Giving people a voice through digital media, animation and film

How to make animated characters swim

People have been asking how to make an animated character swim.

Like the walk cycle, the ‘swim cycle’ can be broken down into about six frames, but - as we have discovered - it can be surprisingly tricky to make your swimming movement look realistic. One effective way to achieve realistic movement is to film the movement in live action - and then pick out and print the key frames to use as a basis for the drawing.

In real life, you don’t actually see very much of a swimmer’s body, but if you try to emulate that in 2D animation, it can look terrible.

In our workshop film Splash, we simply put the swimmer on top of a wave background, and it looked sort of OK, but in The Big Splash, one of our films for the Cultural Olympiad last summer made by younger children, we added a translucent layer to slightly obscure the swimmer’s bodies below the water. Did it work ? You be the judge.

Our next movement challenge: how to make a character curtsey !

Splash Swimming2


Legacy banner project underway...

Children at five schools in Weymouth and Portland are working with artists from ScreenPLAY on a new set of brightly coloured banners for Weymouth seafront and harbourside.
Westfield banners

The legacy project in partnership with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council started this week with two day residencies by artists Heidi Steller and Sharon Hayden at Westfield Arts College and St John’s Primary School in Weymouth.

Sharon explained: “The banners are all about activity - swimming, cycling, sailing, canoeing, riding donkeys on the beach, as well as some of the sports at the Weymouth beach sports arena which thousands of people took part in last summer.”

“The year six group at Westfield took part in these activities last summer and have included their photographs in a wonderful series of seaside collages. They have loved making their banners and we’re really pleased with the way they have worked together on them.”

Westfield3 Westfield1


Children to design new seafront banners for Weymouth

London 2012 banners
Remember the brightly coloured banners lining Weymouth seafront for the 2012 Olympics ?

Schoolchildren in Weymouth and Portland will be designing a new set of banners for the seafront and harbourside as part of an Olympic legacy project delivered by ScreenPLAY in partnership with the Borough Council.

“We’ll be working in five schools during the first half of the Summer term, supporting the children in creating vivid new banner designs which will be in place for the start of this year’s summer season,” explained project leader Sharon Hayden.

“They will be all about the activity that people see and do when they come to the seaside and the wonderful Dorset coast.”

Head of Olympic Legacy and Operations at the Council, Simon Williams said the banners were one of 66 projects which would help keep the Olympic feelgood factor alive. 

“Last summer’s events were an extraordinary once in a lifetime experience for more than 550,000 who came to Weymouth and Portland. We hope these new banners - designed by children in our schools - will help people remember and be inspired by the Olympic experience.”

Workshop film to be screened in Sydney

Work by young filmmakers in Dorchester is being screened at the historic Sydney Observatory in Australia.
The Willow Pattern Story - a short animation from a workshop with Alastair Nisbet and Sharon Hayden - is being used to support a new archaeology programme at the Observatory, one of the city’s oldest buildings.

“A lot of old Willow Pattern plates have been found on our site which dates back to 1804,” explained Observatory manager Toner Stephenson. “We will use the children’s film as a way of introducing the story behind the plates.”

She said children on school visits will dig, inspect real artefacts and examine the original 1804 Fort and 1848 cottage. 
“The Willow pattern is very dominant in the finds and we ask them to put together a willow pattern plate from pieces excavated. 

They then make their own plate but we want them to understand that the plates have a story, and that the Willow Pattern story was appealing to British colony settlers. Your film will inspire them to create their own design for their plate”.

Old Irish Furniture wins at Sundance

Animation, old furniture, wonderful Irish voices - this delightful film by Tony Donoghue appeals on so many levels… which is obviously why it has just won the short film jury award for animation at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

To call it an animated documentary about repair and recycling in rural Ireland just does not do it justice.

I don’t know how long they will keep it on YouTube so watch and enjoy!