Friday 9 December 2011

From BAF to BBC

The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling seemed to go down well at Bradford Animation Festival last month. Unfortunately I couldn't get up north to attend but thought I'd post these two mentions the film recieved. The first is on the National Media Museum's blog by Zara Hussain who thought the film was 'incredibly humorous'. Read the piece here. The second was on a blog by animation student Cassandra Adsett who described the film as 'lovely'. Read the piece here.

I'm also delighted to announce that Afraid of Falling has been selected to show across the UK on the BBC Big Screens scheme. The screens are used to showcase all kinds of entertainment from live broadcasts of operas to sport to short films and the screens appear in around twenty cities around the UK including Portsmouth, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmigham.

Geraldine McCullagh, Editor, Screens' Operational Centre said,
"We’re always on the lookout for material of sufficient interest and quality to appear on all our screens. This time it’s a selection of animations from Newport Film School that were particularly beautiful and engaging, and it’s not the first time we have taken their submissions to the Screen Manager in Wales to go UK wide."
This is what I said (for the film school press release),
BBC Big Screens is an exciting opportunity for my film to reach thousands of people in a unique way; I love the idea that people could stumble across the animations whilst in a city centre. Screening at film festivals is great but this gives the film a platform to reach a wider audience which is important to me. It's a real privilege to have been selected and a significant break for the film.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

November Screenings

If I have any fans in Estonia, or if you happen to be passing by Talin, you can see Afraid of Falling at Animated Dreams Festival this week. For details on when the film is screening click here. They also included a clip of the film in their trailer for the Best International Student Animation category which was nice.

For a chance to see it in the UK, the film is at Encounters International Film Festival this week in Bristol. See my blog post about Encounters here for more information. The film will be screening at the Arnolfini on Wednesday 16th at 18.00 and Friday 18th at 12.00. Click here for screening details on the Encounters website.

You can now also find me on Twitter where you can find some more regular updates about the film. You can find me:!/josephwallaceuk

Saturday 5 November 2011

BAA Shortlist

I'm thrilled to announce that The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling has been shortlisted for the prestigious British Animation Awards 2012. Founded by Jayne Pilling in 1996, the awards have been running for fifteen years and showcase the work of the best talent in the country, new and old. Here's what the copy on the website says about the awards.
We’re back - and busy preparing for the next British Animation Awards, which will take place March 15, 2012, at the BFI on the Southbank. The British Animation Awards is a totally unique event: the only one that brings together all the key players, and emerging and established talent, from the many and varied sectors of the UK animation scene, for an evening that is very different – and we think rather more fun! – than most Awards events.
There is another stage of selection before the final award nomination but I'm really pleased simply to be shortlisted. You can read an article about the awards (albiet a fairly old one from 2004) on the BBC here.

Friday 28 October 2011

Life of the film

The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling has screened, and is screening, at various festivals internationally. See the screenings page for more details. The film also won the Best Up and Coming Animation Talent award at Canterbury Anifest which was a real honour and a great festival. We'll be at Bradford Animation Festival and Encounters International Film Festival in November.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Success at Canterbury Anifest

I spent the weekend at Canterbury Anifest, a delightful festival and am excited to say that The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling won the Up Coming Animation Talent award 2011. This was a lovely unexpected surprise. You can see the award below. And my bewildered face.

Ivor, the film's protagonist, enjoys his second award

Up Coming Animation Talent Award. The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling
Dir. Joseph Wallace. Canterbury Anifest 2011

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Industry event

As part of our graduation show at Newport we had an industry event comprising of talks, an exhibition tour, a screening of the best 2011 films and a drinks reception. A fair few local industry folk turned up and it was a really nice way to round off the year.

Drinks reception in the new city campus at Newport

We had an award ceremony as part of the events and The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling won the 'Best Film' award which was really great. The awards given out were framed drawings made by my good friend Luiz Stockler who graduated last year with his brilliant filVovô. You can see more of his work on his blog here.

