// www.chrisgavin.com: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Return To Alghero: Animatti 2011

Well, I've just got back from a 10 day trip to Alghero (Sardinia). This was a return visit to what has now become one of my favourite places in the world!

I was invited back to run animation workshops and make a presentation for the annual Animatti event there. This time, I also managed to fit in some exploring and fine dinning too... Many many thanks again to prof. Ceccarelli for inviting me over, being a fantastic host, and of course to the students too. I was hugely impressed by the workshop projects and final films the students turned-in; I hope these films appear on-line soon, and I'll link-up to them if they do.

OK, of the student films made at Animatti this year, this is the first one to show up on Youtube. 'Zodiac' made by Sara Pilloni, Lucrezia Urtis, Silvia Canu, Marcello Monti, Gabriele Desogus. This is one of the group projects the students went on to make after the workshops we did. These films were made in about 4 days (with lots of night time work too of course.)


This time I took my DSLR camera along and had a bit more time for taking pictures, so here is my adventure represented in a few photos I took along the way...

Alghero is a beautiful and ancient Mediterranean coastal town.
'The dungeon' in which we worked.

Alghero's marina with yellow submarine.

Some stacked chairs near the market.

Students creating stop motion animation.
More students of the Animatti workshops.

Alghero's marina at dusk.
Prof. Ceccarelli introduces Michele Abbas of Framestore.
In Alghero the sun always sets over the Mediterranean sea: spectacular.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Super8 Clips Used in Pop Promo

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the producer of the music promo video for the new Lana Del Rey track 'Video Games'. After a little negotiation, I have approved use of my clips for use in their production. See the video below and look out for my (very fleeting) shots of American flags, seagulls and the ocean etc.

The clips have been sourced from a roll of Super 8 cine film I shot in 2008 whilst on holiday in California. You can see the whole of my original footage here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Here's a video about Animatti; the animation summer school I was invited to in Alghero Sardinia for a few days back in September 2010. Well, I'm going back to run more workshops there this year, and for a little bit longer this time... More news soon...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making 3D Letters

In preparation for the animation workshops I'll be running again at the Animatti event in Sardinia very soon, I've been making several three dimensional letter-forms out of folded card.

I first made Illustrator drawings of the letters. I wanted to make 100mm high models based on the upper case letters of the Futura typeface. The Illustrator files would have to include the fold lines and any tabs needed for gluing the models together.
I found it was a good idea to differentiate the fold lines and the cut lines by placing them on different layers in the Illustrator file.
I also found it helpful to colour code these lines differently (Green for folds, red for cut lines).

From Illustrator, I exported the image to my CraftRobo cutting machine. I specified that the layers I had chosen for 'folds' should receive a perforation cut and all of the rest of the lines be treated as cut lines.

I loaded up the CraftRobo carrier sheet with a sheet of 160gsm white card and set the machine going. There's something very satisfying about sending your data to a robot to do all of the tricky work for you...

I could get two letters on each sheet of A4 card and the CraftRobo took around two minutes to cut each sheet.

Folding the letters together is pretty easy (especially with the pre-scored perforated edges for the folds) and it just takes a dab of Pritt stick or similar to glue the tabs together.

Et voila...

I've now made a 'how to' video showing how to make these letters. This video shows how to use Adobe Illustrator to create the letter templates and then a demo of how to cut the letters (with scissors), score the folds then fold and glue the letters.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11th September 2011

Given today's date, it's pretty easy to recall my whereabouts exactly ten years ago. Though the weeks, months and years since seem mostly seem to blur as one, September 11th 2001 is clearly another kind of date altogether. For what it's worth, (be warned; there is no great insight to be found here) here's my recollection of the events of that day written from the remove of ten years and three and a half thousand miles away from Ground Zero.

I was working in a temporary animation studio set-up in a red brick house in suburban North London. Each day that summer, I would get the WAGN train to Alexandra Palace, climb through leafy Alexandra Park and emerge onto the residential streets of  Muswell Hill. A Los Angeles-based production company had hired a London-domiciled Dutch animation director to make television commercials for the phone company AT&T. So it was that a rented five bedroom Edwardian house on Dukes Avenue had become the unlikely hub of a trans-Atlantic production enterprise. I had established a network of three PCs running Animo software in one of the smaller back bedrooms of the house: from that modest room we would scan, paint and composite every element of five animated television commercials. The larger front bedroom was occupied by our director Michael Dudok de Wit, a couple of his assistants and a video editor (possibly called Matt). we had strung Ethernet cables along the hallways between the rooms and established about ourselves a pleasingly adhoc working space. Downstairs, the front lounge had become a production office whilst the large room to the rear had become the domain of Rufus Dayglo and other animators with their wedge-shaped wooden drawing desks.

Whilst I was trying to fit several layers of mis-aligned scanned drawings together, I had the Guardian website open in another window. The planes had hit already and there was a photo of the skyscrapers on fire. Michael appeared at the doorway to my room with "Have you seen what's happened in New York?". I recall thinking how unlikely such an accident could possibly be. I remembered an old statistical saw I had heard many years earlier about the safety of nuclear power stations. A disaster at a nuclear power station was supposedly as likely as two loaded jumbo jets colliding over Wembley Stadium on Cup Final day. Well, now it seemed that a similarly unlikely occurrence had in fact occurred. I was naively slow to realise that this unfolding disaster was not some chance happening but a deliberate act of terror.

As a well-appointed fully-furnished rented house there was a large-screen TV in one of the rooms. We all gathered around to watch just in time to see the towers collapsing. What did all of this mean?

I recall we had two American colleagues with us, we were working for an American studio, we were working on commercials for an American client. The possibility of a sixth commercial rapidly faded away, just as so much else else did that day.

It seems so very strange now, but I did drift back to that back bedroom and get some work done; we still had a series of delivery deadlines to hit. Perhaps a hollow response but it seemed to be the only thing we could do.

I've had a quick look about on the web and have found couple of the animated commercials we were making in that house in Muswell Hill back in September 2001.