Matt Slade and Naseem Naeem have just graduated from the University of Central Lancashire's graphic design degree course, but they've already picked up gongs for a final year project celebrating the 20th anniversary of the iconic game hero Sonic the Hedgehog.

Matt and Naseem created an animated video in After Effects that sees Sega's spiny mammal move slickly from his first appearance on the Mega Drive onto the Game Gear handheld, through to the iPad, iPhone and on a plasma screen TV. It recently picked up the Little Chip Student Award, and a YCN (Young Creative Network) Student Award. YCN set the brief for the project.

We spoke to Matt and Naseem to find out how it was created.

DA: What was your concept for the spot?

MS: "The idea came from the concept of a timeline. We wanted to use moving image to convey Sonic?s movement, so we used the vehicle of technology to show him progressing through the ages, on all the platforms he has existed on."

DA: How did you develop the idea into the final piece?

NN: "Initially we storyboarded the animation, discussing how the animation would appear on-screen. We chose to use the side-scrolling view, which is synonymous with the Sonic franchise. Once we’d collected our resources, we could then start building it.


MS: "The entire animation was made in After Effects. We took screenshots from the original games and made animated sprites from them using Photoshop. Once we had completed the level designs in each platform, we started with drawing paths along which Sonic could move. After many hours of tweaking, we had a final animation."

 DA: How did you split the project between the two of you?

MS: "We both worked on this project at all times, from start to finish. We felt this was important because we wanted each other's ideas to be properly conveyed in our final piece. We both had individual strong points, and we thought it was important that we used them to the full potential."

 DA: What was the biggest creative challenge and how did you overcome it?

MS: "The biggest challenge was getting what we had on paper to a finished piece. This was the first time we had tried to make something like this for a serious brief, so we wanted to ensure that it was executed as professionally as possible."

DA: What prompted you to enter it for awards?

NN: "We are both really proud of this piece and we wanted to give it as much exposure as possible. We're really pleased it’s got as far as it has."

DA: Were you surprised to win?

NN: "We hadn’t seen our competitors work before the awards ceremony, so we didn’t know what to expect. We were surprised because this was our first animation piece."

DA: What's next?

MS: "Both Naseem and I are looking for work, and will be doing placements as soon as possible. I would ideally looking for work in motion but also would like to work for music label as an art director: branding musicians and producing promotional material for them such as music videos and print artefacts."