The Achievement of Amy Johnson, a non-fiction animation.

At the beginning of this semester we were tasked with creating a non-fiction animation around a subject of our choosing. Having so much free reign, I toyed with a few ideas. Initially, I was going to do an animation of most successful and most unsuccessful space launches, depicting the facts, the spacecrafts and showing what happened. Though this would’ve required a great deal of time consuming research, the number of space launches since 1950’s documents in the 100’s and that doesn’t take into account the unsuccessful ones. I’d also have to draw the various rocket ships and their intricacies.

This idea fell through, it was a lot of work for not a very interesting piece. I thought with the City of Culture thing still going on I could leap onto one of Hull’s Heroes and perhaps look at their lives. Two immediately sprang to mind, William Wilberforce, a man that abolished slavery, and Amy Johnson, Britain’s finest female aviator. Given how much of a spot light William has compared to Amy, I decided to animate her story.

I whittled down the facts of her life to the important details, the 11,000 mile flight that made her famous, and her tragically early demise.

I thought of a few ideas, including a moving timeline to keep things simple, but I ended up story boarding something that appeared a little more dramatic.
Amy storyboard
Amy storyboard
With the initial idea on paper, I got to putting the animatic together;


This was to simply give me a basic idea of timings and movements. I spent a good five days of non-stop working to get this piece finished, including adding in the text after flash in premiere as well as some visual effects to give it a more realistic flow. I went to incompetech.com to get some royalty free music and eventually decided on a piece titled “Americana”. The theme and style best reflected the time period in which Amy lived. “For the Fallen”, “Private Reflection”, “Eternal Hope” and “The Descent” also made the short list, but I felt these pieces were either too modern, too epic or too melancholic for the animation. Americana best reflects the tale of inspiration that is Amy Johnson’s life.

I’m very pleased with the final outcome, though some clipping and lack of finesse is noticable in the moving parts, I may go back and correct those in time.

An interesting thing to note, was when I moved this into Premiere, the entire thing had been shot almost entirely on twos (Essentially it was made at 12 frames a second). This was for ease of timings, for small movements frame by frame isn’t necessary. However, it did effect the outcome negatively for Jason’s take off and the Bail Out scenes, I slowed the action down in premiere to give greater emphasis on these defining points, but if you slow 12 frames a second down anymore, the gaps become incredibly noticable. I reopened it in flash and edited the frames in those scenes, inbetweening until it was at a full 24 frames a second, just for those two scenes. The result is a much smooth finish when the time is slowed down.

I e-mailed Hull Museums about this piece, I figured simply having it sit on youtube isn’t enough, so I got proactive. Hopefully they’ll get back to me with some enthusiasm for showing it, I’m just not sure where, Amy Johnson doesn’t have a dedicated museum unlike William Wilberforce.

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The Achievement of Amy Johnson, a non-fiction animation.

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