The award-winners with their awards

From left to right: Alex Hancocks and Luke George (John and Betty best sound), Stephen Craner (David best technical achievement), Eva Wagner (Sun and Moon best Animation), Tharun Joseph (Blocked best art design), Luiz Stockler (Newport alumnus and creator of the awards), Caroline Parsons (course leader), Helen Dallat and Daisy Gould (Bare best story), Joseph Wallace and Emma-Rose Dade (The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling best Film). Photo: Media Academy Wales

A close-up of our lovely award

Afraid of Falling composer Kit Wilson came over for the event which was nice as it meant various members of the crew who's worked remotely on the same project got to meet and watch the film together. At the same time Newport was also hosting a module of a new multi-platform training course called the Transform@Lab which is supported by MEDIA who also fund Animation Sans Frontières, the European professional training programme I attended part in last year. Transform@Lab is also run with two of the same schools from ASF; Gobelins and MOME, so József Fülöp, head of Animation at MOME, who I know through ASF came to watch the film with other members of international staff.

Sigh of relief: Sinead Oram, Emma-Rose Dade and Kit Wilson share a joke

Out for an Indian: Transform@Lab participants, tutors and guests

James Nee, Ffresh Festival director came to the show and did a great write-up of the 2011 films which can be seen here.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Wrapping up

Well, I'm relieved to report that the film is finally finished and was handed-in on time for our university deadline. The final week of production was one blur of last-minute animating, editing, special effects, sound recording, compositing, sound mixing, late nights, pizza, music recording, rendering [...] and exporting but we got there in the end.

Emma-Rose recording sound for the film

Whilst I was finishing the last of the animation for the film, Emma-Rose continued working on the sound. Much of the sound was gathered from audio libraries earlier in the project for use in the animatic but I also recorded various low-fi temp sounds from scratch. Emma-Rose set about recording high-quality clips of various noises for use through out the film. Sounds included; scrapes, slips, bangs, smashes, footsteps, soil and other strange noises.

Jack Vaughan immersed in the art of mixing

After animating I went to Bristol to mix the sound with Jack Vaughan. This process was fairly unconventional as I was still editing the latter half of the film whilst Jack mixed the sound for the first half. One thing I am really pleased with in this film is having been able to raise the bar in terms of production values in many aspects of the project. Being able to spend time with Jack on getting the soundscapes right, making them work with the image and help to tell the story was just really excellent.

The sound montage of clips and samples placed alongside
the image which is shown as thumbnails along the top

When I planned the project I had all the elements in mind; image, music, sound, all the various visual languages etc. It's easy to forget later in the production that everything has been carefully constructed around a balance of these elements and they all rely on each other. I think at one point I became disillusioned with the image alone and I did worry about clarity and value in the image and I think it was only after getting everything together finally that things made sense again and those elements synthesized in a way I'd hoped they would.

The tired director's weary gaze and beside him, a glimpse of the film

Lewys Hobden did a couple of great composited sequences for us. I'd intended for the parts where Ivor moves from one location to the next to be animated in stop-motion like the rest of the film but when we'd made the set, which was huge in itself, the removal van I was trying to make out of cardboard had to be about 4mm wide which was fairly impossible to make with the detail required. So I shot the van from another scene against a green screen and then shot the landscape separately and Lewys animated these sequences in computer and they work really well. Audiences who've seen the film since don't seem to notice the jump in technique and I'm happy to let technology help us out where possible. So the film has ended up having stop-motion, 2D and computer animation. Phew.

A very tired Kit Wilson putting the finishing touches to the music (sorry Kit!)

Emma-Rose and I popped up to London very briefly to see Jan Švankmajer talk in person at the Barbican (write-up on my blog here) and get the final music from Kit Wilson. It was a very late night night but great hearing it all together. Kit had done the final recording session that day; him on piano accompanied by Victoria Bernath on viola. The final piece of the puzzle was in place.

There were several times on this project where I never thought we would get it finished. The sheer scale of it was daunting, all that needed to be constructed and animated, but we've got there and with the help of a brilliant and dedicated team. I have added a thanks section to the crew page detailing all the lovely people I am indebted to.

