“The Key” in the Watford Observer

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

We are delighted The Key received the attention of the local newspaper Watford Observer and Rosy Moorhead wrote a lovely article about the making of the Key and its participatory element.

Link to page http://goo.gl/5FFy2F

The Key on Watford Obeserver


PDF 500 Watford residents came together to create animation short The Key, part of Watford Live! festival (From Watford Observer)

New poster for “The Key”

May 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

POSTER 2 version 1 small

When the residents awake to find the key missing to the Town gate frustration soon sets in. Only this key is happy to be lost and keen to show some things should not be found. www.thekey.mewlab.com

The Key Trailer

December 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

“The Key” is a seven minute animated film about the residents of a Town who awake to find the key missing to the Town gate. Only this key is happy to be lost and keen to show some things should not be found.

Here our trailer online for “The key” which  can be found at at out new link for the full website http://www.thekey.mewlab.com

“The Key” was made possible by our wonderful crew and colleagues who we would like to thank!

Final Stills for the Film

October 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

(click to view larger images)

Almost ready for Festivals…

April 27, 2013 § 2 Comments

We are going to polish the film, finish the grading, correct the last few mistakes and update the website with Press Kit, Stills and all the necessary “equipment” for the film to be sent off  to festival…

We have a long list of festivals, tons of application form to fill, lots of postcards to create, tons of DVD copies to make send off… the journey begins.

Short films usually have a two to three year life around the festival circuit, the first year its all about the world premiere, and  each countries premiere

After that the film will be available to be viewed online and to be selected for the smaller film festivals.

It usually end up with the film travelling around the world and leaving us wishing we had the funds to follow it around

Sound Design & Mixing

March 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

Wonderful session with our Sound Designer, David Pringle and the composer Alex Harwood for the final mix for sound and music

Sound Recording

February 27, 2013 § 2 Comments

On the 26 february we had a wonderful session recording all voices for the film. We spent all day with David Pringle, Our sound Designer. The voice artists joined us at his studio to record their part in the film. Paul Mundell was casted as the main narrator, while Ellie Mitra played the part of the Mum and the Dancer and finally Dylan Cousins did the voices for James. Here below few picture of the day.


February 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Recently we passed the day with Benji Gerstein in the editing room to define the shape of our film. We talked about the story, what it means, what we want to tell and how to reach the audience. There are no better visual storyteller than Editors!
Here are some photographs from the editing day. Do not be fooled, all the pictures are really related to the film!

Location: The Shop Studios


February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

While compositing the animation we are already looking at the Grading of the picture. Starting from the original picture we are testing texture, shades and grain to combine  the different elements together. (Click the pictures to see it full screen)

Miniature Milestones

February 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

On the 19 January the last frames was coloured in by Alan Bannister, while today we are delighted to announce that we have water-coloured  and captured the last shot. Proceding with the next step: to complete the compositing!

The Process

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Every single shot has been first acted, then filmed, printed out, coloured in, water coloured,  and re-filmed under the animation camera. Then for each shot we draw, coloured, painted and scanned the background . Finally the different elements were imported in  the computer and we composited  the animation with the background and we start to animate the fog.

It roughly means we create about 25/90 frames (1-3 sec) a day from scratch depending on complexity. Here some gifs that show the last part of the process from the water-colour to the composited shot


photo 1030

photo 2

The last frames coloured in! Thank you!

January 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

We would like to thanks everyone that, despite the snow, joined us at the WATFORD MUSEUM on the 19 January… we traced and coloured the last 500 frames!

Also we wish to thanks Watford Museum for their hospitality, Margaret Cheal and Alan Bannister from Watford Live, Stephen from Silencio, the GuidePost Trust, Amma Gyan and David O’Sullivan.

Now another month of work to finish to composite the animation, then the postproduction will start : editing, creating the sound, recording the voices, composing the music and grading the picture! The last steps…

Last chance to participate! All Free!

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last chance to participate in our marvellous collective film! If you did not manage to come down to one of our drop in sessions you still have a chance to meet and join us at Watford Museum on the 19 January from 10.30 am to 4pm. It is free and we will have cakes and tea…

We involved almost 500 people: locals have been acting, drawing, animating, dancing, and also colouring in a staggering 5000 frames for the animation! And to top it up we had 1831 views on the site, and an extra 560 readers are actually following this blog.  Thank you all for your support!

