We were approached by a representative from St. Marys College after a public screening of a community film we made called Animating Accy. After an initial brief discussion at the screening followed by several e-mails, we met with the St Mary's publicity team to discuss ideas for a short promotional film, aimed at attracting students to the college. This was a really useful session where we shared ideas, and discussed different ways the project could proceed. At that stage the concept for the film was quite loose, although we all had a good idea of what we wanted the film to achieve.
At a second meeting, the publicity team had developed their ideas further and begun to fix elements that they were keen to include in the film. We started to look at specifics like how to include lots of information in a short space, and which students might work well as interviewees. The college were keen to showcase their impressive facilities, and it was at this stage that we suggested mixing live action interviewees with animated characters, to ground the project in real life.
We filmed around 3 hours of interviews, and the first process back in the studio was to select the best sound clips to work with. We wanted the interviews to flow as a story leading from subject to subject. After constructing a 10 minute version of the interviews that covered all the points we were asked to cover, we sent the sound file through to the team at St. Mary's so they could feedback and input into the final sound edit.
At this stage we constructed a short 'teaser' clip animation, using a section of interview that we loved, but were not planning on including in the final film. This gave us the opportunity to test out character design, and ensure that the St. Marys team were happy with the style of the design before creating all the characters.
Filming took place over 2 days, and 15 students from different subject areas were scheduled to be interviewed throughout the filming sessions. We asked each student a variety of questions; so that we had plenty of footage to work with in the edit. The advantage of working in this way with interviewees (rather than for example asking them to read a script) is that the students became more relaxed and were able to respond to questions in a natural manner.
We filmed and took photos of many different areas inside and outside the college building including classrooms, library books, chairs - and even a skeleton in the science lab! As we planned to mix animation, live action, and photography - each element was filmed and photographed so that we captured the college from different angles and perspectives. At this stage the goal was to collect lots of source material so that when we returned to the studio, we could combine the components in different ways.
The team were happy with the style, and once we had a final sound edit to work with, we began work on the film. The characters were designed to be a recognisable cartoon version of the interviewees - without being a caricature. Scenes were built up on the Mac using a mixture of photographs, drawings and textures - layering them using animation software to create a sense of depth. Characters were 'lip synced' so their mouths move when they speak, and their clothes/hair textures were designed.
To showcase the facilities, we included footage from activities and lessons; and added text on screen to highlight important phrases. We used 'copyright free' music from our library for the film, so that the St. Mary's team could use the film online or offline with no audio restrictions. We then met with the team, and worked with them to create a shorter 90 second edit of the finished film to act as an advert for the longer version.
We were absolutely delighted with our partnership with Huckleberry Films. Their professionalism and creativity coupled with their friendly and encourging manner with our students has resulted in a quirky, innovative film which has really captured the spirit and excellence of life at St Mary's.
Sarah Flanagan - Assistant Principal, St. Mary's College