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Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 16:20 UK
Local animators' cartoon dreams

By Stephen Stafford
BBC Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Hey Negrita
Pew36's animated music video for Hey Negrita Zombie Trilogy, Burn The Whole Place Down

In the small offices of Pew36 in Botley, Adam Comiskey and his team of young animators pour over their latest productions - the only background noise is the gentle hum of hard-drives and incessant clicks of computer mice.

Adam Comiskey trains young animators at Solent University
Adam Comiskey trains young animators at Solent University

Whiteboards are covered with sketches and storyboards while memorabilia and figurines of every cartoon character imaginable share the shelf shelves with all kinds of strange creatures.

The products of the crazed and creative minds of famous animators serve as inspiration for their current work - producing high quality animation for all kinds of advertising, TV logos, cartoons, music videos and corporate promotional videos.

"We don't talk anything other than shop - we are all people who live and breathe cartoons", explained Adam.

Animation course

Adam is also a course leader at Southampton Solent University teaching the essential skills to the next generation of animators.

"We teach the entire filmmaking process - the basic principles of how to draw, how to bring something to life on screen and how to use the digital tools. We also cover script-writing and working with 'live' clients, getting to know about budgets, deadlines and what industry professionals expect," he said

What we are doing is magic - we are bringing things to life on screen
Adam Comiskey

For students who do make the grade and want to be professional animators, Adam insists there are jobs available.

The computer gaming industry in particular is "crying out" for highly skilled animators.

"It's got to the stage where animation is cheaper to produce than live action - clients film some live elements cheaply and combine it with digital [computer generated] elements. We've allowed many industries to be a lot more creative and save money."

Art versus technology

While computers now play a big part in the animation process, Adam says there is no substitute for the hard work of the classically-trained artist and their life-drawing and observational skills.

However computers cannot take all the pain out of the production and much of an animator's life is spent doing the repetitive tasks necessary to create the illusion of movement on screen.

"There is a misconception computers have made the job easier - they have made it cheaper and quicker. But we still need highly skilled artists to sit and press the buttons and do the long hours," explained Adam

Adam says he has not had a day off since May 2008 - only a power cut late the previous evening stopped the team from working into the early hours of the morning. The determination to get to the final result is what keeps them going.

"It is boring, there are long hours and there has to be something wrong with you to want to do it, quite honestly! But we do do it and we do enjoy it, we always keep our mind on the bigger picture. It's not just about that picture you are drawing - again - it's about working in the team and thinking about the final result at the end.

Loving Looney Tunes

Rob Vaughn recently graduated from the Solent University Course. Like other graduates, he works at the Pew36 studio producing work for 'real' clients.

A typical project involves him hand drawing every frame of animated characters' movements which are then edited to music or dialogue.

Rob Vaughn
Rob Vaughn is a self-confessed cartoon nut since childhood

He explained that a career in animation has been a life-long ambition for him:

"I've just always wanted to do it - I've been really into Looney Tunes - Chuck Jones was a big inspiration and I really love 2D animations.

"It takes a while - it's just very rewarding when you see the final result. My friends think it's just a laugh but they don't realise how time consuming and hard work it actually is", explained Rob.

Obviously a job for the extremely dedicated, the passion for the art and the creativity that goes into each piece of animation still shines through.

"We offer very blunt feedback and advice - there is no time or space to take it personally, you can't get too attached to your work, Its got to be done right, because that's what you are paid to do," explained Adam Comiskey.

"We are coming up with something that is going to entertain people. What we are doing is magic - we are bringing things to life on screen."





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