Fake Disney/ Royal Wedding Photos

17 May 2011

In my circle of friends, there are people of great skill, wit and intelligence. There are people who spend their weekends doing the cryptic Times Crossword, yell at the stupid contestants of University Challenge for being too slow, and are feared by pub quiz teams across the land.

However, when one of these fine people comes across a Disney related question, they all turn to me. (And this makes up for me spending most of my time nodding intelligently and frantically Wikipedia-ing in the toilet).

So it was this position as all round Disney Trivia Queen that led me, this week, to receiving no less than 22 emails with this image...

Despite being quite clearly a fake, this image went round the world faster than Susan Boyle. It's not a particularly good fake - actually, I don't think it was even meant to be a fake, more just funny comment about a terrible hat - but to clarify, here are the originals...

The images and positions are the same, but the colours are quite definitely not.

People make me laugh sometimes - I get asked to perform absolute miracles every day in Photoshop; (Sample: "can you just add this head (taken at 7pm) to this body (taken at 11am) - oh, I know one person it black and the other white, but can't you just 'shop' it? Shouldn't take more than a few minutes right? Isn't there just a button that does that...") and then the next day everyone is fooled by an MS Paint job!

...more Photoshop funnies

Making of Tangled

14 May 2011

Regular readers of this blog might remember my gushing over Disney’s Tangled a few months ago. It wasn’t gushing on the level of my Mary and Max review (which was in serious danger of embarrassing Niagra at one point) but I certainly made it clear that I felt Disney was back on track.

So imagine my delight when we found that there was to be a special ‘Making Of’ session with some of the creators in London Town!

(Probably I should’ve mentioned this before the event, but it was a bit of a last minute thing and frankly I could do without the competition for tickets).

Here’s the blurb:
Join Clay Kaytis (Animation Supervisor) and Mohit Kallianpur (Look and Lighting Director) as they share an insider's look at the challenges and triumphs faced from character creation through final composite. Starting with the establishment of ambitious and hopeful objectives, the story continues with hair-raising tales of experimentation, trial and error, and breakthroughs during the course of bringing ‘Tangled,’ the Studio’s 50th full-length animated feature, to the big screen.

This panel will provide an inside look at the challenges and triumphs faced from character creation through final composite.

And it was great. Clay Kaytis isn’t actually an animator that I’m familiar with, but he spoke with passion and clearly knows his stuff (although a large percentage of the talk revolved around how great my favourite animator Glen Keane is and how many times he saved the day). Tangled’s animation has more character than any of their recent films, so it was fascinating to watch that come to life through trial after trial.

Mohit Kallianpur was funny and managed to find the exact level of geekiness for the room (high). Despite spending my life animating (I actually honestly found myself animating in my sleep once) it still staggers me how much work goes in to a production like this, and the incredible detail that they go in to for everything. To maintain such high quality over the 4 years of a production and still be smiling at the end takes a very special type of person!

Truly awesome artwork for Pixar

5 May 2011

In decorating our new studio (did we mention we had a new studio? – oh, we did? Sorry.) we have been desperately trying to source some original Disney film posters. Not poster designed recently to promote a new edition of the original films, but replicas of the posters that were created in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Turns out they pretty much don’t exist. Which sucks.

This is really just a long winded way of getting to today’s point, which is to show you some awesome artwork that we discovered for some of the Pixar films during our search for these posters, as well as the original ride posters in Disneyland California which were the inspiration for them.

(And also to put it out there on the world wide web that should anyone know where we can get the posters we want, we’ll either:
• Bake you some cookies
• Sing you a song
• Draw you a caricature that may or may not look anything like you )



The Incredibles


They're by hugely talented Pixar artist Eric Tan, and are inspired by the styles of the 50s, and by these posters for the original rides at Disneyland California.

Barking Heads - comic strips

2 May 2011

We've been doing some work for organic pet food Barking Heads recently. The company uses a family of pets to represent their product, and they asked us to bring these characters to life through animation and a series of comic strips for their website and magazine adverts.

This project is a lot of fun to work on - although coming up with ideas for the strip has probably lost me a couple of fingernails! I thought I'd show a couple of the strips here, while we're working our little socks off on the animation for youtube.

