University theatre, where I had been so active back in the 70s, and this was for SpyMonkey's The complete deaths of Shakespeare. I was expecting a rough and ready version of the Reduced Shakespeare company's romp through Shakey, but this was far superior. They managed the impossible trick of true inspired absurdity, in the good sense of the word, doing sequences of death a la sumo wrestlers, or as a Martha graham sequence, but then utterly moving us with a few tragic deaths, whilst standing naked or in their blood covered underwear. How did they do that. True, classy clowns, but heck even under these conditions Shakespeare's words still ring with such noble eloquence. I hope when my time comes that I managed to say words as profound as Enobarbus meeting his fate. But this was a genius evening, and the more remarkable as the other two events were big budget over produced affairs. This was simple and all the more creative for it.
OK, you are asked to design something - would the first thing you do be to see how it was done on Broadway/London and then produce a watered down version with limited resources.? I don't understand that thinking. My first instinct would be to go back to the text, and to find a visual language appropriate to the space and resources available, and with definitely no references to any previous productions. but then it is the other production that will get lauded, with applause echoing mainly for the previous incarnations. Be original for heaven's sake, otherwise, just what is the point?
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 15, 2016 3:12 pm

October 15th 2016

A great week actually, and one where I have certainly contributed, so in my book, that makes it a great week.The studio is producing some truly amazing footage. What might have totally daunted us a couple of years ago, especially in putting stop motion in a busy live action scene, now only gives us a brief pause for thought, and off we go.
And I had a day's filming down in Devon on Thursday. A long drive there and back, but a splendid hotel with a magnificent view of the sea, and with an equally magnificent breakfast. We were filming on an epic beach, Saunton sands, and I was a salty sea dog sewing nets. It was great watching the crew work like clockwork, everyone knowing what they were doing. glorious weather and some of the crew paddled or flew kites. Like a glorious one day holiday with work thrown in, but with a long journey home.
Masses to catch up after a day and a half away, but catch up I did, and a good feeling of a job well done this week.
and another University is offering me a Honorary fellow - very kind, and flattering. thank you.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:49 am

October 23rd 2016

A fair bit of travelling this week. Another meeting in stratford, but this time we managed a quick trip to the theatre and a wander round the garden. sadly, not time to see a show and a matinee was just about to start, and sure enough I saw a friend from the Garrick going in. Her husband died a few years back and they have a bench opposite the theatre in his memory. Also a tree that receives a bottle of his favourite whiskey poured over it every so often. I must get down to see a show - the M6 is such a bugger at the moment though. Travelling anywhere at the moment is not easy. I went to Belfast on Friday and the traffic to the airport was hardly moving - anxiety was rising high, and whilst all the safety precautions are necessary, the staff at Manchester airport manage to do it with little dignity or respect.
anyway I was back in Belfast to do a talk to a group of teenagers - there's an arts centre that has a very active programme for such groups. I showed quite a few films and dissected them....I love Oh Willy and showed this, forgetting that some of its' content may not have been that appropriate but it is a masterpiece and so moving. Some of the teenagers were quite chatty and some probably very confused. But we had a good morning. The taxi drivers to and from the hotel were lovely gents, very funny and witty and chatty, even if I could not quite understand every word. Two Mancunian couples on the plane back let the side down hugely - language and anecdotes at full volume that would have made Trump blush. Disgusting I'm afraid. I know language evolves and gets adapted and coloured but this mutilation of words and avoidance of any grammar is terrifying, as is obscene language passing as normal language.
The only culture this week was the 'live' screening of the 25th anniversary performances of Miss Saigon. A stupendous musical filmed as a film, but with not quite enough wide shots to get any sense of geography of the stage. Also, it was filmed over several performances, with and without an audience - peoples watches giving this away.
So many talks coming up - Portugal next week, Sale, Preston, Sheffield, Edge hill, Barcelona, Venice, Macclesfield.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:06 pm

