Philip Valette – Compositor

Digging around Gumball, I found this demo reel from a compositor on Gumball. It’s a brilliant showcase of the level of detail that the compositors help instil into the show. There are camera moves, focus pulls, camera shake etc.

I sent him a little message on Vimeo to see if he could shed some light on the compositing pipeline.

Hello there,

Doing a little research on compositing for modern 2D animation, I found the demo reel for your work on Gumball. I hadn’t seen the show before, but from your clip, I realised it’s quite masterfully put together. It must have been a complex job!

I know it’s been a while but is there a chance you could tell me a little about how the compositing stage worked for Gumball?

How did the mixed animation styles effect the compositing? Thinking about it, I would assume that you only received a bunch of video files so it wouldn’t make a huge difference but can you tell me otherwise?

Would you begin work on a scene as soon as the first animations came through or would you have to wait until the production stage was over?

Were you working purely in After Effects?

By the way, I was just looking at your blog, I though I’d say I really love your comic. You’ve captured the beige era of technology in a really funny way. I’ll be sure to pick up a copy when my student loan comes in!

All the best,

Finley – Animation Student

Its not all flattery, he looks like a very interesting guy, having worked on some really cool projects and his comic does look awesome!

We’ll see how far this gets us.



The Backdrop 1

I have been thinking about the backdrop for a while, imagining some kind of old-timey English village setting for my postman.


My initial sketch was of a park with a road and house in the background with the box in centre foreground. My idea at this point was just for a random box to be on the side of the path, potentially placed there by some kids who want to play a trick on the elderly postman.

Initial Backdrop Sketch.png

But now taking it to the computer, I have the idea of the kids having placed something in the park litter bin instead. I’ve also ditched the semi-symmetrical layout for something with a bit more depth to it, setting up the park on a street corner.  The bin being in the centre foreground remains an important part of the staging.


I have begun to draw it a little more accurately now, including a postman’s bicycle as a little not to ‘Ecole Des Facteurs’ and ‘Jour De Fete’. I feel that it all looks a little clean, vibrant and texture less. My concern is that my puppet will feel totally out of place in this. Perhaps I can try and edit in some photo-realistic textures, but perhaps that’s just a nutty idea.

Post Office Bike.png

Tutorial & Gumball

Today we had a tutorial with Helen about out research task. We came with our tails between our legs because our initial vein of research has been fairly unfruitful since the studio we contacted didn’t reply to us and, all of us being quite timid, struggled to know what to do next.

However, with a little help, we seem to have found our feet now and are focusing our research towards ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’. Not knowing about the show, I was a little sceptical at first, but had I known about it sooner, I would have chosen it myself. Gumball is a fairly original show in that it’s a primarily 2D show that features characters and backgrounds made in any media they can make work. There’s a mix of CG, stop motion and live action.

The video may be aimed at preteens and is highly painful to watch, but it does reveal a little about the process.

Gumball is technically very advanced for a TV series. Not only is it multidisciplinary, if you pick out a random clip on YouTube, you can see a huge level of effects. There are reflections, light, shadows, smoke, tire marks – The works. This means that any compositor working on the show has their work cut out for them.

I have a renewed interest with the project and look forward to see if we can get a response from anyone on the show – even if the clock is ticking!


Still no word from Animade, I imagine they sighed and moved on when they opened it if they ever did.

In the meantime, I thought I’d get in touch with my cousin Felix who’s currently working ‘in the industry’. His job is not specifically animation, but motion graphics and CG are a part of the deal.

He works for Kode Media in London in an as yet unnamed role, but he works primarily in After Effects and sometimes does some compositing if they need it. He landed the job because one of his old friends is a senior staffer there, so there’s why networking is so important.

He told me that the role of compositor is an interesting one because its a fairly entry level role that lets you deal with a whole range of departments as they feed you all the elements you need to work with.

He mentioned that often the role is a little bit irrelevant as in smaller, basic briefs, much of the production pipeline is in After Effects and things are made in the same project and shots are put together by animators and editors.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to swing off topic, but I got some interesting information from him. The whole idea of the compositor talking to lots of different departments is very interesting to me and is worth baring in mind when I’m looking for a job.

Richard Williams on Lip Sync




Proper pronunciation is not key to accurate lip sync. It’s all about ‘smudging’ from sound to sound, picking out the obvious bits and missing out the subtle. He calls this phrasing. Like Robin has already taught us, you don’t look to each individual letter, but break it down to the sound, the phoneme.

“The key to lip sync is getting the feeling of the word and not the individual letters.”

He also talks a lot about how performance and attitude make the lip sync a lot more believable. The Milt Kahl secret is ‘PROGRESSING THE ACTION’.



Parcel Pete Dress Rehearsal 1

Today I shot a couple of clips with Pete in his new uniform to see if anything got in the way. The problems that arose were the hat falling off a fair bit, as can be seen in the second clip, and the trousers boiling a bit because they’re so baggy, so bringing on the seams on those is definitely on the cards.

The second clip is based on a sketch by Jacques Tati impersonating a London traffic officer. I think I need the facial expressions to have the right effect.


Skype Call Day


Here are my notes from today’s lecture. The interviews we had today were probably the best of the bunch in my opinion. Maybe it’s the people that don’t have the time to come out that are the most interesting and relevant?

First off, Helen Duckworth gave us an insight into the busy life of an international freelancer. She started off talking about the extent that stop motion films at Aardman rely on CG for extra details. Since they made ‘Pirates!’, they’ve been putting fake thumb prints in the CG characters to ‘retain authenticity’.

Hugo Sands had some stories to tell, having produced a huge range of interesting projects. The best story was about the ‘Compare the Meerkat’ ad campaign, that was apparently a mistake that proved so successful its been airing for nearly 10 years. Another fun fact was about the Gorilaz videos that generate virtually no income and are produced simply to keep the creatives happy.

Mystery Box Holiday Catch-Up

Over the Easter holiday, I managed to get a costume sorted for my puppet. Unfortunately, I managed to forget my puppet in my packing, so I had to make the costume only referring to my scale drawing and an action man of roughly the same size.

I picked up the material for the uniform at Rye market while I was on holiday, as I noticed the stall was selling exactly the right shade of navy blue I was looking for. The guy was nice enough to give me a quarter of a meter of his roll for 50p. I should have at least bought a pound’s worth! I noticed he was also selling the blue upholstery foam we have all used, so the stuff is clearly not hard to come by.


To start the costume, I made some templates with brown paper based on some action man trousers I had to hand and the scale drawing I had.



With the parts cut, I slowly cobbled them together over a couple of days, finishing the sewing on the jacket with a red mandarin collar.  On the first day back, I took what I had of the uniform and added the cuffs and the pockets with Evo-Stick.

Unfortunately the trousers have come up a little big on him so I’ll have to fold over the seams to make them a tad skinnier. This means I’ll wait to put on the red stripes on his trousers.

Today I managed to make his hat with some cardboard and left over material from the uniform. I curled a piece of cardboard around his head, secured it with masking tape and cut it to shape, before slathering it with Evo-Stick and laying on the blue material. I then traces the width of the inside of the top of the hat and made a top to wedge into it. Then I made the peak with another cut of cardboard, cut to shape.

In some of the early drawings, I had him carrying a satchel, so I cobbled one together to see how it looked.


The strap is a little on the short side, however it’s made of masking tape and I’ve coloured it in with brown felt tip which has given it a leathery effect which is quite satisfying. I may re do it a bit longer, but for now, it’s a fine prop.