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Keeping stop-motion animation alive with a blend of sci-fi graphics and special effects

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 July 2018

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian Burt

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A Norfolk animator is keeping the lost art of stop-motion films alive with the latest episode of Zey the Mouse.

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian BurtAnimator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian Burt

The series, which has been running for seven years, follows the adventures of West Norfolk’s much-loved rodent Zey and his pals.

It is created by Ian Harding, of Pleasant Court, King’s Lynn, who spends months assembling the sets by hand at his home studio and devotes pain-staking hours arranging the clay-made characters into sequences.

Each character of the series takes around five months to make with Fimo modelling clay before they’re dressed in miniscule hand-stitched clothing.

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian BurtAnimator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Harding spent eight months creating the latest episode, entitled Who’s Playing the Game, which was released on his YouTube channel on Thursday, July 5.

The sci-fi themed episode sees Zey the Mouse getting zapped into a video a game where he is tasked with fighting an evil robot on Mars.

Lending her voice for Mrs Mouse is Nadia de Lemeny, who starred in the 1980s TV weekend show No 73 alongside Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan.

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian BurtAnimator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Picture: Ian Burt

“I wanted to make a totally different atmosphere and try something new by venturing into a live sci-fi action,” Mr Harding said. “The storyline has a moral of what’s really important and also surrounding love.”

This year, Mr Harding experimented with graphics and sound-effects using a phantom keyboard to create the cyber universe for his stop-motion film.

Mr Harding added: “There was a lot of movement, especially with the tall robot Gorpbot, as he was a giant on the set.

Animator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Pictured is the keeper of gems. Picture: Ian BurtAnimator Ian Harding has completed his latest installment of Zey the Mouse. Pictured is the keeper of gems. Picture: Ian Burt

“I filmed manoeuvres that I had never shot before - big legs and arms with the spaceship scenes and placing the special effects in the correct spots.”

But the universe in which Zey exists is largely designed and hand-crafted using recycled materials, with wood, card and wires covered in spray paint and acrylics.

So far, Zey the Mouse has amassed nearly 10,000 views on YouTube and Mr Harding is already planning the next instalment to be released in November. “The next episode is entitled The New Friend and will be only four minutes long,” Mr Harding added. “It is based around a skateboarding park, where Zey makes a new friend.”


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