Layla has created a wonderful film about the importance of fungi

Yeasts, moulds, spores and mushrooms are rarely celebrated enough, but that’s all been changing for the mycologists at London’s Kew Gardens, home to the world’s biggest and oldest fungarium with over 1.25 million specimens in its collection of fungi. So not surprisingly it was the perfect choice to launch the world’s first ‘State Of The World’s Fungi’ Symposium. The two-day event brought scientists from all over the planet together to discuss the health of these remarkable organisms.

To coincide with the symposium Layla was asked to create a short film about the uses of fungi. Kew’s outstanding collection of botanical drawings became a natural starting point for the look of the film. Yet Layla was careful to ensure these gorgeous illustrations didn’t dictate the film’s content. Kew conducts research at the leading edge of science. DNA sequencing has enabled phylogenetic research to be conducted on various ancient fungus in Kew’s collection. Marrying Victorian illustrations of fungi with illustrations of contemporary scientific technology, such as the stereo microscopes used by Kew’s microbiologists, which required a particular graphic style that Layla mastered.

Some of Kew’s botanical illustrations had the feel of old anatomical flap books. This gave Layla the idea of using an interactive book format as the vehicle for the films action. Portals open, pages turn, images slide as information is conveyed on the wonders of fungi. A beautifully textured paper was created that added interest and depth to the finished film while a palette supplied by Kew ensured the whole film came together. The new illustrations of all the scientific equipment were created in Adobe Animate by tracing and cleaning up photographs of particular objects. While some objects were quick to draw others like the illustration of Kew’s recently renovated Temperate House took a whole day to create.

The finished film was well received by staff at Kew as well as the delegates of the Symposium. Layla noted “I never appreciated how important fungi were to the health of the planet and although we had very little time to create the film I wanted to ensure we created a film that conveyed that information”.

The film was created using Cinema 4D,  Adobe Animate, Photoshop and Illustrator. The film was commissioned by Ben Witt at Kew.

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Director Layla Atkinson
Producer Richard Barnett
Compositing Rok Predin
Artworking Biddy Lloyd
Animation Layla Atkinson Leslie Dart
Commisioner Ben Witt at Kew


Layla creates an informative animation about mitochondrial disease.

When the studio phone rings you never know what delights it will bring. Occasionally we will receive a call asking us to create content for something that we have never heard of, so it was, when Peter Barker at Orinoco Communications contacted Trunk to create an explainer film about Mitochondrial disease.

The disease affects 1 in 5000 people and has a devastating impact on thousands of families in the UK. One of the countries leading research centres is based at Newcastle University. There, the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research works tirelessly to understand and combat the disease. They commissioned us, through Orinoco, to create a video to further the public’s understanding of this disease.

Trunk’s director Layla Atkinson states “ I, like most people, had never heard of Mitochondrial disease, so had to do a fair bit of research to understand what is was so that I could explain it clearly. Having learnt that the disease mostly affects children I wanted the video to be visually stimulating with a strong graphic style“

The finished video, with a nod to Saul Bass, used stick men, a beautiful balanced palette and simple illustrative elements to explain how the disease affects the patient. In less than two minutes Layla’s film clearly explains the complex nature of the disease and highlights why this hugely debilitating disease is poorly understood, even within the medical profession, where it is frequently misdiagnosed.

Producer Richard Barnett noted that “Trunk has a track record of creating videos for complex or little understood aspects of our daily life. Whether it is the workings of the International Maritime Organisation, which touches all of our lives yet is not well known, or the complexities of retail supply chains or the nuanced information required by health professionals when communicating with their partners. All these require us to obtain quite a deep understanding of the subject matter before we can put together a script that, in a time sensitive process like animation, clearly communicates our client’s message. The film for The Wellcome Trust is a great example of this type of work”

The finished film was well received by the centres director, Professor Sir Doug Turnbull, who thought the video was “brilliant and made a welcome addition to the centres website”.

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Credits :-

Director: Layla Atkinson

Producer: Richard Barnett

Commisioner: Peter Barker

Agency: Orinoco Communications

Client: Wellcome centre mitochondrial research

Trunk designs and animates beautiful characters for Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.