Saturday 4 June 2011

To be continued

As our deadline looms ever closer, I have very little time to write about the intricacies of production. I can however report that the mixing of media is working well, green screen has performed a treat, Lewys Hobden is a very helpful man, Gemma Roberts has jumped in to animate Ivor in 2D and I need to sleep more. That is all for now.

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Friday 20 May 2011

Animation Newport 2011

Check out the Animation Newport 2011 blog for an overview of our whole year. The blog contains profiles and info on each students as well as some interesting videos about the films and the course (one with a sneaky peek of Ivor on the move). We are having an animation industry day on 23rd June which will include a panel discussion, film screening, awards ceremony, tour of the new campus and drinks reception.

The general exhibition and graduation shows will be held from June 17th to July 1st. More information on the grad shows can be found here - also, the animation shows are represented by a bit of artwork from The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling.

The animation students at Newport talk about their graduation films.

...from a dark room

I am writing from my home for the present few weeks; it is small-ish room painted black with hot, bright lights and is full of small buildings, interiors, props and large painted backdrops. The way the production process works allows the model making to be staggered with the shoot as there is so much to physically make. I thought it was interesting to hear, in a video I watched recently about the making of Coraline, writer Neil Gaiman musing on the fact that everything in a stop-motion film is made from scratch. I suppose I'm so embroiled in this world and the process of three dimensional animation that it's not something I even think about anymore, I just take it for granted.

A look at the villa kitchen in progress

Kate Middleton admires our freshly undercoated shutters drying in the sun

This is especially so for our film as, although it may be short, it features several locations and all of these sets have to be made quickly in a very short timescale. In the film Ivor moves from one place to another as his paranoia gets a hold of him and I wanted to place the audience geographically by having establishing shots introducing each location and Ivor's new abode. These establishing shots luckily do not feature Ivor so they were able to be made on a miniature scale, following the same construction techniques as all the other sets.

One of the establishing shots from the storyboard

Emma-Rose working on a chair for Ivor

Emma-Rose is in the workshop finishing the final set for the films climax, I won't give too much away but it involves a lot of tiny paper flowers. I have moved into the studio on campus; a dark secluded room where daylight seldom streams through the blacked-out windows. The models for the film are piled up around the edges and I have the stage in the centre of the room. Here's a look at the set-up.

Me on set (generally looking worried about something)

Following with the film's overall aesthetic of paper and cardboard, parts of the puppet are made from paper. He has paper eyes that can be replaced to make him blink, similar to the old technique used on programmes such as Ivor Wood's Postman Pat. Actually much of the methodologies we are engaging with are old techniques that I'm trying to synthesize with digital technologies to tell the story in an engaging and entertaining way. The only problem with tiny black eyes is that sometimes, when you're trying to pick them off the puppets face with the end of a surgical scalpel, they fall onto the large black floor... and you never see them again. The moustaches are a little easier to keep an eye on at 11mm. I was thinking I could scale these up and start a business for men with upper-lip hair loss.

Replacement moustaches

Kit Wilson is playing around with musical developments for the score as we shoot. It's a fairly industrious period at the moment, everything seems to be happening at once. We're modelmaking, lighting, shooting, editing and beginning some post-production simultaneously to maximise our time. We're shooting the film in full high definition which brings challenges of it's own. I'm also shooting at 24 frames per second as opposed to 12 which I'm used to. I wanted to really push the production values of this film for a more polished finish. From the design and colour, to the lighting, the movement and animation, even the rig removal and special effects far surpass anything I have done before.

Flowers and flower pots ready for action

We're shooting using Jamie Caliri's Dragon Stop Motion Animation software which has been a dream. It is a deceptively simple program with all the features you might need. I always think of the process of shooting stop-motion animation as a kind of alchemy; there are so many elements to balance and think about and 'Dragon' is a very stable, instinctive programme that helps you manage everything on set.

Me setting up a shot

Wednesday 13 April 2011

We took a few days out from the film last week to finish off our dissertations which were handed-in on Thursday. My title was The Performativity of Dolls: Puppets in Animation and Theatre. In between intense bursts of writing, Emma-Rose and I took time to visit a wetlands wildlife sanctuary to have a think. Strangely, it was next to a power station.

