Student Animations part of Film Festival Music Event

A group of design students at Gray’s School of Art have teamed up with local musicians to produce a series of films as part of an innovative visual theatre and film festival.

Xanthe Bodington and Lewis Copland 'Snowflake' 2The project, which is part of the Manipulate Festival, saw 11 third and fourth year Communication Design students create seven short films in response to songs by up and coming north-east performers Indian Red Lopez, Casino Circus and Leanne Smith.

Working with artist and animator Thomas Hicks, who has produced films for singers such as Paul McCartney, Skunk Anansie and Newton Faulkner, the students created films in pairs for six different songs as well as a collaborative group film for a seventh song.

Their work will be showcased at a special event called Music & Moving Images at the Lemon Tree on Saturday, January 31 which will see live performances and screenings of all the songs and films.

Student Xanthe Bodington (21) was one of those involved and developed a film for Leanne Smith’s song ‘Snowflake’ with course mate Lewis Copland.

She said: “I couldn’t wait to get started on this project as the first ever animation I did was for a music piece I had composed myself and it is something I wish to go into in the future.

Leanne Smith Music and Moving Images“We started the project off by listening to the song live. The images and a story to suit the lyrics and the song’s atmosphere started to develop from there, but it became a real challenge to storyboard them all to make a clear storyline. After that hurdle everything began to fall into place and it was a clear path from then on.”

Xanthe added: “I hope the film evokes the same emotions and atmosphere I felt when listening to the song for the first time. We created the animation to link the feelings through the lyrics and music to the physical world around us and try to make the animation reflect the spirit of the song.

“It was a real privilege to be working alongside someone so enthusiastic about our work as Thomas Hicks and someone as experienced as he is. He was very involved with the project and gave us some great insight and ideas for our work.

“I am really looking forward to Saturday as it will be the first time any of my work has been showcased and I’m also very excited about seeing everyone else’s finished animation.

“All the students produced amazing work and there is a huge variety of creativity to be seen. I am very proud to be a part of this and to collaborate with such amazing and talented people.”

Macduff singer and guitarist Leanne, who is a regular name on the Aberdeen music scene and further beyond, said: “It’s an absolute honour to be involved in such a fantastic project. I’m really looking forward to the event on Saturday – I haven’t seen the videos yet so they will be a lovely surprise on the night.

“Snowflake and Solitaire are very close to my heart so I’m excited to see them come to life visually. I’m so grateful to be collaborating with creative people whose ideas are really thoughtful and considerate of what my songs are about.”

Xanthe Bodington and Lewis Copland 'Snowflake'Thomas said: “The students did an inspiring job interpreting the music with film and animation. The complete body of work is very impressive and of a very high standard.

“It was interesting to see how the different groups interpreted the songs and I was really stunned by the innovative approaches to the work and what was achieved in a very short time frame. Everybody was very professional and I think the films will work so well with the bands as they perform live in The Lemon Tree.”

Thomas added: “The ambition for me has always been to try and create music videos, where the music and moving image become part of the same universe. One of the reasons why the students’ work is so successful is because they have chosen and selected ways of working that reflects and interprets the music well.”

Communication design lecturer at Gray’s, David Crossen, said: “It was a really great experience for the students and I to be working with an animator of Thomas’s stature. He was really supportive and encouraging with the students and this helped raise their confidence and the quality of their final pieces.

“On the course, we find this type of project invaluable in learning how to meet tight deadlines and communicating with others, during the course of the project. Hearing and seeing the very high standard of songwriting and performance of the local bands and musicians was also inspiring for the students.”

The evening will also see the screening of two films created by Neil Kempsell in collaboration with Scottish musician Martyn Bennett.

Release by
Jenny Rush

Communications Officer | Design and Technology

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