Over the past few weeks ideas have been flowing, brains have been creating, and a London superhero has come to life!
At a series of sessions over a four-week period, six studios have taken time out of their demanding jobs as London-based animators to take part in a speed animation contest in front of a live audience. The challenge: to create a 10-second clip using the latest HP Workstation technology that shows a different stage of a new superhero's life, ranging from baby to senior.
With great anticipation of how the finished animation would look and feel once edited together, animators and spectators gathered once more at ZED, HP's pop-up studio for creative professionals for the London's Hero Closing Event.
The event was once more hosted by Cut&Paste (opens in new tab)'s John Fiorelli, who began by welcoming back the representatives and animators of the six studios. As the teams from Golden Wolf (opens in new tab), Fred & Eric (opens in new tab), Blackmeal (opens in new tab), Territory (opens in new tab), Animade (opens in new tab), and Mummu had previously only seen a few style frames from one another's segments, there was strong buzz of excitement for the big reveal.
The animation itself was flawless. Opening with the 'Baby' stage of life created by Paris's Blackmeal, the common theme of umbrellas and pigeons that had first appeared in the early concept stages made its debut. Using his super powers, our hero creates an umbrella to protect himself from the dreaded pigeon droppings of London town, which got laughs from the entire crowd.
Next Mummu took on the life stage of 'Child'. Against the backdrop of Trafalgar Square, our hero finds himself the victim of the London pigeon once more. Displaying a little lack of control over his super powers, the pigeon becomes larger than life, but with a quick fix, our hero transforms the beast into his trusty umbrella companion.
With a radical style change from the previous stages, Fred & Eric display the life of our hero's 'Teenage' years with a beautiful handmade, stop motion model, clearly not showing any interest in his responsibilities, while simultaneously showing the dramatic effect his absence is having on the London through his bedroom window.
The 'Young Adult' stage of life, from Animade, in black and white with a crimson accent, shows our hero in his prime. Using his super umbrella to save London, the people celebrate him, and while donning a personalized 'I heart London' tee and red underpants, the hero reaps the benefits of being super in a Tony Stark playboy style, which saw more laughter from the audience.
'Midlife' is the first sign of 3D animation from Territory Studios. With a futuristic London backdrop and the introduction of the power of time control, and the trusty umbrella at his side, our hero is suffering from a stereotypical mid-life crisis - despite retaining his costume and driving a fancy car, he cannot escape balding and an expanding waistline.
Bringing the animation to an end, Golden Wolf shows our now 'Senior' hero, using his time control to simply enjoy a pint or two in a London bar. Hooded and surrounded by time controlled chaos, our fallen hero uses his faithful umbrella to help himself rather than carry out his superhero duties in his old age.
Despite the dramatic differences in styles and character designs in each stage of life, the animation still had a strong sense of continuity throughout and had been edited together beautifully. The audience demanded a second viewing immediately, and with a closer look the attention to detail and the quality of talent that had gone in to each stage was clear.
After a second viewing and more laughs, each company asked the animators who had worked on the previous life stage before them questions ranging on their inspiration, how they worked together, their choice of style or how they would have done things differently.
Despite the hugely successful collaborative animation, one thing that could not be agreed upon was the new superhero's name. Umbrella Man, Mr Pickles, Paul, The Pigeon Protector, RainMan and Bobby Umbrella were mooted, but it seems that London's Hero may have to hold on to his secret identity for now.
Words: Bex Leybourne
Delivered in conjunction with ZED!
This content was produced in collaboration with HP & Intel as part of ZED (opens in new tab) - a Pop-Up Studio for the Creative Community held in Soho, London. For more information about ZED and any future events see here (opens in new tab).