The New Creative scheme, supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts, is a talent development fund which encourages artists aged between 16 and 30 to push creative boundaries and get their original ideas on screen. As a result of this fantastic scheme, we had the pleasure of collaborating with new animation and illustration talent Anya Butler, via Rural Media who ran the Midlands talent center.

Style: Mixed Media
Client: BBC New Creatives
Year: 2021

BBC New Creatives Scheme – Short Animation

The Project

Anya’s idea was to transform her original poem ‘The Flood’ into a short animation. This 4 minute mixed media piece tells the story about the reclusive Mr Blair who ignores a drip coming from his ceiling with disastrous consequences. A simple metaphor about ignoring problems until they can no longer be handled.

Our job at Second Home was to facilitate the development of the initial poem into a voice-ready script, develop the visual style along with Anya, build, animate and post-produce. The project was co-directed and produced by our Creative Director, Chris Randall.

Still of Mr Blair reading paper from mixed media project The Flood
Old Mr Blair feels a drip – The Flood

The Creative

Anya wanted to steer away from a traditional hand drawn 2D animation so a mixed media approach was taken. This took the form of real 3D sets filmed in studio with paper cut out characters and props animated digitally.

The character of Old Mr Blair was a 2D animated character composited onto the same pieces of paper used to build the set. This gave the feel of a “cutout” character. By shooting the blank paper in the scene first, this meant the lighting on Mr Blair matched the lighting of the scene, making it look like stop-motion replacements filmed in-camera.

All of the sets were miniature models that were designed and hand built at the studio. These sets were shot using our in-house motion control rig. Each shot was captured as two passes; once with the empty set and then again with a paper sheet placed in the general position where we wanted the character to be.

Old Mr Blair enjoying his paper – The Flood

Post Production

The ever-rising water and droplets, which play a key role in the film’s storytelling, were added as a VFX element. To achieve the effect we used some of our offcuts of blue lighting gel shot on black, white and grey backgrounds. This gave us the right range of luminance values to be able to composite the gel over the scene again as though it had been placed there as a series of replacements. To enhance the effect, we distorted the footage behind the water to give a sense of the refractive properties of water.

The music composed by Rob Townsend was cleverly written to incorporate the sound effects from water droplets as part of the composition. Narration from actor and comedian Miles Jupp brought Mr Blair’s cantankerous character to life and brought a knowing lilt to the rhyming scheme of Anya’s original poem.

Official Selection - Flatpack Festival 2022
Screened Anny. Animation Nights New York 2023
2023 New Media Film Festival Official Selection