A special Blue Peter, showing some amazing things you can do with a camera. Helen and Barney make their own animation on an epic scale.
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On today's Blue Peter, we get creative in a huge way.
Yes, we're turning things on their head by trying to create something
on an epic scale.
Welcome to Blue Peter's Big Animation!
Also on today's show -
Find out how cameras can be used to take creative pictures
from perspective photography to self-portraits.
We meet the man who's photographed celebs from Kate Moss to the Queen.
Plus I get a bird's eye view of one of our most majestic birds of prey.
What an amazing feeling!
Hello! Now, this isn't our usual home.
We've set up shop in this amazing studio
to ring in the new year in a special way.
Today we're going to be getting creative
and showing you some amazing things you can do with your cameras.
It's estimated that there are 2.5 billion cameras on Earth,
which means that around one in three of us own one.
That could be a traditional camera or your smartphone
or even on your games console.
Normally you would just take photographs with cameras
and that's what we're doing today - but on a bigger scale.
Take a look at this.
This is our Big Idea.
We're going to make a massive animation!
Now, this is our animated storyboard, so it sets out the story
we want to tell and the characters who will be in it.
We'll use this as a guide to tell the story of Helen parachuting
onto the ship, then after a spot of bad weather and some lightning,
she gets into trouble and falls overboard
and is chased by a shark, but it's Helen Skelton.
She won't get eaten by a shark.
She manages to escape, lands on an island
and they celebrate with a firework.
That is hopefully what we're going to create.
So I'm playing myself? You've dressed it up nicely.
You said this was a starring role.
It basically means I'm going to lie on the floor all day.
Yeah, and I get to boss you about by being the director
but I don't know that much, so very soon we'll be speaking to
one of the big brains of Aardman Animations but before we do,
last year I showed you how to take different styles of photography
with your cameras.
One of my favourites was perspective photography. Take a look.
Check out these photos.
They've been taken using a technique called perspective photography.
It's a way of forcing your brain to make things look
completely different by the use of optical trickery.
So, how does it work?
The trick is actually quite simple.
When an object is close to the lens, it looks really big, but when
the object moves further away from the lens, it's really small.
Is that a tiny lion or a giant camera? So, what do you need?
You need an open space, so I've come to the park.
This will be perfect for what I need.
Secondly you'll need a camera, you can take this picture on any camera.
Thirdly, you'll need a person, a subject or an object
to take a picture of.
Today I'll be using Rob and this football. Thanks, Rob.
And finally, you'll need your imagination.
The best perspective photography pictures are the original ones,
so get your thinking caps on, and let's get started.
OK, Rob. Are you ready? About 20 metres that way.
What we'll try and do here is create the effect of Rob kicking
the football towards the camera, so as you can see, Rob is miles away,
and he's going to strike that famous footballing strike pose
and when he does that, Natalie's going to throw the ball
into the camera and if we can time it just right, it will look like Rob
has kicked the football from where he is, right in front of the lens.
That's the theory anyway. Fingers crossed.
OK, let's try one. One, two, three.
Oh, it's so close!
There's the pose we're after. That one is where the ball ended up.
This type of photography takes lots of time and patience,
so don't worry if you don't get it right first time.
It's so close! One, two, three.
Yes! We've got it! That's what I'm talking about right there.
Fantastic. I am so pleased with that photo.
Perspective photography is a lot better and way more fun
if you get your friends to help you.
All right, guys!
So, I've bought some top photographers along
who've each brought their own camera.
First up is Molly. She's using a flashy tablet with an inbuilt camera.
Then we've got Mia,
with an instant camera that prints photos straight away.
Kalim has got a sleek compact digital camera.
And Ashir has got a low-cost disposable camera that's so retro.
The guys have split into pairs so they can take their photos
and they're coming up with ideas thick and fast.
I've got a dog called Darcy and I want her to be very, very big.
-We can make the ball proper big spinning on our finger.
I've brought a balloon and if we blow it up dead big, it'll look well good.
Ashir is trying to take a picture of Kalim showing off his skills
by spinning a huge football on the end of his finger.
Kalim's idea is to squash Ashir under my giant foot. How cruel.
I've just stood on your head!
So let's see how the girls are getting on.
Mia's trying to create the effect of Molly blowing a huge balloon
across the park.
-Down a bit.
-Have you taken it yet?
Ah, that's brilliant.
Molly wants Mia to make her dog Darcy enormous
and have Mia give her a kiss.
