Thursday, 24 May 2012

Quick Quack Duck

As a paper-engineer, I’m always on the lookout for interesting uses of pop-ups, and there has been quite a lot of animation work done in recent years using pop-ups — or at least what appear to be pop-ups.

Readers of the earlier newsletter version of the Scribble Street News may recall me writing about the title sequence for the film adaptation of Le Petit Nicolas.  Like many pop-up animations, this appears to be as much artful animation as genuine paper-engineering, and many of these animations are made entirely with computer generated imagery rather than card models.

Up to now, such animations seem to have been limited to one-off projects such as title sequences, adverts and short films.  However yesterday I met Vanessa Hill, Director of UK TV company The Foundation, who told me about Quick Quack Ducka new children's series they are making, which takes this style to a whole new level of storytelling and enchanting visual complexity.

It will be a while before the series is on our screens, but you can get a taste of how it will look from the trailer below.

And here's the award-winning short film The Happy Ducklng, directed by Gili Dolev, from which the series hatched.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Carrots are Forever

I’ve never needed much of an excuse to monkey around with a video camera, so when my daughter decided she wanted to have a movie party for her 8th birthday, her older brother and I decided we should make some cheesy Pearl and Dean style adverts to show before the film.

My daughter had another movie party for her 11th birthday last weekend. This time around we made some movie trailers and my daughter got in on the act.

I was given a pop-up green screen for my last birthday, so we used this, along with Apple iMovie’s excellent trailer templates and my kids' cuddly toy collection, to make trailers for Quackula Rising (a supernatural tale of fowl horror) and Carrots are Forever (an edge of the seat carrot-juice-fuelled spy thriller) which can be seen below.

We got a bit carried away and ended up shooting most of the plot to Carrots are Forever but, as is often the case, the trailer is much better than the film  - so just imagine how bad the film must be!

Don’t expect me to write the novelisation any time soon.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wanda Wallaby Finds Her Bounce

My latest picture book Wanda Wallaby Finds Her Bounce is now out in the UK and the US. 

Illustrated by Mark Chambers and published by Bloomsbury, it tells the story of Wanda, a young wallaby who is unable to hop like the other wallabies. Wanda’s father tells her that she needs to find her BOUNCE, so she goes on a journey through the Australian outback trying to do exactly that. She encounters a variety of Australian animals but no one is able to help her until she comes across a crafty crocodile.

One of the spreads from the book.

The book is part of the Stories from the Zoo series of fact and fiction books published in association with the Zoological Society of London and I was invited to the series’s launch party at London Zoo a couple of months ago. One of the reasons I went was that the party was in the evening, after the zoo had closed to the public and, having seen Madagascar, I wanted to witness first hand all the animals letting their fur down and running amok between the enclosures.

Imagine my disappointment then, to discover that all the animals were asleep and that the zoo was in total darkness (to replicate the animals’ natural habitats). The party was taking place at the rather gorgeous Mappin Pavillion, but the zoo was so dark that guests had to be guided there by one of the keepers. Unfortunately the group I was with lost sight of our keeper and we spent ten long minutes wandering around in the dark before our guide found us again, by which time I was glad that the animals weren’t allowed to run amok as I’d originally envisaged. I still held a glimmer of hope that the drinks at the party might be served by penguins (they’re already wearing dinner jackets after all), but there were regular human waiters.

On the plus side, I did get to meet Mark Chambers who illustrated the book. Most people are surprised when I tell them that authors and illustrators are not usually in contact during the production of a picture book and indeed, although the book was finished, this was the first time I had met or spoken to Mark. In addition to illustrating Wanda Wallaby Finds Her Bounce and Stop! There's a Snake in Your Suitcase for the Stories from the Zoo series, Mark has worked with London Zoo on a number of other projects including the illustrations for the Zoo’s Animal Adventure exhibit and the online Animal Adventure game, which you can play here. And I'm immensely jealous of him as he was invited to spend a day working as a zoo keeper as you can see in the video below.

I was also able to have a nice face to face chat with the book’s desk editor, Isabel Ford, who’d only been a voice on the phone before then. 

Me and the other authors and illustrators attending the launch party.
Illustrator Mark Chamber is in the middle.

Wanda Wallaby Finds Her Bounce is published in paperback by Bloomsbury in both the UK and the US.

You can find out more about the book, including how it was originally inspired by an illustration by Pig’s Might Fly illustrator Steve Cox, on this page of my web site.

Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US Buy a signed copy