Monday, December 10, 2007

The poet arrives

The narration by Nick Cave was recorded last month in Melbourne's Soundfirm studios, who kindly supported our film. It was a very exciting day for myself and producer Jessica Brentnall. The day ran very smoothly...well almost.

We arrived at the studios and then thought we'd go and have a coffee for the next hour before Nick arrived. This was a perfectly fine idea, except for the fact that my phone's clock was still set to Adelaide time not Melbourne time (a half hour behind). We only realised this when we arrived on time (we were actually 30 mins late) but Nick Cave had just arrived and so weren't in too much strife.

The session was recorded by Rob McKenzie who had set up two old style microphones in the style of the 1950s Kerouac beat poetry recordings we were trying to borrow from. With very little discussion we went straight into the recording.

It was great to hear Nick's voice immediately and know that we'd made the perfect choice. We did 6 takes of the poem. Some slow, some fast, some very straight and others very animated. I couldn't have asked for a better selection. It was great to witness such a great artist/performer doing his thing. After a nice chat with Nick about his kid's movie choices (They went to see 'Surf's Up' but ended up taking them to 'the Bourne Ultimatum'), both of our upcoming feature film projects and some other things we said goodbye and knew we had some great stuff to work with.

The next day in Melbourne both my laptop and digital camera were stolen when my girlfriend's father's place (where I was staying) got burgled. This was not good. BUT luckily the thieves didn't take the Cat Piano picture signed by Nick Cave (Thanks case you happen to be reading this blog) I guess maybe they realised that some things can't be replaced.

We are currently cutting together the narration and we are trying to get the film to around a 5 to 6 minute duration. We will have much more to show you in the coming weeks so keep checking us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nick Cave adds voice to Cat Piano

Well we promised some exciting news and here it is. Singer, poet, writer, actor and generally all round legendary Australian artist Nick Cave, will be narrating The Cat Piano. Myself and Ari are thrilled and honored to have him lend his voice to our film. Thankyou to our producer extraordinaire Jessica Brentnall who helped us in aquiring his services.

The narration will be recorded in early November in Melbourne.

In other great news, with the help of Jessica Brentnall (once again) WACOM the makers of the ever helpful drawing tablets have come on board as a sponsor by providing us with a CINTIQ. For those of you who don't know what a Cintiq is, it is basically a screen that doubles as a monitor AND a drawing tablet. It speeds up the animating process dramatically and has thus far proved to be an invaluable tool in the process. So a big thanks goes out to the people at WACOM.

Other people that have joined the Cat Piano team are award-winning sound designer Rob McKenzie who will be creating the soundscape for the film, and Jeremy Hill-Brooks who has kindly agreed to be our editor.

So the journey continues. Here is a couple of pics that help show you what the style of the film will be.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Hi everyone
Well after some weeks of working on the storyboards for The Cat Piano, I am happy to say that we have completed them and have put some a few on here for you to see. Obviously we don't want to put on so many that it gives the whole story away, so we've chosen a snippet of a selected scene.

Ari has started on some tests for the animation and will start animating the film very soon. As soon as we have some pencil tests for you we will put them up on the blog. I will also be be able to announce who will narrate the film in the coming weeks.

We hope to finish the film by early December. Jessica Brentnall, one of the film's producers is organising a film showcase called PULSE, featuring emerging young Australian directors and so The Cat Piano will hopefully recieve its premiere at the Pulse screening on December 6th in Sydney, alongside films by young director's such as Nash Edgerton, Garth Davis and Amiel Courtin-Wilson. The Pulse showcase is also going to travel to L.A and New York City in Jan next year which will be cool.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cats on Saturday

Hi everyone, sorry for the posting delay!
We have been flat out here at the PRA working on two different tv pilots for Nickelodeon.

Here are some more pics of some of the background female felines from The Cat Piano. These four cats were designed by Makoto Koji, a talented artist/animator who is helping us out on the project.

In other news, we are happy to say we have a producer on board the project; Jessica Brentnall. Jessica in an experienced producer who has a production company, Magic Films (based in Sydney) who produce live action tv series and films. Jessica is helping us not only get a great narrator for the film but also to ensure it recieves all of the exposure it can in the industry, on the festival circuit and for the general public. We're really glad to have Jessica Brentnall and Magic Films aboard the team.

Also aboard the team will be Benjamin Speed ( an awesome Sydney-based composer and one-man musical dynamo who did the original scores for our last few films. We are really looking forward to see what Mr. Speed will come up with for the film later in the year.

Ari and myself have almost completed all of the storyboards for the film and we are really happy with how it looks and flows. Very soon (this week) we will post some storyboard pics for you.

As far as our narrator goes, we are still waiting on a 'yes' or 'no' but hopefully we'll have some exciting news in the coming month so please keep visting us and giving us your input and feedback. I'll leave you with another excerpt from the poem:

My town grew cold and bitter and so did it's denizens In icy hibernation was the once thumping heart Now seizing up, Freezing up Fires fuelled by fiddlewood and forgotten forty fives And I fuelled by the need to see this city resurrected Her ethereal humn's kiss now barely a beat upon my ear's lonely drum An eerie echoing from o'er the tide was all that was left to hear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Return from Shanghai

Well I am back from Shanghai, where I couldn't actually access this blog (must be the great firewall of China). Ari and I are working up some storyboards at the moment and we'll have some of them up on here very soon for you to see. Until then This is a promo pic for The Cat Piano.

