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Live Updates from Manchester Animation Festival

Manchester Animation Festival has been in full swing, starting off with a host of animation films and events. Jellyfish Pictures is involved in both of the jam-packed weeks, with panel talks, industry insider sessions, workshops and a virtual meet & greet with a chatroom.

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Kicking off the festival for us was our superstar animation series director, Kitty Taylor. Kitty sat on the ‘All Talk Voice Direction’ panel and workshop alongside, Nic Redman and Leah Marks from The Voiceover Social Podcast.

After Festival Director, Steve Henderson introduced the guests to the virtual audience, the panellists started discussing the hot topics shaking the voice-over industry at the moment. Able to speak from a direction point of view, Kitty pressed the importance a voice actor plays in a production, not just in voicing the character, but also in the refinement of the character development. One of the most urgent and critical voice over issues discussed was the matter of inclusivity and diversity with voice actors, highlighting the unbelievable shortage of diverse actors and diverse roles available. You can read a bit more about this here.

Following the panel, the Voiceover Social Podcast led a workshop, with attendees working in small groups to help direct and deliver a perfect performance from a voice artist.

Manu talk

Our amazing VFX Supervisor, Manu Reyes took part in the stellar ‘Industry Insiders’ panel on 19th November. Speaking on the evolution a company has to take when making the shift from episodic animation to feature, specifically pulling from Jellyfish’s journey, Manu was joined by, Alex Zepherin, Freelance Motion Graphics Designer, Vicky Butterworth, Solicitor and Graeme Murray, Trade Marker from Marks & Clerk, with a Q&A round at the end.

Taking centre stage, Manu’s talk focused on differences in the pipeline and demands episodic animation has compared with feature quality animation.

Using Jellyfish’s many projects to anchor the session, Manu took the audience through our project-based evolution from episodic kids’ animated series, 'Floogals', 'Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed!' and 'Bitz & Bob' to the changes we implemented for DreamWorks Animations’ 'How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming'.

Following Manu’s talk, Alex Zepherin spoke about her experience in the industry and why freelancing suits her best, stressing the importance of showcasing black perspectives in storytelling and animation. This was followed by an insightful talk from Vicky Butterworth and Graeme Murray, from Marks & Clerk. Both shared some useful tips for artists on trademarking their work and how this is portrayed to recruiters.

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We also got involved today with Manchester Animation Festival’s Marketplace, an online chatroom for attendees to drop-in for a chat with our team. We have absolutely loved hearing from all of you and answering your great questions, from advice on ways to impress our HR team to what positions we have available at Jellyfish. We also got the chance to meet with a few of you 1-on-1 via Teams or Zoom, which was great fun to sit down and have a friendly chat about the industry and share some advice.


The second week saw Katri Valkamo and Ere Santos share their wisdom and knowledge for two SOLD-OUT Industry Excellence Award workshops. On the 25th of November, Ere gave his workshop on Character Animation to the eager audience, sharing his tips on conveying realism, staying creatively motivated and advice on pulling together the perfect animation reel.

"It's useful to find your character's energy first before designing poses. Don't start animating your shot until you've planned it out so clearly that you can see it in your head."


The next day saw Katri give a workshop on Character Design to the budding concept artists. Katri delved into her creative design process and advice on creating good design through thinking in shapes and worrying about the details later.

“A lot of design is about reducing noise and reducing detail, if there's a simpler way of showing something I'd always go for it, think - do I need it? Can I simplify it".


Next up, is the MAF Industry Excellence Awards and we have our fingers and toes crossed for Federico Bernasconi and Catherine Salkeld in their nominations for Character Animation and Storyboard. Happening tonight at 8 pm!