It is a wonderful feeling when your work can positively impact your audiences wellbeing, and when it’s those in real need, then you do your absolute all to help in any way. Trunk got the opportunity last October when the team were involved in the ‘The Imaginary Friend Society’ project for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, and were so proud to play a part. Therefore, when Ash Lennie at Good, a Glasgow based agency, asked us make a series of very short films showing children how to learn various simple relaxation techniques, before going into hospital, we were once again privileged to be involved.

The agency wanted to create a set of characters showing children how to follow the simple relaxation exercises. Initially they wanted to use human characters but as Trunk’s Layla Atkinson noted, “ Richard (Barnett Trunk’s producer) and I felt it would be far more charming and fun to create a set of characters based on animals, who everyone could relate to in a fun way. Working closely with illustrator and director Junior Martinez the team created a menagerie appropriate to each exercise, for example a Walrus helps with learning how to control your breathing and a Baboon shows the child how to release stress by squeezing an imaginary lemon.”

Good had already created the platform for the animation to work on. In the app when each exercise is completed badges and points are rewarded, encouraging the children to try as many relaxation exercises as possible. However Layla and Junior felt that to unify the site the icons used needed to also match the design of the animation. To that end Trunk’s designed nearly 50 beautiful icons for the site.

The completed animations and icons were very well received by Good who were delighted with the beautiful and captivating characters. The app, called HospiChill, is available free to all, including the thousands of sick and injured children and young people that annually use the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, helping to make the daunting thought of going to hospital far more relaxing.

Dr Janie Donnan Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the children’s hospital and also the Programme Director for Paediatric Psychology at NHS Education for Scotland who designed the Hospichill app noted “I am delighted that the app is now available. My hope was to create something that would make evidence based psychological strategies for reducing anxiety widely and easily accessible to young people, helping them feel more confident and prepared about coming into hospital. I hope children and teenagers will find the HospiChill a really useful resource”.

Producer Richard stated “ With such a simple and effective app as this, which is free to all, it will be wonderful to see it adopted and used by as many children as possible. So spread the word!”

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Agency Good

Art Director Ash Leenie

Director Layla Atkinson

Illustrator Junior Martinez

Animator Layla Atkinson, Lesley Dart

Producer Richard Barnett

Trunk has created a series of beautiful teasers for the Financial Times.

Alasdair + Jock like lunch, in fact they like all meals, it would appear food nourishes them. But it’s lunch that has taken centre stage the last few weeks due to a project for the Financial Times. At first our producer thought it was for an article about his magical budgeting skills. No. It was in fact much more wholesome a project; to make a set of teasers and illustrations for the acclaimed feature ‘Lunch with the FT’, an article that has been popularly carried for decades, and that features every major creative and business name you can think of. The relaxed, yet spirited interviews take place in a restaurant of the interviewee’s choice, and the bill is footed by the FT, who else? The order and receipt are then published for your deliberation, cogitation and digestion.

With an extensive archive of wonderfully candid lunches to exploit, the FT editorial team wanted to give them a fresh twist. Alasdair + Jock developed appetising little mysteries for each, revealing subtle clues through beautifully animated vignettes that reflect the humour, warmth and tangue of the interviews. With two new ones from Charlie Brooker, and Alma Deutscher, and two oldies from Jonathan Franzen (coming soon) and Nigel Farage, there was a nice mix of subject matter to call on. Chris Swaine and Marty O’Brien at Fonic created beautiful soundbeds for each, which really help contextualise the pieces, even using a snippet of Alma Deutscher’s piano work to help illustrate her story.

Producer Richard Barnett notes, “Large established media houses have a massive mine of data which remains essentially untapped. For example the Financial Times has articles stretching back over a 100 years. These teasers demonstrate how archives can be made relevant to the contemporary media conversation, whether interviews, opinion pieces, or historical articles, as history repeats itself, they often become more relevant with time. By creating visual introductions to published interviews a wider audience can be captured than could have been achieved by text alone.”

The interviews along with Jock’s wonderful illustrations were published in the FT Weekend edition, as well as online, and the teasers were successfully shared and re-tweeted on social media. The projects were created using a mixture of photoshop, flash and after effects.

