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Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 15:15 UK
Animated about Springwatch 2009
By Martin Barber
BBC Norfolk


Students make Springwatch films

Students from the Norwich University College of the Arts have created a series of short films inspired by the BBC's Springwatch programme.

"It was a really decent opportunity. It's like nothing we've ever done before and I felt it was a good experience," said student David Grice.

The second year animation students' work will be shown on the BBC's website and Norwich Big Screen.

Springwatch returns to BBC Two for three weeks from Monday, 25 May, 2009.

The project marks the sixth year that students on NUCA's animation course have collaborated on a film partnership led by BBC Norfolk.

Springwatch owl created by animator Richard Potter
A family of owls settle down to enjoy an episode of Springwatch

Previous work has included films based around the Dawn Chorus, Red Nose Day, Breathing Places and the landmark series Coast.

"The prestige of being part of a creative BBC experience sharpens the students up a lot at this point in their course," said course leader Suzie Hanna.

"They took it all very seriously, worked hard and took advice in good faith to help improve their work - discovering the benefits of a collaborative process.

"This year the drawing skills are really good, I think there are some great comic ideas and there's been a real showing of experimentation and professionalism."

The NUCA students were given just a few weeks to take their film from concept to completion, with the final films assessed as part of their degree.

The brief was to create a 30 second film that was suitable for a family audience, based around the themes and values of the prime time wildlife series.

How the students wanted to portray this was limited only by their imagination.

Essence of spring

Animation student David Grice
David Grice creates the background to his film Signs Of Life

"The hardest part was the narrative, in making sure that it's clear in what's going on to an audience of all ages to understand" said film-maker David Grice.

"I wanted to make sure that everyone who watched it could understand it and comprehend the essence of spring itself.

"My inspiration came from the artists William Kentridge and Alexander Petrov. Both work in a similar way and it was their styles that inspired me to produce what I've done for the BBC.

"It was difficult within the time-frame, as I think not only is the animation key to the work, but so is the sound that supports it.

"You have to balance this for the audience to retain their interest in the piece."

The finished collection of films showcase a wide range of production techniques, from the latest computer animated techniques to more traditional line drawing and hand colouring.

Animation student Cherish Barrow
Cherish Barrow looked at Springwatch through the eyes of an 'early worm'

"Initially I was apprehensive and a little bit nervous because it was a live project and we hadn't done it before, but once we got into it I quite enjoyed it," said Cherish Barrow, creator of The Early Worm.

"My film follows a worm going about his day - he has huge binoculars, looking around and watching nature in general.

"As he looks up into the sky he sees a bird coming towards him - he panics and there's a collision. He does come out of it alive, but he's on comedy crutches!

"I guess I wanted it to be fun, to aim it towards children and help them connect with nature."

The completed films range in their storytelling from the comic nature of wildlife at play to the daily animal dramas, written by Mother Nature, that form such a central part of the Springwatch series on BBC Two.


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