A BAFTA award-winning lecturer at Middlesex University has directed the animation for the first full-length animated documentary on UK television The Trouble with Love and Sex, which was screened on BBC2 last night (Wednesday 11 May).
Jonathan Hodgson designed and directed the animation, which explores relationships using audio from a series of Relate counselling sessions.
Two Middlesex University animation students were also watching for their names as the credits rolled as Jonathan invited Natalia Biegaj and Zac Karayianni to work on the documentary.
The Middlesex lecturer, who runs the University’s BA Animation degree, was asked by the documentary’s producer/director Zac Beattie to create characters which fitted the voices but were not drawings of the people involved in the counselling.
He said this made the task harder, as he had nothing to base his drawings on, so he took inspiration from the faces he saw on the tube on his commute to work. The resulting images help the viewer to look at the issue, rather than judge the person talking about it.
“By choosing to use animation over live action I think the subject matter becomes much more a universal issue and the viewer becomes much less judgmental,” he said. “It places much more focus on the stories the people are telling and allowed us to emphasise particular things.”
Jonathan said he hoped to set up an animation agency staffed by students in the future, to give more of them the chance to work in the industry while at university.
“There was a significant amount of work involved in this project,” he said, “and I was really pleased to be able to use two of our students alongside the professional animators. It’s a great experience for them to be involved in a real world project with the pressure of real world workloads and deadlines. We hope to do a lot more of this with them in the future.”
The students were only in the first year of their BA Animation degrees when they worked on the project last summer.
Zac said: “I’m in my second year of university now and I really didn’t expect to be doing this. Working in the studio for about a month, from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, I learned how a studio works, how a live project works and got my foot in the door of the industry.”
Zac was involved with another Middlesex University project when he was part of the team that designed the visuals for The Who front-man Roger Daltrey’s performance of Tommy at the Royal Albert Hall in March this year.