-Now bend down!
-Now bend down and give a kiss.
So how did they get on? Well, here are their photographs.
Look at that for a shot, isn't it brilliant?
Ashir's photo of Kalim with the ball on the end of his finger
like a basketball player and a giant Barney.
Take a look here at Molly's photographs.
That's Mia kissing Darcy on the nose.
To get that right with the camera was quite tricky - it's a good photo.
There's Molly blowing a big balloon across the park.
That was directed by Mia of course.
Let's not forget Kalim's photo where the big shoe is squashing Ashir.
These are absolutely brilliant.
They're quite difficult to do with an instant camera
but the point is to get out there, enjoy yourself and be creative.
Why not give it a go?
As you can see, we've just started filming the parachute drop
part of our animation.
-How are you feeling, star of the show?
-Stop buttering me up!
I'm the director, I'm supposed to tell you that you're brilliant.
Anyway, the reason we're here today is because
so many famous characters have been brought to life here in Bristol.
Shaun the Sheep. Robbie the Reindeer.
And the last time I was in Bristol, I got to try a bit of animating myself.
Only the Pirate Captain.
Hah! I'm the Pirate Captain and I'm here for your gold!
You can't lose, Captain! I'd bet my face!
Look at this. One touch. You see this guy here?
You recognise something he might be wearing there?
This just got a whole lot cooler, didn't it.
Even at this size, I'm pretty certain that animating these models
is a real labour of love, and now it's my turn
to find out just how tricky it is.
I'm about to watch the director, Peter Lord,
act out the scene that he would like me to animate
on our Pirate Captain over here, so this is what I have to do.
It's so quick, I have to watch it again.
-That's not even a second, is it!
So it's just over two seconds.
OK. That normally would take you how long to animate?
Erm, like, a day?
-How long have I got?
I'd better get started then, hadn't I.
Stop frame animation works by taking frame by frame shots on a camera.
Between each shot, the characters are repositioned just a tiny amount
so when the shots are played continuously,
it looks like the characters are moving.
That's it. Done. First frame. Yay!
Peter's impressive movie credentials include animated favourites like
Chicken Run and Wallace And Gromit so the pressure is really on to do well.
As long as it has the right feel-good performance
and delivers exactly what Pete is requesting
then I think it's going to be a good shot.
Time's up. It's the moment of truth.
I'm not sure that I'm going to offer you a job, like, today.
If you were doing it for real I'd say bigger.
I'd say a bigger gesture, a bigger arc.
I would have gone back and done a few things differently.
I just knew I had to get him face-on at the end.
-But I've really enjoyed it. Thank you very much.
Thank you. And you've done a good job.
I was hoping some of the technique and skill had rubbed off a little bit
but the truth is, animating is a very difficult thing to do
so I'm delighted to welcome Merlin.
Hi. You're a director and animator for Aardman Animations.
You know what you're doing. Help!
This is our canvas behind you, where we're starting to make our animation.
-What do you think?
-I think it's amazing.
Your animation stage is huge. Your camera's up in the roof.
I think you've got everything you need to get cracking.
When you think of animation, you think of a little camera in a little scene
and this is on a much bigger scale so I presume the decisions that you
make are just the same but they're emphasised by the scale.
Yeah, absolutely. Animation can be done anywhere.
It can be done small or large.
The only difference here is you need more space.
You've done a big animation before so you know what you're talking about.
The Gulp, which is just brilliant.
How did you go about doing that? How long did it take?
Gulp was animated on a beach with a camera up on a crane
looking down onto the beach,
and we had an army of animators running into the frame.
They all had a little bit that they were responsible for,
and everyone would have to clear frame - "take the shot!",
and then everyone would come running back in.
We had four days to shoot it, which is actually a tiny amount of time
for the amount of animation it was.
It's difficult to work with celebrities who can talk.
Yours don't necessarily talk, but it is your job to bring them to life.
Gromit, for example, has no voice,
so all of his performance has to come from his physical movement.
Can you explain what you do when you direct?
The most important thing when you start to animate
is to get off your seat and act it out,
so you actually understand what you're trying to bring to life,
so for example, in the animatic, Helen's got to do some swimming,
so it's very important that you as a director know what the movement is.
But you've got to be across that as a team, haven't you?
Yes, and as director, what you need to do is get up and practise
the actions so you can communicate clearly to your team what's needed.
OK. We're going to get on with it cos we are really against the time.
