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animation station #5: bottletop!

Recently, some adverts for events called 'Animorsels' started to spring up on my Facebook feed (Facebook was probably stalking my very frequent animation liking behaviour on Instagram) and I was immediately interested - local talks and screenings about animation, and the opportunity to get advice, all while getting to know who is in the animation industry around me - sounds great! When I realised the events were hosted by a group named Bottletop, I was so excited to find that they are a local animation and motion graphics studio here in Nottingham (even better!) and decided to take a look at their work. Needless to say, I immediately fell in love with their style, particularly as it felt very reminiscent of my favourite game developers, Media Molecule (it's probably the pink and white colour scheme and their use of collage). Take a look at their showreel:

Clearly, I was super intrigued by what I found when looking around on their website. They have a very approachable and playful style, shown in all of their animation techniques: 2D, 3D, stop motion, and cel animation are all evident in their showreel. I'd like to focus on a couple of projects from them that stood out to me most, starting with the title sequence for the documentary Paa Joe & The Lion. I love the whole feel of this title sequence - straight away, there's a harmony between the music and the visuals; the handmade, colourful approach really reflects the culture of Ghana and gives viewers a great flavour of what they are about to watch. The creative treatment of transitions (like the sawdust and sawing transitions) reflect the documentary really well too - the documentary makes use of poetry and dreamlike sequences that give it a more unique and creative feel, so it makes sense that the title sequence would also have this quirky and unique approach. This is the full sequence:

I really love the slow textures overlaying the sequence and that this is constant - it helps to set the pace of the sequence; if the textures were moving faster, it may not fit with the pace of the documentary as it generally has a relaxed feel which reflects the style of living of the documentary's subjects. The textures also create a sense of interest and energy which otherwise may be lacking in the sequence; it helps to retain interest as the sequence is quite long (especially in an age where having a title sequence at all is becoming less and less common). I also really love that the whole piece retains its handmade feel even throughout the smooth transitions; in particular, the sawdust being blown out of the frame, the paintbrush painting a line, and the falling curtain at the end of the sequence. This is most certainly because the transitions were filmed with a green screen rather than being computer animated. I love this old-school, handmade approach - it works really well here and has definitely served as a reminder to me that sometimes you don't need 'fancy' computerised animation that takes you hours to do, because the real thing can work just as well - or even better. It also generally takes a much shorter amount of time to do, which is incredibly important in the animation and motion graphics industry. For me, this is the most impressive project from Bottletop simply because of the different techniques used throughout the sequence - as well as the visual style and colour palette really catching my eye. Another project I really loved from them was their short promotional animation for the BBC's coverage of the Ashes:

I am personally really drawn to the comical, collaged style of this one, particularly due to the caricature-esque oversized heads and beady eyes - it reminds me of those weird paintings with eyes that follow you... creepy. Regardless, the smooth movement, bright colours, and use of collage really drew me to this and would even make me consider listening to the commentary (which is high praise coming from someone who has literally no interest in sport). This animation also highlights Bottletop's multi-faceted approach, combining 2D and 3D animation into one project. This is a great example of how to cater to a wide audience, too - the style could appeal to any gender or any age, particularly with the high energy approach that is exciting enough to get your attention but not too overwhelming for potentially older viewers. The attention to detail also excites me, as when rewatching the ad I noticed other little movements like the sea rippling in the background and the person waving for help from an inflatable ring as they drown. These touches really give the advert polish and finesse, all while reflecting the playful nature of Bottletop and their style. Lastly, I'd like to finish on some of my favourite snippets of animation from Bottletop's Instagram feed (@bottletopdesign), which mainly consists of mini animations themed around national holidays.

These two examples have completely different approaches, but I love both of them. In both of these examples, there's a great fluidity and bounce to them that makes them feel very believable and real, as well as energetic. Again, the comedic aspect of these animations really fit Bottletop's style while still being strong in terms of visual communication. I love the Christmas advent animations in particular and I can't wait to see more of them throughout December!

The examples above are for Men's grooming day and Halloween respectively. I'm inspired by the use of sound in both of these examples as this also adds to the real and believable feel of the pieces. I'm also inspired by the colour choices in all of Bottletop's short animations - the colour palettes always feel cohesive but have a high contrast which makes them stand out. Both of these qualities are things I wish to achieve in the future. I definitely want to try and include sound in one of my next animations, too.

So that's it for this blog post - hope you enjoyed it! I'm probably going to post again soon with inspiration for our next project based on a poster format, so stay tuned for that.

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