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Animation

The Net Zero Visions animation was created by the BAFTA and Emmy winning Ashley Potter and his team. Ashley has also won awards for his illustration work in publishing, design and editorial fields.
From the start the animation was envisaged as spanning multiple places across Devon, in contrast to some of the other Visions which involved intensive work with communities centred on one place. Ashley took part in the opening workshops and distributed questionnaires to community groups in a range of locations, as a way of identifying Net Zero activities and other features distinctive to each place, and drew and took photographs on site. Feedback from diverse participants at a later workshop also helped develop the project’s shape.

Ashley and his team originally pictured the piece as fully animated by hand, until they came across a beta version (unreleased commercially) of a digital rendering software from a company called EB Synth which automated the laborious rotoscoping (drawing on top of live action) process. Test versions showed exciting potential for experimentation, with an outcome that was drawn but also 3D.

The project was further developed with more drawings translated into Blender 3D software, whose models were then animated using the University of Plymouth’s motion capture facility. Two of the animation team doubled up as actors and the whole sequence was shot in the green screen room over 5 days of filming through the heatwave of summer 2022. Heads and improvised props were drawn on the day, and storyboards were used to ensure that all elements were covered. A 3D armatured model was used for the ‘carbon monster’, which was then scanned and given an internal skeleton for animation using motion capture software.

From the start Ashley was concerned to keep the animation poised between the real and the not-realistic; to ensure it wasn’t a live-action telling but something more unique and individual. Humans in the piece have an everyperson abstract quality, and are also mute – their actions speak for them. The classic Kaiiju monsters of Japanese cinema and TV – such as Godzilla, also concerned with environmental issues – were another influence.

Animation Crew

  • Ashley Potter director / art director
  • Sam Holland animator / compositor /editor / actor
  • Amelie Ryder-Potter sculptor / actor / animator
  • Molly Nowell animator
  • Jamie Brazier 3D software
  • Andy Banks motion capture / unity software
Actor during filming
Initial sketches
Storyboard
Storyboard
Actor during filming

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