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The making of Edgar's Egg

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At BIAFF 2013 John Anscomb won  4-Stars and a Trackline Award for Edgar's Egg.
It was screened in the Sunday Gala show and attracted a lot of comment.

In the 1970's there was a classic animated childrens' TV programme called Captain Pugwash by John Ryan which used moving cutouts for animation.  This always intrigued me.  When I decided to have a go at animation this was the method I used.  I needed a storyline in which I could use the voice of my Grandson, so Edgar's Egg was hatched.

After putting the story down on a storyboard, I act out each scene with a stopwatch, trying to keep to five seconds per scene.  For an eight minute film I need over ninety pieces of artwork.  At this stage I can see the finished film in my mind.

Still from 'Edgars Egg'.Creating the artwork and the cutouts for the movement takes around three months.  Then the big day arrives to film it onto tape.  Yes, that's right, I still use Mini DV Tape.  I shoot using natural light, in correct story sequence.  Each scene is carefully edited in camera, providing the voices, moving the figures, all shot in real time.  For some scenes I need to use both my hands to operate and achieve the movements, so my wife is often called upon to operate the camera and provide a few of the voices.

After this stage it is time to add music and sound effects to the second sound band on the camera.  All that's then left to do is balance the sound whilst downloading through a VHS machine and then eventually onto DVD.  Hopefully I have then achieved the film I saw in my mind four months previously.

I know this sounds a strange out of date method, but it works for me.

I have submitted three films to BIAFF over the last three years.  I was awarded three stars for the first one and four stars for each of the following two films, including Edgar's Egg.  This method of animation is, for me, a most enjoyable way of making films. 

Just imagine, actors that never get bored and always do what I tell them.  Locations are not a problem, they are anywhere I can imagine, plus my Grandson's voice will always sound young and fresh. 

Long live Captain Pugwash.  

- John Anscomb

Captain Pugwash is a fictional pirate in a series of British children's comic strips and books created by John Ryan. The character's adventures were adapted into a TV series, using cardboard cut-outs filmed in live-action (the first series was performed and broadcast live.) Ryan used a real-time technique of animation in which cardboard cutouts of the characters were laid on painted backgrounds and moved with levers.(Information courtesy of Wikipedia.) You can see a Pugwash tv episode here.

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