London-based toon shop 12foot6, founded by Dave Anderson and Tom Mortimer, is gearing up to bring more howling entertainment to fans who were won over by their viral Virgin Mobile campaign, Dog Judo, by hosting a new series of shorts online at www.dogjudo.com. The series effortlessly blends British humor with 2D animation and stars two dogs attempting to get on with their Judo training: Roy, the serious-minded straight man type, and Rexley, who is constantly hijacking their training sessions with ridiculous, very non-Judo tactics and schemes. The use of real photographs for the characters’ fuzzy mugs adds another level of absurdity (as does Roy’s character blog on the site!) to the under-a-minute antics. DogJudo.com officially launched Oct. 1, with episodes broadcasting biweekly starting Oct. 29. Anderson kindly spared a moment out of 12foot6’s hectic schedule of commercial, TV and canine capers to tell us more about this ad campaign turned online phenom.
Animag Online: Tell us about your background, age, where you’re based?
Dave Anderson: 12foot6 is an animation studio ‘ 10 years old, based in central London. We make TV programs, adverts and do online content. My background is as a writer. Many years ago I wrote Future Shocks for 2000 AD, the Bastard Bunny strip cartoon and comic – which appeared in NME and Deadline magazine and its own comic and book – the Keith and Hamish strip which ran in Loaded magazine at launch. Then I worked in advertising before forming 12foot6 with Tom Mortimer in 2000. 12foot6 animated Modern Toss, created and animated Dog Face for Channel 4, The Sensibles (BAFTA nominated) for Jetix, has done ads for Cobra, Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile and recently “Dave goes to Sk’ne” for the Swedish Tourist Board.
How did you get into animation?
Tom taught Flash animation to illustration students at Middlesex. What we realized then was that Flash was an amazing animation tool when put in the hands of great artists. We took on a couple of Tom’s students (great artists) and 12foot6 took off.
What inspired you to create Dog Judo?
Dog Judo is the brain child of Andrew Kelleher who we’ve worked with for several years. Its was originally commissioned by Virgin Mobile in 2004 as a series of viral films to promote their new camera phones. Basically if you saw two dogs doing judo (or in Rexley’s and Roy’s case, talking about doing judo) you’d want to take a picture. The campaign went truly viral ‘ the campaign website got over 10 million hits – and won a load of awards. 12foot6 carried on making them for the next few years as a side project and really got to grips with the personalities of the characters. We were approached by a few TV companies for them but last year the idea crystalised to make a truly online cartoon strip (using digital media like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes used newspapers many years ago). So, on Oct 1, 2009, Dog Judo launches as a biweekly animated strip living on its own site, www.dogjudo.com.
When did the first short debut?
The original series began in Decemeber 2004. The new series starts October 1, 2009.
How long does it take to create an episode?
There’s a team on it now but from script to record to build to animate to sound mix ‘ at least one month. Process is of course conveyor belted now. The new series is After Effects-based.
What do you like best about working in animation?
Get to work with talking dogs. And it’s a great medium for short-form humor.
What’s the toughest part of the job?
It takes a long time to realize your dreams!
What are you working on next?
A series of animations called Get Well Soon. We’re getting a bunch of different animators (some based here plus some famous guest stars) to animate a series of conversations we did with “faces” in our local locals’ pub.
Who is your animation hero?
Bob Godfrey (Dream Doll, Kama Sutra Rides Again).
What is your advice for anyone who wants to get into animation?
Write well, draw well, animate well. If you can do it at least one of these, stick with it and don’t lose focus.
See the shorts at www.dogjudo.com or visit www.12foot6.com for more info.