Horse in The Hole

Myself and Denis produced this for entry to the Uniquely Dublin competition last week. The illustrations were created by Alan Lambert and were animated by me! I also created the soundtrack. Denis wrote and directed the piece. The excellent cast were Damien Devaney as Charlie Pigeon and Kian Murphy as the boy. Many thanks to Nick McGinley and Vincent Lambe for all of the help putting together the cast.

I’ve worked a little in animation before, but this is the most involved I’ve been in the process. Even though it’s a very short piece (we always wanted it to be under a minute), we put an awful lot of work into it, and I found that process very rewarding. I’m proud of the piece, cheesy and quick though it may be, but I’m especially glad for the experience.

The first thing we did was record the audio. As soon as we started thinking about how to cast the roles, we wanted Damien for the reporter. We had auditioned him for a project a couple of years ago and really liked his presence and timing. The piece was originally going to be live-action, and we also liked Damien’s look, but in the end we just required a vocal performance from him.
We recorded the audio at my parents’ house, and layered in sound effects, mostly sourced online or from libraries. Then we tried out a couple of actors to play the young boy, finally finding Kian’s voice and gladly settling on his performance for the final edit. Once we had the edit locked, which is to say, the timings were final, if not the mix and sound effects, we sent it to Alan to illustrate.
Alan got right to work and put together a number of rough panels. Denis gave some notes on them, and we bounced them back and forth once or twice more before signing off on the look. Alan’s work is always excellent, but continuous communication is important to make sure the vision for the piece is consistent.
As we were going through the panels, we discussed the edit and the style of animation, and as well as providing backdrops and tableaux, Alan created elements for me to animate, like the snorts of the horse, the shotgun, the boy and the reporter.
Finally, once I’d received the illustrations from Alan, I scanned them up at a reasonable resoluation (300dpi) in full colour and pulled each one into Photoshop. Because they were on such large canvases, many of them wouldn’t fit on the scanner bed, so I had to scan them in sections and use the photomerge function in Photoshop to stitch them together.
I pulled the PSD files into After Effects, masked/clipped the elements and started creating scenes according to the outline that Denis and I had hammered out. I then added these compositions to Premiere so that I could time them to the audio. This may sound awkward, but the dynamic linking gave me an awful lot of control for tweaking.