Welcome back to Motionweeknight Blurbs! Thank you for sticking with us, we will be rewarding your loyalty with more wise words and imaginative insights, all from motion graphic giants we have interviewed just for you!
Today’s Motionweeknight Blurb comes from a design tag team of awesomeness, Alasdair and Jock!
We first saw the work of Alasdair Brotherston & Jock Mooney with their short film, Gelato Go Home. The initial reaction was, “THIS IS AMAZING!” and the second was, “We should get to know them better!” The design partnership clearly works, with all the animation output they have that presents style, taste, design and wit. In 2009 they signed to Trunk Animation where more of their creative prowess has been magnified.
MW: How did you start in the industry?
Alasdair: I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2004 and then did about a year freelancing on short film and commercial projects at a company up there called Red Kite Animation before moving to London. I did a week of work experience at Slinky (RIP) where I met Richard Barnett who is now co-owner of Trunk and our producer. I started freelancing at various London studios and kept making my own projects until I hooked up with Jock in 2008 and we were signed by Trunk the next year.
Jock: I also graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, where I met Alasdair, in 2004. I graduated in Sculpture, and pretty much straight away went into exhibiting. I moved to Newcastle in 2006 where I met the gallery owners of Vane – who have represented me since then, and shown my work internationally. I moved to London in 2008. Soon after that I worked with Alasdair on our first collaboration (‘Throw Me To The Rats), and then we went onto being represented by Trunk.
MW: What best describes your unique style?
Alasdair: That’s a tricky one. I think we have a decent eye for detail and definitely a good sense of colour.
Jock: Our style is very diverse, and it is certainly quite hard to pin point what it “is” as such – we’re always pushing things and trying out different styles, but ultimately, yes, I’d agree with Alasdair in saying that detail and good sense of colour comes into it. The editing of our things is also quite sharp and snappy, we tend to squeeze in extra work for ourselves rather a lot, but ultimately that results in a better deal of satisfaction – after the exhaustion has passed. There is nothing worse than looking back at a finished projects and seeing nothing but the flaws. Of late, touch wood, that has been happening less and less for me – which would suggest that we’re simply getting better.
MW: What was your first job and project in the industry?
Alasdair: I think my first job was as a colourist and compositor on a Channel 4 A.I.R scheme short film by Fumio Obata called Shh! I learnt how to use a batch scanner, After Effects 5 and some colouring software whose name escapes me now. Grants for short films back then were approximately 10 times what they are currently, I’m still a bit envious of the time people had to develop shorts.
Jock: My first experience was ‘Throw Me to the Rats’, though I wouldn’t really describe that as a job as Alasdair approached me directly. In my head my first proper job was a live action music video for Wave Machines – that was certainly an eye opener.
MW: What software and/or hardware has been instrumental in your growth as an artist?
Alasdair: Wacom tablets! Digital work flow has made the design and animation process so much faster. I do not miss the days of batch scanners one bit. (If wacom are reading this and want to gift me a Cintiq then I will graciously accept)
Jock: Only very recently have I been drawing directly into photoshop, with a Wacom. I still draw some things by hand though, as sometimes good old hand drawing just can’t be beaten. I am glad to now be able to do some things on Photoshop that I never would have thought possible, which is nice… and that is simply from lots of tedious practice.
MW: How was it like working on Gelato Go Home? Any quirky or funny or horror stories to share?
Alasdair: I think some of the best fun we had on Gelato was coming up with name plates for the ice cream vans. I think you only get to see half a dozen in the final edit but there were some great ones that didn’t make it in: Gino & Ginelli, Knickerbocker Gloria, Classy Glacé….
Jock: There was a tonne of stuff that didn’t make it into ‘Gelato’ that was killer. I think ultimately that is a great sign of a project being any good or not – it certainly shouldn’t be like pulling teeth trying to come up with scenes, or names of vans. I was very glad that ‘Scary Ice’ made it into the final film – which you can only really make out if you’re lucky enough to see the film in a cinema, but still, it is there. I seem to remember we were quite persistent, or at least I was, that a Mel B themed van should be in there – an earlier version we had slated for inclusion was called ‘Peach Mel B’.
In terms of ‘Horror’, there were a couple of technical issues thrown up which were a bit brown pant making, but we got there and now know how to solve said problems.
MW: Describe your collaboration process and how it makes everything more awesome.
Alasdair: I think we can find collaborating quite tough as we both generally have quite strong opinions on every stage of the process of producing animation, it does force you to justify the decisions you make though which I think helps raise the overall standard.
Jock: When I am doing ‘art’ I essentially am making all my decisions myself and giving it to a gallery. Working in a collaborative way, with Alasdair, and our producer is very enjoyable – most of the time – for me, as it is such a different approach. Obviously we won’t agree the whole time, which is where Rich our producer comes in. You sometimes have to see your own idea through someone else’s eyes to realize whether or not it is a goer. I’m certainly not just interested in making moving images that look like ‘Jock Mooney’, as that is rather limiting.
MW: Any advice for freelance motion graphic artists?
Alasdair: Try and be inspired by visual culture outside of the field of animation or visual effects. There is so much more to get excited about than a video on youtube or vimeo that someone else has already made and made well.
Jock: To do other things, and be influenced by other things. Working on animation can be a very insular, rather suffocated place to be at times. If I didn’t have another area to apply myself in, I could go a bit nuts.
MW: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Alasdair: On holiday.
Jock: I’ll always be happy to make art and make animations, but I would also quite like to expand into more illustration work. Realistically, I should learn how to do 3D modelling in Cinema 4D as that would actually utilize my degree in Sculpture and have benefits for the animation side of things. When you work on an ad hoc basis it can be rather hard to have a plan as such.
MW: We all know that motion graphics take a lot of time to complete. What’s your favorite food to eat when you’re staying up late working on all these amazing graphics?
Alasdair: I try and not do the late shifts anymore. After my first year in London I felt very over worked after too many weekends and late nights. When schedules get tight I try and get in a little bit earlier and go home at a sensible hour. Working 24 hour shifts is counter productive as you make so many more mistakes and I think you make better creative decisions after a good nights sleep. However if you can’t avoid it then you can’t beat a bit of vietnamese.
Jock: If I end up working late I will normally reach for a beer, which doesn’t help much. I think Biltong is good to shove in your face.
Eager for a taste of Alasdair and Jock’s work? Wait no more!
Want more awesomeness? You may see more of Alasdair and Jock at http://trunk.me.uk/?cat=21#