Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Things I Learnt From Bob Godfrey

When I was studying animation at Southampton, Bob Godfrey used to come down to teach once a week. I knew Bob’s name from the TV series “Roobarb and Custard”, which aired on BBC1 when I was about eight, and later learnt that he was a legendary creator of animated shorts, mostly slightly risque ones that were generally shown in front of ‘Carry On’ films. Bob was the embodiment of the ‘less is more’ school of animation – if you can make your point , or tell your story, just as effectively with fewer or simpler drawings, then do it that way. Don’t make work for yourself. Bob saw a film I’d made in my first semester called “Advice for Hamsters” and gave me his card. Once I’d finished studying he gave me my first job, on a satirical series called “Margaret Thatcher: Where Am I Now?”, written by Steve Bell. One of the key lessons I took from Bob was the importance – and delicacy – of timing. I’d animate a scene that needed to be funny, but for some reason wasn’t quite working. He’d check it, play it a few times, then tell me to add or remove a few frames – often only two or three – then suddenly the scene would be funny. As well as being a legendary animator, Bob was a legendary character. I’ve tried to capture some of that in a little tribute film. Here’s a trailer. The film itself in currently being submitted to festivals, so I can’t show the whole thing yet.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Dr Who Lego Timelapse

My friend Sam Wooldridge bought me this Lego kit for my birthday, somehow knowing exactly what I needed in my life. Whatever I'm doing, I'm constantly thinking "How can I turn this into animation, ideally without raking years to do it?" Obviously the solution here was to shoot a time-lapse of me building the kit, and adding a bit of stop-motion animation to the end.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Bad spelling

It seems that whenever the BBC make a documentary about polar exploration, they hire a narrator who doesn't know how to pronounce 'Antarctic'. Today they've gone a step further and hired someone who can't spell it either. I just thought I'd help them out a bit....

Monday, 4 April 2016

Things I Learnt from Bob Godfrey - trailer

My first job in TV animation was with Bob Godfrey, a legend in the industry, best know to my generation and younger for "Roobarb and Custard", though he'd been working for almost 50 years before I knew him. I prepared an earlier version of this film for a tribute evening at the Bradford Animation Festival two years ago, and recently remade and expanded it. I'm currently submitting it to festivals which means I can't put the whole film online, but here's a trailer.


Things I Learnt from Bob Godfrey: trailer from Dennis Sisterson on Vimeo.

Monday, 28 March 2016

My Vimeo page

My main website is acting up so I'm redirecting traffic here for the time being. My contact email is dennis@sisterson.co.uk.
Here's my showreel, and you can find more of my animation at my Vimeo page.
Showreel from Dennis Sisterson on Vimeo.

Batman v Superman

Just another fun little GIF in TVPaint.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Film review blog - 1925

Partly to develop my own film education, I've been doing a film review blog in which I cover one film a year for the whole history of cinema, beginning with the films of the Lumiere brothers in 1985.
It's been progressing slowly for a few months because my DVD/Blu-ray collection has been accumulating films from the 1920s and I'm watching them all as I go, which means I'm almost doing the blog in real time at the moment. So instead of one film, my 1925 entry covers ten, though mostly quite briefly. Hopefully I'll pick up speed again when I get into the sound period.  

Friday, 26 February 2016

Portrait format video

Aren't we all getting tired of seeing video clips on news sites sent in by someone who's had the opportunity to catch an historic or spectacular event, only to shoot it by holding their phone vertically? How long before they all realise they're doing it wrong? Don't they ever watch their own videos? I must have been particularly irritated the other night when I actually dreamed I went to a cinema run by such people... 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Two more animated GIFs

I'm finding that spending some time doing one of these is a great way of experimenting with visual styles, and getting a finished piece in a relatively short time. Both these were done in TVPaint, a great program that's now the industry standard for bitmap-based traditional animation. It has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and a great variety of pencils, pens and brushes, plus the facility to create your own.
The top GIF was made to illustrate our announcement on Facebook that we were moving house. For the other, I asked for  one-word suggestion - one of my friends gave me 'tempestuous', and this is what came to mind.   

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Animated GIF

I thought it would be fun - and a good way to spur myself into producing new work - to give myself the challenge of creating an animated GIF in a few hours, based on suggestions from friends on Facebook . This one was from the word 'interception', courtesy of Richard Lillico.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Science Fiction Film Rating Graph: Scientific credibility v Entertainment Value

I've been a fan of science fiction films since I was old enough to understand what space was, and the thing that's bothered me most about the, over the years, is the lack of actual science in many of them. To me the, much of the wonder of a sci-fi film is in being able to believe that it could happen. If what's being presented is clearly impossible, it loses credibility. On the other hand many great science fiction films have science elements that have very spurious credentials, such as time travel, faster-than-light space travel, or apes evolving into speaking, machine-building humanoids in just two thousand years. In films like that, the impossible or near-impossible is often there to construct an allegory for the purposes or satire or social commentary, so it doesn't necessarily mean it's 'bad' science fiction.  
Also there's such a thing as entertainment value for its own sake - a film can be great fun but have no scientific credibility at all. The less you know about science, and the better you are at suspending disbelief, the easier it is to enjoy those films. So I thought it would be fun to draw up a graph, rating sci-fi films according to these two criteria.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Collaboration with Younger Self

I found the top drawing of these two among some old papers. I'd guess it was drawn when I was six or seven, and just becoming aware of the natures of space, the planets and so on. I'd seen some artwork online that parents had done where they took their kids' drawings and worked them up. (It didn't say how the kids felt about this!) I thought I'd try it with some old drawings of my own, and it's an interesting experience. Working on the old drawing, I find, reminds me how I felt and thought at that age. This would have been at the time of the last Apollo missions, and I was probably looking forward to being an astronaut myself.  

Pyrography: Playing with Fire

A few months ago My partner Trina and I attended a one-day workshop in pyrography at the Buckingham Summer School. Pyrography is the art or craft of burning marks into wood or leather using  tool with a hot tip. We got there a little late an missed the introduction but it didn't seem to matter much - it's simple enough. Just use the tool like a pen, adjust the heat as required and be careful not to burn your fingers.  A few hours of messing about produced these masterpieces and a few other scraps. I thought it would be fun sometime to do some animation this way - unnecessarily labour-intensive animation techniques are always interesting!


Animation by Microbes

I've decided to start doing a broad-based personal blog focusing on my own animation work in particular and creative stuff in general. I discovered I had this old blog URL gathering dust in a forgotten corner of the internet, so I'm putting it to new use.
Here's a little project I did a few months ago: Paperback books are often printed on cheap paper, so over time they are quit susceptible to damage. I wasn't too pleased to find that a few of my old paperback were being eaten away by bookworms, but was fascinated to notice that the trails thy make as they bore their way through the pages work as a flip-book - one in which the pattern isn't a creative recreation of life but an analogue record of life itself. It would be fascinating to make a whole film from book damage of this type but I expect it's hard to find worm-eaten books that haven't been thrown away! (Click on the image.)
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