A World Premiere

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Last week it was the Spring Fling, the annual Spring music concert at the older boys' high school.

It was James' last year taking part in the concert as a pupil and he was certainly kept busy in it.

Firstly he played the piano accompaniment for the guitar ensemble. Then he moved onto the newly started school Jazz Band, where he played trombone, and where Calum played trumpet. They both played their respective brass instruments in the Senior Wind Band, who performed a James Bond Medley. I would have added a wee clip of their bands playing, but I don't want to distract from the main focus of this post. 

The biggest thing James had to do at the concert was to stand up and give a presentation before the 'world premiere' of his animation. OK, so it wasn't a world premiere as such, but it was the first time his animation had been shown in public before a large audience so it was as good as a premiere to us anyway!

In his 6th year at high school James is studying Advanced Higher Gaelic, Advanced Higher Music and A-Level Art (Their school choose to offer A-Level Art rather than Advanced Higher as most of the Art Colleges prefer this as a qualification.)

For his main project for Art he had to do a work of Art titled 'Journey'. What this piece of Art is is entirely up to the students, and so James decided to make animation since he used to enjoy working on them so much when he was younger. Since his main study for music is composition he also decided that he would write the music for the animation himself too.

In his presentation at the concert he explained how he went about working on the animation. First of all he wrote a piano version of his soundtrack. Then he orchestrated this. Once he had written the orchestrated version he went around and asked all of the instrumental teachers at school if they would play the parts of their instrument so that he could record a proper version of the soundtrack. The staff were all so helpful and more than happy to play their parts for him. Then he just had to tweak with the levels a bit and his soundtrack was finished. The final result sounds amazing, but that wasn't the end of his work. 

Next he had to work on the animation. He wanted to animated a character against a live background, and so spent a week going out in all weathers to the woods around where we live. He got both photographs and film clips of the trees, the ground, the river, the rain falling etc. Finally he animated the little stick man over the backgrounds. This was the most labour intensive part of the project as each frame was hand drawn. There are about 24 frames per second and the film is 4 minutes long, so it works out at about 5700 individual drawings. He was only given a week to work on this section and so you can see why he chose to make his character a little stick man. Even though the man is just a stick man, he still added the shadows to him to make him more realistic.

 He has put so much thought into every tiny part of this that it just works so well. The teachers at school were so impressed with it that they asked him if it could be shown at the concert, so I know it is not just me as his biased mum who thinks it is amazing!

Anyway, enough of the chat about it, and onto the actual animation. For the best effect play it in full screen (clicking the little thing at the bottom right of the clip)

He has also added the soundtrack on it's own, which I think is a great idea because sometimes when you are watching a film you are distracted a bit from listening to the music properly, even although the music makes the film.

I studied composition as my main study when I did my music degree, which is what James also wants to do, although he is taking a year out after school to decide for sure. I know that I didn't have as much talent as him, or as much confidence either, when I was 18 and so I'm pretty sure he has great things ahead of him if he continues like this.

He has set up his own You Tube channel where he hopes to add more music as he gets it recorded and would really love it if he got a few more subscribers. You can find his channel here. I'm sure a lovely comment here or there on his animation would also be most welcome :)