The Swallows of Kabul


I can just about see between the layers in this one, especially when the paralax kicks in. I think the door that swings open at one point might be 3D, as it would have been in ‘Les Armatures’ earlier film, ‘Triplets of Belleville’.

The style of this is absolutely staggering and the nuanced little scene we see is beautiful. It’s about time someone gave some stigmatised people a naturalistic voice.


Gumball Backgrounds

Here’s a couple of places that have given me an insight into the background making process for gumball.

Some backgrounds are a result of heavy photo manipulation and others are 3D sets with photo-real textures that are rendered into stills with mental-ray.

The photo-real backgrounds in gumball mean compositors need to recreate accurate lighting and shadows with the characters.

Gumball Compositor Application

Gumball Jobs.PNG

Here is an absolutely golden source. Now I know exactly what software is used to put together the final scenes and what is expected of a compositor on the show. Good knowledge of Flash and Photoshop is a plus as it means they can also work with animations and backgrounds if they need to and set up dynamic links between projects. I now also know they call it a ‘Multidisciplinary team’ which is good to know, because I’d only been assuming.

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.



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.

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.

After FX vs NUKE

Looking around on the internet, you find it gets quite heated on this subject, but what do the two programs mean for 2D animation?

From what I can tell, After Effects is the standard software for animation. This is probably because an awful lot of people use this one piece of software to pay the bills as most commercial work, as I’ve heard from a lot of our guest speakers, is completed inside the software as you can have the whole pipeline inside the one program if you want.

Adobe products are also universal. That’s why we’re taught them in¬†secondary, sixth form and Uni. Any art and design company, let alone animation company, is going to have the products available. What’s great about them is their massive compatibility, the storyboarders can throw together some panels in Photoshop, send them over to be made into animatics in premier. Once that’s been finalised, it gets sent over to animation where it can be dropped straight into Flash as a guide. Once the animation is done, the Flash projects and background PSDs can be opened up in After FX and composited into the final shots without once leaving the creative cloud.

It makes a great case for After FX as a tool.

So why would anyone use NUKE? The nature of its UI, being a node based compositor, makes things a lot easier to understand when you have a big, complex project. This makes sense to use for compositing realistic, multi-layered CG or special effects work.

The other thing NUKE has going for it is the fact it has a genuine 3D workspace unlike After FX which imitates one. That’s great, but why would that be of any use to 2D animators? Most of the perks that come from working with NUKE are to do with 3D file compatibility which isn’t much use to 2D animators, unless they’re working with mixed media.

Animade.TV Email

Today I sent out an email to the studio we’ve been looking at in London. Here’s what I sent:

Hello Animade,

I’m Finley, an animation student at Norwich University of the Arts. I’m getting in touch regarding a group project on industry roles and practices. A couple of us here follow your studio Instagram and really love your house style, so we were hoping you could tell us a little bit about the company?

How long has the studio been on the scene? Does the collaboration between confounders predate the company?

How soon did the studio attract upmarket clients like Facebook and IBM?

Was there a steady growth of employees or was there a sudden turning point?

What are the standard studio animation processes? Are you an entirely digital studio and if so, is After Effects your only animating software?

There are a few other questions we would like to ask that are more role specific, is there a chance you could recommend some employees to talk to?  The roles we are interested in are:


Character Animator

Character Design


I understand youre quite a streamlined studio so I’ll be interested to hear weather those roles are a bit blurred or even relevant to your pipeline.

Thank you very much for your time, I hope we’re not asking too much. We look forward to hearing back from you!

Best regards,


2D – 3D Integration

More and more recently, we have begun to see 2D animations integrated into 3D backgrounds, for example, the new Spirit House music video. I think it’s a very lovely aesthetic choice, but I’ve found that its not just a benign decision to make.

Studios may choose to do this because it makes things cheaper. 2D animation for simple characters is easier and cheaper in most cases. However, if you want to have some fun camera moves, it makes sense to have a 3D background made so you can have any angle you like without having to redraw it all.

The more complex characters in this are CG because they’d be a pain to draw. It’s a good mix.