Posted May 24th 2007 by

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An interview with
GRANT ORCHARDwords by , May 2007

There’s a good chance that you will have seen a neat series of animations called Love Sport, which take a comical jab at some of the world’s best-loved sports. Well the man behind them is director Grant Orchard, who currently spends most of his time working at the ever-impressive Studio AKA.

Welcome to Thunder Chunky Grant. How are you today?

I’m good thanks.

Tell us about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

Step1. Get me out of the box and feel my skin to see if I’m ripe. I usually am.

Step2. Squeeze me tight to get all of the goodness out. I come with bits. Some people don’t like bits.

Step3. Stand me up and see if you’ve read the instructions right. You might be thinking I look kind of funny.

Grant Orchard - Park Foot Ball

Park Foot Ball screenshot

Park Foot Ball was a short film you did. How did it come about? Was it done specifically for onedotzero?

I started it about 5 or 6 years ago as an excersise to learn AfterEffects. I kept putting it to one side for all the commercial work that was coming in. I would’ve probably never finished it if Anna from OneDotZero hadn’t got in touch to see if I had any work for the upcoming festival. I showed them what I had of Park Foot Ball, which was about 2/3rds of it, and they encouraged me to finish it. So it wasn’t specifically done for onedotzero but it wouldn’t have been done without them.

Park Foot Ball was so successful that you’ve recently done a follow-up, Love Sport, a series of animations based on 10 different sports. Most important question… where’s the crown green bowling video?

Oh yeah, crown green bowling would have been great! We’ve got quite a few sidelined ideas from the series: Sheep Herding, Free Running, Cross Channel swimming and one where a weightlifter’s anus explodes from the strain of competition (that ones based on a true story. We rejected it on the grounds of poor taste).

Grant Orchard - Love Sport

Love Sport – High Diving and Basketball screenshots

Park Foot Ball took off in a really surprising way. It toured with OneDotZero and Resfest and went to countless festivals. I was really surprised because it’s such a small film. Claire Cook from OneDotZero really championed it and it took the eye of MTV Italy who were establishing a new channel called QOOB. Lucia Nicolai commisioned 10 shorts with the suggestion they be about different sports. I came up with 10 outlined ideas and about 5 visuals and we got some money to make them over the period of about 4 months. I’ve got to say QOOB were the best clients ever. Ever! They liked what we’d done before and completely trusted us to come up with the goods. Not once did they ask to see work in progress or design stills or anything. I was amazed.

The stars of the animations are a bunch of coloured blocks. What’s the main challenge in bringing these blocks to life?

There’s not really that much of a challenge to be honest. They don’t have any arms or legs or expressive features. You simply just trust that the animation and set up can carry the story.

Grant Orchard - Mountaineering

Love Sport – Mountaineering screenshot

If you apply the same rigour in your animation of a block of colour as you would a detailed fully formed character, then there shouldn’t be any problem with the performance. It’s still all about good keys and weight.

Which is your favourite on the ten anims?

I’d have to say PaintBalling. Only because it nearly broke our computers. Phil Warner, the animator on that job had in one section (‘Graphic’ for those that use Flash) nearly 1000 levels. We were surprised it didn’t cough up some kind of giant digital hair ball and then roll over and die. I like it because we finished it, and I love camoflage.

Grant Orchard - Paintballing

Love Sport – Paintballing screenshot

You’ve done these projects alongside your work at Studio AKA, where you’ve worked for some top clients and won some great awards. What are the main perks of working for such a successful company?

You’re surrounded by quality people, people who love the arts and animation. It’s an amazingly creative place to be. I went freelance for a couple of years and it was good to stick your head out and see what else is around, but having a support base where people like and want you to do the work that you like and want to do cant really be beaten.

Which project are you most proud of doing, in the time you’ve been there?

I’m very affectionate about Compaq ‘Crow’. It was the first job I designed and directed. I worked with some really good people who taught me a lot, like Dom Griffiths and Mario Cavalli and we made a really fun piece.

It’s very old school now. No computers, all hand drawn and artworked and then filmed under the rostrum. Made you feel like a craftsman. In fact my next project’s going to be traditional all the way. Hang the deadline!

Also I really like a promo I did for Sufjan Stevens a year or so back. I filmed it in my spare time in Dulwich Woods and I love it. No one else is that bothered about it though. There you go.

Grant Orchard - Redford

Screenshot from a promo for Sufjan Stevens’ single Redford

As well as all this, you were also involved in setting up The Hope & Anchor, which is a collective of all kinds of creative people. Do you struggle to juggle your time between all these things?

Not any more! I’m back working pretty regularly at StudioAKA now. The Hope&Anchor was a great solution in getting work seen that wasn’t connected to commercial studios while I was a very single freelance entity. It was about showing work that you’d done outside of that world with people you really liked working with. Unfortunately/Fortunately everyone’s got too busy to carry it on. Kevin Meredith is taking photos all across the world and UpTheResolution are buried under a pile of great work and I’m starting my Universe of water colour experiments. The sites still live but it’s been gathering dust for couple of years.

A crucial part of any film is the soundtrack. What would be the Grant Orchard soundtrack?

Oh yeah, this is a great question.

My wake up in the morning track would be Feist’s ‘1234’. Her voice is just too lovely.

My eating 3 Weetabix track would be Professor Murder ‘Free Stress Test’.

My skipping out of the door track would be Fatlip ‘What’s up Fatlip’.

My charging to work track would be The Wedding Present ‘Brassneck’.

My getting the computer going track would be Urchin ‘Ridem’.

My get me out of this mid morning slump track would be Dan Deacon ‘The Crystal Cat’.

My I’m back on track 11 o’clocker would be Coconut Records ‘West Coast’ (ckeck out the video with Mark Gonzales).

I could go on…

Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?

Stroke an old person. It’s amazing what you’ll both get out of it.

Check out some of Grant’s commercial work by visiting the Studio AKA site. You can watch the Love Sport series of animations by visiting QOOB. And then, if you’re still thirsty for more… then why not drop in at The Hope & Anchor.

POSTED BY Jon

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  • haha .. what a guy .. his answers are a treat to read ! love this interview .

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