Sunday, December 27, 2009

English language Pal DVDs for sale

Soon, we will sell them from our website shop (with a sketch by me if you want it) ,
but in the mean time you can buy them from Trinity College or O'Briens website -


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Amazing that the first Christmas post was 2005!
This project still occupies quite a bit of my time , even if its not what I'm working on everyday.
Production wrapped almost 18 months ago now,and since the first screening in France last January to now has been a whole other journey I never expected when we began.

So a Happy Christmas from me to everyone who worked on this film , everyone who watched this film, supported this film, talked about it, reviewed it or bought a DVD!

And don't forget the screening in the Egyptian theatre in Hollywood on the 9th of January!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Roy E Disney

Recently we received the Roy E Disney Award in Seattle.
Not long after we heard the said news that he had died.
I know he was a friend of Tony White who runs the 2d or not 2d festival.
here is a link to Tony's tribute -

I never met Mr.Disney of course , but by all accounts he will be sorely missed by the animation community and even some by folks here in Ireland where he often holidayed I hear.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Comic Cast review of kells DVd

Just had a listen to this...catching up on old Comic casts i missed ..very cool review by an 8 year old girl.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Anam An Amhrain (Soul of the Song)

ANAM AN AMHRÁIN TG4 trailer from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Anam An Amhrain (Soul of the Song)

Behold! All year Salooners near and far have toiled on this series of music videos that will be broadcast this Christmas on TG4.

Another Saloon/Sonta co-production in the spirit of Cuilin Dualach (Backwards Boy) but this time with a variety of Salooners taking the directing and designing reigns...

Nora Twomey cut these trailers together to give you all a sampler of the stylistic variety on offer.

And for our foreign fans, although the Gaelic will be largely impenetrable I believe the music will carry itself nicely with the visuals and you will be able to avail of the DVD release in 2010 from our Saloon Shop!

Cailleach an Airgead from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

An Damhán Alla from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Amhrán na Bo from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

An Puc ar Buile from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Dun do Shui from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Bean Pháidín from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

An Seanduine from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Oró se do bheatha abhaile from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Cad e sin from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Tá Dhá Ghabharin Bhui Agam from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Greasai Brog from Cartoon Saloon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mia takes home the EFA

Last Saturday we lost out to Mia and the Migou at the Efas.
Even if we were a little disappointed , we were happy such a beautiful film from the ever fabulous Folimage took the prize and proud to be one of only three nominees.
It was a great night at any rate and the missus even snagged akiss from Eric Cantona

AWN interview

Moore Illuminates The Secret of Kells

Posted In | Site Categories: 2D, Films

Check out The Secret of Kells clips at AWNtv!

The Secret of Kells sports a colorful, flat design in keeping with the medieval setting. All images © Cartoon Saloon, Les Armateurs and Vivi Film.

The Secret of Kells has just grabbed an Annie nomination for Best Animated Feature and Tomm Moore, co-founder of Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny, Ireland, describes how he brought this lovely and magical 2D movie to the screen. Inspired by Ireland's most precious artifact, The Book of Kells (a stunningly beautiful medieval manuscript containing the Four Gospels), the movie concerns a 12-year-old boy living in an abbey that comes of age amid Viking attacks and mystical wonders.

Bill Desowitz: What inspired you to make a movie about the legendary Book of Kells?

Tomm Moore: Well, it was a long time in the making. I had the first idea with a friend in college and we were thinking after seeing Mulan and The Thief and the Cobbler that we could find something in Irish arts to base as an animation. We never could do it as a student project so it became a pet project on the back burner here at the studio. But we thought it would be interesting to translate that into 2D, hand-made animation, which would be suited to the style. And the stories and legends from around that period seem pretty ripe. We went through different drafts of the script, some more of the history and some more of the fantasy and found a blend between the two.

BD: How did the financing come together?

TM: We pitched it at Cartoon Movie when Les Armateurs and Vivi Film were in the middle of The Triplets of Belleville and they showed 10 minutes and it was a big hit and they liked our pitch and thought it could be their follow-up. And at that same Cartoon Movie Canal + got involved too, so they were the kind of anchor finance. And then once the French financing started to come into place, we started to raise the Irish finance and then, finally, the Belgian. So in the end, it was about 2 million Euros from each country.

Because Ireland was the country that developed the project, we ended up being the lead creative studio and France ended up being the lead production studio.

