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DMU grad conquers space and time for Doctor Who Commission

Capturing the imagination of Doctor Who cast and fans with an animated trailer led to Lucy Crewe being commissioned by the show to animate the story behind its series 10 promotional poster.

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A still from Lucy's animation for the latest series of BBC One's Doctor Who

The Whovian and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate – Animation BA (Hons) and Design Innovation MA – was initially inspired by the BBC’s 2015 Christmas campaign featuring an unloved Brussels sprout who finds friendship with BBC One stars including The Doctor.

The 27-year-old independent artist based in Leicester said: “I loved the art direction, the story, the message and the narration. It just made me so nostalgic and a little bit misty-eyed. It also saddened me because I wished I’d worked on it.

“So I created a spec trailer to tie in with the new series and I would post my work-in-progress on social media. Most of the cast, including Peter Capaldi (the 12th doctor), Pearl Mackie (Bill) and eventually Matt Lucas (Nardole), became aware of it.”

Lucy then had the chance to show her trailer to the Doctor Who brand team during a drinks reception in Cardiff – one of the show’s main filming locations - following the screening of an episode of the spin-off series Class and a Q&A session.

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“The brand team were impressed and when I followed it up with a couple of spec idents on Twitter, the senior brand executive shared them to his network, which included the Doctor Who: The Fan Show team,” she said.

“After that I was asked to do an animated version of the poster and the brief was to form a little story leading up to the image. It was magic!

“What I read from it is that Bill is leaning out of the Tardis and she leans out too far, but the Doctor catches her just as she falls while Nardole is holding onto them for dear life and pulling them to safety. I really wanted to emphasise that team work mentality.”

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Lucy’s animation process starts with pencil, paper and lots of ink sketches. Her character animation is all hand-drawn with a stylus in Toon Boom Harmony, a downloadable 2D animation package.

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She said: “I then start crafting a scene together by sketching thumbnails to get a sense of the layout and the composition, the staging and key posing of the characters. So I study a lot of video reference to get the proportions, anatomy, facial expressions, clothing and timing right.

“Once I colour them in and clean them up I tend to re-ink them with a harder brush. The whole process took around three weeks to do just 10 seconds. You’ve got to have a lot of patience in my field.”

Meeting the cast and crew and being interviewed for Doctor Who: The Fan Show, were highlights of her experience. Lucy said: “Everyone’s been super supportive. I worked closely with the team to deliver the content, sending them samples of animation tests and story art.

“Seeing my animation online and having such a wide audience gives me confidence to make more content, even though it requires so much patience and time.”

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Five years at DMU prepared Lucy with a good grounding in classical animation, video editing and brand marketing, as well as experience of working on a live professional brief with the Phoenix - Leicester's independent cinema and art centre – and the Leicester Comedy Festival.

She said: “My MA gave me inspiring guest lectures as well as the know-how of putting together business plans. Both courses provided access to industry-standard tools/software, tutorials, specific literature and databases in the library and a network of professionals I learned a lot with.

“I've also had guidance from DMU Enterprise; I was a finalist in the CEO Business Venture Competition in 2013.”

As a member of Animated Women UK, an organisation supporting women working in the highly competitive animation/VFX industry, Lucy has proudly showcased her final-year DMU animation called Everybody's Music at the Moving Picture Company in Soho.

She is also part of the team behind the award-winning Develop-Insite CIC, which runs positive mental health projects, and has had her work featured at the San Diego Comic Con and in Niche Magazine.

Posted on Wednesday 10th May 2017

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