There’s no better way to say it, but wow, what a weekend! After a 20 year absence, Lauren Orme and her team resurrected the Cardiff Animation Festival with a bang. Here’s a review of our weekend experience at the festival.

Dotty the Cardiff Animation Festival 2018 Mascot, created by Sculpt Double
Dotty the Cardiff Animation Festival 2018 Mascot, created by Sculpt Double

Films, Masterclasses and People

We knew, based on the Animation Nights (organised by the same team), that it was going to be a good weekend, but we quickly realised from the programme announcement that we were in for a treat.

We set out to see and do as much as we could throughout the weekend, which resulted in seeing over 70 short films and three feature-length films with masterclasses. We also attended many valuable talks and met a lot of lovely people from within the industry, as well as passionate students from across the UK – The animation industry is full of the friendliest and enthusiastic people.

Each of the Masterclasses gave their unique insight into the industry. Our favourites and most valuable to ourselves came from the Hey Duggee Show and Tell, and the making of The Breadwinner, both of which gave quite an in-depth look at how their production process works.

Grant Orchard, Cardiff Animation Festival
Grant Orchard, the creator of Hey Duggee, gave us an insight to how the show was created with exclusive clips!

The CAF team totally knocked it out of the park for its first year, from the overall presentation of the festival in its branding, the idents before each film, the programming and the contagious passion behind the CAF team, ensured you were part of something special. It’s also important to mention the suitability of Chapter Arts Centre as a venue and the friendly staff, proving it was a perfect host for multiple screenings and talks at once, without having to leave the complex.

We’re proud to have sponsored this festival and given it the support to help it be the best it can be for its first year. We’ve come away from the weekend inspired, enlightened and excited to get back to work to make the best animations we can – and hopefully have a film to submit for next year!

Isle of Dogs Masterclass at Cardiff Animation Festival
After a screening of the amazing Isle of Dogs, we were treated to a behind the scenes masterclass from some of the crew

Highlights

Apart from the many short films, some of our highlights from the weekend included:
– Hey Duggee Show and Tell
– The Breadwinner & Masterclass
– Isle of Dogs & Masterclass
– Chuck Steel Exhibition

Chuck Steel Exhibition - Cardiff Animation Nights
The ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’ exhibition gave an in depth look at the crazy detail of the models and sets from the upcoming feature film

Lastly, the JC team each picked out one favourite short film from the weekend – which was no easy task!

Late Afternoon

Emily exists between two states, the past and the present, but she struggles to connect them.

Dir. Louise Bagnall

Catherine

A tragic comedy of a sweet little girl, who grows up to be a crazy old cat lady.

Dir. Brit Raes

 

Death of a Father

Caught in a web of age-old rituals post his father’s demise, Babu realises the banality that surrounds death.

Dir. Somnath Pal

Notable Mentions

As difficult as it was to narrow down our favourites, here are the other films we loved for one reason or another:

Did you attend?

How was the weekend for you, what did you see and do and what was your favourite film?

On behalf of the Cardiff Animation Festival team, they’re asking for feedback which will go towards putting on an even better festival next time. If you can spare a few minutes, you can help them out by filling out the feedback form here: http://www.cardiffanimation.com/feedback

Cardiff Bay-based animation studio Jammy Custard will be a proud sponsor of the first Cardiff Animation Festival. The 4-day event held at Chapter Arts Centre will showcase some of the best animation from all over the world, as well as Q&A’s, Masterclasses, Workshops and Industry events.

Cardiff Animation Festival 2018 Passes on Sale

Cardiff Bay-based animation studio Jammy Custard will be a proud sponsor of the first Cardiff Animation Festival. The 4-day event held at Chapter Arts Centre will showcase some of the best animation from all over the world, as well as Q&A’s, Masterclasses, Workshops and Industry events.

It will provide local animators and creatives with an opportunity to meet and share work with like-minded individuals travelling from across the UK and further afield, to Europe’s youngest capital city. 99 short films will be screened as well as highly acclaimed feature films.

The festival is organised by the same team that has run the Cardiff Animation Nights in the city since 2014, a non-profit, community-based organisation that wanted to go one step further and showcase the region’s talent to the broader industry.

Dani Abram, Co-Organiser and Head of Marketing for the festival, is encouraged by the potential for Cardiff to continue making its mark on the industry:

“We’re so excited that Cardiff is becoming such a creative and supportive hub. The animation industry has long since thrived here, and it looks set to grow and grow, the addition of a dedicated animation festival is yet more proof of that!

