Thanks to The Old Man (film) I’m getting out a bit. Last week I went to participate in Drawing in the Digital, a symposium organised by Ross Winning from the School of Art & Design at Wolverhampton University. I left my pen at home so most of my thoughts will be from memory. The symposium intended to assess the impact of digital technology on animation today via the musings of Paul Wells, Erica Russell, Dew Harrison, Tim Webb and me. Sadly Alys Hawkins couldnt’ make it at the last minute, I would liked to have met her and seen her films in the cinema. Paul was first, and really whooped everyone up, I remember that he was great but I was straight after him and the pen was at home, so I remember nothing of his presentation, except ‘Roof sex’, one of the Twisted films of the PES collective. I presented my work and talked about wet watercolour, paper and brushes. Dew Harrison brought up the subject of artists and digital media in the context of PVA Labculture. Tim Webb made Mr Price with a computer and is senior tutor in animation at the RCA. He suggested that digital technology had some disadvantages in the production process: putting off decisions, and movement for the sake of it. At the Royal College of Art, they make the same number of stop frame animation films as they did 12 years ago. (I imagine that’s unusual). He talked about the Hungarian animator Peter Foldes 1974 film Hunger, and showed The (also wonderful) Wolfman by Tim Hope. After lunch, the very dynamic Erica Russell gave us some insight into her background and practice. She made the Oscar nominated Feet of Song in 1988. Liam Scanlan has the longest CV I’ve ever seen and told us that with a little determination, you could be in charge of about a hundred render farms on a Star Wars set.

Clive Walley, Paul Wells, Erica Russell and Liam Scanlan on the Flip stage.

There was alot of chat over the day about the physical aspects of animation, and can it be replicated, will the tools improve, will it be missed etc. The anxiety seemed inevitable because the panel were older, mostly working with traditional tools, and were conscious of talking to an audience of students who seemed comfortable with moving between traditional and digital techniques.

The day was rounded off by a screening of Clive Walley’s films. Sadly I had to jump on a train and only saw Prelude, which was smashing. I had a lovely day, it was brilliant to meet so many great animators all at once and the Flip festival is very much worth a visit.

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