Video: Wallace and Gromit-style children’s animation is ready for the small screen

Ian Harding and Jonathan Smith with the stop-frame animation world they have created. Photo: Bill Smith Ian Harding and Jonathan Smith with the stop-frame animation world they have created. Photo: Bill Smith

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
7:00 AM

A former City College Norwich pupil is hoping to get a television deal for his four-minute stop-frame animation for children.

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Ian Harding with the stop-frame animation world he has created with Jonathan Smith. Photo: Bill SmithIan Harding with the stop-frame animation world he has created with Jonathan Smith. Photo: Bill Smith

Ian Harding, 32, who studied graphic design at the college, has created the first episode in the adventures of Zey the Mouse, called Flying a Kite.

The project, which he undertook with his friend and writer Jonathan Smith, 71, took ten months and about £3,000 to complete.

It uses the technique people will recognise from the Aardman animations series - Wallace and Gromit, although Mr Harding says his inspiration comes from the late 1980s children’s programme Huxley Pig.

“I remember going over to Ian’s flat and it was absolutely taken over by sets - flower boxes, two bay windows - he had even painted the walls behind it,” said Mr Smith.

“It was absolutely incredible. Ian aims for perfection and he is not satisfied with anything less.”

The film has had more than 3,500 views on YouTube and Mr Harding says Zey has built up “quite a fan base”.

In the animation, he is joined by his friends Dylan Dog and Clara Cat, Dylan’s foster mum Pixie Panda and friend Leo Lion - a handyman and gardener.

Mr Harding, who lives in King’s Lynn, has also created a tribute to 1980s children’s Saturday morning television programme No 73 and the character Frank Sidebottom, who is back in the limelight.

But he hopes to make a series about Zey the Mouse and is already thinking about the next episode.

“This episode took three months to film,” said Mr Harding.

“You have to take a picture each time you move a character - very single movement is a new frame. And the lighting has got to be constant, so I use spotlights.”

The sets are a work of art - with painted lollipop sticks providing a picket fence, the contents of tea bags for soil and a tree made out of twigs.

Zey’s adventures form part of a bigger story, which Mr Smith has written a book about, called The Mystery of Chestnut Hall.

He hopes to get a publisher for the children’s tale and Mr Harding would like a television channel to air Zey the Mouse Flying a Kite.

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