Joanna Quinn – Oscar nominated Animator

Tuesday morning 10:30am, much earlier than I usually manage to arrive at uni, I started my day by attending the ‘Animated Conversation with Joanna Quinn’; which was well worth the ‘early start’.
Joanna Quinn, who’s work has largely featured heavy political themes and often carries very important anti-establishment, is an old school traditional animator; her work is all done in a very classic drawn style using traditional drawn animation. This approch to animation is something that I really love and admire, it’s not easy and defiantly a very time consuming method of animating, but the results are so full of character and a rich quality of fluid movement that I love. Unfortunately the time aspect of this approach to animation has always held me back from doing it, turning out a piece of animation in the short amounts of time that we are often given in which to respond to our briefs, is a very big ask. Joanna said herself, that when a friend considered joining her on her animation course, she very quickly changed her mind when told that she’d need to keep up with a 12 frame minimum per second of animation. Confirming, at least to me, that animation is truly a labor of love; as well as time.
Listening to the way that Quinn spoke about her work and the passion that is so clearly shown in the finished animations, was truly inspiring. After her initial introduction to both herself and her portfolio, she dived straight into talking about her work and her approach to animation.
The first animation that she spoke about was her Oscar winning film, Britannia; a very political and anti-colonialism animation about the ‘great’ British Empire. The animation featured a bull dog in representation of the empire, the greedy dog goes through a couple of transformation throughout the film; the funniest being that of their transformation into Queen Victoria. I loved the pace and the fluidity of the animation, it flows so well from scene to scene with fantastically animated transitions and transformations; the ‘bull dog Briton’ is so full of character and so funny to watch throughout. I can see exactly why this was such a successful piece of animation, and the amount of care that went into creating it is so awesomely obvious.
Quinn was not shy about telling us that her initial attempts at this animated project were largely unsuccessful and full of errors; namely that it was far too long and far too full of commentary to work coherently. After showing her original story board of 100 slides to animator Steve Bell, whom she idolised at the time, he took it apart and gave her back only 10. While this hurt and somewhat annoyed Quinn, she came to realise that he was ultimately right, and that the project needed to be taken back and simplified if it was ever going to talk about the conflict and the messages she was trying to adress.
The second animation that she showed to us and talked about was about a character that she’d created to loosely represent herself. Beryl is a middle aged welsh lady, her ‘Welsh-ness’ came about because of how well the voice actor fit the role in this particular animation, who is quite clumsy and disorganised, and who has a tendency to day dream and get lost in her own head. In the Animated short that she showed to us, Beryl, has been asked to film her friends wedding with her brand new camera; the one she’s barely put down since getting. But pretty much everything that can go wrong at the wedding does; Beryl, does not only get horribly drunk (as well as *accidentally* a little high), but she almost single handedly ruins the whole reception. This short has a lot less commentary and no serious political undercurrents, but it has the same quality of movement and witty sense of humor that you see in Britannia.
Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around to listen to the rest of her talk because I had to leave in order to go to a Photoshop workshop in the Mac suite with Matt. Had this workshop not been compulsory and really quite important for my work, I’d of loved to stay longer and listen to the rest of her presentation and to see more of her animation shorts. Instead I’ll just have to look up more of her work online, which I defiantly will do, and possibly look for some work that I can reference in a future project or as part of a brief.
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