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Interactive video lesson plan for: Peter's Christmas Present

Activity overview:

A Christmas animated poem.

Years ago I was one of a team making an animated film aimed at the Christmas market. The idea was a good one, but things went a bit wrong. The producer, Peter Leake, a lecturer in media at Northumbria University, got a load of European training money to train up animators. The rules stipulated that the money couldn't be used to do anything useful, but he (bless him) broke them and decided to get us to make a film. Christmas cartoons are quite saleable, and though it was summer, we gave it a go.

The techniques were even then out of date. We hand painted every single acetate cell with emulsion paints. As might be expected, of the team of thirty or so, about six of us did almost all the work. Most of my work got edited into a pre-title sequence you see here. Some of my ideas were realised by underlings, and some I did myself. You can see several different drawing styles here. I drew the goose being plucked, the pepper pot, the toasting crumpets, and the punch bowl, working to a very tight deadline. I also rotascoped and did the keys and in-betweens for the sequence where wine bottles turn into drummers and march off.

The project hit a rock, though, when the company employed to copy the key drawings to acetate failed to align them properly, and then when the reshot rostrum camerawork was done using the wrong lens. The project then ran out of money.

The editor did a good job of trying to make sense of the usable footage. He wrote the poem you hear here, although his good reading of it was rejected in favour of this iffy version by another producer.

The rest of the film mainly concerned a little boy (Peter) and his sinister encounter with the Big Bad Fairy.

Tagged under: christmas,present,peter,cartoon,animation,cel,cell,classical,traditional,drummers,food,crumpet,yule,cooking,bottle,xmas

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