natures ghosts animation

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the short film I “drew” for my sisters university assignment, just over a year ago. This small project made me realise the huge number of possibilities and ideas that could be brought to life through combining illustration, film and animation. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in, and I had the idea to perhaps do some biology and conservation based short animations, but hadn’t gotten around to doing anything yet.

Then earlier this year, I saw an advertisement for the Outlook for Someday film competition, which is to encourage film making specifically regarding sustainability, for young people. I thought it would the perfect competition to enter (and my last opportunity- next year I will be too old!) as it combined film (stop-motion animation in my case) with conservation. So I made a short stop-motion animated film on the subject of ecology and sustainability, using coloured paper cut-outs and live action drawing, and entered it. I found out a few weeks ago that my film was selected for the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award- and we got to attend the amazing awards ceremony last week.

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Here is the film- I called it Nature’s Ghosts because it is about the huge loss of species the earth is currently experiencing as a result of mans’ influence. It was created using a borrowed ipad and a basic stop motion app, then edited using Photoshop CS5 and Corel Video Studio, and my  sister kindly did the voice-over (recorded on the ipad using garageband).

Natures Ghosts from The Outlook for Someday on Vimeo.

The other films in the competition were amazing, a combination of animated films and real-life documentaries, and it was great to meet the other film makers on the night. You can check out the other films here. The overall winning film was this documentary ‘To the Rescue’ by Mason Cade Packer– an amazing film about food wastage and the charities that work to ‘rescue’ food and bring it to the people that need it.

I can’t wait to make some more biology/conservation animations. There are definitely things I would like to improve on next time and I am hoping to write up some more short films to animate in the new year. Thank you very much to the Outlook for Someday team that created such an awesome event and competition. If you or someone you know is into film and is under 24 years old, encourage them to enter next year– its an awesome thing to get involved in!


I’ll be back later this week with some more posts and am hoping to do a blog giveaway before Christmas gets here!



drawings that move

I have been reading quite a bit about hand drawn or traditional animation lately, and thought I would do a quick round-up of some of my favourite short movies that I have come across so far, for the blog- even though it is a bit of a departure from my regular posts! I think the process of animation is so interesting- the amount of thought that needs to go into creating pictures that move convincingly is an art form in itself.

Model Sheet from Bambi by Marc Davis via Disney Concepts and stuff

Because most current animation books and resources deal with animating as aided by the computer, I found that older books tend to be the most useful in descibing HOW to create different kinds of traditional animation in detail. The books I have found most useful are:

The Animation Book – a complete guide to animated filmmaking- from flip-books to sound cartoons, by Kit Laybourne (1979)- see here

Disney Animation- The Illusion of Life , by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson (1984)- see here



While the Disney Illusion of Life book has not been reprinted since 1984 (though there are reproduction copies that have been made and are available, as well as secondhand copies), Laybourne’s book has been reissued in 1995 with added information about digital animation, so that would also be an interesting read.

Ok- now on to the shorts….

5. Lotte Reiniger‘s cut out silhouette movies. Reiniger pioneered the technique of animating cut out cardboard figures in the 1920’s before the Disney style animation (hand drawn on cels) was invented.

There is an interesting video on her technique here. and also quite a few of her movies available on youtube. Interestingly, she apparently inspired the depiction of the Tale of the Three Brothers (from Tales of Beedle the Bard) which was animated in Reinigers cut out style for the Harry Potter movie– Deathly Hallows part 1.

4. This awesome slow-motion animation of cut out paper for Hyundai

3. Caroline Leaf’s work in sand and coloured paint on glass combined with the technique of stop motion animation. She also has a website where you can see how she made her films, and it is also covered in detail in Kit Laybourne’s book.

2. Animated hand drawn cels by Hombre McSteez aka Marty Cooper which integrate amazingly with daily life to create an awesome short movie called Aug(De)Mented Reality– watch it!!

p.s check out more clips on his instagram

1. And last but certainly not least- Glen Keanes beautiful and awe-inspiring short film Duet, which was premiered at the recent Google I/O Conference. Mr Keane has been an animator at Disney for quite a while and has worked on such movies as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan. He created Duet for Motorola to show how traditional techniques could be combined with modern technology to create interactive hand drawn animation. It is a beautiful story – if you don’t watch anything else, make the time to watch this.

Above is the uncoloured animation, but if you can also see the finished coloured version here, and a making of clip here.

I think one of the most fascinating things about animation is that there are such a wide range of styles and techniques, that can be used to tell a story. Have you got any other traditionally animated movies that you could recommend?


Lastly- again, slightly off topic, but you may know I am a fan of hand-lettering (see here, here and here) and have been eagerly awaiting the movie Sign Painters by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon for agggesss (see trailer). Apparently not in New Zealand yet, BUT I discovered that for this week only, is offering Sign Painters plus 3 other art movies in a bundle, for however much you want to pay for them. I have personally already bought and downloaded my copy. If you are interested, the deal is closing on 21st July (2 days left!) and you can buy it herePlease not I am not affiliated with this company in or receiving any compensation for promoting this deal- I simply thought it was really awesome and wanted to share the word with you lovely readers!

And with that said- I hope you enjoy the movies above and the weekend which is almost here! I know I’ll be fitting in some time to watch a documentary or two!