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Thoughts on the recent Motion North with Blue Zoo & Found

Motion North is a Manchester based group that brings together Motion designers, Animators, Film Makers and VFX Artists, to discuss all things creative.

Initially residing in a small number, Motion North has grown over the years to a large volume of creatives that join together in a quarterly meet up, with its new residency at ‘Band on the Wall’. It collectively brings people together – individuals and studios, to share amazing work and talent in the Motion design industry.

Thankfully here at Mighty Giant we play a part in Motion North with Jonny himself being the key organiser in regularly putting together the event, so it’s quite easy to keep in the loop of what’s going on and who’s attending. However, I had heard about it a few years back when I was at university in Newcastle, as it was one of the few northern based Animation events that would bring designers together.

Having just moved to Manchester not long ago it made it easier to see what the event was like in person, especially after hearing about it more from my colleagues who have visited it regularly. It sounded like a great way to listen to people working in the Industry and meet like-minded individuals.

BlueZoo showcased their recent work for the animated series of Paddington Bear. It was great to see how the team worked through the project from setting up scheduling to the ins and outs of production. Chris (the series director) talked about the process of working with the clients to bring the visuals to life – what style they wanted Paddington to be based on and how they took reference from the old 1970s show, mixing 3D characters with flat looking backgrounds. He explained the importance of making sure Paddington had a cub-like look to him, keeping in line with the intended audience and why this route worked to get a nice stylised piece.

Chris also highlighted that when bringing the base of the project together it’s better to get ideas out quickly, especially at the storyboard and animatic stage. I learnt that as long as the idea is there then it’s better to not get too bogged down in the details and bring the focus to the creation stage instead.

Throughout the talk, Sian, the Line Producer, also discussed the production role, and the importance of keeping track of such a big project. It was interesting to hear more on that side of a creative project as it can often be overlooked, especially when it comes down to allocating tasks, timekeeping and asset tracking – which all help to make sure things run smoothly when dealing with such a big and fast paced project.

Spreadsheets are a must for this!

It was great to hear both sides of a project, from the technical to the creative. How they both work together to make a well crafted and entertaining piece that can not only be loved by kids but adults too.

After a quick recap of some of the work Found have made in the past year, both Dan and Clayton talked about their recent project for the Google Pixel 6 advert; the process behind it, from collaborating with different studios, to developing the 3D visuals. It was interesting to hear about how they spent a good amount of time working on R&D (research and development) to test out ideas and figure out the best route to go down. It really highlighted the importance of R&D work and the testing process, to make sure you are getting the look you want so you could tell the right story.

They also talked through some other internal projects and how they used that as a way to experiment and try new techniques. For one project, Found used real world references with in-studio photography that they took and replicated. For another project they tried out AI generated referencing, to create visual ideas that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to create on a real world basis. It was nice to see how they as a studio were utilising different ways of building ideas/references from a range of sources, to create amazing, detailed visuals.

Afterwards, it was nice to head back to the front of the venue to have drinks and chat to all the different people that turned up. I noticed that it’s a great way to make connections if you do freelance work or simply want to get to know more people in your industry, as it’s not always often that you can meet other designers outside of your work environment. And you don’t even necessarily have to be an Animator/Designer to enjoy the event, as it’s the perfect way to learn about the industry and see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.