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Monkey facts and figures

Monkey

How much do you know about what it took to turn Monkey from an idea to a reality?

Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are the brains behind BBC Sport's characters for the Beijing Olympics - and on this page you can find out some fascinating facts about Monkey's journey from brainwave to Bird's Nest.

THE ANIMATION

At two minutes in duration, "Journey to the East" - the sequence in which Monkey stars - contains 3,000 frames of video.

All the character drawings for "Journey to the East" were animated using the age-old tradition of a pencil drawing on paper.

Four senior key animators worked under the supervision of an animation director, with five animation assistants working alongside them.

The animation took approximately 12 weeks for that team to complete.

Sandy
It takes the assistant animators around 20 minutes to "clean up" the senior key animators' rough drawings.

Four Special Effects (FX) animators were responsible for animated fire, smoke, dust, and Monkey's cloud.

Most of the animation is performed "on twos" - which means one drawing will be seen for two frames of the finished video tape. That still requires 12-13 drawings per second of screen time, multiplied by the number of characters in a scene.

Between them, the character and FX animators got through four dozen mechanical (propelling lead) pencils and approximately 8,000 sheets of animation paper.

Rough animation drawings are stored for a while, for reference, after they have been cleaned up as finished artwork, then the paper is recycled. Usually, only the finished drawings are kept for any length of time.

There were 59 scenes (or shots) in the full two-minute version of "Journey to the East", though some scenes have been blended seamlessly, and three scenes were dropped before being animated.

When the finished drawings were tidied away flat and boxed up, they made a pile 83cm tall.

THE MUSIC

There are 20 instruments on the audio track which accompanies the "Journey to the East" animation - the most unusual being Chinese instruments like the Pipa, Ur Hu, and Zheng.

38 people sang in the Chinese choir, but their voices were "doubled up" in the recording studio to sound like 76 singers.

Listen out for the female vocal line sung by a character called Guan Yin, who is a goddess of good fortune. Her melody is then played by the Er Hu and the strings. Towards the end of track she sings the same melody, but at double the speed.

The Chinese singer is called Jia Ruhan. She sings in Mandarin Chinese.

There are 39 bars of music in the two minute sequence.

The track was recorded in London and Beijing. It was a special commission for the BBC and each version is different.

The animation and the music were developed simultaneously over a four-month period, so the action and rhythms fit together perfectly.


see also
Meet Monkey and friends
15 Jul 08 |  Olympics
Monkey quiz
16 Jul 08 |  Meet Monkey


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