When it comes to animation, Wales has a rich past and an exciting future. Characters such as SuperTed, Beryl and Fireman Sam carry Welsh talent far beyond our borders. Today, they’ve been joined by a new generation of animated heroes, from Shane the Chef to Dave Spud.
Read on as we explore three of the top productions at the centre of our ever-evolving animation scene – as well as the companies behind the work.
Oscar nod for Beryl’s fourth outing
Let us introduce you to Beryl: a fifty-nine-year-old factory worker and genuine Welsh icon. An established part of the animation scene since 1984, Beryl is the heroine of four award-winning animated films. The latest, Affairs of the Art was nominated for both a BAFTA and an Academy Award. It also won the Writers Award at the British Animation Awards 2022.
It's yet another achievement for Beryl Productions, the animation studio that bears her name. Run by Joanna Quinn and her partner, producer and writer Les Mills, the company – based in Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre – explores traditional hand-drawn animation in a digital age.
In Beryl's latest adventure, we follow her long-standing dream of becoming an artist. The problem is her all-consuming ambition starts to have a big impact on her loved ones – particularly her husband and life model, Ivor. Watch Affairs of the Art and discover how her technical geek son Colin, and her sister Beverly, a self-absorbed amateur taxidermist, show just how deeply obsessive behaviour runs in the family.
Watch: Beryl Productions – Affairs of the Art
Foo Fighters opt for Bomper video
Next up it’s Bomper Studio and their collaboration with global superstars, Foo Fighters. From their headquarters overlooking Caerphilly Castle, Bomper creates work with character – from handcrafted 2D animation and VFX, to live-action and complex computer graphics.
Wherever you go, you can spot their work. They’ve produced advertising films for Glenfiddich, Levi’s and Mitsubishi, packaging for Tesco and title sequences for TV programmes including Ready Steady Cook.
Most recently, the independent studio created two high-profile videos for American rockers, Foo Fighters. The band – who have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide – sought out Bomper to make the promo clip for the 2021 single No Son of Mine.
The result won acclaim for its dark and gritty graphic-novel look. Off the back of its success, Foo Fighters asked Bomper to come up with another creation for their dreamy psychedelic track Chasing Birds. This time, however, the studio opted for a colourful 1960s-style cartoon.
In Wales, Bomper is on the front line of research and development. They received funding from Clwstwr to develop the prototype of a real-time configurator. This innovative project lets customers personalise a product on a website to their exact specification, and immediately see the result in 360° visuals.
Watch: Bomper Studio – Foo Fighters, No Son of Mine
Modern life is rubbish – and brilliant
Finally, meet Dave Spud. It’s an odd premise for a cartoon: an ordinary schoolboy living in a tower block with his disaster-prone family and a talking starfish called Gareth. But The Rubbish World of Dave Spud has delighted kids with its surreal adventures. It’s also earned both critical praise and industry recognition from grown-ups, too.
Although set in Grimsby, the cartoon draws heavily on Welsh expertise. Cardiff-based studio Cloth Cat Animation provides the animation, additional design, rigging, and layout skills to bring Dave’s escapades to life. The project also received support from the production funding strand of the Economic Futures Fund – a fund administered by Welsh Government.
The voice cast is impressive too, featuring a who’s who of British acting talent, including Philip Glenister, Arthur Smith and Jane Horrocks. Dave himself is voiced by comedian Johnny Vegas, and the hyperactive soundtrack is the work of Brit Award-winning electronic music duo Basement Jaxx. The result? Three nominations in the British Animation Awards 2022, held in London and live-streamed in Cardiff.
The series has also been sold to Australia, where it has gained a legion of fans on ABC Television, as well as New Zealand. It’s even been dubbed into Basque and Swedish (in which Dave is known to kids as Pelle Päras) and a Gaelic version is in production.