Ray Bradbury passes…

Ray Bradbury, one of the ‘old men of Science Fiction’ has passed away at the age of 91.

Bradbury wrote in the era when ideas we consider tropes now were, well, ideas. When they thought there may be canals on Mars, before man had been to the moon. It was a golden age of science fiction writing.

When I was in my early teens I discovered a pile of old Science Fiction short story compilations in the shed. My Dad had read them back in the 70’s, but they were really stories from as early as the 40’s.

Bradbury was among them, telling stories with the twists so common to the form, but tying it in with heart, thoughtfulness and sentiment. His prose was almost poetic even while he built tension in stories like ‘The Fog Horn’, or bordered on the theological in ‘The Traveler’. My favourite by far though, and my favourite short story of any author is ‘A Sound of Thunder’.

Bradbury’s tale of vainglorious hunters going back in time to hunt a Tyrannosaurus and unwittingly affecting their future would, if published today, be considered a rehash, a cliche. Except Bradbury did it with such class, subtlety and so perfectly for the short story form, to me everything since seems trite.

In 1983 Bantam Books published ‘Dinosaur Tales’, an illustrated collection of Bradbury’s short stories about dinosaurs. Among them was ‘”Besides A Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?“(alarmed grandfather looks for a substitute obsession when his grandson begins sharpening his teeth), “The Fog Horn“(a terrifying and mournful romance between a lighthouse and….. something ancient) and “A Sound of Thunder”.

And so came together my favourite short story, and my favourite illustrator, William Stout, who had provided the beautiful drawings to accompany the story. There’s little I can say about how much this double whammy affected me as a developing artist, except perhaps that one day I still want to make a short film that’s entirely true to the story and illustrations in that book. I’ve posted a couple of illustrations from the book below, both are by William Stout.

Animated Mr. McGee narrated by Hugo Weaving!

One of the projects I was involved with earlier this year in house at Blue Rocket Productions was development of an animated version of the Mr. McGee children’s books by Pamela Allen.

To my surprise I found the trailer we’d done online at the Youtube channel of Australian TV producers Blink Freehand, who produced with JDR Screen.

In a star move they enlisted Hugo Weaving to do the narration. To be honest I did do some fairly lame Matrix/McGee jokes around the studio. I’m pretty sure only I was amused.

It really was a team effort with Paul Newell doing character design and Stefan Le Mottee rigging and animating. My job was trying to emulate Pamela Allen’s illustration style and adapt it for animation. So the line work, colours and design of the characters and backgrounds all had to work in motion but still reference the illustrations by Pamela. In the end we all did a bit of everything. The youtube clip compresses the texture work quite a bit, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

This was all then taken and animated beautifully by Stefan Le Mottee with direction by Blue Rocket’s David Gurney.

The Long Beach: a short animated film

It’s about time I released this film into the wilds of the internet.

Made by the talented Mauricio Milne-Jones and myself in 2006 and based on a short story and script by Helen van Rooijen (good on ya Mum!).

The original short story had no dialogue in it and I wanted to keep it that way to reach a wider audience and allow the narrative to come from the actions of the characters. It seemed more elegant that way.

It’s definitely one to relax and watch with a glass of red, weighing in at almost 12 minutes it’s a long short! While it’s not ‘arty’ by any stretch of the imagination it does ask you to put things together a bit.

It did ok at festivals for a long sentimental film that asks the audience to think a bit, if it were a short punchy comedy it would have done much better!

A big thanks to everyone who contributed, Alicia, Duncan, Matt D, Grace, Nando, Nina, the use of facilities at Blue Rocket Productions (and you David G!). Plus some helpful advice from Adam.

For those to whom like to know these things, made using 3DS Max, Lightwave and a bunch of Adobe products!

Oh, and if you see this broadcast on TV in the USA, let me know, I’d love to know who the distributor is so I can kick their backsides!