Kaiser Chiefs commission Leeds Beckett academics to design tour animation
“I suggested I work in collaboration with my colleague and award-winning animator Ashley Dean in developing a film. The poem is about the futility of war, narrated from a soldier’s perspective, so we knew we ideally wanted to create something visually striking that drew on the iconography of war, but that was removed from time and place. We discussed Raymond Briggs, Pink Floyd and Terry Gilliam as points of reference.
“Some of the show designers had expressed a desire to have people reading lines from the poem, but we preferred the idea of developing an animated soldier as the visual narrator. One of our first jobs was to find a stand in for Bill Nighy’s mouth and luckily our colleague Hugo Smith – who also teaches at Leeds Beckett - gamely obliged, methodically learning the passages of the poem. From that we were able to edit together a complete reading that matched the pace of Bill’s delivery.
“We then both set about producing drawn and animated content into which we could composite the mouth. I worked mostly on characters and drawn elements whilst Ashley worked on the machines of war, locations and animation. The finished product was a true collaboration of ideas and a blend of production and post-production skills.”
The first that the Kaiser Chief’s saw of the animated film was a week before their UK Arena tour was due to start at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
“Thankfully they really loved it,” said Tim. “The UK tour culminated in dates at the O2 Arena in London, before a sold out homecoming concert at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday 14 February.”
Ashley, who is a Lecturer in Computing and Creative Technologies at Leeds Beckett, added: “The animation was a joy to produce. With Ricky’s words and Bill’s voice, we had brilliant material to build on, plus the goal of seeing our film played out to tens of thousands of people across the country was a great motivating factor. Working with Tim reminded me how productive and satisfying the collaborative creative process can be. Our ideas started out in very different places from each other, but we finished with a superior product that neither of us could have envisaged at the start.”
The gig in Leeds was also crewed by two Leeds Beckett Broadcast Media Technologies students, James Teague in his final year of study and Ted Burch in his second year. They worked to produce a live video mix of the show for the band, which will form part of James’s assessed university module work.
Speaking about working with the Kaiser Chiefs, James said: “The experience was phenomenal, I had a great time. It is fantastic that I’ve been able to take advantage of such opportunities that the course provides in addition to the work experience I have already gained with some of the top media companies in the country.”
Ted added: “This was a unique opportunity to gain an insight into what it takes to put on a large scale production. It is of massive benefit to the course and University to have tutors who are engaging with such interesting projects.”
Top photo (L-R): Tim Blackwell and Ashley Dean.