Split Personality

18 Apr 2011

We’re currently trying to decorate our studio in a way that befits our split focuses of Animation and Web Design. Mostly this has involved multiple trips to Ikea.

One half (my half) represents our funky and creative natures – we have a mood wall for inspiration, paintbrushes that we’ll almost certainly never use, storyboards proudly displayed and of course, that staple of student bedrooms everywhere, a wooden mannequin.

Aaron’s side (or as I like to refer to it, the boring side) represents our technical natures. It has files and calculators, diagrams and charts, aspect ratios and financial projections. Bleurgh!

But it is at least all red and white, so it might be boring, but it is at least Slurpy branded boring.

New Studio!!!

12 Apr 2011

We are pleased and proud to invite you to a sneak peek at our new studio, in London Colney.

We’d been looking for a place considerably larger than our old studio in Harpenden, with better transport links and (all important) nice places to go during the rare moments when we lift our heads from our computers and feel like going outside for a few minutes.

The new studio fulfils all of those criteria. It’s big enough for the new animators and web designers that we’re looking to employ (and to do cartwheels, should the desire overtake us), it’s about as close to the M25 as you can get without being run over, and it’s situated on a beautiful river with willow trees and the all important ice cream van.

It’s also within short walking distance of the biggest Marks and Spencers I’ve ever seen!

This is a big step for our small studio, and we’re very excited about the future. Come visit us soon at Berkeley House, Barnet Road, London Colney, AL2 1BG.

We have cookies…

Dreamworks... oh dear.

5 Apr 2011

I don’t like to simply copy other people’s words for this blog without at least giving an opinion or a personal twist on them. However, in this instance the author has so perfectly captured my feelings on the matter that to edit his words would be to diminish them. So I shall make do with crediting him (Alex Collier. Nice bloke) and bowing to his superior ability to make pithy, cutting remarks, then copy pasting his words here:

"The new Dreamworks film has got me Turbo charged...

Whilst idly clicking my way through IMDb last night I noticed that a new film from Dreamworks is due out in the not too distant future. 'Turbo', charts the story of a snail who is the fastest snail in the world. I'm not sure what else happens in the film. I would have read on through the description, but unfortunately I had thrown my computer at a wall. Yet again we are to be faced with another dire sounding 'animal-characteristic-turned-on-it's-head' movie.

This is from the studio that brought us a movie about a bee that doesn't want to make honey. A rat what is all posh. A vegetarian shark. And a whole sodding zoo in New York that is filled with creatures that have hilariously juxtaposed character attributes; a lion that is a pussy, a hippo with a weight problem, a zebra who, despite not knowing if he is black and white or white and black, is in fact as black as Chris Rock, and a giraffe with a badly designed neck.

If all that doesn't sound bad enough, at least two of the characters listed above are ripped off from Pixar. (Well, obviously, I'm sure things are more innocent than that. They're probably just 'borrowed').

Animation is such an exciting medium to work in. But I'd rather be at a conference for monotone duster salesmen than sit through a Dreamworks ideas pitching session. Grey dusters, as well, none of your eye catching yellow cloths at this conference.

"Hey guys. Welcome to the Dreamworks pitching session. We're lookin' for only the most dynamic, whacked out zany ideas that the kids are just gonna go nuts for. Show me what you got!"

"Erm... well, actually... I kind of, erm... left my ideas on the bus..."

"Left them on the bus?"

"Yeah. And the dog ate them"

"I hope your ideas were more original than your excuses"

"They were! They were about, a... erm... a ...snail?"

"A snail? That doesn't sound very dynamic. Snails are slow, aren't they?"

"This one is fast! It's the fastest snail in the world!"

"Brilliant! Here's half a million dollars! Get that sucker in pre production"

"Don't you want to know the story?"

"That's not important! Hold on a minute though... snails.... aren't cute! How will we shift merchandise? I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to cancel this project."

"We can sell pots of slime or something, I guess?"

"Brilliant! Here's two hundred million dollars and a bank holiday weekend release date!"

Actually, if it's that easy then here's my list of film ideas for the next Dreamworks thinktank day.

