Friday, 31 December 2010

Looking back at 2010

Well, that's the first year of the decade gone. Time to reflect on what happened in the world of UK animation across 2010...

One of the main events of the year was the British Animation Awards, winners of which included the TV series Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom and Shaun the Sheep, Stephen Irwin's short The Black Dog's Progress, Phillip Hunt's special Lost & Found, Philip Bacon's student film Yellow Belly End and Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death. A DVD was released containing a selection of nominees.

Before the BAAs came the BAFTAs, the award for best animated short going to Emma Lazenby's Mother of Many. At the Children's BAFTAs in November Shaun the Sheep was named best animation, while its spin-off Timmy Time was picked as best preschool series.

2010 gave us a new British animated feature: Phil Mulloy's Goodbye Mister Christie, which bagged the prize for best animated feature at Annecy. Also worth a mention is Edward and Rory McHenry's Jackboots on Whitehall, a live-action film made using animatronic puppets.

For younger audiences, the hour-long direct-to-DVD films Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of Pontypandy, Bob the Builder: The Legend of the Golden Hammer and Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue starred the revamped CGI incarnations of the characters and were given limited releases in cinemas.

In the world of TV animation an important 2010 premiere was Muddle Earth, the first long-form series from the BBC's new in-house animation facilities. Toonhound has plenty of information on the cartoon.

As far as short films go, one which seems destined to be remembered is Moonbird by the Brothers McLeod, a gloomy pen-and-paper fairy tale taking us on a trip through the murkier regions of childhood imagination.

Sadly, 2010 saw the passing of Elisabeth Beresford and Les Gibbard. Elisabeth Beresford was the novelist responsible for creating the Wombles, who first appeared in a series of children's books; she also lent her talents as a writer to Halas & Batchelor's stop-motion series Snip and Snap. She died on Christmas Eve, aged 84.

Born in New Zealand, Les Gibbard was best known for his newspaper cartoons. However, he also created a series of one-minute animated spots for Granada TV titled Newshound, as well as working on various children's animations such as The Animals of Farthing Wood, Famous Fred, Totally Spies! and Ivor the Invisible. He died on 10 October, aged 64.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Richard Williams Studio adverts: Thomson, Harlem Globetrotters, Washington Post

First, a few stills from a Thomson Local Directory advert.

"Hello, I'm Thomson! I know all about your neighbourhood."

"It's all in your Thomson local directory. Need a plumber? Ask Thomson."

"A hi-fi shop you can just plug into (heheh)? Ask Thomson."

"In your Thomson local directory nothing's more than a few miles away. So, when you want a DIY shop that's really handy, man (hyerh) ask Thomson."

"For the local answer, ask Thomson."

Next is this advert featuring animated and live action clips of the Harlem Globetrotters. I'm not entirely sure what's being promoted, but it's one of the more credible pieces of animation to feature the team.

And finally, a seventies advert for the Washington Post.

"In the Washington Post you find more than news."

"Every day you find a brand new guide to shopping, living and having fun."

"The Post helps you save money, make money and spend it wisely."

"There's Art Buchwald, Peanuts, the best sports, specials you find nowhere else.

"What's happening around the globe and what's going to happen."

"The Washington Post: it helps you make the most of every day. Call 344-6100."

Monday, 27 December 2010

Halas & Batchelor's Dilemma

Dilemma is a 1981 film directed by John Halas, in collaboration with the American Jim Lindner. A philosophical piece lamenting the use of technology for destructive purposes, the short was possibly the first to be made entirely digitally (according to Vivien Halas and Paul Wells' book on Halas & Batchelor) and was described by Halas as the most important film of his life.