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Directed by Alasdair + Jock

Producer: Richard Barnett

Illustration: Jock Mooney

Animation: Alasdair Brotherston, Lesley Dart

Sound and Mix by Chris Swaine and Marty O’Brien @ Fonic

Commissioned by Natalie Whittle and Kevin Wilson @ Financial Times

Trunk has created a charming short for Cisco systems Inc.

Armed with scalpels, scissors, crazy glue, building blocks, straws, and card Trunk has created decades of office technology in a matter of days for their latest short.

Technology giant Cisco has a wide range of services that can benefit small businesses. Yet, when your name alone can be daunting due to your scale, explaining how your secure networking, telecommunications and cloud security can help a business grow is a challenge. So how do you connect to small and medium businesses when you are one of the world’s largest tech firms? The answer was provided by MRM Meteorite and delivered by Trunk animation.

MRM chose to explain the tech giant’s services by telling the story of a company’s growth around the setting of a desk, something very relatable to all of us, as it seems we spend 90% of the time sitting in front of one! This warm approach also needed an animation style that was equally engaging and what better medium than using beautifully hand crafted miniature models. Having seen the work created by Trunk for the Paediatric Brain Tumour Foundation MRM meteorite bought them in to realise their vision.

The shorts action centres on an office desk, lovingly made by retired boat builder Dave Perrin, which evolves over the decades as new technology comes and goes. We see a typewriter replaced with a series of computers, then phones and fax machines flick through different models, and even the staff in the company photos grow over time. In total nearly a hundred props were made by Trunk’s 3D model makers, Jock Mooney, Layla Atkinson, John Harmer and Adrian Leak as well as brilliant intern Stephanie Martin. Layla designed the whole set to spin as each period of time changed, so as the business grows, we get a fleeting glimpse of the buildings outside, before re-entering in a new decade, driving the story on.

DOP maestro Pete Ellmore beautifully lit the tiny set to ensure that all the textures and personality of the props were captured. He also altered the lighting over the shoot, bathing the set in morning, afternoon and evening light to reiterate that passing of time. Animator John Harmer painstakingly moved and replaced each element to create the fantastic time-lapse effect, whilst Rok Predin built additional CG elements to weave in alongside the hand built models. Overall the piece has a wide range of textures and materials, which reflect Layla’s short film ‘Aftermath’, and which allows the film to have a sense of place, and a relatable feel.


Composer Ivan Arnold built on the theme of ‘retro to contemporary’, by composing a track that in a way feels timeless, with a mix of acoustic and electric guitar, and a driving bass, it really drives the narrative forward. The formidable Barnaby Templer and Chris Swain @ Fonic created the sound design, and Lorraine Hodgson beautifully voiced the narrative.

Producer Richard Barnett says of the short “We pushed the boat out on this project, looking to achieve that hand made feel that gives the warmth of the narrative, balanced with a high end production value that reflects the sophisticated nature of Cisco’s products. With a turnaround of just 5 weeks from start to finish, it meant that everyone had to pull together and really work hard. We had such amazing support from everyone working on the project from, crew, to agency, to client. That really makes the difference!’

The short will be used by Cisco on their small business homepage, showcasing their solutions and promotions dedicated to small business customers.

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Credits :-

Director- Layla Atkinson
Producer- Richard Barnett
DOP- Pete Ellmore
Animation- John Harmer, Layla Atkinson
Art Department- Dave Perrin, Jock Mooney, John Harmer, Layla Atkinson, Adrian Leak, Stephanie Martin
CG and Compositing- Rok Predin, Pete Mellor
Gaffer: Jonathan Yates
Motion Control- Max Halstead
Composer- Ivan Arnold
Sound Design and Mix- Barnaby Templer, Chris Swaine @ Fonic
Lighting: Panalux
Motion Control Rig: Clapham Rd Studios
Senior Account Director- Chris Willocks
Agency- MRM Meteorite
Client- CISCO Systems Inc

Pete Mellor creates a beautiful short for REI.

Americans spend 95% of their time indoors, a shocking statistic that goes against the very spirit of American retail giant REI. Recreational Equipment Inc is a cooperative with over 6 million members specialising in providing sporting goods and outdoor gear. The company’s outdoor ethos is enshrined in it’s working practice to the point that their 12000 employees get ‘Yay Day’ passes giving them paid leave to spend on outdoor activities.