Cartoon Saloon in Ireland was the lead creative studio, with the rest of the animation divided in France, Belgium, Hungary and Brazil.

BD: So, how was the animation divided up?

TM: We did about 15 minutes of sample animation, designs, all of the key posing and most of the backgrounds here at Cartoon Saloon [Blue Spirit in Angoulême, France did the rest of the backgrounds]. And then we divided the rest of the animation around Europe and Brazil: Walking the Dog in Brussels, Belgium; Lightstar Studios in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Kecskemet Film in Hungary; ink-and-paint at Digital Graphics in Liege, Belgium; the in-betweens and cleanup were done in Brazil; and all of the compositing and editing and even the final sound post were done in France and Belgium.

BD: That's quite a step up for you and your company. What was it like tackling a feature?

TM: Yeah, it was really an adventure and it was pretty massive. I traveled a lot and learned a lot. Mainly, we kind of got neurotic about preparing everything and it paid off in the end because a lot of people said that they found the film very consistent and were surprised that it was made in so many countries, and I'm proud of that.

BD: What kind of pipeline did you have?

TM: We worked with HoBSoft developed by a couple of Danish guys for Asterix and the Vikings. When anyone at a studio finished their work, they would upload it and I could see it and bring it into the Avid. That was our main production tool because the pipeline was all over the place.

CG was incorporated into any moments that were detailed or complicated. Occasionally Flash was used and then mapped into 3D geometry.

BD: And the CG components?

TM: That was all done in Belgium. Digital Graphics took all the CG elements that were integrated with the characters. And then Walking the Dog took key sequences like the battle with [the giant] snake. They worked on Triplets and I was quite impressed with how they made 3D look like 2D.

BD: What else?

TM: At the end, the key role page was drawn and was originally a manuscript from a thousand years ago but an illustrator cleaned it up and pulled it apart in Blender so it could move. And then when the Vikings attack, a lot of the little extra characters that look like brushstrokes were done in CG. Any time anything was detailed and complicated, it was CG. We even had some background characters animated in Flash and then mapped onto 3D geometry.

BD: Was the biggest challenge arriving at an appropriate look?

TM: Yeah, we had so many different styles at the start. The art director, Ross Stewart, is a friend of mine from school, and we worked together for years on the look because we never thought the project was going to go into production. But by the time we did actually go into production, we developed more styles than we could use, and we had to pare it all down in a few months and come up with a consistent style. So, hopefully, we'll publish an Art of book someday so people can see it all.

But we made a simple rule from the start: the medieval world is really flat with false perspective and lots of color like medieval art. That was the majority of the movie. And then for the dream sequences, we went even flatter and simpler. We tried to do something like Monty Python. And then when there was danger, we'd go into 3D like the Viking attack.

BD: And the character design?

TM: We started off with a much more classical Disney look, but, as the backgrounds were developed more for the medieval look, the characters had to be simplified. It made more sense to make them match the backgrounds that we had designed. And Didier Bruner, the producer in France, really pushed us to have very flat characters, more like medieval icons. More like Eastern European animation.

The Character Design team consisted of my self and Barry Reynolds, who rejoined the team after working with us
on the original pitch trailer as a designer and animator, Barry made the final designs and modelsheets .
Barry's contribution was very important on the film, he made all the additional designs of animals and characters as well as supervising the model on the layout posing.

He was ably assisted by
Martin Fagin who was our Clean Up supervisor and who designed the final line and worked closely with Digital Graphics in Liege to
plan the "stained glass" effect of thicker outer lines which was added digitally.

The Vikings were designed by Jean Baptiste Van Demme .

Finally Lily Bernard , one of our Bg supervisors made the colour models for all the characters.
It very much a collaborative effort to arrive at the final look, big thanks to the whole team!

BD: What are you doing next?

Posted In | Site Categories: 2D, Films

A more classical Disney look for the characters was abandoned in favor of a very flat look in keeping with the backgrounds.

TM: I've already got some development money from the Irish Film Board and from media here for my new feature, Song of the Sea. It's an Irish story about the selkies -- people that can turn into seals. It's about a little girl that's the last selkie and she has to find her way back to the sea from the city, and on the way back she gathers up all the remains of the fairy folk that are still hanging around in modern Ireland. They're lost and invisible to us and she helps them back to their own world. I suppose the benchmark for this one is My Neighbor Totoro. We are working on the script and for me the big lesson is to get everything ready up front. And hopefully start the storyboards next year.

Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.

New Kells Review

Review: The Secret of Kells

December 15, 5:23 PMAnimation ExaminerPaul Neuhaus
Comment Print Email RSS Subscribe

Brendan and master Aidan.

The Secret of Kells is the tale of an Irish town’s fight for survival against the relentless tide of Viking invasion. At stake are not only the integrity of the settlement and the lives of its people, but more importantly, its way of life and its culture. The Vikings are not just a political and military force, they are a faceless monster intent on devouring Ireland and all things Irish. There are two schools of thought on how best to deal with the threat of the norsemen. The abbott, the ostensible leader of the town, insists that a wall must be built to keep the invaders out. The monks under his charge say that this is a futile gesture, and the only thing which can truly defeat the Vikings is time. The best course, they say, is to flee before the onslaught and ensure that the knowledge in their care is kept safe. Brendan, the film’s young hero, must choose between the two differing approaches and grow within the bounds of his decision. In charting Brendan’s progress, “Kells” mirrors traditional heroic folklore, but it does so with a deep undercurrent of pertinent themes. The film can be appreciated for its surface story and also for the ideas which bubble beneath. Thanks to this dichotomy and to the rich visual presentation, The Secret of Kells deserves a much broader audience than it will likely receive.

In its use of indigenous folk tales and rustic settings, “Kells” is reminiscent of the work of the great Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki, the man who gave us My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and the Academy Award winning Spirited Away. As in Miyazaki’s films, “Kells” is more reliant on the rhythms of folklore than it is the rote storytelling of modern Hollywood. Brendan’s journey from inquisitive boy to accomplished scholar features side trips into the world of faerie, and a battle with a monster more ancient and terrifying than the approaching Scandinavians. Much of the boy’s growth occurs metaphysically in a way which runs contrary to the world of the abbott and his wall. The arc of Brendan’s tale also owes much to the Hero’s Journey outlined by the famed mythology expert, Joseph Campbell. The path which the protagonist walks is a well-worn one, trod also by the the great heroes of literature who preceded him. But “Kells” does not borrow lightly from myth and folk tale, and its story is not a simplistic one. For instance, there is an unspoken irony in the fact that Brendan receives aid from the world of faerie since the knowledge he is seeking to preserve will, in time, disallow the existence of faeries. For those with a discerning eye, the film runs deeper than is implied by its surface veneer. On the other hand, The Secret of Kells, with its folkloric tone, connects with the audience on a primal level -- the same level upon which we once responded (or to continue to respond) to a well-told bed-time story.

The deceptive simplicity in the narrative presentation is mirrored wonderfully in “Kells’” brilliant art direction, A conscious choice has been made here to avoid the dimensionality found in most of the Disney features. A deliberately flat style has been embraced, and it not only suits the material, it constitutes a refreshing change of pace. For obvious reasons, the characters look very much like the people portrayed in illuminated manuscripts. Despite this fact, the artists have managed some animation which can stand with anything found in more conventionally art directed features. In particular, Aidan the master illuminator, and Aisling the faerie girl have been brought to life with consummate skill. The backgrounds these characters inhabit are so rich in detail that they are often used to aid in furthering the story, or in transitioning between scenes. The Secret of Kells feels designed to function exactly as it does, and that is a thing which movies rarely accomplish. In fact, “Kells” uses the medium of the animated cartoon better than any other film in recent memory.

The Secret of Kells is a fine film with a noble theme. The notion that preserving and disseminating knowledge are the best safeguards against evil is a welcome one in a time where rational thought seems to be losing its value. ASIFA was right to nominate “Kells” for Best Animated Feature, and the film deserves to be seen by as many people as it can reach.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

European film Awards

Hello from Essen in Germany, we are here for the European Film Awards,
Being one of three nominees for best animated feature is massive for us especially as the other nominees are of such high quality, Mia et le Migou and Nico and the way to the stars, it will be a fun night.

last night Ken Loach had a conversation about film, politics and all kinds of stuff before screening his film starring Eric Cantona!
It was a very moving conversation and in the end he asked the audience to make some noise about Western Sahara and the plight of one their leading human rights activists who is currently on hunger strike in Lanzarote airport.
i dont have much way to make noise but the eyeballs on this blog are the most direct access i have to the most people so heres my tiny contribution to making her plight known....

and heres a link to the guardians coverage of whats going on ...

