Project: Philip Astley Project
Location: Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742, Philip Astley is world renowned for his contribution to our cultural life in the form of the modern circus. Astley discovered that the 42-foot ring is the ideal size for trick riders, and this remains the worldwide standard circus ring size to this day. He brought together acrobats, clowns and trick riders for over 30 years, as well as starring as the main attraction simultaneously riding up to three horses and performing increasing daring tricks. When the Philip Astley Project launched, part of a larger Heritage Lottery Fund project, we were given the exciting task of creating an animation entitled ‘Who was Philip Astley?’ This meant combining visually pleasing and engaging animation, with a wealth of factual information to showcase and celebrate the vibrant life of Astley, and 250 years of circus. It was important that we aligned with the branding of the project, as well as incorporating original archive material.
We worked in collaboration with Andrew Van Buren, Ray Johnson MBE, the Brampton Museum and Staffordshire University to capture the life of Astley for the project. The branding for the project had already been established, and we needed to maintain this ‘look and feel’. We were also inspired by rare archive circus images provided by Andrew Van Buren, and they influenced the ‘old circus’ style of the video. It was not only important that the style was appropriate for the theme, but that it also reached a wide target audience from children to adults. We achieved this by creating a film which is exciting, much like a circus performance, as well as being informative. We were able to blend a range of animation styles seamlessly with the archive material weaved into the video.
It’s a vibrant and engaging video with a unique ‘old circus’ style, and a range of archive images and factual information. We’re passionate about heritage projects, so it’s been a pleasure to help share the story of such an important Staffordshire historical figure. The animation that we produced has been very well received across the board, including being featured on the BBC and Circus 250 websites. The Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth were so impressed by the video that they are showing it as part of their programme. 2018 is going to be an important year for Philip Astley, as well as Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Take a look at the Philip Astley website: http://www.philipastley.org.uk