Visual Communications students feature at National Galleries

Work by students from City of Glasgow College is featuring as part of an exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland.

The eight HND Creative Animation students are finalists in a competition run by the galleries to celebrate the work of Ray Harryhausen, world renowned film special effects creator and producer.

Dianne Barry, Lecturer in Visual Communications at City of Glasgow College, said:

“Colleges and art schools across Scotland were invited by the National Galleries to create 30 second promotional trailers for the Ray Harryhausen exhibition. We saw this as an unmissable opportunity for our students to gain valuable experience working within professional constraints.

“The project introduced the students to Harryhausen’s extraordinary innovations in stop frame animation. After intensive research, the students devised scripts and storyboards for their trailers, and experimented with different animation techniques, working over several weeks to complete their films.”

Two of the students, Jake Thompson and Gemma Rudden, were highlighted for a special commendation, and will be a special part of the online presence for Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two).

Jake started his project by researching both Ray Harryhausen and stop-motion animation. He said: “Throughout the research phase I got to experience very engaging and intricate pieces of animation history such as the skeleton fight scene in 'Jason and the Argonauts' and the energetic Kali battle from 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.' These scenes were brought to life by both Dynamation and the highly detailed models.

“To create my animation, the primary method was to draw each frame in charcoal, take a picture and erase, then repeat akin to the works of William Kentridge. To reduce the amount of charcoal residue on the paper, which muddies the scene, I also used paper cutouts. I used this colourless method to align with some of Harryhausen's 1950's works such as 'Earth vs. the Flying Saucers'.”

Gemma found the project quite daunting, saying: “I learned about the extreme patience and backbreaking work Ray Harryhausen put into creating footage that only lasts seconds, but the results are the most memorable scenes in the films.

“I used Procreate 5s animation features, at 25 frames per second. I wanted to take the viewer on the gallery bus to the Ray Harryhausen exhibition, encountering some of his creatures as travel companions. I was too ambitious for the timeframe, which resulted in the unfinished scenes in the final film. However, these scenes work surprisingly well to reveal my animation process.”

Dianne Barry added: “This was a hugely ambitious project for the students and they rose to the challenge. We were delighted when Jake and Gemma’s films were selected for special commendation by the selection panel. Their responses and styles are very different but they both stand out for their originality and hard work.”

Work submitted by students across the board was described by the National Galleries as “highly imaginative, entertaining and a real pleasure to watch.”

Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two) starts on 24 October 2020 and will run until 5 September 2021.