Cheetah: A film about a cheetah who is the slowest cheetah in the world. His mum and dad are disappointed, so he, get this, get this, cheats to win a race. Then he's a hero, but has to admit his dishonesty, and all the other cheetahs learn that life is best lived slowed down, and that's what counts.

Ellie Funt: The adventures of Ellie Funt, the worlds most forgetful Elephant. Absent minded Ellie is bullied by the other Elephants and runs away from home. Unfortunately Ellie is so forgetful that she forgets where she lives, and moves in with a family of mice, because she forgets that elephants are scared of mice. The mice accept her as one of their own and when the Elephant herd accidentally stumble upon her they realise that it doesn't matter how small you are, it's how big your heart is that counts.

Baboon! Sadly, Bab the Baboon has been born with a normal arse. Without a ridiculous bright red hanging down arse Bab is unlikely to attract a mate, and is destined to be alone forever. However, the forest is under attack by man. The only way to stop them is to sabotage their machinery in the dead of night. Unfortunately though, Man can see the baboons coming a mile off what with their glowing arses and all. It's up to Bab to save the day with his normal arse. In the end the Baboons learn the valuable life lesson that it's not how red and hangy-downy your arse is, it's being able to sneak up on machinery and sabotage it in the middle of the night that counts.

From Me to Flu: Flo, the influenza virus, is cast out from the Orthomyxoviridae family when she decides she doesn't want to make people sick anymore. Instead, caring Flo wants to help people, and tries to develop a cure for the common cold. She goes to live in a petrie dish in the lab of Louis Pastuer. Unfortunately, before her work is complete her big brother H5N1 mutates into a human form of bird flu and threatens to wipe out the human race! Flo must return to her family and try to stop a pandemic before it's too late. Her big brother realises he must choose between his family and global domination, and chooses family, realising that the bonds of family are stronger than the bonds of a small infectious agent inside the living cells of an organism, and that's what counts.

Monkey See, Monkey Doo: A big room with an infinite amount of monkeys typing at computers are tasked to come up with the next Dreamworks script idea. They all manage it on their first go. Monkey Doo however has ideas above his station and wants to write the next Shakespeare sonnet. He disowns his friends and becomes a successful theatre scribe. However, he soon returns to his roots when he realises it is lonely at the top. His friends welcome him back, as they are primates for life. And that's what counts.

Remember, if these ideas sound terrible, the potential for merchandising is huge. And really, at the end of the day, that's what counts."

By Alex Collier

I’ve been NLPed!

31 Mar 2011

I’ve just completed a one week NLP Practitioner course which, according to the official blurb, means I now have “a FREEDOM from ANY limited, internal model of the world, which in turn, gives me the KEY to UNLOCKING your true potential…”

So that’s nice…

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not really into ‘personal development,’ ‘spiritual empowerment,’ or any such self help book spouted crap. But I am interested in the power of the brain, and I am interested in being a better communicator, so when I found a teacher who I felt could deliver the more scientifically accurate bits without the fluff that denigrates so much of NLP I decided to go for it.

And it was… interesting.

Some bits I found overwhelmingly mediocre, but some bits so dangerously powerful that I wondered why doctors around the world weren’t raving about it. I saw a woman genuinely cured of a fear of public speaking so intense that she was shaking and practically weeping at the very thought of having to stand in front of a group of 18 people. But I also was expected to report profound emotional change when I stood in the centre of a circle of people spouting such platitudes as; ‘the meaning of communication is the response you get’ and ‘everyone does the best they can with the resources they have.’

I was also made to watch ‘The Secret’ which is never a good way to win my approval. (It’s called EDITING people!)

I find a lot of NLP, therapy and hypnosis is more about peer pressure and a desire not to make the trainer look foolish than it is about genuine change. This opinion lessened during the week, but I could not make it disappear entirely.

Because this review isn’t completely positive, I haven’t mentioned the name of the trainer or the company. This isn’t in any way to avoid endorsing either, because actually I think that any ‘not entirely convinced-ness’ was entirely due to my overly analytical mind and inherent scepticism of NLP rather than the course itself, which was excellent and well delivered… poor guy must dread people like me walking through the door!