Well why not join us for a lovely relaxing morning or afternoon with family, friends… the more the merrier!( With also a sneak preview of what the animation that has been created so far!)


Script Editor:Tom Hill

January 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

We are delighted we are working with Tom Hill, tidying up the Voice Over for the film.

Tom has recently graduated from the NTFS, and he was the script editor in “Head Over Heels” the short animated film  just nominated for an Oscar and it has won an Annie Award  only a couple of days ago. Congratulation Tom!


Well we held lovely conversation with skype about the little town, its inhabitants, James journey and lots more … and the voice over is shaping up nicely.

A wee bit of Movement

January 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

We are painting and filming all the frames to be composited together with the backgrounds, here some GIFs showing part of the process



I particularly love this second shot: on the right hand corner you can see “flickering by” all the names of all the people that coloured in the different pictures . In this GIF 10 different people coloured few frames each

A Winter Room of One’s Own

December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

the foggiest ideal shaun clark kim noce mewlab animation blog

The days are short and to shoot an animation more often than not you need a dark room to maintain a constant level of brightness. Well, it can feel a little bit like “Groundhog Day” so a beautiful list help feeling a sense of achievement:

So far we did:

  • 4000 frames coloured in
  • 127 A3 Painted Props
  • 66 A3 Painted backgrounds

And now we are about to watercolour and film 5500 frames… But we do still need to colour the last 1000 frames and composite the 66 shots together with the animation It will all takes two more solid wintery months. And after the animation we will do the edit, sound, music, and master it all for cinema viewing.

Here a small sample painting the character of 25 frames, this is only a second of animation.



We paint  and film each single picture.

But at least we have already done:

  • 10 meetings
  • 3 events with 350 people (+ one extra event on the way)
  • 1 casting day
  • 3 Days Rehearsal
  • 2 Days Shooting
  • 1 week editing
  • 1 week scriptwriting
  • 1 week research with 4 mood boards
  • 1 week for 2 animated tests
  • 1 week to create the whole storyboard
  • 2 days to print the 5500 frames
  • 3 days to photographs object for reference for the paintings
  • and about 2 to 3 weeks administration to organise it all
  • and lot of thinking and solid “dreaming”!

Well we are workaholics!

66 Backgrounds and 127 Props

December 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ticked, ticked, ticked! On the wall our lovely schedule tell us we have just finished painting the 66 backgrounds needed for the film!

We have not added yet the fog and the picture are not graded (hence the colour are not the final ones), but one can start to feel the town becoming real… we cannot wait to fill it up with the wonderful characters everyone has been drawing and colouring in…

Here below a collage of few backgrounds and an example

backgrounds fragments



041 BG

And our unglamorous but efficient schedule on the wall


Shaping a world

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

We are creating all the backgrounds for the film. We started with a fictitious map of the town and a long list of things we need. The maps are just rough sketches to gives us an idea.

We are painting the objects and items we need… These are the first ones. With more background tests.


Keep Calm and Carry on Drawing

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

We are inching our way towards the final frames, few hundreds to go…!

Then we will film each frame adding the watercolour.

After  we will create all the backgrounds, and  finally we will combined them all together.


July 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

We are working on a moodboard to find the perfect style for the backgrounds. So we just explore  a lot of books, illustration, and filmmaker we love.
There are images from  Andrei TarkovskyYuriy NorshteynEdward GoreyMichelangelo Antonioni and many more wonderful contemporary artists…

Another fantastic event on the 7 JULY at WATFORD MUSEUM! THANK YOU!!!

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

We would like to thanks everyone that joined us at the WATFORD MUSEUM  on the 7th JULY… we  traced and coloured almost 500 frames!

Also we wish to thank  Watford Museum for their hospitality,  Margaret Cheal from Watford Live, Steven from Silencio, and  our wonderfully  professional animators & artists  Amy Jennings, Diana Garcia, Aniko Kiss, Luis Jara.

Here are some of the picture of those who participated!


July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you did not manage to come down to one of our session you still have a chance to meet and join us at Watford Museum on the 7th July from 11am to 4pm.

Watford Museum 194 High Street Watford Herts WD17 2DT 01923 232297


Another wonderful event on the 19 June at West Herts College! THANK YOU!!!

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

We would like to thanks everyone that joined us at the WEST HERTS COLLEGE  on the 19 JUNE… we  traced and coloured almost 500 frames!