Peepshow’s Pete Mellor has directed a wonderful animated film to capture the spirit of REI’s #OptOutside campaign. Starting in 2015 REI took the unprecedented move of wholeheartedly rejecting the Black Friday sale phenomenon. Feeling it went against it’s core values. On Black Friday REI closed all of their 154 stores, suspended its online orders and gave it’s employees the day off so that they could opt to go outside instead.

The #OptOutside hashtag has become a core part of their branding. As stated by REI :- “We believe in the message. #OptOutside isn’t just a hashtag, a flash in the online pan. It is a lifestyle that REI supports, 365 days a year. As our CEO Jerry Stritzke wrote, “As a co-op we share a simple belief that time in the outdoors makes us healthier and happier–as individuals and as a society.”

Matching REI’s sustainable ethos they choose Futerra a creative agency that specialises in working with brands that are symbols of positive change.  Futerra approached Peepshow to deliver a short that expresses REI’s outdoors message.

The beautiful short takes the viewer on a journey through time. As noted by Pete “The film tells the story of humanity’s retreat indoors – starting with simple structures to shelter from the elements and early farming to suburban houses and mega-cities”. Pete’s first challenge was to take illustrations created by Peepshow’s Jenny Bowers and translate them into a 3D space. Painted effects ranging from luminous ink washes to dark crayon and flat blockwork helps to reinforce the visual journey. This is further enhanced by Jenny’s brilliant use of colour which moves from jewel like washes to grey drab blocks of texture.

Combining Jenny’s 2D illustrations with 3D elements created in Cinema 4D by Rok Predin, and Layla Atkinson’s animated loops drawn in Flash and artworked in Photoshop, Pete then orchestrated a camera move through this heavily layered environment. He takes the viewer from a rural paradise, through the development of our civilisation and into a rapidly growing city. Composer Sebastijan Duh created the music. Whilst, Fonic’s Chris Swaine, sound design balanced the piece.

The finished short is a powerful visual interpretation of REI’s #OptOutside campaign. In less than 40 seconds it builds a claustrophobic atmosphere that behoves the viewer to take positive action.

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Illustration: Jenny Bowers
Director: Pete Mellor
Animation: Layla Atkinson, Rok Predin
Music: Sebastijan Duh
Sound Design/Mix: Chris Swaine at Fonic
Agency Creative Director: Richard Barnett


Chris Robinson from Animation World Network has a poignant take on our Radiation film. So pleased you like it Chris.

Pictures from the Brainbox: A Weekly Dose of Indie Animation – ‘Radiation’

Every Tuesday, Chris Robinson digests and dissects (relatively) new indie animation short films. Today’s Layla Atkinson and Trunk animation serve up, Radiation, a new short aimed at kids with cancer.

‘Radiation’ directed by Layla Atkinson (Trunk Animation)

The week before I started chemotherapy I was asked to attend ‘chemo classes’ with other cancer patients. The aim was to guide patients through the process and to let them know what to expect during their chemo treatments. Mine also happened to coincide with the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival. Racing back and forth between festival duties, CT scans, blood tests, and ‘chemo classes’ was, well, not remotely enjoyable. And while the sessions were well-intended, it’s pretty hard to sit in a class room like environment and process the information while you (and everyone else in attendance) are scared out of your fucking mind. And frankly, the classes had limited effect. While they warned about potential side effects (nails falling off, loss of hearing, nauseous) … they never really prepared you for the full onslaught of not just chemo but the effects of the drugs you had to take (include a steroid that made me Hulk-like in temperament, having to stab yourself in the stomach with a needle to fend off a low white blood cell count that chemo can cause, or nurses coming over to your home to stab you in the ass because of bouts of severe nausea) to counter the chemo side effects.

I was in my mid-40s and terrified, although those emotions remained cloistered in a stone faced Buster Keaton look that I’d learned to master over the years. People confused this with calm and stoicism when really it was shock and a fear that was so prevailing it just numbed me of expressions.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for a child to endure chemo or radiation. With so little life experience, with a not quite sense of mortality, maybe it’s not quite a terrifying for them as they enter treatment. Maybe not. I don’t know, but I actually kinda wish that in lieu of classes they’d just commissioned some animators to make some ‘What to expect when you’re expecting chemo’ videos. Something visual…and hell…I’d have appreciated something with a sense of humour. It doesn’t have to be presented as something so dark … even if its terminal… well…why not laugh on the way out the door?

