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Animation

Alex Sherwood

On Friday 11th February a naked Adam and Eve presented themselves to the Irish Digital Media community at the Digital Media Awards in ‘The Convention Centre’, Dublin. The obligatory leaves and conveniently placed foliage were nowhere to be seen and the entire audience were witness to a most audacious display of biblical nudity. No, this wasn’t two outrageous nudists breaking their way into an awards show and attempting to cause widespread chaos. It was a short animation produced by Alex Sherwood, a graduate of Ballyfermots Animation degree. His graduating film ‘The Apple Tree’ was nominated in the Student Digital Award category.

 

The Apple Tree

“There is no real reason for them being naked, I just made them nude just for the craic,” said Alex who came in third place in his category winning the silver medal.

“The night itself was really good; it’s really a professional kind of awards show for companies. This was the only student category and they showed a quick fifteen second reel of the animation so it was a good way to promote myself,” he added.

This was Alex’s graduating film from Ballyfermots Animation degree course and it was a solo effort which took about six back breaking months to complete.

“At the start of the year you have to pitch your ideas, then you start drawing characters and storyboards and gradually you just build up your project,” said Alex.

The idea behind ‘The Apple Tree’ is a story about the often difficult relationships between men and women.

Promotional Image

“I thought it would be kind of cool to set it during the Adam and Eve era, the first man and woman. I ran out of time and couldn’t complete my original idea so it changed into a story about betrayal. He sees her and tries to woo her and gain her trust but she rejects him, but then she changes her mind and takes a bite from the apple but he gets his revenge because it’s full of poison.”

While most graduates these days face a bleak future and limited options, Alex and two fellow graduates Sean Mullen and Ben Harper of the Animation degree course have wasted no time setting up their own production company and pursuing a career in Animation.

“It’s a proper business, we had to find an accountant and get a guy to design a website and recently we registered our trading name for our company but we should be set up as an official business fairly soon.”

‘Giant Creative’ – the name of the company – has only been up and running for a year now but it is already generating a huge amount of interest. Alex and Co. have been commissioned to work on numerous advertising projects for products such as Lemsip, which ‘Giant Creative’ co-produced with a production company called ‘The Pool’, and they are currently working on an animation for Eurospar.

This wasn’t his first nominated in recognition of his work. Last year he was nominated in the Student Media Awards for an animation he developed with Robert Temple and Daniel Courtney called ‘The Old Guys’.

“The student media awards was good, I good to throw my card around to loads of production companies and advertising agencies. I did get a bit drunk but so did everyone else really.”

Unfortunately Alex didn’t win his category at the Digital Media Awards; however, he did get the opportunity to show his work in front of an audience full of professionals. He lost out to fellow BCFE graduate Sean Mullen, who won the animation category with his work ‘The Artist’

The move away from traditional animation methods towards more 3D orientated animation has taken precedence since the late 1990’ with the older methods becoming more of an Art-house style.

“Everyone knows that 2D isn’t profitable anymore. 3D is marketable and easier to use so it’s a win-win situation for 3D animators. The move away is a bit sad but every 3D artist has a firm understanding of the older methods so I don’t think it will ever become redundant. I still love 2D animation though, it was my first love”

His interest in art began in secondary school. Leading up to the leaving cert. Alex couldn’t think of anything he really wanted to study apart from art.

“I wasn’t too sure about animation but I knew I wanted to do something I was genuinely interested in. It was really a shot in the dark but this really turned out to be the right course for me,” said Alex.

The majority of animations produced are generally marketed towards a younger audience but Alex would like to change this and create feature length animations with more mature adult themes.

“I love animation but I also love live action films. So down the line I would like to combine the two art forms. It would be interesting to make a serious animation with more mature story telling.”

Alex spent five years in Ballyfermot studying the introduction course, the two year diploma and two year degree.

“I had a great time there, everything is great. Some people complain about the state of the building but that’s really unnecessary. Every there including the staff love what they do so it’s a great working environment. I learned a lot from the courses I studied but they are a lot of work. It is mostly up to yourself to get the work done but the teachers are really helpful, if you ask for advice or help they will give it to you.”

He also has advice for any students who have applied to study animation later in the year.

“The course isn’t just a walk in the park. Most people seem to think it’s a breeze but you do have to be really professional about it. You really have to enjoy what you are studying and it is important to have a love of animation to really benefit from the courses.”

The animation school has produced numerous graduates which have gone on to do great things over the years such as Oscar winner Richie Baneham and fellow Academy Award nominee Cathal Gaffney. The list of successful graduates is endless and Alex is Keen to follow in their footsteps.

Anyone interested in Alex’s work and ‘Giant Creative’ can find out more at http://alexsherwood.blogspot.com/.

Written by: Fionn Walsh

Proofed by: Dara O’Conor

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan

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