Having enjoyed making
Uncle Otto, we were looking forward to working on the second animation.
However we were overlooking one major difference - no deadline.
This meant that the whole thing was much less focussed, which was
a problem at the time, but looking at the finished (almost) result
I'm not so sure.
Due to the fact that both Jon and I are skint and
we live at opposite ends of the country, we only got one week working
together, the rest consisting of hundreds of emails and scores of
scans. The storyboard was about one third done at the beginning
of the week and largely ignored by the end, by which time we were
relying on daft drunken ideas and labour-saving shortcuts to fill
in as many gaps as we could. Instead of listing ideas months in
advance, only to lose most of them in the final version, this time
within a couple of hours of a "what if..." there it would
be. This is why the humour in this one is a bit more twisted than
That and the opening line. It's not easy working
on a piece that you now is going to offend the excrement out of
a portion of the audience before it has even started. Cannibalism?
Kike? It's about as un-PC as you can get, surely? But hey, South
Park's old hat; we're all post-ironic nowadays. The historic nature
of the piece lets us view the humour in its own context, rather
than our current subjective viewpoint. In other words it's just
a rather good pun. But it did hang over us like the rhino in the
living room for most of the production. However it did raise the
bar somewhat. A lot of the humour in Rawlinson End is the humour
of revulsion, so we just tried to go along with the master. In Part
3 Otto reminisces about Krystalnacht - and we've promised that we
won't cut a nanosecond out of the original broadcasts.
In the meantime we carried on as normal; disecting
the text for visual ideas, collecting the images then putting them
together with the soundtrack, then discovering where the long pauses
are and just how many gaps there are that need to be filled. I still
find it amazing that a side and a half of A4 can fill ten minutes
when read out, but thankfully Vivian's text was so dense that the
problem is not filling the time, but of how to fit in all the jokes,
puns and references. In the end we tend to let the monologue speak
for itself, with the images simply showing what is described. However,
just as Vivian's text plays with your assumptions and allows itself
to wander off into dark alleys, we tried to introduce visual puns
and fill the pauses with visual gags. And then there were the ideas
that, once heard, couldn't be left out - 'John Wayne in a gay bar'
and 'frankendog' spring monstrously to mind.
At the end of the week we still had no idea what
to do with the songs, and Jon was off to a new job, so I started
to put them together with bits and pieces that were lying around,
with the intention of just making them flow visually. The coincidental
arrival of the 'things' line in David Armand's 'Karaoke
for the Deaf" gave us the basis for the tortoise song.
Well, that and him doing YMCA at the Albert Hall.
I'm curious how this would go down with those who
don't know Vivian's work. The world of Rawlinson End is extremely
dated, but the stereotypes still exist and are undrstood. The style
of the Christmas stories is closer than the album or film to Viv's
original description of what inspired him - the women's magazines'
'The story so far...' paragraphs. Which makes it more appropriate
for the '7-second attention span' generation, if they really exist.
But mostly they contain such absurd gormenghastly gothic perversities
that they should be quoted by every Goth on the planet. So maybe
we'll put them on Youtuba and see what happens...
It's interesting to see how the visual style is
changing, too. We originally went for a Terry Gilliam feel, using
photos whenever possible to speed the production up, but there is
so little in Rawlinson End that a Google image search will find
that Jon has had to draw much more than we'd planned. The backgrounds
were intended to all be photographic, but even the photos are now
tending to be drawn over, and certainly severely Photoshopped before
making it in. As Flash movies go, we don't go by the book, using
a bizarre mix of scanned drawings and drawn colours, but hopefully
the style complements Vivian's verbal style. Doing it this way also
means that we can show you an unfinished version where some fine
tuning of the animation is still needed and we have done very little
of the colouring, giving it a more comic book feel.
But enough of the waffle, if you didn't watch Christmas
at Rawlinson End, Part One by clicking on the picture at the top,
watch it by clicking here. Me, I'm not going to watch it for a month,
I need a break.
Please send us feedback as we're always keen to
be praised (or more commonly, ridiculed) by the more erudite. Standards
of abuse have slipped so far these days...
In case you missed it the first time round, the
first one (Part 2) is similar, and it's here.
Some of you may have been playing Spot The Reference
in both episodes, so here's our list: Visual
References for your pleasure.
What we’ve been able to produce, hopefully Vivian would have
approved. of. We were mad to do one, doolally to do two, so who
Toward the end of his life Vivian was in negotiations
with Channel 4 to make an animated series of Sir Henry at Rawlinson
End, unfortunately nothing came of it because Vivian died soon afterwards.
We don’t know how much if any work was actually produced for
this, nor if Channel 4 was still interested in producing the series
after Vivian’s death.