We’ve been holding animation screening events in this city for well over 3 years now, bringing independent animated short films from around the world to a growing community of artists and fans. We hope the festival will attract the focus of the wider industry, with guests and filmmakers travelling from as far as India to attend, representing some of the industries most exciting studios!”

Early Man Screening at Cardiff Animation Festival
Aardmans Early Man will be showing followed by a Q&A with the Animation Director Merlin Crossingham

Cardiff Bay-based animation studio Jammy Custard will be a proud sponsor of the first Cardiff Animation Festival. The 4-day event held at Chapter Arts Centre will showcase some of the best animation from all over the world, as well as Q&A’s, Masterclasses, Workshops and Industry events.

It will provide local animators and creatives with an opportunity to meet and share work with like-minded individuals travelling from across the UK and further afield, to Europe’s youngest capital city. 99 short films will be screened as well as highly acclaimed feature films.

The festival is organised by the same team that has run the Cardiff Animation Nights in the city since 2014, a non-profit, community-based organisation that wanted to go one step further and showcase the region’s talent to the broader industry.

Dani Abram, Co-Organiser and Head of Marketing for the festival, is encouraged by the potential for Cardiff to continue making its mark on the industry:

“We’re so excited that Cardiff is becoming such a creative and supportive hub. The animation industry has long since thrived here, and it looks set to grow and grow, the addition of a dedicated animation festival is yet more proof of that!

We’ve been holding animation screening events in this city for well over 3 years now, bringing independent animated short films from around the world to a growing community of artists and fans. We hope the festival will attract the focus of the wider industry, with guests and filmmakers travelling from as far as India to attend, representing some of the industries most exciting studios!”

Jammy Custard Animation is looking to obtain larger productions in years to come. Matthew Creed, Head of Animation at Jammy Custard said that supporting the festival was an excellent opportunity to connect with others and work towards the development of the local industry:

“We’re thrilled to be a sponsor of this festival and impressed with the work that’s already gone into it. The support they have managed to arrange from organisations like the British Film Industry Network and BAFTA Cymru is something we’re all proud of.

The team have been hard at work with their Animation Nights for some time now, which in turn has strengthened the animation community/industry in Cardiff. I always come away from those nights inspired and eager to get animating the next day so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the festival.”

4 reasons why you should go to the festival, even if you’re not an animator:

  1. First and foremost – it’ll be fun. There will be films produced for a range of ages and tastes
  2. Demand for animated content is growing – If your business is looking for talent, this may well be the place to find it
  3. Have a go – there will be workshops available so you can try your hand at animation, whether your 8 or 80.
  4. A chance to network – there will be social opportunities to meet creatives from across the city and from some of the big UK production studios.

For more information about the festival and purchasing full festival or event-based passes, please visit: http://www.cardiffanimation.com/

Family Fostering Partners, based in South Wales, commissioned the animated Welsh-language piece to explore the potential for a series of cartoons.

Family Fostering Partners, based in South Wales, commissioned the animated Welsh-language piece to explore the potential for a series of cartoons.

The cartoon’s development is the start of a much broader campaign, that will see the main characters “Bwtwns” and “Blw” feature in a suite of resources which will be made available to fostered children through an online portal, currently under development, including e-books. Family Fostering Partners commissioned two celebrated Welsh poets to write three ‘therapeutic’ stories to work from, with one intended for the cartoon pilot, while the other two will become supporting eBooks.

The project has been part-funded by the Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 initiative programme.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said:

We want the use of Welsh to be a routine part of everyday life so that speakers at all levels feel confident in using it in formal and informal situations. Encouraging families to use Welsh is a vital part of this. It is especially important for foster families where children are first language Welsh speakers and will find it much easier to adjust to their new surroundings if they are able to use their Welsh

‘Bwtwns a Blw’ is one of many Cymraeg 2050 projects that will make it easier for people to use the language, whether face to face in the community and in the workplace or through digital platforms.

Curon Howells, Business Development Manager for Family Fostering Partners said:

We’re incredibly excited about seeing Bwtwm and Blw being brought to life on the small screen, not least of all because we believe that the animations are the first of their kind to offer Looked After children the opportunity and choice to access videos with a therapeutic theme in the Welsh language.

We want to normalise the concept of foster care and foster families, encouraging more people to consider becoming foster carers for vulnerable children in Wales. We’re looking at ways of opening up access to the brand, so other organisations, learning establishments and foster homes can contribute to this vital campaign.

The characters Bwtwns (a child) and Blw (an adult) are based on elephant characters that were initially created as part of the agency’s branding, even making it to toy form.

