Wednesday, 28 January 2015


"Investing in Stockport" Animation

The end of 2014 was an extremely busy time for Chog Zoo, not least due to the mammoth animation we produced for Stockport Council. Don't get your hopes up, there aren't any actual mammoths in this video, I just wanted to communicate the scale of the project. However, the exciting part is that this commission marks the first time we utilised the skills of a third party illustrator - the wonderful Emmeline Pidgen - to give the animation an original, memorable flourish.

We created multiple proposals with a variety of distinct visual styles to give the client a range of options, but our suggestion to work with Emmeline came from the desire to keep the video as captivating as possible, without compromising the integrity of the information being communicated. With the volume of data in the script provided by Stockport council, we decided that Emmeline's distinct, tactile and beautifully artistic visuals could be a way to offset the "politics" and engage the viewer throughout.

After getting the go ahead on some initial concept artwork, we set to work storyboarding the script, dividing it up into sections and defining the on screen visuals which would appear with the relative narration. This was signed off by Stockport Council before the bulk of work began.

Once the animation was planned out and we knew what was needed from the development and design phase of the project, Emmeline set to work providing us with exceptional character sheets and figure references.

Next up came animation. We experimented with various ways to animate Emmeline's artwork; to retain her distinct style, we found that a combination of methods was going to work best. Traditional frame-by-frame animation was necessary in many shots, for example the aging character, for which the frames were drawn and coloured in Photoshop due to its range of brushes available. These were then taken into After Effects to achieve the motion. Other shots allowed for vectorisation of Emmeline's linework, and the ability to save a bit of time by using motion tweens, Even further animation was produced in After Effects, adding detail to movement with the puppet tool and finishing up any imported tweens with additional flourishes and camera movement. 

After providing a wide selection of voice actors to the council for consideration, the decision was made for the video to be narrated by the ultra talented actress Josie Cerise. Providing an incredible energy to the animation despite her busy theatre schedule, Josie's superb interpretation of the script added an enthusiastic, personable quality to the finished product.

Considerable tweaking was necessary in this animation due to the nature of a council commissioned piece; script was shuffled around and adjusted as needed, parts had to be added and parts were removed. For example, a hover car shot, which presented an elderly main character in a bright futuristic setting, was in the end deemed a little too tongue-in-cheek for the over all tone of the video. We persevered to deliver an animation which remained artistic, but stayed true to the serious messages that Stockpot wanted to convey.

We are proud to have worked with Stockport Council and with Emmeline Pidgen to produce what we are sure is a distinct departure from the usual council fare. Stockport has taken a brilliant, bold step in using art to discuss important issues with the public. We're thrilled to have been a a part of it. Check out the full animation below.