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The making of Blowing in the Wind

This film is part of the UK official entry for UNICA 2003

This movie was originally made for the North v South Competition for the theme 'Gone with the Wind'. It was made using animations done on the Amiga Computer with DeLuxe Paint V using a butterfly drawing done by William Davis our artist member. Garth Hope our After Effects expert did some of the keying and special effects and the animation and some of the live action filming was done by me.

The film shows a butterfly collecting nectar and pollen from genetically modified rape and then feeding from dandelions. The result of this causes mayhem first to the UK, then Europe and the world.

As usual this was a last minute collaboration which involved using the IAC network. We deliberately chose the rape crop as it was yellow like the dandelions and also the name suggested the rape of the countryside. The rape crop was over in this part of the world but a friend suggested that it may still be in flower further north . So we telephoned Brian Dunckley in Newcastle on Tyne and asked if he could get the rape shots for us.

Brian drove around looking for yellow fields without much luck travelling up into Scotland and heading for high ground for an overview of the fields! After about 160 miles he gave up and went to the pub for lunch and the publican told him of a field of late planted rape just up the road. Brian got the shots but by then the dandelions were over as well and I had to go down to the Mersey Valley Nature Reserve and ask them to point me to some dandelions! They suggested areas where there may be some and in fact we did find two. We used hawkweed, which is similar for the long shots. They were very helpful suggesting websites dealing with the locations of genetically modified crops.

One we had the background shots we needed I created an animbrush of a large and small butterfly and fed the images of the plants into the Amiga though a genlock and literally painted the butterflies over the live action shots. The sequence had to be repeated for each butterfly to create the animations. The animations were done on a blue (255) background and were
then keyed in using After Effects. The final movie was put together in Adobe Premiere using BBC special effects discs and library music from John Fiddy.

The animation and finally compilation of the movie was done in two days which was a bit of a record but we had a closing date to meet.


William Davis with the glasses is front left, Garth Hope next and I am at the back. The iMac screen has the Adobe Premiere timeline with the movie on it and the Amiga Computer (A speeded up Amiga 4000/030) which could be getting on for ten years old with the blue screened butterflies on screen in DPaint V.

- Valrie Ellis    July 2003


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Page updated on 08 October 2011
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