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.