Out and About – Celebrating animation in Manchester


The team review their day at Manchester Animation Festival and stress the importance of narrative.

Our Production team recently attended Manchester Animation Festival, a “celebration of the animated art form”. Hosted at Manchester’s prestigious HOME, a centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film, the festival attracts animation artists, practitioners, students and enthusiasts from all over the world. The event featured workshops, panel discussions, retrospective screenings, networking events, masterclasses and screen talks from industry experts.

For the team it was a day filled with inspiring and challenging films, and some great insights into the working processes of other animators.

The day started with a series of shorts displaying a wide variety of styles and treatments, followed by a great presentation from Blue Zoo founder Tom Box and director Catherine Salkeld about an interactive VR project they have been working on.

According to Martin Higham, Production Director, “the day then took a much darker turn as we explored the work of Hungarian artist György Kovásznai, who worked in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Overall, it was amazing to see the diversity of styles and techniques that have been used. Some of them were quite clearly digital, and others quite artistic. It was also really interesting to see how it’s clear that animation is useful to tell a story that may perhaps have negative connotations, as the format helps it come across in a more positive way.”

The team agreed that the focus on VR was one of the main highlights of the day.

James Harwood, Production Manager, commented: “It’s amazing to see how far VR has come in the last 2-3 years. It’s good to see that people are actually using it, both as consumers and in the corporate world. It’s definitely not a fad. It was really interesting to see how setting out to make an animation can result in the use of VR. You end up with an element of interactivity that turns it into a totally different experience.”

The highlight of the day for Audio Visual Designer Gordon Barry was to see that the running theme throughout all the work they saw reaffirms the way we work at Parker Design: “The focus should be on the narrative, and everything else, including the technique and glossiness of the animation, will follow.”

Tom Hinds, Audio Visual Designer, came out inspired to do more and push it further. He was also inspired to apply more audio effects that will add layers to the animation and the way the message is communicated to the audience. Tom also added: “Whether for commercial or artistic use, the focus should be on the story and how it’s told.”


Watch the team in action.