Western Sahara activist on hunger strike at Lanzarote airport

Aminatou Haidar, campaigner for indigenous Sahrawi rights, expelled over refusal to accept Moroccan nationality

Aminatou Haidar

Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar in Arrecife airport on Lanzarote. Photograph: DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images

Western Sahara's most prominent human rights activist has gone on hunger strike at a Spanish airport after being expelled from her home country by Moroccan authorities.

Aminatou Haidar, who is viewed by her supporters as the "Sahrawi Gandhi", was deported to Lanzarote from the disputed territory of Western Sahara on Saturday. Morocco has occupied the former Spanish colony since 1975, refusing a say on independence to the indigenous Sahrawi population, including some 100,000 people still living in refugee camps in the desert in south-western Algeria.

Haidar, a 42-year-old single mother, was detained at the airport in Western Sahara's administrative capital, Laayoune, on her return from the US, where she was awarded the Train Foundation's Civil Courage prize of $50,000 for her struggle for the Sahrawis' right to self-determination. After refusing to declare her nationality as Moroccan on the airport arrival form, the police confiscated her passport and she was flown to the nearby Canary Islands.

Haidar told the Guardian by telephone that Spain was "complicit" in her predicament, both for admitting her to Lanzarote and then refusing to let her leave.

"I will carry on my hunger strike until the Spanish government accepts its responsibilities and allows me to return to my homeland, where my children live … or I die," she said.

Prison in Western Sahara was preferable to detention in Spain, she added.

Haidar has wide experience of incarceration. In 1987, aged 20, she was "disappeared" and tortured by the Moroccan secret police for more than three years for advocating independence. In 2005 she was jailed for seven months after being beaten by a Moroccan policeman during a demonstration protesting against the Moroccan occupation.

The Spanish foreign ministry said could not allow Haidar to return to Laayoune because she had no passport. The Moroccan government, which considers Western Sahara to be its southern provinces, even though this has no foundation in international law or formal recognition from any other country, has denied any wrongdoing. Instead, it has accused Haidar of treason and of being agent of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi nationalist movement that fought a 16-year desert war against Morocco with backing from Algeria.

The conflict ended in 1991, with both parties agreeing to a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination – including an option for independence – for the Sahrawi people. But Morocco has consistently blocked the vote, and the Polisario remains in exile in Algeria, behind a massive sand wall manned by tens of thousands of Moroccan soldiers.

In recent years King Mohammed VI has said independence is no longer on the table, with autonomy now the best available option for Sahrawis. On 6 November, in a speech marking 34 years of Moroccan presence in Western Sahara, he hinted at harsher action towards anyone still questioning the claim of sovereignty.

"One is either a patriot, or a traitor," he said. "Is there a country that would tolerate a handful of lawless people exploiting democracy and human rights in order to conspire with the enemy against its sovereignty, unity and vital interests?"

The expulsion of Haidar, who was also awarded the 2008 Robert F Kennedy human rights prize for her struggle, is part of a wider crackdown on Sahrawi activists. On Monday Human Rights Watch condemned the Moroccan government for blocking "unauthorised" visits by foreigners to the homes of Sahrawi campaigners in Western Sahara. Seven other Sahrawi activists being held by Morocco after visiting the Polisario camps in October have been described as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Wow, a great but exhaysting couple of days here in the US.
On Saturday Tony White surprised Ross and I after the screening with the Roy E.Disney award.
Its a great honour for us , to be on a short list of recipients from previous years such as Don Hahn , Richard Williams and Roy himself.
Tony, Saille and all involved in the 2d or not 2d festival have been really lovely and welcoming , its been fantastic to discover Seattle a little bit too - somewhere I've been curious about for years and years.

Yesterday I got up at 5 am and flew down to LA for the Asifa screening in the AMC in Burbank.
So, many people showed up, it was lovely. I actually sat thru' the film again, for the first time in ages, well maybe just since Belfast. I reckon I must have been at a screening almost once a week this year, but its always differentw ith a new audience. This time it was with some amazing artists and their families from the LA community.
Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew lead the Q+A afterwards , which i really enjoyed though mayeb I rambled a bit in my jetlagged exhausted state! But it seemed to go well despite that!

Thanks again to everyone here Stateside.

We do a talk in Digipen today, then grab a last bite of good veggie grub here in Redmond at the Teapot and its off home for a couple of days.