All animation takes time.
Did you hear that, Skelts?
We're up against the time here so you have to behave yourself.
Barney, stop rushing me! I've just landed on a boat!
Anyway, if we're in such a hurry,
why don't we take one picture rather than hundreds?
What, like a portrait photograph?
That's not as easy as it sounds,
as I found out when I went to meet one of my heroes.
He's one of Great Britain's top photographers.
He's called Rankin and this is what happened when he taught me
how to take the perfect portrait photograph.
Rankin became well-known after founding an uber-trendy magazine,
and then started to make a name for himself
as THE celebrity portrait photographer of our time.
Snapping the likes of Harry Potter actress Emma Watson,
singer Adele and R'n'B legend Jay-Z.
When you take a portrait photograph, you have to get quite close
and intimate to the person you're taking the photo of.
Woah! Close enough!
This can make them feel quite awkward, which in turn makes it quite
tricky to get the right shot, so I've come to Rankin's London studio
to get his top tips on how to get the best from your subject.
You know how when you go to a party
and then you find out as you arrive they've got a bouncy castle?
That's how I feel right about now.
-You all right?
-I'm very good.
It's such an honour to meet you. Thanks for having me today.
I think you're most famous for your celebrity portraits,
so you've got a studio, you've got a subject right in front of you...
You want me to take your photograph?
-Just like that.
-What are we going to do with you?
I don't know, you've got a lot to work with!
While Rankin snaps away, I pick his brain for his portrait secrets.
Obviously you have a lot of experience in this.
What is it you're looking for while you're doing this?
I'm looking for a kind of connection between you and the camera,
so I always say to people "look through the lens, don't look at it".
-Imagine you're talking to somebody with your eyes.
There you go.
What happens if you get a celebrity who's quite difficult to work with?
How do you play that?
There's techniques you can use to deal with difficult people.
Try and make them laugh, trying to make a fool out of yourself first
to make them feel a bit comfortable. That always helps.
Try and treat them like normal people,
which is what I tried to do with the Queen.
I saw her laughing and I thought, that's what I wanted.
I wanted you to be the person.
Cos that's what we really relate to. We don't relate to celebrity.
We relate to real people.
Even when I'm photographing people that are not famous, I would always
let them have a look at the screen and talk them through the ideas.
I think if you do that then you get the best out of people.
So the key to taking the perfect portrait is to make
your subject feel comfortable enough to show you the real them,
and clearly Rankin knows what he's doing
because he's captured that cheeky sparkle in my eyes.
I think that's good.
For me there's a moment where you've kind of relaxed
and you're looking... It's quite a bit more intimate.
So now I need to know how to take a self-portrait. Have you got any tips?
Get a family member or a best friend to come in and give you a hand,
because they'll have to sit in to show you
where you're going to frame up.
The second thing is to make sure your light makes you look good.
You want to look cool.
And the third thing is once you're ready to shoot,
imagine you're looking through the lens at the person,
you're talking to them with your eyes, and then just have fun.
-OK. Let's give it a go.
To take my self-portrait, I'm using Rankin's fancy equipment.
This lead connects to his very high-tech camera to take the shot.
But if you want to take a self-portrait at home,
all you need is a camera or a camera phone with a timer on it.
That's really funny, that one!
And don't forget you can be as crazy as you like with your poses
and even use props to bring out your personality.
-How about the one where I'm leaning forwards?
-I like that one a lot.
-Yeah, I love that.
Fantastic. Thank you very much. There you have it.
It's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for that.
And get out there, start taking photos and enjoy yourself.
And here it is, the finished portrait. Isn't it amazing.
I love that picture. My grandma will love it even more.
It was such a nice day with Rankin. I'm sure he learnt a lot from me too.
Yes, Barney. I'm sure you did teach Rankin a thing or two.
I'm sure you taught him some bad jokes. Great jokes, I mean!
I love that photograph.
You probably got that in last year's calendar if you printed it out.
As we speak, our giant animation is still under way.
The shark is making its way across the waves.
In that sketch, I'm a really fast swimmer so I've already left frame,
which means I can come over here and tell you about some of the ways
that you can have a go at animating at home.
Now one of my favourite ways, I used to do this when I was younger,
is to create an old-school flip book.
You take a notepad and you draw a picture in the corner of each page.
Each picture needs to be slightly different,
so if you've got a guy running or tumbling like we have there,
each one should be ever so slightly different.
