Oscar 2012: Grant Orchard Talks A Morning Stroll
Ideally I wanted to stay on the game for around a minute to two minutes, mirroring what happens in real life when someone shows you an app or game on their mobile phone. You become engrossed and you disengage with what’s happening around you; and then after lord knows how long you realize you’ve been looking at something completely inane for far too long.
In the end we stayed on it for around 30 seconds, but I always find it’s neither fish nor fowl. Saying that though, it must have registered with people, because were constantly getting asked when or not we’re making the app.
DS: How does this film differ from your previous work?
GO: I think it differs from my previous films because it was a chance to make something in 3D. I’ve usually tinkered with personal projects on my own and done them in 2D because that’s my bag, and that’s what I’m comfortable with.
I’ve been directing 3D projects commercially for a long time now, but I’m useless with 3D software. I just can’t get my head round it. Luckily there’s an enormously talented group of people at STUDIO AKA who know their CG onions. So to get an opportunity to work with them on a longer project was brilliant, and not something I wanted to screw up.
DS: Can you tell us about your animation process and how you made the film?
GO: After the initial idea I tend to do a little design, and then go straight to making an animatic; the rougher the better. I like that part to be really quick so I can see the film fleshed out as soon as possible. I don’t like getting too precious with the boarding because I always find that if you do you start getting too attached to certain frames, which are invariably the ones that are a bit duff. Also, I’m a bit lazy and can’t be bothered to spend ages working on animatic frames, that part is when you first see your film, and I don’t want to be bored of it at that stage. That stage is exciting!
After that I carry on working on the designs. Usually I apply certain rules to a personal project that help me focus and stop me from repeating myself. No parameters, but a principle that allows me not to dwell on the possibilities of limitless options. For example I made a series called Love Sport, where anything was possible as long as all the characters were rectangles with no feature. As soon as I’d dictated that the series kind of designed itself. For A Morning Stroll the rule that applied was that all three chapters had to have the same composition, camera move and length. This meant that once I’d designed the first section the others had to follow suit. I only broke this rule once, when in the last section I decided to make the chicken completely real. After a while it just felt wrong, in fact Philip Hunt at STUDIO AKA mentioned it; we took it back to the original stylized shape and covered it in real feathers and it felt right again.
After that I blocked out the job with STUDIO AKA layout artist Anna Kubik, who did a grand job shaping the sets and pace. She also organized allocating the work to various people within the company. Due to having no funding for the film, Sue Goffe organized a process where anyone in between commercial work would go to see Anna and be given a section of the film to work on. They might have had two days or two hours spare, but incrementally we got it made. Phew!
DS: How does your film compare to the other nominated films?
GO: I don’t know. I’ve only seen “Sunday” which I thought was gorgeous. I managed to see that because we were both premiered at Annecy last year. The rest I am looking forward to seeing when I’m out to L.A. I think we’ll all be doing a few Q&A sessions, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the big screen.