Animated Documentary Reflective Writing

For the summative assessment the brief was to plan and create a short film in the form of an Animated Documentary. To begin this project I first gathered information, collected photographs and video recordings. This provided me with a good starting point to explore a place that has some form of importance to me, in this case I chose Cyfarthfa Park in my home town of Merthyr Tydfil. Through the course of this project I also came across articles and papers that explore the animated documentary genre itself.

At first I found this brief quite challenging because it stated that the film had to be a documentary. Documentary implies that I had to document something or show some kind of reality or truth about something. I knew what I wanted to say about my chosen place but it was difficult to find what angle in which I wanted to my film to be told through. My initial idea was to create a documentary through my memories of being at school in the castle but after speaking to my mother about the castle when gathering information I found that her stories and experiences of the castle were much more interesting. Although this proved quite challenging I found that through research and making a start I was able to find the perfect angle in which I wanted to create my documentary. From this, I am able to say that in the future I will start producing work relevant to my project and then from these new ideas will arise.

For me, the most meaningful aspect of this was learning that animation can be used as a tool in documentary film making to have greater impact on the viewer. This meant that within my own film I could break away from the usual documentary style and incorporate animation in an interesting way. I learnt this through reading papers such as ‘Against Animated Documentary’ from Annabelle Honess Roe. I was then able to take what I had learnt from this paper and integrate this into my film.

I believe that through the course of this project I have significantly improved my skills when using industry standard computer programmes to animate my work. The brief specifically stated that a range of animation techniques were to be used, this pushed me to use new techniques that are not usually my strongest. When producing work I feel that my knowledge of animation and video editing software has greatly improved, specifically Adobe After Effects. I learnt sophisticated techniques such as motion tracking which turned out to be very effecting in my film. As a next, I need to keep making work using these programmes to become more confident as well as developing my skills.



Things that didn’t go to plan

When experimenting with different materials I started to use cement and concrete. My intention was to make a series of concrete blocks which vary in size. I planned to use these blocks in my final piece, however I found that casting concrete blocks wouldn’t work because they would be too heavy for the work.

I then started using blocks of polystyrene which I covered with cement to make the blocks appear as if they were cast in concrete or made of cement.

After doing this the outcome didn’t turn out as I had expected, the blocks started to crack and fall apart. I came t the conclusion that either the cement was mixed incorrectly or that it was layed on to thin.

I thin repeated the process with thicker layers of cement. This also failed because large chunks would break off and the blocks became out with rounded edged.

I tried mixing the cement differently and found that it worked better if the cement had more water mixed with it. I also found that to prevent the blocks from cracking, the cement had to be applied in an even layer. I used smaller pieces of polystyrene to see which would turn out the best. These pieces were made with wetter cement which resulted in a smooth finish.

When making artwork things commonly don’t go to plan. I believe this is part of the learning process and although the work might not come out as I expect it to, I may like the outcome that was achieved accidentally.

Indoor Suns and my Final Piece

During the start of the year I took part in the Indoor Suns material project. This project was all about using technology to create artwork. The main aim for the project was to explore different ways of using technology within artwork to create one big installation at the end of the project.

I began by making a programmable LED light circuit which included: wire cutting, soldering and programming.

The next step was to film two natural and two man made light sources using my smartphone camera. This footage then was taking into the editing suite where I experimented with different effects to make make one short video.

Finally, as a group we created a small installation in the dark space which each of our edited videos would be projected onto.

The most enjoyable part of this for me was the video editing because I liked playing around with the different effects to convey different emotions in the video. Therefore I decided to take this further and use this technique within my work.

My Second final piece for the subject module is a short video piece which depicts soft orb of light placed in untouched landscapes. I have used video effects such as the mirror effect to distort the footage. This distortion conveys a dreamlike environment which relates to my project of dreams.


When filming the footage I used a DSLR to achieve the best quality. I used a variety of shots to create a sense of movement and drifting through the environment similar to how you would in a dream.

I edited the footage using premiere pro where the video effects, transitions and colour grades were added. Here is some screenshots of the editing timeline and some of the effects I used.

The timeline of the footage with the effects before rendering
The distorted mirror effect i used throughout the video



Concretopia and My Final Piece

During the start of the year I took part in the Concretopia material project which was very interesting. The main aim of this project was to look at the built environment around us.

During the project I was introduced to the term ‘Brutalist architecture’-which was a style of architecture that included ruggedly designed brickwork and exposed concrete. Here is some of the brutalist architecture I looked at.

William Mitchell-Leon House
William Mitchell-Wall Mural
Victor Pasmore-Apollo Pavillion 1969
Spomenik (Podgaric, Croatia) , 2006

I began by taking unique photographs of architecture around the city which would later be made into screen prints and small sculptures. while paying close attention to angles, depth, levels and marks. When taking these photographs the focus was to think about the term ‘Phsychogeography’-which is the study of what is going on in sight, and how it affects you.