Me being hypnotised (sort of):

Website: Elysian Weddings

18 Mar 2011

We've just finished a new website for Wedding Planning Company extraordinaire; Elysian Weddings.

Managing Director Sian Hornby was looking for a soft and elegant design, which befits the care and attention she spends on all of her weddings. We went for a luxurious colour scheme of creams and blues, with lots of white space adding a tranquil, sophisticated air to the site. We gave pride of place to the beautiful photography that Sian was able to supply us with, and made sure that the copy was displayed in a way that didn't intimidate the user or detract from the elegance of the design.

Like all our sites, elysianweddingsandevents.co.uk is a Content Management System, meaning that Sian and her team can easily add, edit or remove content as easily as writing an email. We also performed extensive SEO for the company, and have greatly enjoyed watching the site moving further and further up the Google searches for all of their chosen keywords.

We also created a blog for them, which is well worth a read for regular updates in to the fascinating world of weddings!

Herts Business Expo

10 Mar 2011

Just got back from the Herts Expo and I am completely knackered! It was a great day, exceeding all expectations in terms of attendance, business passed, speakers and enjoyment.

I had volunteered to help raise money for Comic Relief by selling packs of materials (paper, plastic cups, straws, string etc) for the frankly extortionate price of £20, that people used to create cars to race on our specially made racetrack. Little did I realise that this would result in me being dressed from head to foot in what can only be described as a condom costume (but was apparently supposed to make me look like a car mechanic) and harassing people as they tried desperately to avoid eye contact.

I shall look more mercifully on ‘chuggers’ from now on!

We raised about £400 for Comic Relief in the end, which, while really quite impressive, would certainly have been larger had the Expo been less darned good. With so many companies and so much business being passed in the room, we could hardly expect people to spend their day manufacturing small paper cars to race on our track. Frankly inconsiderate planning I call it.

But well done to Katrina Sargant and Karen Birch of the Business Club for organising a Business Expo against which all future events will be measured.

Tangled - Disney's back!

9 Feb 2011

In all honesty I've been completely dreading Tangled.

When it started production 8 years ago it was called Rapunzel and seemed like Disney were no longer ashamed of their fairy story roots. They had my favourite animator of all time (Glen Keane) in the director's chair and although it was CG, they really seemed to be trying to achieve something different with it.

Fast forward to a few days ago, and I was a nervous wreck of anticipation (ok, that's an exaggeration, but I did go through at least one finger nail). They'd changed the name to 'Tangled', demoted Glen Keane and pushed back the release date about a billion times. It seemed like they weren't sure about the appeal of the film, and that's never a good sign with Disney (Treasure Planet anyone?).

But it's actually a damned good film. It's funny, it's sad, it's beautiful, and it's memorable. It sits with the greats as a classic Disney film. And I don't mean that it's a film made by Disney, 'Tangled' is actually a Disney film.

And I can't give it higher praise than that.

Sure there were a couple of negatives; the music wasn't great, certainly wouldn't stand alone without the film like scores from Aladdin or Lion King; the ending could be considered slightly Beauty and the Beast; and the hair changes length from shot to shot with wild abandon...

But who cares?

Disney's back, and that's the best news I've had in a long time.Tangled review

Website review: Caloo Fitness

8 Jan 2011

Another website finished, another happy customer :)

Caloo Fitness are a Hertfordshire based Company who provide outdoor fitness and gym equipment. They approached us to design, build optimise their new site, which was to be bright, memorable and to reflect their product and company ethos.

The first thing we did in this instance was to pick a strong colour scheme that we felt really represented the company and product. Once we had that, a lot of the rest of the design fell in to place quite quickly. This was followed by the wireframe and final design. We always offer unlimited tweaks on all our designs, because we have no intention of ever letting a Client end up with a site that they're not delighted with, but in this instance there weren't any!

The concept for the design was 'serious about playing,' and we captured that through the unusual and fun layout, tempered by an easy to use navigation system and intuitive structure.

This site is to be the central hub of the campaign we're working on with Caloo, consisting of social media (blog, twitter, youtube), newsletters, and SEO. It's been very gratifying seeing the wonderful results that the new website has already created, and it's wonderful to work with a company who are so ready to listen to the advice of their web designers and take time to make social networking work really well for them