Curon Howells with Buttons and Blue

Curon explains why they chose elephants to lead the branding and the stories:

“As a relatively new but growing independent fostering agency, Bwtwns and Blw have a special place in our hearts. They have been an integral part of the agency since its inception. While creating our brand, we recognised that elephants in the wild are great parents who will take collective responsibility for the young of the herd. This fact is an excellent parallel for foster carers who share the task of caring for Looked After Children. Bwtwns and Blw’s first incarnation were actually as stuffed toys designed and created by the Managing Director, Judith Rees’ mother!”

Jammy Custard’s Creative Director and Lead Animator Matthew Creed reflected on the potential success of the project for all involved:

“To have the support and confidence of Family Fostering Partners to carry out this work is a great honour. They’ve been great to work with. The Jammy’s team, in particular, Kyle, who has been leading the creative direction for this project, are incredibly excited to be working on a commissioned cartoon which is not only great fun but holds real value for the audience. The storylines have been simple but effective, and we know what style of visual we’re trying to achieve. It’s a fascinating project, and we can’t wait to share it.”

Curon of Family Fostering Partners concluded:

“Seeing the work that Jammy Custard have done to transform Bwtwns and Blw from our original stuffed animals to animated characters has been a wonderful experience, and we can’t wait to share the final project with the world!”

The official launch of the campaign, including the cartoon pilot will be on the 11th of April.

His new live project is much more dynamic, working alongside ‘5th Spear’ a solo artist with a huge electronic sound and live drums, Matthew now stands on stage and performs the visuals live as a VJ, meaning the visuals are even more of a performance instead of a careful orchestrated event. After already playing a few gigs, including a huge turnout at Swn Festival 2015 and a headline slot at FreeForAll Festival 2016, this is an exciting new venture exploring the realms of interactive and dynamic visual performance.

Most business-based video content is consumed on social media. Jammy Custard shares a rundown of the top 5 factors to consider when optimising your video content for social. Here we go:

Most business-based video content is consumed on social media. Jammy Custard shares a rundown of the top 5 factors to consider when optimising your video content for social. Here we go:

Square format

Proportionality and layout design of most social feeds mean that it’s possible to fill a user’s screen with just your content, provided it’s in a square format. The effectiveness of using square formatting is amplified when you consider mobile usage, as most feeds are scrolled through with the device in Portrait. A conventional video format will scale down to roughly 30% of the screen.When actioning on the video, widescreen format videos would then need the user to clumsily rotate the device, while square format videos will sit nicely in the centre with any actionable buttons located above and below the video, rather than on top.

Audio

Straight up, hearing is a sense that can provide a lot of emphasis and emotion so you should always design sound into a video. Nonetheless, as videos autoplay as scrolling focuses on video, you need to be able to convey a message (or at least generate intrigue) without sound.

This is an issue that quickly gets complex, but to keep things brief consider:

Subtitles and kinetic typography

When there’s a point to be made, using text during the video has become a norm. The main triggers for this have been ‘Autoplay’ and usage of phones in quiet/public spaces (commuting for example). Using text on the screen makes it more likely that someone will stop to absorb. The trick with text is, of course, reading means focusing!

You have two different choices; you can use the conventional subtitle route, or alternatively, incorporate full statements or just essential words into a scene’s space. A classic example of the kinetic typography in action is in this video:

Every year players of @TNLUK help us to care for the places you love. National Lottery players, to see how you’ve helped come and join us on Wednesday 13 December when you can visit FOR FREE! Find out how at https://t.co/fPrUFHezT3 #ThanksToYoupic.twitter.com/kslIeQader

— National Trust (@nationaltrust) December 11, 2017

The National Lottery Ticket Day with the National Trust. By the National Trust and Jammy Custard

If you think back, you’ve probably even seen film trailers use either one of these options.

Knowing your audience is the most significant key here. Deciding whether to use subtitles or kinetic type should be based on your audience’s knowledge, the level of detail required, the duration of the video, the complexity and size of the subject matter on screen, and the amount of movement it needs to support. Branding may also be another important factor, but the important thing is to decide where a focus on text or visual is a priority.

Don’t let this be an afterthought either, as including text visually comes with a lot of technical and timing nuances, so start thinking about this during storyboarding.

Looping video

Videos hosted on social media platforms can have the ability to loop and immediately replay without instruction. The goal posts of what qualifies a video to loop seem to move from time to time, but making a video loop seamlessly from start to end is a ‘sneaky’ way of ensuring the viewer understands the message. No, you’re not aiming for a state of trance with pretty visuals, but a visually enjoyable short video statistically is likely to be played more than something which is long and has a very definitive end.

We like to try and transition from the end slate back into the beginning with the right amount of timing in between, but do recognise when this might not be suitable or possible. Call to Actions are very important, for instance.

