In the Beginning....

It's been just over 6 months since PandaHorse embarked on the CycleCities journey. The task at hand was to create a short animation that would engage a European audience to the benefits of cycling. We have now crossed the finish line, but this only marks the very beginning for the CycleCities film itself, which will be screening online from 27th May 2013.

The CycleCities project was commissioned by The London Borough of Merton as a project partner in the European project “European cities for integrating cycling within sustainable mobility management schemes (CycleCities). Funded by the INTERREG IVC interregional cooperation programme, financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). And, Transport for London, under the Biking Borough Programme.

Burning the candle at both ends. PandaHorse worked solidly on the story for 2 weeks to get it just right.

Burning the candle at both ends. PandaHorse worked solidly on the story for 2 weeks to get it just right.

Needless to say that when we first discovered this opportunity we jumped at the chance to make an animated film that encourages people to cycle - be healthy, save money, be social, be less stressed, and help the environment! So we put together our proposal and presented it to Merton Council. It turned out they were equally as excited about our idea and awarded the job to PandaHorse.

Our story followed the life of an unhealthy man, hypnotised into his routine, who drives to work alone each day, wasting time and money. When he realises what’s wrong, he finds the will to change his car into a bike. As he joins other happy cyclists, he kicks off a chain reaction amongst other car users.

The lead character was designed as an ‘everyman’, who could come from any of the partner cities (Piraeus, Lisbon, Genoa, Gorenjska, Gdansk, Leipzig or London).  Middle-aged, slightly overweight with an average job, our character was soft, rounded, and likeable. We saw this character type as one of the hardest to reach, but as a result, he would be an inspiration to others. Everyone has a family member, friend or work colleague similar to this chap - so we felt he would be easy to relate to.

The animation technique we proposed was 2D hand-drawn animation and After Effects compositing. Painted textures would be used for colouring figures, objects and backgrounds.


Here is an initial character sketch of the lead character who soon became known as 'George'.

The next series of posts will endeavour to capture the various stages involved in making the CycleCities animated film and shed some light onto the work processes at PandaHorse.