Joseph Wallace
Me standing in the wetlands centre having a think

I then popped over to Bristol for a meeting with Fairground Theatre about a project this summer and came back to Newport where we held a cake sale to raise money for our graduation show. There were some pretty impressive cakes and a great effort from the animation class. This is what it looks like when artists make cakes!

There were so many cakes people had a lot of trouble choosing

Now we're cracking on with model making and props. The two biggest and most complex sets are almost done and there's mainly the miniature establishing shots left to work on. Oh, and Ivor still needs his head. We start shooting around Easter so more photos of all the elements under camera to follow.

Emma-Rose working on the villa kitchen

Saturday 2 April 2011

The taking of shape

As we edge closer to the shoot, the physical world of the film takes shape. Fields of paper flowers, cardboard hallways and painted skies. Our dissertations are in next week so time has to be assigned for finishing touches and preparation for the hand-in. In the mean time, here are some photos of the film's developments.

Colour schemes for the city sequence

Model maker Sinead Oram making floorboards and
Emma-Rose Dade drilling a hole for the hallway set

The hallway set and a smaller scale building halfway through construction

Thursday 17 March 2011


After having had some helpful feedback on the film from master animator Tim Allen (see my post about his visit on my main blog) I did some tweaking once more with the animatic. It's always useful to be able to take some time away from the story side of things and come back to the animatic with fresh eyes and consolidate it. Kit Wilson, the films composer is working on some new ideas for the music whilst myself and the model making team are cracking on with all the sets and props for the film.

Left: the storyboard for the film up on the wall of the workshop for reference
Right: Another wall covered with reference imagery and down the left, my colour studies for each act

Emma-Rose Dade and Sinead Oram making flowers for the film's climax

Some of the flowers made by Emma-Rose and Sinead

Saturday 5 March 2011


A collection of Ivor's small replacement hands made by model maker extraordinaire Emma-Rose Dade

I should have shot these by a coin or something but they measure about 5cm heigh and 1.5 across. Emma worked from my designs of the puppet and used various techniques to create the hands; they're made mostly of latex. The puppet is almost finished... he's just waiting a head. He also has tiny shoes with tiny laces.

Having done a presentation of the film to 2nd years and MA post graduates at Newport Film School I have gathered quite a team to help with model making and other aspects of the film as we push into production now. Sinead Oram, a 2nd year student at Newport, has agreed to help with model making which is fantastic and Mr Lewys Hobden will join us around Easter to support with compositing and navigating those dreadful things called computers...

Emma-Rose working on the hands and the development of the latex tests to finished product

Some rough set designs scrawled on the inside of an envelope

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Foam, fabrics and fun

The new storyboard has just been printed from the new animatic, tiny hands scatter the table-tops, and Ivor has a hunch. James Hadrill has joined us and is busy making the costme for the puppet. We sourced various fabrics with small weaves from calico to cashmere. Ivor's clothes are quite dull in tone to help convey his faded spirit in the film and to contrast the scenery as it changes around him.
Next up the hands are to be painted with latex, the shoes are to be made (out of some old tights!) and I'm working on Ivor's head which will be made out of various materials including papier mache.

Emma-Rose in the studio putting the new storyboard together and James Hadrill in the workshop trying out costume tests on the puppet

Thursday 17 February 2011


The past couple of months has been spent developing and refining the story along with research, various visualisation tests and making full-designs. What is perhaps the sixth version of the animatic has just been finished and model making is under way. The puppet, standing at around 24 centimetres, is made from brass tubing, aluminium wire, foam and fabric.
Kit Wilson, the film's composer, has sketched out some brilliant music over the animatic which acts as dialogue throughout the film, tying the various visual elements together and drawing the audience through the emotions of Ivor, the film's protagonist.
James Hadrill, a fashion designer from London, is coming over soon to make the costume for the puppet as myself as model maker Emma-Rose create tiny picture frames, paper trees, cardboard plant pots and more to populate the world of the film.