The Brexit joke

Since 2015 I have been living and working in France. Many friends here and people in my industry have been asking what I think of Britain leaving the EU. Maybe this will help answer.

Last year Britain voted to leave the European Union. Like some other British expats I know, I signed up for the vote but never received my papers to actually do it (go figure). In any case, I think enough of the population of Britain became persuaded by politicians supporting exiting the EU. A population with very little idea on the actual implications of leaving Europe and a population driven mainly by emotion and personality politics.

A population driven by emotion and misinformation rather than facts

Take a village called Ebbw Vale, a small town not far from where I grew up as a boy. Charlie Chaplin passed through this village when he traveled in one of the early theatre companies he toured with as a youngster, before he was famous. His description of Ebbw Vale goes as follows:

“Ebbw Vale was a dank, ugly town in those days, with row upon row of hideous, uniform houses, each house consisting of four small rooms lit by oil-lamps.”

He would have visited in the early 1900s. So admittedly it would have reflected other small towns of the era. The economy of the town was stable with the steelworks that used to exist there. However after it was closed along with the mines, the economy crashed and the town suffered with poverty (like many other small valleys towns in Wales). Even though there was work during the steelworks’ time, what life is that? Places like this and especially Merthyr Tydil, another town close by suffered with the worst life expectancy in Britain. Breathing toxic fumes all day, polluting the air, environment and sending men down into deep holes in the ground. Paying them only enough so they could survive on basic necessities. It confuses me why some people would look back to this in nostalgia.

The European Union pumped Ebbw Vale full of funds and money for development. Now the town has been transformed and while still a working class area, is not stricken with poverty as it used to be.

However the people of Ebbw Vale voted to leave the EU. The very institution that made it possible for the town’s condition to improve in the first place. I’ve heard the people of Ebbw Vale give these arguments as to why they voted to leave the European Union.

  • People who they don’t know are in control.
  • Stopping illegal immigrants
  • Only letting skilled immigrants into the country
  • Money sent from the EU for the town was spent on the wrong things

I have problems with all of these arguments. They aren’t well thought out and are merely lines fed to them by repetitive politicians.

The economy is getting worse

Before Brexit, the money I have in Britain was worth a lot compared to the euro here. Now when I go back I notice barely a difference between the pound and the euro.

I am told repeatedly by the idealistic that the economy will climb to new heights before long. They are informed by simple speculation. Nobody knows. The evidence so far though suggests the following. The value of the pound has dropped by around 13% since brexit and has continued falling. This will likely not help the economy in general because while things like tourism may prosper more, three quarters of the British economy is based on services. Many businesses, especially those in the financial sector are now considering moving country.

Even after Theresa May’s recent speech in Florence, saying that she would like a softer exit and more time to negotiate, the pound value was barely affected. It is still bad.

People like me may not find it as simple to gain internships abroad

I have been very fortunate to have grown up in a time when there were EU work exchange schemes like the Leonardo programme run by Ecarc. In 2014 I went to Berlin for three months to kickstart my animation career with an internship. Without this experience, provided to me by joint EU funding, I may have never experienced life in a different country and may have not gotten to where I am in my career. I may not have had the kickstart and optimism provided by the experience to get to where I am today. All speculation of course. Yet all the same, the reason I’m here now doing my dream job and earning a good living is because the EU provided funding for people like me to find opportunities. Schemes may later be created to help exchange programmes between Britain and Europe. However it will never be as simple as it has been.

Uncertainty over residency rights

We have been told multiple things. The British government has gone around in circles of confusion. Saying at one minute that EU nationals living in Britain before the vote would keep their rights, then changing this statement at the next minute. So far there is no agreed solution between Britain and Europe. Mostly because the British government is trying to remove certain rights European citizens have in Britain.

While politically it would be improbable for European countries to expel or deport British nationals, there is no real certainty.

I’m personally not worried about this. I’m more worried about the disaster Brexit is causing in Britain and what it means for my family and the economy there.

This letter explains better the complications that remain with Brexit negotations regarding British expats like me and EU expats living in Britain:

British in Europe letter to Theresa May on EU citizens rights after Brexit by LisaO'carroll on Scribd

So to answer the question that many of my friends and colleagues have asked me. Yes I supported the remain vote and yes I’m frustrated with how it is all turning out.

Posted in Expat life

A long overdue update!

Wow it’s been a very long time. I’d make updating this blog more often my new year’s resolution if I believed in new year’s resolutions! In any case I’d like to imagine that I will update it more often in future.

The Secret Life of Pets came out earlier this year. It was a massive success and I’m very proud to have worked on it. If you watch it, you can see one of my shots immediately as the film opens. I animated the crowds of people that walk over Brooklyn Bridge and through Central Park as the camera flies through the city. Two other memorable shots are near the end of the film where 200 spiders run over a car. I had to animate the spiders. 200 x 8 legs, yes it was a lot! I’ll put up a reel of my crowd work from the film eventually.

Now I work in the short films and marketing department of the studio. I worked on the opening of the Norman short here, it’s the first thing you see (where he winks and turns on the sign):

I hope to get a more up-to-date showreel out soon! I did some cool work for the short films of the upcoming movie ‘Sing!’ and am waiting for the footage to become available.

I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an animator since arriving at the studio but I haven’t stopped learning. I never will. Right now I’m trying to improve my drawing skills. Perhaps that will be my next update, drawings!

I have also started writing stories in my spare time. Not necessarily for animation. It’s very enjoyable. I came into animation because I love storytelling, so writing is another way I have found of expressing myself. It’s great.