Here are some of the picture of those who participated!

Also we wish to thank West Herts College for their hospitality,  Margaret Cheal from Watford Live, Daniel Hartropp our Assistant Producer and  our wonderfully  professional animators  Amy JenningsClare Aburn, Nikolajs Pogrebickis, Josey Grant and Alexander Stanlake

Did you draw a frame with us on the 16 June? THANK YOU!!!!! and do tell us your name!

June 17, 2012 § 12 Comments

Did you join us on the 16 June to draw and colouring in the full animation? If yes THANK YOU!!!!!, and don’t be shy …add your name here in the comments for posterity!

We would like to thanks everyone that joined us at the HARLEQUIN CENTRE  on the 16 JUNE… more than 300 people  traced and coloured in almost 2000 frames! And we had almost 600 views on the blog in just a week!

Click to see a larger picture.

Here are some of the picture of those who participated!

Also we wish to thank Margaret Cheal and Alan Bannister from Watford Live, Erin Walsh form the Harlequin centre, our wonderful professional animators Tetelle Randrianja, Jessica Leach and Greg Woodcock.

A big thank you to the Crew for the event on 16 June at The Harlequin Centre

June 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

A huge thank you to the Harlequin Centre for their hospitality and super efficient Erin Welsh, to Watford live and West Hers college for their support and collaboration and to the core crew for their hard works and smiles : Margaret Cheal , Alan Bannister, Tetelle Randrianja, Jessica Leach and Greg Woodcock (our animators)


June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Come and join us to draw and colour in one of the 5000 frames needed for the first ever “Collective Animated Film” by the Town of Watford.

MewLab in collaboration with Watford Live, West Herts College and the residents in the Town of Watford are creating “The Foggiest Ideal” a hand crafted short animated film.

Drop in sessions will be held on 16th June at the Harlequin Centre between 10-4pm (WD17 2UB) and on the 19th June at West herts College between 11-4pm (WD17 3EZ)

What it takes to print 5000 frames!

June 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

An amazing producer: Margaret Cheal
A wonderful reprographic expert: Alison Grant Davey
The kindness of Watford Campus Staff!
A fabulous establishment such us West Herts College!
A monster of a printing machine!
5000  punched A4 animation paper by Chromacolour
Few sharpies, 68 folders, 83 coloured stickers, two suitcases, three large coffee, a big bunch of late nights shifts, two afternoons in the printing facilities!
Lots a patience and nerves of steel!

Yes, nerves of steel!!!!

Alison Grant-Davey printing the frames for “The foggiest Ideal”

Alison Grant-Davey, Margaret Cheal and            printing the frames for “The foggiest Ideal”

Testing, testing, testing…

June 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

We finish editing the footage and we organise each shot to beard to printed and now a few tests to check the Art Material, the workflow and to create some concept visuals James and the Dancer with Background Step 4 _Final Step James and the Dancer Step 3 Scanned James and the Dancer Step 2 Painted James and the Dancer Step 1 Original Footage printed Painting the Frames ( the Family)

Shooting Day on 12th May

May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

We had a wonderful and intense day shooting the live action for “The Foggiest Idea”

We would like to thank the whole team:
Dylan as the character of James
Judith as the Dancer
Maya as the Mother and the Commuter
Megan, Richard and Alex as our commuters.

Margaret for the fantastic  organisation of the shoot, Laura Horn for her invaluable Ideas and Daniel for his help as First AD and continuity…

And of course Watford Live, West herts college, Sophie Cady and The town of watford.

The first step is done, do not miss the next step to help us create the next part of the film!

James and his Magnifying Glass

The Commuters

James and the Dancer

Mum and Dad

The child

Costumes…, mmmh which one?

May 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

Thank you to West Herts College and to Jane Cousins for the extensive choice of costumes.

Dylan as James, trying out several different costumes provided by Jane Cousins

We Love Old Fairytales

May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

A small visual test with a picture from the rehearsal, we are trying to make the visual style look mysterious and dark like an old fairytale

Concept Image: the commuters with Richard and Alex

Choreography Rehearsal: playing with movement

May 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

On the 3rd and 10th we had two lovely evenings sessions at West Herts College  reharsing the choreography  for  “The Foggiest Ideal” with:

Dylan as the character of James
Judith as the Dancer
Maya as the Mother and the Commuter
Megan, Richard and Alex as our commuters.
Margaret organising everything at the front desk and last but not least Laura as our choreographer !