Also, we're also in the process of gaining an actor to narrate the film. I can't say who the person is just yet but as soon as it is confirmed we will put it straight up here.

So keep checking out our blog. Suprises lay around the corner.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meow Mao

Well I am currently sitting in the airport lounge at Singapore Airport on my way to China with Sam and Hugh of The PRA. We are going over for the Chinese premiere of SWEET & SOUR at the Shanghai Film Festival and to start feature talks with Shanghai Animation Film Studio.

Ari is still in Australia and will be posting some new images and animation tests over the coming two weeks while I'm away. I'll also post any related info on the project as it comes to hand.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Setting the Scene

Well we've started working on the storyboards for the film. We'll have a slice of them up soon for you all to look at. Until then we thought we'd keep you entertained with some other early concepts. We are still working to find a style for the backgrounds we'll have some examples up in the near future.

This first image is another picture we did when designing the poet. Its been brought to our attention by one reader, Johnathan, that the Poet bears a striking resemblance to Leonard Cohen. This is a strange coincidence because we weren't familiar with what he actually looked like. Nice spot Johnathan!

These silhouettes were an early style test for the background characters. The cats now have more variety in their form, although the poses in this image are still pretty cool.

The Pianist is a dark abstract presence. He appears in the film as a shadowy figure or as a giant jagged hand, snatching singing cats for his torturous instrument.

Regarding the release date of The Cat Piano, we are hoping it will be finished by September. Realistically the production may spill over into October and November.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Cats

Crooners who shone in the moonlight mimicry of the spotlight
Jazz singers
Hip cats that went scat
Black cats who sang the blues
Buskers with opened mouthed hats, hungry for a feed

Here's a taste of the poem that forms the screenplay for The Cat Piano. Along the journey we will post some more extracts from the poem to get people in the mood for the film.

Today we're going to show you some of the characters from the world of The Cat Piano. The main character and narrator is The Poet, a tortured romantic in a city of singing cats.

After countless cat designs one charismatic cat caught our eye...

From this design grew the final incarnation of The Poet, seen below. We felt a wiry cat-like build would be perfect for the noir beat setting. Furthermore this graphic angular design works beautifully in 2D animation.

The second main character in the film and the object of his affections, is a beautiful white female cat singer. We wanted her to look ethereal and innocent with an Egyptian/Arabian streak. Unlike The Poet, her final look came about quickly.

The background characters who fill the jazz clubs, bars and concert halls were the next addition to the cast. We had to make sure that they were interesting, but not so eye catching as to draw attention from the main characters. Below are some of Ed's raw designs, ripped straight from his sketch-pad.

Here are some more stand-alone designs by Ari.

Over the next week we'll be developing a background style. At the moment we're picturing something bold and minimal, utilizing strong single colours.

Please come and visit us again soon for updates on the film.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Prelude

Hey Cats

Welcome to the making of THE CAT PIANO a short animated film by Eddie White and Ari Gibson of The People's Republic Of Animation.

You may have seen some of The PRA's past animated films CARNIVORE REFLUX (2006) and SWEET & SOUR (2007). Here we will give you a glimpse at the making of our latest film. You will see how the idea evolves and eventually becomes a living, breathing piece of animation.

THE CAT PIANO began as poem in the style of beat poets such as Jack Kerouac mixed with the romantic poems of Edgar Allen Poe. The subject matter was inspired by an old instrument that actually existed in the 17th century called The Cat Piano. It was an incredibly cruel instrument that poked a different cat's tail with each key struck. It was for the twisted entertainment of a decadent German Prince and dubbed KATZENKLAVIER in Germany. This horrific instrument has been forever banished from music history.

I'm Eddie White and I am the writer of the poem. I am Creative Director at The PRA. I co-directed CARNIVORE REFLUX with James Calvert and then directed SWEET & SOUR. I'll be designing and co-directing this short. I'm not a cat lover nor a cat-hater.

Hey people, I'm Ari and I'll be the animator, designer and co-director of this short. I am the Art Director here at the PRA and, do actually really like cats.

Due to the lack of budget and limited team (the two of us) we knew this film had to be short, sharp and have a bold visual style to match the subject matter. To this end this short will be entirely 2D animation utlising traditional animation techniques. The films aesthetic is inspired by vintage jazz albums covers, art-deco posters, the photography of Brassai, Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series and japanese anime, namely that of Kazuhiko Kato, Osamu Tezuka and Hiroshi Masumura. There's also a strong film noir flavour.

If there are any questions you wish to ask of us, or comments you'd like to make, please email us at
We look forward to your company and comments throughout this journey.

Stay Tuned
Same Cat Time. Same Cat Channel.