November 6th 2016

Can't quite make sense of the last two weeks.....it has been an epic two weeks, and more to come.
Belfast was involved, a lovely hotel, and a great group of students. Then Portugal was involved - a fantastic day there, but the travelling was not much fun. No far as the crow flies, but further and more complicated than necessary. I gave a talk in a wonderful old monastery that looked like the set of The Monk and the fish. And what enthusiasm from the audience, who I spent most of the day with, young and old. The town of Barcelos looked lovely and I had a great moment with a fellow animator sat overlooking the town, talking about films yet to make. And then a few days ago, a talk over in Sheffield. I was anxious about the journey but took the train, and arrived calm and ready, and that audience certainly got me at my best. A pleasant journey home and straight back into work - oh yes, work is still happening. I'm just up later than usual planning and preparing and juggling. And yes was a most agreeable event at the Waterside in sale. An animation day and some prestigious speakers and again an enthusiastic audience giving up their Saturdays. I do worry that I get opinionated, but hopefully various grains of truth are thrown out, and I certainly think out of the box, and challenge perceptions about animation. Yep, hopefully, I get people thinking.
And then to watch a rather straight version of The history boys, but none the worse for that.
And today I have just dyed my very white beard a darker colour to go with the King Charles II wig I am wearing on a shoot tomorrow. I hope this goes well, and I don't totter off the heels. Watch this space.
And there are the dozens of films I have been watching late at night for a certain academy. 70 in less than two weeks has given me dreams of the most peculiar matter.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:56 pm

November 13th 2016

I can't even begin to acknowledge the other vulgarity and folly of what is happening in America. A monumental week, there, and too hideous to contemplate the future. Most of all, I'm sad to see the great work done by Obama and family undone by a buffoon.

But in my world it has been crazy - I've kept the series going and we seem to have had the hardest most complex week, but amazing footage being produced. I was however down in Redditch on Monday filming a live action piece with me seemingly dressed as Charles II and being not a little outrageous. I hope they can cut it all together. then Tuesday I was over in Edge hill talk a talk/discussion about film grammar. The students looked confused. Then a gallery opening, and then a big talk at UCLAN taking trump as my starting point and the gift he is to caricaturists and cartoonists, and that's what we should be doing. Telling the truth through our art. Cutting through all the bxxxxxit. And then last night I was at the RTS awards at the Hilton in Manchester, where Twirlies was up for three awards, and came away with best pre-school show. The event was an amazing piece of stage management and it was very bizarre to see Twirlies up against Happy Valley in gthe craft category, and at one point in the montage of programmes an actress said ' I have to say I was born with a penis'. It could to the Twirlies looking surprised.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:14 pm

20th November 2016

I've got confused as to how many talks I have done over these last few months, let alone where they were, but I did enjoy the Manchester Animation Festival this week. I hosted the awards and that was great fun. As always I sort of plan then go off on various tangents, which usually confuses the organisers. Sadly no one there to actually collect their awards, but we had fun, and I threw in some genuine jokes. Manchester has a great warmth to it, which is just as well as my overriding memory of both festivals at Home so far have been the cold. I saw the winning films, which seemed very visceral this year, and met chums old and new and got home buzzing with a feeling of a job well done, but also a feeling of having to get a new film going and not wait for half hearted producers.
The Christmas ads come in torrents and the Sainsbury's ad that work produced the puppets for is truly an epic even if the plot is a little confusing. so many puppets and full of detail. It would have been joyous to work on that.
after all these talks and travelling and acting things calm down a bit now, well save for work, tax, designing a play and Christmas. much catching up to be done.
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Re: 2016

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:13 pm

sunday 27th 2016

Well actually a surprisingly normal week, with a full crew of camera and animators, all doing good stuff. And how good you will be able to see tomorrow. I've been cautious of saying that we have been working on the second series of Twirlywoos, but since they are on Cbeebies tomorrow at 9.30 I guess it's no longer a secret. There's been a trailer released of the 15 and it's mighty fine....very funny stuff indeed. Putting animation in live action is still pretty impressive. It's been a joy working on the series, and it has certainly pushed us.

No talks or workshops this week, but I have, and other animators, have been invited to 10, Downing Street. Not sure exactly what the event is, but watch this space
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