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Animation students work together remotely to create music video

12 October 2020


Animation students from Teesside University worked remotely during the current pandemic to create a music video to accompany the latest release from Belfast musician Owen Lamont.

Singer songwriter Owen approached the University’s animation department earlier this year, seeking help to create an animated video to accompany his new track Nobody. Then, as the student team started work on the project, they were impacted by the lockdown restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Determined to continue, the students set about working individually on the animation. They quickly adapted to work on their own laptops and computer equipment, using programmes and online tools to design and produce the animated video.

Owen, whose track Nobody is released this month, said: 'It has been an incredible experience, driven so well by the student team. I received a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and was keen to create an animated video for release alongside the single.

'I was involved in the process right from the beginning and was amazed at the talent of everyone involved. I think they’ve captured the look and feel perfectly, and I’m delighted with the final video. These folks clearly have a bright future ahead of them.'

The student team was led by director Matt Layfield, with storyboard artist and animator Sharan Selveratnam, animator Holly Irving, along with Arran Bull and Joe Punton, as rotoscope artists. The team was mentored by Justin Greetham, Senior Lecturer in Visualisation in the University’s School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies.

Final year BA (Hons) 2D Animation and Stop Motion student Matt, who came up with the initial concept, said: 'I led on style and story with inspiration taken from Owen’s song. Owen was really open-minded creatively during the whole process. He gave us input and his ideas, but also understood the need to let us lead ourselves.

'One of the main issues we faced while working from home was using our own computers without access to facilities we would normally use at University. There were challenges, as everything we were doing had to switch to 2D when the lockdown started. We’ve all had to adapt.

'It wasn’t always the easiest way of working and it was challenging at times, especially with online meetings reliant on everyone having internet connection. It’s been a massive learning experience, especially in managing my time and how I work.'

It has been an incredible experience, driven so well by the student team.

Musician Owen Lamont

Sharan, from India, who is also starting the final year of the BA (Hons) 2D Animation and Stop Motion, said: 'It is a very melodic tune and not a type of music I was familiar with, having grown up in India. We wanted to show characters transformed from feeling locked down to discovering a feeling of freedom, reflecting the character’s journey back into life.

'As an animator, I found working in isolation during lockdown as something of a blessing, as it meant there was little distraction. But there were challenges in having to use our own tablets and devices, without access to the facilities we would usually use at University. Overall, it has been great preparation for the future and learning to adapt in difficult circumstances.'

Sharan added: 'I had some experience of animation, but coming to Teesside has exposed me to many different types of animation. My main passion is drawing and my degree enables me to explore my drawing skills while preparing for a future career.'

Justin said: 'I’ve had the good fortune to work with a variety of musicians over the years, from the Rolling Stones to Babylon Zoo, who had number one hit Spaceman in 1996. However, nothing prepared me and the students for working in lockdown and the challenges which this would bring as we all worked from home.

'Owen has been one of the most sobering of clients who I have had the good fortune to work with. His creativity and generosity allowed the students to really stretch out.

'It has been really useful for the students to be able to work with a live client and something which we feel is an important part of the students’ learning journey.'

Watch a behind the scenes ‘Making of Nobody’ video

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