The Love Letter to Animation Series - Matt

I bloody love animation. I have done ever since I was a little kid. I’m fortunate enough to meet more of ‘my kind’ frequently, and the passion and excitement around our beloved medium is never too far below the surface… especially when you work at an animation studio.

For me, it all kicked off with stop motion animation, the process of building a model, taking a photo, moving the model ever so slightly, then taking another photo. Do that 12 times (or 24 if you’re insane), play them in sequence through a projector, and you’ve got yourself 1 second of video. The term time-consuming doesn’t do it justice. 

Ray Harryhousen is one of my heroes that inspired me to get into animation, and if you’d have told the 7 year old me, that one day I’d not only be fortunate enough to be making animations for a living, and not only that but I’d have my own little animation studio … I would have probably exploded. 

I’d watch the movies he’d worked on, patiently sitting through the scenes with the actors because I knew that soon his fantastic creatures would take over. Seeing these weird and wonderful creations causing havok always left me with a huge grin on my face.

Here are some of my faves:

The Cyclops and Dragon scrapping from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) PIC
The beserk skeletons in Jason And the Argonauts (1963) PIC
Medusa from Clash of the Titans (1981), his final film.

I pestered my folks for my own cine-camera, and after a wait what felt like an age… Christmas that year saw the arrival of an Agfa 8mm camera with ‘single-frame stop-motion’ button (nice work Santa!) Not only that, but a couple of rolls of film and a home projector unit that had been shoe-horned into the stocking too. 

The first version of Box Animation Studio was set up on the dining room table… using a cardboard ‘box’ as the stage. The first attempt saw my Mum’s fruit bowl being robbed for props. Me and the assistant Director (a.k.a. Dad) had fruit dancing around the table with tangerines unpeeling themselves and then reassembling. The film was sent off… then a week later it was processed and we gathered round for the premiere to see the fruits of our labour.

Excitement doesn’t come close to watching those first reels. I was hooked.

So thank you Ray. Your legacy inspired many of the great fantasy directors in years to come as well as this lad from Yorkshire. I will always have a real soft spot for the work you did. Thank you, up there in the big studio in the sky,  for the inspiration you gave me.

…now if I can just persuade a client they need 7 battling skeletons in their next animation.