In regards to my final piece, rather than using the screen printing process as a skill to make the piece I decided to evolve the idea behind the project to influence my work. I thought the idea of Phsychogeography would be interesting to look at based on how  we create environments within dreams.

My final piece is a sculpture of a dreamlike environment which was inspired by the brutalist architecture approach. I have included exposed concrete blocks which are places amongst the landscape-this I thought would depict a dreamlike environment where the landscape is surreal and unusual. I wanted to explore how this surreal landscape would be created within a dream based on memories of architecture from reality.


Surreal Cities

My further research on dreams has led me too look at how we create the environments around us while in the ‘dream world’. After looking at surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte I found that their work aims to depict the kind of places we would see within our dreams. The juxtaposition between the landscapes and objects really plays on the surreal feeling of the works. Therefore I wanted to take my idea of creating small cities or utopias and apply some of the surreal aspects that these artists have used.

I knew I wanted to use the urban environment within my work so I came up with the idea of designing popular cities based on their nicknames. For example, New York is commonly known as ‘The Big Apple’, Chicago-‘The windy city’, etc…

Based on this idea I generated a series of small maquettes each inspired by the nickname of a city. I uses mostly paper, cardboard and found objects to construct each one. I felt making these 3D pieces would produce new and interesting ideas in which I could develop further into my final pieces. Here are some of the outcomes from the work I produced.

After making these small maquettes, I found that these surreal looking cities were a good depiction of what I imagined a ‘dreamworld’ to be like. I tried to include surreal aspects such as the large apple placed in the centre or the falling over landscapes to play on the idea of a dreamlike environment.




Throughout my first year within Fine Art I have been introduced to lots of new material skills and processes such as, screen-printing, canvas making, constructing a programmable lighting circuit and programming an Arduino.

However for me the most interesting skill that stood out for me is sand- casting. I learnt the process of  sand-casting during one of the workshops that the university had to offer.

The sand casting process is very time consuming but the end result was worth it. The overall process involves:

Creating a polystyrene sculpture, constructing a wooden housing , filling the housing with silica sand, hardening the sand with co2 gas, drilling holes in the mould to activate all of the sand, making a second mould for a pouring cup, gluing the two moulds together and then finally pouring the melted aluminium into the mould.


The equipment used in this process can be very dangerous so safety precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of myself and others around me. The video below shows the pouring phase of the process where fireproof clothing had to be worn to avoid injury if an accident was to occur. Here are some examples of the pouring process.

I really enjoyed the whole process and my favourite part was revealing the final outcome. I feel that this skill is beneficial towards my sculptural work and it has shown me new and interesting ways of working. I feel that I could use this process in my future sculptures.

Once opening the mould, I broke away all of the surrounding sand to reveal the cast. My sculpture, which was inspired by research on dreams-within the Outside/Inside theme. Here are some photographs of my sculpture cast in aluminium.



Final Outcome

I have learnt new creative skills as well as group working skills. The collaborative aspect has taught me how to engage with other people within the art sector to help with or even use them as a tool to better my artwork. The group work has also strengthened my personality as an artist when creating collaborative artwork.

Throughout the whole field module completing the different hub based on the theme of light I have learnt many techniques and ways of working with light and colour. The hub that I enjoyed the most was ‘Shadow play’ which contributed to the idea of my individual final outcome for the theme of light. I have taken skills such as experimentation with the projectors to create this piece.

Although I haven’t used any techniques I had learnt from the field hubs I have used the idea of of projecting shadows onto the wall which inspired me to create this piece. I have used inspiration from artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster to base my design around. Here are some photographs on the construction of the piece and some of the processes I used.

Here is where I drew and cut out silhouettes of people falling to suggest falling within a dream. I used thin card so that they wouldn’t break when assembling the piece.


This is the base of the sculpture that I made which would support the aluminium wire. I used thing wood to make the frame and sprayed a thick piece of cardboard to place inside ,this would allow me to position the subjects in the specific positions without them moving around.


Here are the photos of the materials I used along with how i went about achieving the silhouette of a person laying down. I stuck down the base to prevent movement while was working in order to accurately fill the outline. The outline was stuck to the wall behind the base where the shadow would be projected.


Here is some photographs of my final outcome with the LED light pointed at it. I was pleased with this end result and started to play around using different lights. I found that when moving the light in a vertical motion the projected shadows appear as if they are falling which is the effect i was trying to create with the cardboard cut outs. I accidentally came across this while experimenting with different angles of the light and is something I would use if I was to take this piece further.