Where to host the video

If you can, try to upload the video to the actual social network. Doing so guarantees many of the qualities that define social video above, including autoplay and looping playback. More significantly, a square format video can be uploaded, meaning you can fill up that feed view with your content.
If you enjoyed this content, try having a coffee with us! We’re always happy to talk you through the above in more detail. Cardiff Bay has a cool range of cafes, too!

Thank you for reading,

The Jammies.

Who doesn’t love an animated gif? Well, like mediums of communication it depends on the context and timing, but as a means of grabbing someone’s attention as they perform their 30-minute routine social media check; snappy, short video is an incredibly powerful tool, one that we at Jammy Custard feel is not exploited nearly enough by businesses.

Marketing savvy businesses have become comfortable with using promotional and explainer videos, lasting around 1-2 minute duration to woo audiences. But with social feeds being dominated by moving content, what does the rise of the Pop-Culture gif, specifically, tell us about social feed comms?

Most social network comment sections are primed with .gif libraries. The content in these libraries is usually a scene from a TV show, film or a pet. These libraries exist so users can emphasise an emotion and use a memorable, often humorous anecdote to support their thoughts. There’s a big, flashing, neon sign in the previous statement that should be grabbing your attention, and it reads ’emphasise an emotion’. That is one of the most significant reasons why short video will grow in popularity and why you should consider creating and using short video.

Look at the key benefits:

How can a business use ‘branded’ short video?

Here are two points businesses are beginning to understand about short video usage:

1. By conveying emotion, you can humanise a brand – this is what drives most gif and short video usage; a means of expression, likely with a dash of ‘light relief’.

Businesses can already use the standard free-to-use gifs of famous film, tv and meme characters, and used well; these can be a great response.

How can a business take this one step further?

Take a look at sports. Lots of teams and personalities use gifs and short videos to tell the story of a sporting event. For example, Red Bull Racing’s Formula 1 Team have a fantastic bank of video gifs to provide anecdotal responses to moments their driver’s face during a Grand Prix. It shows their drivers ‘showing off’ a mood or reaction. But importantly, it ties into their brand and brand’s journey through the championship’s highs and lows.

Daniel Ricciardo Gif
Max Verstappen GIF

Businesses are still exploring how short videos such as the above can add their brand story, but as ever, research into different industries can provide a wealth of inspiration. How about saying “thank you”, “celebrating a big win today” or simply “have a nice weekend” in a way that is unique to your brand? What could that mean to your customers and your team?

2. Remove the audiences ‘effort’ to take in something important

Let’s imagine you have an event or an important deadline for a competition coming up. You need to boost the attentiveness of your audience and get them to act. A post that prints the objective truth that ‘time is running out’ would be well supported by an animated short video that either:

Either response taps into a person’s behaviour and is more likely to create a reaction to the situation.

When it comes to selling a product or service, we will stick our neck on the line and say, sometimes, a short video with one clear definition can sometimes be money better spent than trying to pack lots of things into a video (it’s why we created our social video package). It’s also worth thinking about how splitting up messages into individual points gives you fodder for social content. Quantity and Quality!

(caption: When social media account managers have a full posts schedule all worked out)

Take a short video campaign we did for Cawdor Vauxhall dealership. They could have gone for an explainer video that explained they had new car offers and then went on to explain who Cawdor was and why they are worth the visit. They didn’t need to. The hero message that people are interested in is a new Vauxhall offer. Qualifying Cawdor as a good dealership can come from other content sources. The point is, the audience is hooked.

(caption: a short ‘moving billboard’ social video for new Vaxuhall car deals. By Cawdor Cars and Jammy Custard Animation)

Context is everything. Use short videos if the message is simple enough to explain, or to support other content. For the latter, they are there to suggest that the post’s material is vital enough to stop the audience scrolling past. Finally, short little slick videos and animations are another opportunity to present your branding and show you invest in your image and therefore reputation – a point that’s not seemingly picked up on very much.

Beware the pitfalls of short videos

Finally, be creative

Don’t forget, limitations such as duration can provide the perfect opportunity to create something genuinely original and compelling. Not all big marketing problems require big solutions.

If you are interested in exploring gif content, we at Jammy Custard are just a phone call away. Thank you for reading.

Music Video Award Nomination

We’re thrilled to say that the Animated Music Video we made for ‘Ellie Makes Music’ has been nominated for an award at the Cardiff Mini Film Festival.

Not only is this an opportunity to win an award and gain exposure, the Cardiff Mini Film Festival is a great occasion to watch and be inspired by new films and connect with other filmmakers.

In case you haven’t seen the video before, check it out below: