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The making of Fantabulous

the most inspired way of bringing your thoughts and dreams to life
Meet ... Garry Brown
Fantabulous won an International Standard, Best British, Best Animation and Best Youth Awards at BIAFF 2007

Still from 'Fantabulous'. Fantabulous was my first 3D animation. I had completed previous animations in more traditional styles and had studied 3D techniques but had never put 3D into practice on a large scale. Fantabulous was a huge learning experience for me as an animator / storyteller. On the one hand Fantabulous was a technical experiment in 3D animation but on the other hand it was simply the medium for telling a story I had always wanted to tell.

The idea and storyline came very easily to me because it was mostly taken from real world experience. I grew up with a colossal Fords car factory practically at the end of my garden that pumped out gallons of smoke every day without fail. This was also the view I had from my bedroom window.

Still from 'Fantabulous'. Over the years giant wind turbines appeared. These could be seen from miles around. I'm sure they were there for an environmental reason but to me they were there simply to blow all the toxic smoke back towards my house should it dare float away! Year after year the area became more and more run down and the people just stopped caring for where they lived. This was the motivation for where my story takes place. The opening scene of Fantabulous depicts a walk home to my old house.
Still from 'Fantabulous'. But what about the boy's world? Well, I created that too… kinda.

At one end of my bed I had the view of the factory and at the other end I had a big bare wall. This wall became my canvas and for two years I spent a couple of hours almost every night painting what I wished was outside my window. All these things were the inspiration for Fantabulous.

When it comes to animation as a medium of filmmaking many people think of it as the slowest and hardest kind. As an animator I totally agree! Many people assume that with 3D imagery you simply push a few buttons and the computer does all the hard work for you - this is a very ill-informed view!

Still from 'Fantabulous'. I spent 9 months and what felt like the longest wettest winter ever stuck in front of a computer on my own. I had very little contact with the outside world apart from my mum throwing food at me three times a day. It was a lonely existence. At one point I think I kept the same pair of pants on for two weeks!

Animation is tedious, annoying and infuriating! But I love every minute of it because frame by frame I can see my imagination slowly brought to life on the screen in front of me.

Still from 'Fantabulous'. To me animation is the purest way of realising a concept and the most inspired way of bringing your thoughts and dreams to life. Live action filmmaking does this too but animation does it in an extraordinary and different way.

With live action filmmaking a majority of what you see on the screen (with a few exceptions) already physically exists in this world. If you want to film a tree then you find an already existing tree that comes closest to how you saw it in your mind's eye. When you want an actor or actress you find a person who again comes closest to how you pictured your main character in your mind when you first conceived their existence.

Still from 'Fantabulous'. This for the most part works out fine. But, unless you already had that specific actor in mind when you created the character or if for some reason you have had to substitute one real world location for another, then the visual outcome will never really match your creative dream when it was at its purest. All these real-world elements slowly creep into the filmmaking process and bit by bit adjust what we had originally dreamt up
Still from 'Fantabulous'. But with animation anything we dream we can make with absolutely no limitations (apart from technical knowledge - but this can always be learnt). Every little precise detail can be created exactly how we dreamt it and filmed from any impossible angle we want to. As long as an animator has the ability then every inch of his or her idea can be reproduced for the rest of the world to see exactly how he or she dreamt it.
Still from 'Fantabulous'. But, these things are not the be all and end all; they are merely technicalities of picture making. In my opinion even with all the animation and CGI these days if the film has no heart then all the imagery in the world cannot save it.

With Fantabulous I owe a huge thank you to Alistair Primrose who in a very short time masterfully composed the perfect soundtrack to accompany the animation. The soundtrack was a key element to maintaining the sad but hopeful mood of the film throughout.

Since graduating from university I have been trying to get my foot into the door of the animation world and just like the process of animation this too is tedious, annoying and infuriating! But I know it will be worth it. The 3D animation I am currently making is an action packed Kaiju E-ga (Japanese giant monster movie) set amid the beautiful neon lights of Tokyo.

- Garry Brown

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Page updated on 09 October 2011
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