When you've created all of your drawings, you simply flip the book.
And he should run or fall out of the page.
Using a notebook is a really cheap way to try your hand at animation
but nowadays there's so much technology out there
and all kinds of free downloads.
I found three for you to try.
If you've got a PC or a Mac, then you could try iCreate to Educate.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad, then you could try iMotion.
If you've got an Android device, so a tablet or another kind of smartphone,
then you could try Stop-Motion - Lite.
Then all you need to do is find something to animate.
I have a little Barney dog here.
He's a lot better behaved than the real one.
I'm going to use him for my animation so I've got my download,
I just need to take one picture.
Then I'll move him ever so slightly along, take another picture.
Move him ever so slightly along. Take another picture.
And I might on the next one make his tail wag a little bit.
Once I've shot a few stills,
this software can quickly preview how the animation looks.
All the apps that we've downloaded are free
so they're a great way to try your hand at animating.
But if you haven't got a device, then why not ask at school.
They might have something that you could use.
I could spend ages on this but I've got a giant animation
to swim back into, so Barney, how's it looking?
It looks really good, Helen.
I've come up here to make sure the cameras are still rolling
cos if that doesn't work, we don't have much of an animation.
This isn't the first time I've had to come up high
to take a photo of something. Last year I went para-hawking.
That's where you go up in the sky in a paraglider
and try and take a picture of a bird of prey.
It doesn't sound easy, does it. No. That's because it wasn't.
Say hello to Findo.
If we were in the wild, this would probably be a bit different
cos he would think I was food and would try to eat me,
but luckily he's been trained.
He's a very tame Harris Hawk and he's very happy to sit there.
This is an ideal photograph opportunity,
and when these guys are in full flight, they can fly
thousands of feet in the air and they can travel at very fast speeds.
It's very difficult to photograph them.
But that's exactly what I'm going to try to do today
but rather than take a photograph from down here looking up,
I'm going to go up there with him.
This could be one of the most difficult photography challenges I've faced yet.
To get my picture of the hawk in flight,
I'm going to use a paraglider.
It's a bit like a parachute that flies like a bird of prey.
Once we're up in the air, Findo's handler will also take to the sky.
The plan is that Findo should fly close to his handler,
so if I can get myself in the air and if we can get near enough,
the photograph will be stunning - but this isn't going to be easy.
The man charged with getting me airborne and keeping me safe
is my pilot, Steve.
I've got the camera set up, I know what we need to do,
you've got the paraglider set out, so all we need to do now is take off.
We've got quite a lot of wind at the moment.
Ideally we need somewhere between ten and 20mph of wind.
It's a bit over that at the moment so we may have to wait.
-Too much wind can cause problems for us.
If the wind's too strong, the paraglider may go backwards
and we could end up over the forest or in the trees or something.
It seems that unless the wind drops,
my dream of photographing Findo from the sky
might not get off the ground, so how exactly does a paraglider work?
It's a glider really, not a parachute, so it glides.
The sun is warming up the ground out there
and creating hot air rising, and if we fly into that hot air rising
we can go up and rise with it.
As we wait for the wind to drop, it gives me plenty of time
to get anxious about running off a cliff.
It's nice standing here looking down on the valleys there,
but in a short amount of time, I'll be up there looking down.
This is actually quite scary. It's not about taking a photo any more.
It's about surviving.
Suddenly Steve and his team notice that the wind has dropped
to a level that will allow us to fly.
With very little notice, it's time for me to get my gear on
and take to the sky.
I'm so nervous.
I've never done this before and I'm about to throw myself
off the edge of a cliff, so, yeah...
I can't believe... This is ridiculous.
So here we are. We're in the air. What an amazing feeling!
Do you know what's really strange? It's just a chair, isn't it.
-There's nothing else to it.
-A flying chair.
-What a beautiful feeling.
It's everyone's dream to be able to fly. It's incredible.
-There's a lot of firsts happening today.
This is the first time I've ever been in a paraglider.
It's the first time I've ever tried to take a picture of a Harris Hawk.
It's also the first time this particular Harris Hawk has flown
towards anybody other than Martin, his handler, so there's a lot
of things that could go wrong today but we're more than prepared
to give it a go and hopefully, we'll get a nice shot for you.
Martin is about to take off, and hopefully Findo will follow him.
If we can get close enough, I should be able to get a fantastic picture.
To save energy, Harris Hawks use the same rising hot air that I'm using.