Laura Horn (choreographer) and John Priestly (Dad)

Laura Horn (Choreographer) and  Sarah & john Priestly (the family)

Lolo ( the child)


April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thumbnail sketches for the shoot. We are preparing the storyboard for the shoot, just quick drawing to visualise how the action happens.


Casting Day

April 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

On the 26 April we had a fantastic day at West Herts College  casting the roles for “The Foggiest Ideal”, we cannot thank enough everyone that came!
Margaret for organising everything at the front desk, Laura for her talents and off course all our actors.

Laura Horn (Choreographer), Kim Noce and Shaun Clark ( directors) Alex and Richard as the commuters

Early test technique

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

We have been doing small tests for the technique  before the shoot, and it works!


Alexander Williams : Storyline

April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

The fantastic Alexander Williams kindly helped us to tidy up our script… so we are ready to shoot!


April 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

We collected together  our own sketches and images of other artists that we like and we find inspiring for the film

Collage made of Sketches by Mewlab, images by Kaliopy, Helenbreznik, Watford Museum, Edward Gorey and few unknown sources.

Open Casting Call to star in a short animated film

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

In a Town shrouded in fog a young boy searches for a lost key.

Actors will be filmed and “rotoscoped” by the residents of Watford Town to create a beautifully crafted short animated film to celebrate the Watford Live community arts festival in the summer of 2012.
The film will be sent to international Film Festivals

The cast positions are voluntary, all parts are non paid.

We are looking to fill the following roles:

James Mum                             (25-40 yr old, Female)
Commuter One                        (17-60 yr old, Male)
Commuter Two                         (17-60 yr old, Male)
Commuter Three                     (17-60 yr old, Female)
Commuter Four                        (17-60 yr old, Female)
Family Dad                              (17-40 yr old, Male)
Family Mum                            (17-40 yr old, Female)
Town Resident                        (30-40 yr old, Male)

If you think you fit the bill, please send a photograph of yourself and why you think you are suited to the character to:


Submission Closing Date: Saturday 21st April

Due to time constraints we can only cast a maximum of 20 people

Casting Date: Thursday 26th April 17:30-20:30
Casting Location: West Herts College (City centre campus)

The Choreographer: Laura Horn

February 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Meet our new member of the team: Laura Horn, our amazing choreographer for “The Foggiest Idea”. Laura Horn is from Dance Digital, and she will help us casting the actors and  design  the choreography for the entire animated film.


Movement Research

January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

We have been at the V&A, the British Museum and Watford Museum to take picture to inspire us for the acting and the movement for the imminent shoot.

Early Visual Concept

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Location for Shoot at West Herts College

January 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

We are delighted West Herts College has been extremely generous in lending us the facilities for rehearsal and the final shoot! A wonderful place right in the centre of town!

Congratulation to Watford: Green Light!

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

We pitched the idea to fantastic the Sophie Cady and then we met up with the marvellous Margaret Cheal… and we have the Green Light! With the help of the Mayor funding for  the Art Material and in kind donations from West Herts College, Watford Live and Mewlab ;” Watford” is going to make its first professional collective animated film!

Sophie Ronson Cady

January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

When we moved to Watford we found we had one of the loveliest most energetic, vibrant and wonderful Arts Officer: Sophie Ronson Cady! When she introduced us to the art scene in Watford we were delighted by the sheer amount of talent we encountered… and many collaborations and friendship were born!  This project would  not exists without  the help of Sophie!

Margaret Cheal : our Executive Producer

January 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Meet our lovely and super efficient Executive producer: Margaret Cheal. She is also key member  of the team of Watford Live, and the Creative Enterprise Manager at West Herts College.

“The Key” a film made by a whole town

December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment




When the residents awake to find the key missing to the Town gate frustration soon sets in.
Only this key is happy to be lost and keen to show some things should not be found.

Making of and news in the blog : www.afilmmadebyawholetown.wordpress.com
in collaboration with
Watford Live , West Herts College, Watford Museum and the Town of watford

A no budget professional  animated film made in collaboration with the people of the town of Watford. With the aid of a drop in workshop residents in the town of Watford and surrounding areas,  acted, drew and coloured in all the 5753 frames for the film.

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