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SELDOM HAVE narratives been so closely studied and widely read as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but the great literary works are now being brought to life with stunning paint effects for another medium, 2D animation for television.
‘The Squire’s Tale’ from Spider Eye in London is one of the latest shorts to air as part of S4C and BBC2’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, an animated series depicting the individual tales. Animators at Spider Eye used Cambridge Animation Systems’ Animo software to bring ‘The Squire’s Tale’ to life.
Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ unfolds with each member of a group of pilgrims telling a story during their arduous journey to Canterbury. When it comes to the Squire’s turn, he spins a tale of the King of Sarai in Tartany and his family. At the King’s birthday feast, each member of his family is given a special gift from the King of Arabia and India. His daughter Canacee receives a ring that enables her to understand the language of every bird. This ring comes in handy when Canacee encounters an injured peregrine falcon and uses her other abilities to heal the bird.
Animation, rendering and backgrounds for ‘The Squire’s Tale’ were produced at Jumping Jack Productions for transfer to Spider Eye, which provided direction, ink and paint, and compositing.
Animators used Animo to produce multiple mattes made from both textures and watercolour artwork that was scanned in, creating the effect of watercolour washes on textured paper. The saturated colours of cross-dissolving watercolour swatches blended seamlessly and combined with multi-planning camera techniques to produce a very lyrical illustration of Chaucer’s text.
Much of the characters’ bodies were left transparent, allowing the individual watercolour backgrounds to appear loosely matted to the characters’ shapes. Defined character areas such as belts, garment patterns and skin tones were created by matting shapes out of watercolour-painted swatches that were scanned into the computer. For moving characters, it was often necessary to create film clips of cross-dissolving backgrounds that were then imported into scenes and matted to the characters in the final composite. (CD)
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