So…this short…well it’s cool…it’s well done, funny, calming and about as informative as any of chemo classes I took – yet much shorter.

One of the best projects ever!

The phrase “Your child has a brain tumor” is something you never want to hear. Of course, any type of cancer diagnosis is awful, but it feels so absolutely unfair when it’s a child, who has yet to experience all the opportunities life has to offer.

So when we were approached by LA based Agency RPA on behalf of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and was asked if we could bring a smile to some children facing a cancer diagnosis, our answer was a resounding “YES!”
What followed was a very emotive passion project where we threw everything we could at the screen to make some kids and their families feel a bit better about what they’re going through.

RPA came up with the fantastic concept of creating films revolving around the ”Imaginary Friend,” and if you’re anything like us, you may have dabbled with fictional characters at some point in your past!  Twenty of the finest animation companies in the world got involved to make films about the various treatments these children will have to experience on their journey through to recovery. These include – getting diagnosed, MRIs, chemo, surgery, hospital stays and going back to school among many others – all difficult experiences for kids to face and surely times where a helping hand is needed. The aim of each film is to give children confidence and courage by explaining in simple terms what to expect from treatment and all that follows, and provide a positive voice to keep their spirits up in what has to be a dark time for not only them, but their families as well.

Trunk’s director Layla Atkinson and producer Richard Barnett’s film deals with Radiation therapy, a baffling procedure at first glance. An initial script from RPA was expanded and developed with the help of Trunk director Jock Mooney, to create one that is full of fun. Set in a child’s bedroom at night, a time when a young child may feel particularly vulnerable and alone, the helpful imaginary friends appear. We meet Walter, a suave secret agent character (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and his gluttonous sidekick Gus (Jane Horrocks). The pair go on to explain the process of radiation therapy whilst touring the bedroom in all forms of animation and puppetry! Trunk wanted to create a film that had real warmth and that could inspire a can-do attitude. The team wanted kids to see the film and feel like they could make something similar in their own bedrooms. So out came the craft box. Followed by LOADS of help!
In retrospect making this film was no mean feat! Layla says “In the time we had, and as a passion project, I don’t think we could have made this much harder for ourselves if we’d tried! We built the child’s bedroom on the ground floor of the studio, and then used a mixture of replacements, puppetry, and then some nicely comped 2D animation. Using replacements in a set means you first animate the characters, then print them out, then cut them out by hand (so they retain all their lovely little edges and character) and then finally get them on the wall and shoot each frame moving across set! A lot of people were involved in the cutting out of over one and a half thousand frames!”
One of the most amazing things about making the film was the amount of time and the generosity of so many companies and people that got involved and helped out. It has truly been inspiring. It started with the amazing performances of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Jane Horrocks, who were such a pleasure to work with and whose performances created great opportunities for the animators. Who in turn drew snappy, well timed movement, in such a short space of time. The amazing James Cropper Paper provided us with such beautifully textured paper to give our characters some depth, and hordes of friends and family took up the scissors to help with cutting out each frame. The incredible DOP Pete Ellmore, who lit the set beautifully for the mix of stop motion and live action techniques, worked with the small but mighty crew of Jono Yates and Ollie Craig. Using top quality equipment loaned to us by Take 2 Films, Clapham Road Studios and Panalux. The film literally couldn’t have happened without their support. The shoot lasted a gruelling seven days, over which the team wrangled with thousands of pieces of artwork, props, a model car and an unruly bunch of ping pong balls. Our compositor Rok Predin then had the daunting task of pulling everything together, ironing out small mistakes, adding lasers, and making all those frames stand up and be counted! With composer Daniel Pemberton taking time out from scoring Ridley Scott’s new feature to give our film a soundtrack, and the team at Fonic bringing every action to life with a beautifully crafted sound bed and mix, the film was given depth and beauty.

The finished short is a beautiful and informative tour de force. The painstaking hand crafted approach ensured it felt real and accessible to its audience, and the generosity of so many wonderful people made this film into a community effort. A community that wanted to look after those in their time of need.