It enables them to fly without having to constantly flap their wings.
They have amazing eyesight.
It's so good that if Findo could read,
he would read a newspaper from a quarter of a mile away,
which is great for spotting prey at a distance.
Harris Hawks are such good predators that they are sometimes
used at airports, and even some sporting venues,
to help remove pesky pigeons.
OK, let's try and get this snap.
He's just out of range. Beautiful bird. Just a bit too far away.
After 20 minutes, the wind has dropped
and my window to get a picture has closed.
I just hope I've managed to get a good picture.
It felt incredible to be up there, it's like Superman, isn't it.
It's Superman but sat down. It's the casual Superman if anything.
That moment when you throw yourself over the edge,
it's like, "what am I doing?".
But once you're up there, it's the stuff dreams are made of.
Everyone's dreamed about having their own wings to fly
and I pretty much just have done sat on a seat.
What an incredible thing to do.
I had an amazing time, and these are my photos.
Even when I was in the sky with him,
it was still really hard to get close to Findo to get a close-up picture
but I think he's a good-looking bird at a distance anyway.
You give yourself a hard time. I love that picture.
I've never been above a bird before while he's flying,
it was quite a unique feeling. That's the result of the shots.
Right, Barney. It is almost time to finish our giant animation.
-I have swum away from a shark.
-You did really well.
I've never seen you swim that fast.
But it's now time for me to approach a desert island and celebrate.
So I need some people to help me.
That's why we've got some guys along from a local school in Bristol.
Who wants to help us finish our animation?
-Right answer! Let's go!
In this final scene, I'm rescued by an island of friendly inhabitants.
This is the great thing about technology.
You can preview what you're doing.
This is the camera filming us right now. That's me.
That's the treasure chest that's just been put down
but I think it might be too far over on the island.
-Slide it across a bit more?
Girls, about another 30 centimetres that way, I think.
And then put your hands out so you're just like waving. Perfect.
I know it feels bizarre but honestly, it looks great.
It's all coming together nicely.
..In a circle.
No seagulls were harmed in the making of this animation.
Shall we go for one, guys?
-That's your motivation.
-I'm swimming to the firework party!
That's it. That's the party that's waiting for you on the island.
That's where you're swimming to. It looks really good, doesn't it!
After eight hours of filming, 189 still photographs
of animated acting by me and some direction from Barney, we're done.
As they say in show business, that's a wrap! Thank you very much!
Well done! It looks amazing!
It's been a long day but hopefully worth all the hard work.
Jack, there's your popcorn.
It's time for the screening of our Big Animation.
Do you want to see it, guys?
Merlin's joined us again for his expert opinion.
I can't wait, I'm looking forward to seeing this.
-I'm nervous now you're here.
-Don't be. It'll be great!
Somebody ate all your popcorn.
Someone press play!
Here we go. It's time for Blue Peter's Big Animation.
-Woohoo! Yeah! Parachuting!
Oh. Hello. Erm, ooh... What's that?!
Oh, hello, what's this? Where did he come from?
There's an island - quick, I'm getting to it. Hello, guys. You all right?
Let's have a party! I'm safe! Woohoo!
Merlin, what did you think?
I'm really, really impressed with what you've all achieved today.
The scenes, the props, the character and planning out the story
has all come together to make a really good film.
-You should be really proud.
-Thanks, team! Good job.
-Yes, thanks, guys.
If that's inspired you to get animating,
head over to the Blue Peter website because Merlin has put some top tips
on there for you on how to get started.
As always, once you've created your masterpiece,
send it to us so we can have a look.
If you haven't got a camera, don't worry about it.
Ask around at school because somebody else might have one
and you can get together as a group and create an animation.
Shall we watch it again?
-Woohoo! Yeah! Parachuting!
Oh. Hello. Erm, ooh... What's that?!
Oh, hello, what's this? Where did he come from?
There's an island - quick, I'm getting to it. Hello, guys. You all right?
Let's have a party! I'm safe! Woohoo!
That's it for this week's show.
Next week we're back in our studio in Salford, where we'll announce
the shortlist for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2013.
-Say goodbye, everybody.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
A special Blue Peter, showing some amazing things you can do with a camera. Helen and Barney make their own animation on an epic scale plus find out how to take trick photographs, see Barney take to the skies to capture a picture of one of our most majestic birds of prey and celebrity photographer Rankin gives tips on taking self-portraits.