Posted in Animation

The Secret Lives of Pets

The first posters and the trailer of the film I’m animating on are out, so I can finally share the news!  The title of the film is Secret Life of Pets and it will be out next year. I’m very excited about the movie so it’s great to see it starting to create some hype :)


Posted in Animation, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

New job at Illumination Mac Guff!


So far this year is going very very well!! I’m now working at Illumination Mac Guff on their next film. Not The Minions, but one equally as awesome :D My first week has been amazing and it is as good to work there as I imagined it would be. I feel as happy to be here as this Minion looks with his bunch of bananas.

Paris is a beautiful city too! Currently trying to learn enough french to survive!!!

Posted in Animation Tagged with: , ,

1st place at 11 Second Club

Wow, so I finally participated in the 11 Second Club last month and was delighted to learn that I came first place out of 228 other entries. Thank you very much to everybody who voted for me, it means a lot :) There were a lot of other awesome entries last month too so I feel very fortunate to have won.

I plan to do more work on this shot before I release it properly but to see what I entered to the competition you can go here:

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 22.17.29

Posted in Animation Tagged with:

Rotate Mode Hotkey for Maya

A few months ago I posted this code snippet to automate switching between move axis settings in Maya. I also find myself switching between local and gimbal rotation modes a lot.. especially when working between IK/FK controllers. SO… here is some code to do that as well. It is much easier to work without opening the tools panel all the time, so I recommend saving it as a hotkey.

Again, paste this as plain text into a text editor before pasting it into Maya to avoid errors:

int $RotateAxis = `manipRotateContext -q -mode Rotate`;
if ($RotateAxis == 0 || $RotateAxis == 1) {
manipRotateContext -e -mode 2 Rotate;
print "Gimbal rotation mode has been set";
} else if ($RotateAxis == 2) {
manipRotateContext -e -mode 0 Rotate;
print "Local rotation mode has been set";

Posted in Animation, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Finished iAnimate!

In December I finished iAnimate’s Feature Workshop program. I had spent over two years being trained by amazingly talented animators from some of the best feature studios around. Special thanks to Jason, Bill, Tim, Paul, Luke, Jacob, Ken and Ted who have all helped me become a better animator. I can’t recommend iAnimate enough, it exceeded all of my expectations and it has been the best learning experience I’ve ever had. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and I’m actually rather sad that I’ve come to the end. But I’m also very excited about what comes next in my journey.

This is my final reel from iAnimate, I hope you enjoy it:

Posted in Animation, iAnimate Tagged with: ,

Mistake: WS6 Animation at iAnimate

Last summer I began a sequence shot animation called Mistake. I finished this a little while ago so thought I would post it up here! The main things I was exploring in this shot (besides sequencing shots) was focusing on body attitudes, creating big dynamic changes in action and also exploring stronger posing with more cartoon style timing. It has been interesting to see it develop from the original idea, maybe I will post the progression up one day. I’d just come back from the FMX festival in Germany and was inspired by Chip Lotierzo’s lecture there to try planning out the action with a Laban Movement Theory. It helped me loads and I’ve now been using it for close to a year because it is so good for planning. I’d definitely recommend looking it up. I was also inspired by Ed Hooks’ lecture at FMX to write more detailed character profiles and scene setups, which helped me a great deal with the acting. Visually, I began with thumbnails to map out the major story points, then sequenced that into an animatic before shooting reference. I did several reference takes with myself and my girlfriend (thank you Polly)! Shooting reference for the bit where he falls into the lamppost at the end was particularly memorable… note to self – cartoon characters don’t hurt themselves, you do! After that I went through blocking, spline and polish until I was satisfied with the result. Because I wanted such extreme poses and timings I needed to exaggerate the action more than usual (especially for him). It was a very fun and rewarding experience.

Many thanks to the awesome Ken Fountain, who was my mentor during workshop 6 at iAnimate while I did this shot. The rigs used here are from Long Winter Studios and are really great to use. The are a little different to iAnimate’s (especially with the face setup) but just as good in their own way. I learned a lot doing this and I’m really happy with how it turned out! I hope you enjoy it too.

Posted in Animation, iAnimate Tagged with:

iAnimate School Showreel 2014

This year’s iAnimate showreel has just come out in time for CTN in LA and four of my shots are in it! Some of them I haven’t put online yet so this is the first peek at a small selection of the new animations I’ll be releasing soon. Everybody has amazing work in the reel this year so check it out if you have some time, it’s very entertaining :)

Posted in Animation, iAnimate

Move Axis Hotkey for Maya

I have this small snippet of code (MEL) to make changing the Move tool’s axis from ‘World’ to ‘Local’ quicker. It’s best used by setting it as a hotkey under ‘Hotkey Editor’ – I use the ‘M’ key. It’s so much easier to change the move axis by just pressing a key and it’s surprising how much time it saves.

Copy the code into a text editor as plain text before you past it into Maya otherwise you’ll get an error.

int $MoveAxis = `manipMoveContext -q -mode Move`;
if ($MoveAxis == 0) { manipMoveContext -e -mode 2 Move;
print "World move axis has been set"; } else if ($MoveAxis == 2) { manipMoveContext -e -mode 0 Move; print "Object move axis has been set"; }

Also see how to create a Rotate Mode Hotkey here.

Posted in Animation, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,


David Talloy Thomas

Greetings! I'm David Thomas, a 3D animator from the UK. Now I live and work as an animator in Paris. I'll use this blog from time to time to as a sketchbook and talk about animation or what I'm up to. Check out my showreel if you've got a minute and drop me a comment or message if you want to chat! student