Producer Richard Barnett notes, ”It was such a pleasure and an honour to be a part of this whole campaign, and we really hope that for years to come the amazing people at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation can carry on bringing a light, and sense of hope, to all those families in their time of need.”

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Walter: Julian Rhind-Tutt
Gus: Jane Horrocks
Layla Atkinson
Richard Barnett
Director of Photography
Peter Ellmore
Jono Yates
Focus Puller
Ollie Craig
Jock Mooney
Layla Atkinson
Harry Slinger-Thompson
Alex Potts
Jeremy Carlen
Layla Atkinson
John Harmer
Lucy Blackhurst
Rok Predin
Daniel Pemberton
Sound Design and Mix
Barnaby Templer @ Fonic
Marty O’Brian @ Fonic
Scissor Wizards
Lucy Blackhurst
Michaela Fairhurst
Zoe Dent
Jock Mooney
Chris Andrew
Marisa McLoughlin
Biddy Lloyd
John Dunn
Daisy Daniel
Cicely Mentis
Gary Rutter
Shirley McNicholas
Leyla McNicholas
Pip Piporo
John Harmer
Layla Atkinson
Richard Barnett
Model Makers
Jock Mooney
John Harmer
Richard Barnett
Dr A Leak
Fiona McKiernan
Camera and Grip
Take 2 Films
Paper Stock
James Cropper Paper
Clapham Road Studio
Set Materials
Whitten Timber
Everyone involved in the making, as well as those behind the scenes: Kate Davie @ United Agents, Barry Measure and Asha Chander @ Take 2 Films, Kelly Amundsen @ Panalux, Tim Nattrass @ James Cropper Paper, PCR Ltd, John Whitten @ Whitten Timber, Paul Haslem @ Benwells, Elizabeth Day @ Clapham Road Studio, BIG Thank you to Jock Mooney.

Trunk’s Layla Atkinson animates Sassoon’s Aftermath

Trunk’s director Layla Atkinson has animated Siegfried Sassoon’s moving and very personal poem ‘Aftermath’. The poem reminds the reader to never forget the horrors of war. This month marks the birth and death of Sassoon. although he survived the war the awful things that he witnessed, would change him forever. He has since been recognised as a leading poet of the First World War.

One of his most famous poems ‘Aftermath’ written in 1919 asks if the terrors of war have been forgotten. He writes “Have you forgotten yet?…. Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget”. This powerful poem, in the early years of the century, was broadcast on Armistice Day to add force to the meaning of remembrance.

Indeed with the world in an ever volatile state. The war in Syria is entering it’s seventh year, North Korea is on the brink of a nuclear tragedy Sassoon’s words seem to be more relevant than ever.

Trunk’s Layla has created a beautiful and moving short to accompany the poem. In its own way it pays tribute to Sassoon whilst visually following the poems narrative. We see a clear peaceful spring day brutally transform to the hell of the front line at Mametz.

Layla was drawn to the poem as it clearly and fiercely reinforces a simple and awkward truth. She notes ‘”Our studio when flooded by sunlight and the sounds of children playing outside it is all to easy to forget the horrors of war. We need poets whose words are powerful enough to reach across decades to hold us in check and make us grateful and watchful of our peace. Sassoon’s poem I feel is one such work”.

The short was composited in After Effects using a variety of hand drawn lines, textures and elements. By using the language of cubist imagery seen in such works as Juan Gris’s ‘The Bottle of Banyuls’ Layla cleverly roots the poem in the period in which it was written. This is reinforced by her use of a washed subdued palette that skilfully captures the post war era. The wonderful Julian Rhind-Tutt narrates the poem whilst music was by Dom James, Barnaby Templer at Fonic created the sound design.

The short was funded by Trunk Animation as part of it’s on going mission to foster and develop creative talent.

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Director- Layla Atkinson
Producer- Richard Barnett
Poem- Siegfried Sassoon
Animation- Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, John Harmer, Rok Predin, Jocie Juritz, Jacob Read, Clelia Leroux
Music- Dom James
Sound- Fonic
Mix- Barnaby Templer
Narration- Julian Rhind-Tutt