I recently had the fortune of attending a talk at CSM by David Johnson, one of the founders of a stop-motion animation studio based out of Manchester. David went through his work from starting out in the 80s in Australia, to his work on the ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’ and ‘Koala Brothers’ series, to showing us a pilot for another show he is hoping to gather the funding for.
It soon became evident that David was far more humble than the quality of his work spoke for. Getting very quickly into the nitty-gritties of what went into the creation of his work. Talking about artistic decisions such as beads being used to look like bubbles in a pipe or the choices in camera angles and lighting. He shared backdoor knowledge about the industry, how he handled the studio and pitched ideas in the industry. Probably my favorite takeaway was him talking about how he had realized that viewers paid most attention to the little quirks and gestures of a character and that most tv series studios strapped for time or budget tend to cut these moments out first, but it is something he places most emphasis on.
The next day he returned to the studio with some of the puppets he uses in his work. He talked about their construction, the ideal way he has discovered to make the amateur, the materials used, how he tries to build in a unique movement into many of his characters. He also showed us production stills and clips to better understand the process of post-production. He answered my far too many questions about his work. And finally he looked at the work of some of the students and provided articulate and valuable feedback.
His frank and honest nature hid the through knowledge he has amassed about the animation process and animation industry over the last few decades. It was a pleasure to meet someone whose love for creating animation shows through their work.