Cloth Cat Out and About: Animated August

Wow, what a busy week in the world of animation! Not one, not two but THREE fantastic events to attend – and the Cloth Cat team were out in force at all of them, meeting up with fellow animation lovers and absorbing valuable industry wisdom.

Animated Women UK BBQ at Pinewood Studios

Thurs 7th August 2014

Logo-DarkCloth Cat animators Bryony, Jen and Sophie travelled to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire for the first ever Animated Women UK summer party. This was a great opportunity for the ladies of the animation industry to meet, network and have fun.

Bry, Jen and Soph loved spending time in the Victorianesque manor and gardens – clearly a great location for period drama filming! – and the lovely August sunshine made it even more idyllic.

There was live music, a big BBQ, an auction and a raffle – Bryony even won two books! Thank you, Animated Women UK and Pinewood Studios, for organising this fun evening.

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Story, Design and Animation Pixar Masterclass in London

Fri 8th – Sun 10th August 2014

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Development Assistant Sophie was thrilled to have a place on the Pixar Masterclass in London – with this being the only UK date on its worldwide tour, it was an opportunity too good to miss!

Organised by VanArts and hosted in the Natural History Museum, the masterclass offered three full days of teaching with Pixar professionals who covered three key areas: story, character and animation.

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Day 1 – The Art of Storytelling with Matthew Luhn (Story Supervisor)
Matthew started off the weekend with a study on storytelling, and after inspiring the class with his own story (he was scouted from CalArts to work on The Simpsons, aged 19!), he proceeded to get everyone thinking about the basics of the story process – for instance, how to create a compelling hero, and how to plot a character arc.

Day 2 – Design and Character with Ricky Nierva (Lead Production Designer)
Ricky’s class was about capturing the essence of characters through art, and included lots of drawing exercises, short films and behind-the-scenes artwork of Pixar characters in development. One challenge involved finding a complete stranger in the lecture theatre and then drawing a caricature of them, using first impressions to create an honest likeness – with varying results!

Day 3 – Animation with Andrew Gordon (Directing Animator)
Donning the VanArts flux capacitor t-shirts for the last day, the class settled in for some intense animation tutorials with Andrew, focusing on the subtle movements and expressions that make animated characters really convincing. As it was Andrew’s birthday, the day finished up with the whole class singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and posing crazily for a huge group photo.

With over 200 animators, artists, writers, students, professionals and hobbyists in one lecture theatre, it was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people – and the new Cloth Cat business cards went down a treat!

Sophie came away from the weekend with some great contacts, a full notebook and her very own signed Mike Wazowski sketch – thanks for the fantastic event, Pixar and VanArts!

Frank Gladstone Masterclass in Cardiff

Sat 9th August 2014

Meanwhile in Cardiff, animators Bryony, Jen, Jake and Gregg were also getting into the masterclass zone with animation guru Frank Gladstone.

Previously taught at Aardman Animation and Cartoon Network, this Story Structure and Visual Narrative Masterclass combined with Frank’s amazing animation prowess made for an unmissable event. Plus, it was being supported by us at Cloth Cat, so the animators were doubly keen to represent the studio and see what was in store.

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The talk was held in the University of South Wales’ cool ATRiuM building where some of our animators were students, so it was nice for them to return to the familiar lecture halls as successful graduates!

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Before the talk started, the Cloth Cat team were lucky enough to meet Frank and chat to him about his work – he was really enthusiastic and friendly, and even shared a few sweets he’d brought from America!

The masterclass covered plot breakdowns, turning points, camera angles and colour theory, and even included an insider’s look at Frank’s latest animated feature ‘The Hero of Colour City’, charting the film’s evolution from the first draft of the script to the finished shot.

The talk was interspersed with lots of Frank’s interesting stories and jokes about studios he had worked in – for example, the fact that nobody from Disney originally wanted to work on The Lion King, as it was thought of as a B-Movie!

The Cloth Cat team thoroughly appreciated all they learnt from the masterclass. Gregg said ‘It was a highly informative and enjoyable talk and I will take many of Frank’s tips into account when producing my own work.’ Big thanks to Frank Gladstone and Lupus Films for hosting and organising this great event.

Phew, what an exciting, animation-filled week. We’re already looking forward to our next studio outing!

13 August 2014