Innis & Gunn Artwork

Work! I'm supposed to post bloody work here, aren't I? It's easy to forget that sometimes.

In 2012, I was lucky enough to work with Innis & Gunn, the Edinburgh-based brewer of delicious oak-aged beer, on a couple of projects. I'm very proud to have been on board (they're a damn fine company and it's damn fine beer).

For I&G's involvement in the Edinburgh Film Festival, I made a little cartoon (above) depicting the importance of the oak-aging process to the unique flavour of their beer. Although short, this was still the most ambitious hand-drawn animation I've ever tried and I think it turned out pretty good, considering.

The animation was edited down to a lean 60 pages and made into a lovely little flickbook that was distributed amongst festival-goers back in June. It can be seen at the end of the short video I made below:

(note, it's surprisingly hard to flick a flickbook straight-through only once while holding it in front of a video camera. Please forgive my slightly juddery attempt. Music is 'P' from the album John's ABC by the Fence Collective.)

Using a combination of the old-fashioned (drawing stuff over-&-over-&-over) and the new-fangled: (Photoshop trickery), I was able to put the whole thing together on a fairly short turnaround. Although frustrating, tedious and difficult, animation is something that I hope to explore further. My Wired illustrations, which I animate for their iPad app every month, are getting increasingly ambitious and are good practice.

Innis & Gunn Edinburgh cityscape illustration

I also produced a few illustrations for their beautiful Bartender's Choice book, including the above Edinburgh cityscape and a small set of drawings depicting various stages of the brewing process.

(more on the Bartender's Choice section of my site)

Big thanks to Lucy and everyone over at I&G for getting me involved and for all their help - they've been amazing to work with. Fingers-crossed, I'll have more to share in the spring.

Oh, and not that I like to toot-my-own-trumpet too loudly, I'll just that, when it comes to perks, this job had one or two:

It's been tricky, but I've kept some aside for Hogmanay. Dancer.

Tiptoeing Boots

While making You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night for Kid Canaveral, Alex came up with an idea for what ended up being my favourite scene in the video. She suggested that our 'character' might tip-toe through the bedroom, drunkenly attempting not to wake his partner. This was perfect. It added a gag to what was pretty much a filler sequence. After a few sums, it looked likely that I'd be able to time the shots with the quietest part of the song which gave a really nice build-up to the finale.

Executing the idea proved fiddly. It was 2am and we had very little equipment to speak of. Our bedroom, while not tiny, is also pretty tight for floorspace. These limitations took most of the directing decisions out of my hands - we had to go under the bed. We had to animate the boots from above, pinching the cuffs with our fingernails.

Up until this point, our roles had been set. I'd animate the objects and Alex would work the camera. This scene was different. We swapped back and forth a number of times trying to get something, anything, to work. The problem was two fold: animating the boots was uncomfortable (really uncomfortable. lying-with-your-weight-on-the-edge-of-a-wooden-footboard uncomfortable) meaning we'd only get a few minutes before the 'mover' had to abandon their post and start over; also, you were working blind with no way to tell if your hand was in shot, if you'd moved too far or if what you were doing would achieve the desired effect.

We got there, though. I turned out to be the better animator / endurer of pain and Alex was the better filmer / communicator of how things looked. There was a lot of 'Dave, I can still see your fingers on that left boot' going on. The end result, while not exactly beautiful, is pretty much exactly what I tried to achieve. A success in particular because neither of us knew what the hell we were doing.

On a related note, Kid Canaveral are nominated to support Graham Coxon. You can help their chances by heading to the page and liking their video entry under the Edinburgh Liquid Rooms dropdown. Good idea that.

EDIT: a direct link to the vote page for the KC video is here. God you're a lazy bugger.

Gilbert Crockett: Switch Flip Up Stairs

I've been following Thrasher's King of The Road, a sort of skateboarding version of Challenge Anneka, where skate teams go cross-country and try to score points by completing a list of challenges (grind a certain rail / do a trick naked / kiss an old lady etc.). You kinda forget how daft it is because it's been running for years but it always delivers some good footage.

After watching the most recent episode, I made this animated gif of Gilbert Crockett's amazing switch kickflip up 6 (longish!) stairs. Partly because it's a pretty frickin' good trick and partly to see if I could work out how to turn a YouTube clip into an animation. Turns out I could!

A Wee Trip to Arran

David Galletly animated portrait

I write this on returning from our big 'summer' holiday - 2 nights on the small Scottish island of Arran. With a wedding fast approaching, we're staying sensible and cutting back on the most reckless of spending. Big holidays ain't an option.

It turned out to be a great wee trip. Alex has family in Whiting Bay and we've been over a hundred times to visit, but finding a good deal on a posh hotel added a new twist to the familiar surroundings. For the first time in my life I experienced a sauna (verdict: hot) and I got to go swimming, something I haven't done in 10 years (verdict: wet). Here's a link to my Arran photo album (pretty much just holiday snaps, don't get too excited).

Anyway, this post is essentially fluff to surround my most recent attempt at an animated photo (above) that I made this morning while waiting on the ferry. I'm really happy with how this one turned out - I think it sums up our relationship pretty well. I might post a little tutorial about how to make these things soon. After posting my first attempt, I received a few requests and I think I'm getting the hang of it. I don't even know if they have a proper name. Moving photographs? Living photos? Harry Potter pictures?

That swimming pool has given my left ear one hell of a beating. Can't hear a goddamn thing.

An Animated Photo

Animated Alex

After seeing Jamie Beck's pretty cool animated photographs (basically carefully planned animated gifs) a few weeks back, I wondered if I'd be able to recreate the effect myself. Armed with a tripod, a video camera, iMovie and Photoshop, I discovered that I could.

The above image, while not groundbreaking, represents a fun wee hour of problem solving that I'm really happy with. It turned out pretty good, eh? Now that I understand the process a bit, there's a few ideas I'd like to try out that could work out great. When I find the time to go on a wee photo hunt, I'll post them up here. Isolating animation in a clip like that is a really peculiar effect. I guess we've HD video to thank for making these things possible - when a still frame can pass for a photograph, you can do a bunch of cool stuff.

These 'animated photographs' are kind of interesting. They elevate the humble gif - an old, mainly forgotten, format, with its 256 colours and grainy feel, to something new. Sure, there have always been a ton of gifs generated from funny video clips, but pre-planned and considered gif photoshoots? That's a little different. I've a feeling that Beck might've started a wee trend here - we might be seeing these things in site mastheads and accompanying 'virtual' magazine articles before long. That is if the lengthy post-production editing isn't too off-putting.

Also, I mainly like my photo because it captures Alex drinking tea, playing on the computer and listening to music on a great wee day-off we had. She thinks it's creepy, but I dunno, I think there's something nice about it. Like one of those magic Harry Potter photos made real.