Pizza time !

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The animators on Ethel and Ernest finished their scenes a few weeks ago. But that isn’t the end of the process. In order to bring the animators’ scenes to the screen a talented team of assistants and clean up artists have to provide the final line work. The key drawings that the animators do also have to be “in-betweened” by a crew of people and any matte work is also dealt with at this stage.

This is the final week for all the Assist/Clean Up team who have done the most amazing job working all hours and at weekends to get the film finished on time.

A welcome break in the evening’s work load is provided by the delivery of pizzas handed out here by head of assist Denise Dean (on the left) and animation supervisor Isobel Stenhouse.

Denise Dean and Isobel Stenhouse_Ethel and Ernest_April 26th 2016

Clean up workinglate_April 26th 2016

Dominika Brodowska and Patrick Collins at the start of another long evening

Ethel and Ernest Assis department_April 26th 2016

Some of the Clean up/Assist team working late to get the film finished. This was taken at Lupus films’ main studio in north London, while another team are hard at work in the nearby annexe studio.

Cloth Cat studio in Cardiff Bay going flat out to the finishing line…

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Another visit to Wales this week to the Cloth Cat studio where the ink and paint department, CG department, and the compositing department are all working flat out to get the film finished on time.

Cloth Cat are housed in the Gloworks building, which is next to BBC Cymru Wales and the Doctor Who Experience in Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay.

Gloworks building Cardiff Bay

The Cloth Cat crew on Ethel and Ernest

Cloth Cat’s Ethel and Ernest crew in front of the Gloworks building, Cardiff Bay

The Cloth Cat crew working on Ethel and Ernest_April 2016

The Ethel and Ernest production crew at Cloth Cat.

Compositor working on Ethel and Ernest

George Petkov compositing a shot using Nuke software

Neil Martin and Sam

Head of Compositing Neil Martin (left) and Sam Wright head of the CG team, discuss a shot involving the integration of CG animation with 2D hand drawn animation.

Two of the compositors on Ethel and Ernest_April 2016

Compositors Jay Murray and Alesja Surubkina



Animator Laurent Kircher

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Watch out for some great comedy scenes in Ethel and Ernest courtesy of top animator Laurent Kircher. Ernest dismantling the old cooking range, which is on page 16 of the book,  is one of Laurent’s sequences.

He also animated the ‘outside the ballroom’ sequence which is one section that has been invented for the film and was not in Raymond Briggs’ book .

Laurent also animated the Ernest on his bike shots for the key moment in the film when Ethel and Ernest first meet (page 3 and 4 of the book).

Animator Laurent Kircher with animation director Peter Dodd

Laurent Kircher (centre) talking with Peter Dodd (Ethel and Ernest animation director)

P.16 of the Ethel and Ernest book

One of the scenes in the book that Laurent was given to animate



Raymond’s diary entry for Decemeber 31st 1947

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Below is an entry from Raymond Briggs’ diary that he wrote when he was 13 years (and 11 months ! ) old. It is for the turn of the year from 1947 to 1948.

Part of the entry reads:

“It is 1948 now. Cheerio to poor 1947*. Not a bad year on the whole. Got a bit fed up with school in the Removes. A jolly good Xmas. But no atmosphere. Glad of the money from the paper round. Glad I have dropped Coleman and (?) etc and gone with Pfeff* as we are better suited. R Briggs 13 years 11 mons. “

*1947 had brought a very severe winter, and coming just after the end of the war badly affected public morale with food shortages and a lack of fuel.

*Raymond’s friend Pfeff is mentioned on P.29 of the recently published Notes from the Sofa – a collection of articles that Raymond has written for The Oldie magazine.

Raymond Briggs reading his diary_April 2nd 2016

Raymond Briggs enjoying reading his diary from 1947. Photo taken on April 2nd 2016

Raymond Briggs diary entry for December  31st 1947

Raymond’s help with the making of the film

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As well as being an executive producer on the film Raymond Briggs has also been invaluable in providing reference for ‘Ethel and Ernest’. He still owns many of the objects that belonged to his parents, so being able to handle them and take photos of them was a fantastic opportunity to give authenticity to our backgrounds.

An example below shows one of the candlesticks that feature a lot in the film. There are two of them that sit either side of the mirror that Ernest brings home one day and puts up on the mantlepiece.


One of Ethel and Ernest’s candlesticks that Raymond has kept. They feature a lot in the book and also the film.

Raymond Briggs with milk bottle and jug

Raymond Briggs (March 2016) holding the type of old Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society  milk bottle that his father used to deliver when he pushed his milk cart around the streets of south west London. In Raymond’s left hand is a jug of the kind that hangs from the dresser in the kitchen (see P.49 of the book).

From a thumbnail for the book to a scene in the film

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Here is the process whereby an initial thumbnail sketch for a scene in Ethel and Ernest becomes a page in the book and eventually a scene in the film.

The thumbnail, drawn by Raymond Briggs, shows the scene that is depicted on page 61 of the book where he has been picked up by the police and brought home in a ‘black maria’ police van. He was caught “breaking and entering the golf club and stealing valuable billiard cues”. The police threaten a stint in borstal, a type of youth detention centre, if it happens again.

What the thumbnail page also shows is Raymond’s meticulous crafting of his text to go with the pictures. As executive producer on the Ethel and Ernest film Raymond kept a close eye on any additional lines of dialogue that were added to make sure they didn’t vary from his style of writing.

The third image below shows an early line test stage of the same scene as it appears in the film. This particular sequence was animated by Liane-Cho Hahn.

Borstal scene

Raymond Briggs’ sketch book showing initial ideas for the borstal scene

Borstal scene from the book

This is how that same scene ended up in the book

Borstal scene from the film

…and this is how the same scene ended up in the film.


Visiting Raymond for the ‘Making Of…’ documentary

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Raymond Briggs was filmed today for the ‘making of’ documentary that will accompany the release of the Ethel and Ernest film.

Raymond Briggs being filmed for 'The Making Of...%22 documentary_March 14th 2016

Jess Bassett, the director of the ‘Making of…’ documentary, is seen here filming Raymond as he looks through one of his unpublished books ‘Into the Dangerous World’

Raymond Briggs and Camilla Deakin_March 14th 2016

Raymond Briggs with Camilla Deakin, the producer of Ethel and Ernest, during the shooting of the documentary.

Into the Dangerous World by Raymond Briggs

The front cover of Raymond Briggs’ as yet unpublished book ‘Into the Dangerous World’. It was a particularly interesting discovery for us as it features a child’s eye view of the house in south west London where Raymond grew up. The same house of course that is the setting for Ethel and Ernest.


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