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Published on: March 22, 2024

Moho animation training and telling stories of neurodiversity

The full cohort of trainees on the Moho specialist training, courtesy of Media Cymru, Biggerhouse Films CIC and Cloth Cat - 1

Eight aspiring animators in Wales have benefited from a one-of-a-kind opportunity which will see them trained up in the latest animation-industry software used by leading animation studios across the globe.

The bespoke ‘Moho House 2D Animation’ course is supported by Media Cymru, in association with award-winning animation and games studio Cloth Cat Animation Studios and Biggerhouse Films CIC, with the training run by leading 2D/3D animator Dani Abram. The eight animators will not only receive bespoke training but work on a live brief and contribute to the development of a new short film.

Until now, Moho has not been commonly available for animators and thus far in the UK, there are no opportunities to receive bespoke support and in-house training to use the tool, which has been used in the Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner as well as Irish animation hits Song of the Sea and Wolfwalkers.

The software is widely considered to be an industry standard for professional 2D animation and is increasingly in demand by successful studios in Wales. Now, thanks to Media Cymru’s collaboration with Cloth Cat and Biggerhouse films, the course aims to address this skills gap. It will also provide the opportunity for Welsh animators to collaborate and work experimentally on a commissioned short, Crybaby, produced by Biggerhouse Films CIC and funded by Ffilm Cymru.

Watch the video:

“Telling stories about neurodivergent people is so important…” – Eleri Edwards

One of the beneficiaries of the two-week Moho house 2D animation training is Eleri Edwards, originally from Neath but now living in Caerphilly. A graduate from the University of South Wales, she struggled to gain a foothold in the industry until receiving advice and guidance from Cloth Cat and Biggerhouse, who she met at Cardiff Animation Festival in 2023. She was encouraged to develop her voice in filmmaking and is now developing a film funded by Ffilm Cymru inspired by her experience of being diagnosed late in life with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Her character ‘Carys’ navigates the difficulties and challenges of feeling different – and the film’s characters and backgrounds are also being developed by the cohort taking part in the Moho training.Eleri Edwards working on her animated short film 'Crybaby'.

Speaking of career pathway to becoming an animator and filmmaker, Eleri shares:

“My aunty worked in TV, producing mainly for children’s animation, and that’s kind of how I got introduced into the animation industry. I had an interest in drawing in general and that kind of spun into idea of going into animation as a career. Later on, I met Biggerhouse Films, who specialise in helping disabled Neurodivergent people work into animation filmmaking. I worked as a layout artist with Cloth Cat on the ‘Rubbish World of Dave Spud’ and began experimenting with an idea to develop a film loosely based on my experience being diagnosed with ADD. I wanted to show that with Autism, no two people who have it are the same. If you’ve met a person with it – that’s just one person.

“In the film, the main character Carys finds out that she has been diagnosed as autistic and she goes through her belongings as she’s moving out. Which is kind of what happened to me and how I got my diagnosis. It was it was still during the pandemic…it was all done through a phone call with my diagnosis. The film sees her coming to terms with her diagnosis of ASD and looking back on her childhood as to why she couldn’t fit in and be like everybody else. It’s also about the internal voice that a lot of people have – and that while it’s okay to have an internal voice, it’s not okay to have it take control of what you can and can’t do. When I was developing the idea, I wasn’t sure if this would be relatable to like anyone other than people already in the Neurodivergent community. But since I’ve been sharing it with people both neurodivergent and allistic, it’s been positive. They can also see themselves in the situations that Carys goes through. It’s so important to tell stories about the neurodivergent community. There ARE opportunities out there for us and there are open doors and studios ARE accommodating us. Throughout this whole journey, I’ve met lots of talented people…not just in animation, but in film and television as well….”

Moho course lead Dani Abram’s work has been seen in productions including Puffin RockElmoStar Wars: Visions and Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby. She said the training would enable the cohort to pick up innovative new skills, but also access career support and guidance for engaging with film studios, marketing themselves and accessing networking opportunities within the sector.

“There’s more demand than ever for these skills. I often work overseas because studios can’t find someone people who knows how to use Moho. So at the moment, it feels like there are very few of us out here with this specialist knowledge. The more people I can train up, the more people I can recommend…then more people can go and make amazing TV and film. This is the first training of its kind – I’ve not known of any other Moho training to happen anywhere in the world – and we’re running it right here in Cardiff.

Dani Abram delivering animation training in Cardiff.

“I’m from Lancashire and came to Wales to train at Swansea and I’ve never left. I love it here and I find it so creative. There’s always a short film being made somewhere – someone is always making something, and we have the Cardiff Animation Festival to tie us all together, get us all meeting up and chatting and pitching projects. I’ve worked a lot for Irish studios as well, and American studios. This training is all about sparking imaginations and opening up new opportunities and I just hope their skills continue to grow and that they love Moho as much as I do!”

Jon Rennie, Managing Director of Cloth Cat added:

“Animation is a global market and it’s important that Wales remains at the forefront. We’re really excited to be able to offer in-depth training for Moho as part of the production for Eleri’s film. Not only is it a new piece of software that we can support in Wales but it’s also integral to the production of an exciting new short film. Many of the participants have worked for Cloth Cat in the past and they all agree that in-person training is much more effective. The training has not only enabled local animators with the skills in new, cutting-edge production software, but it’s also about opening doors and bringing about new opportunities and collaborations. Alongside Ffilm Cymru, Biggerhouse Films CIC and Media Cymru, we’re working together to develop Welsh voices and strengthen the talent pool. The animation community here in the Cardiff Capital Region is all about supporting one another and developing the next generation of animators…”

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