Then on Friday its off to the European Film rest for the wicked!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Press Release

Latest Kells' Press Release 12_02_09
NEW YORK, NY - Dec 2, 2009 - Film distributor GKIDS announced today that it
has just released four never-before-seen online clips of the award-winning
animated feature THE SECRET OF KELLS by director Tomm Moore. THE SECRET OF
KELLS is vying for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature category
and has been praised by audiences, critics and animation fans worldwide.
The clips are now available on YouTube,, and other online video
sites. YouTube links for the four clips are below:

"Secret of Kells - This is My Forest"

"Secret of Kells - Pangur Ban"

"Secret of Kells - Attack on the Abbey of Kells"

"Secret of Kells - The Eye of Crom"

within the animation community has resulted in a surprise nomination by The
Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature, announced December 1.

All other nominees are wide release, major studio pictures including "Up",
"Coraline", "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", "Fantastic Mr. Fox", and
"Princess and the Frog". THE SECRET OF KELLS has already been nominated
for Best Animated Feature at the European Film Awards (winner to be
announced December 11), is winner of the Audience Award at the prestigious
Annecy International Animation Festival, and was the first animated film in
history to win the Edinburgh Film Festival. THE SECRET OF KELLS opens in
Los Angeles Dec 4 for an exclusive one week Academy-qualifying run at the
AMC Burbank 8. The film opens nationally March 2010.

GKIDS President, Eric Beckman said, "The grassroots support for this film is
phenomenal. Everyone who has seen the movie has fallen in love. After the
Creative Talent Network Expo screening literally dozens of animators came up
and asked to help spread the word-and the result is the ASIFA nomination
alongside "Up" and "Coraline" and other major studio releases. The fact is,
"Kells" is a breathtaking and totally unique film and absolutely deserves
the Oscar nomination. We may not enjoy the marketing budgets of some other
titles in the running, but we are 100% committed to building bottom up
support and getting audiences to discover this amazing film."

"The Secret of Kells"
Exclusive One Week Engagement
Dec 4-10
AMC Burbank Town Center 8
201 E Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91501, 1-888-AMC-4FUN
Friday, Dec 4 at 7pm
Sat-Sun, Dec 5-6 at 2pm
Mon-Thurs, Dec 7-10 at 7pm
Q&A with director Tomm Moore following Sun Dec 6 show

SYNOPSIS: Magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of
color and detail that dazzle the eyes, in this sweeping story about the
power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times. Young
Brendan lives in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost under siege
from raiding barbarians. One day a celebrated master illuminator arrives
from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with
secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to
overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the
enchanted forest, where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets
the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the
way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and
artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the
best fortification against evil? SECRET OF KELLS is a
France/Belgium/Ireland co-production of Les Armateurs, Vivi Film, Cartoon
Saloon and France 2 Cinema and features the voices of Brendan Gleeson
("Harry Potter", "In Bruges"), Evan McGuire and Christen Mooney.

ABOUT GKIDS: GKIDS is a distributor of award-winning animated entertainment
specializing in titles that cross over between art-house and family
audiences. Recent theatrical releases include Michel Ocelot's acclaimed
"Azur & Asmar", in partnership with the Weinstein Company, and Nina Paley's
animated multiple-festival-winning animated feature, "Sita Sings the Blues".
Upcoming GKIDS releases include Tomm Moore's animated Oscar contender "The
Secret of Kells", and European Film Award nominee "Mia and the Migoo" by
Jacques-Remy Girerd. GKIDS is also longtime producer of the New York Int'l
Children's Film Festival, North America's largest festival of film for
children and teens. NYICFF jury members include Frances McDormand, John
Turturro, Susan Sarandon, Gus van Sant, and Matthew Modine. The GKIDS.TV
website is a place where children, teens, and adults can watch, rate,
review, buy and share award-winning film and animation from around the

Contact: Dave Jesteadt

2d or not 2d

So, tommorow I am off to Seattle to the 2d or not 2d festival and on Sunday I fly down to LA for the screening in the AMC in Burbank where I'll do a Q+A with the famous Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew. Be there or be square.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oscar Qualifying Screenings

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Fundraiser
The SECRET OF KELLS at the AMC Burbank 8 on the following dates:

Friday, December 4, 2009 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 5, 2009 2:00 pm... See More
Sunday, December 6, 2009 2:00 pm: w/a post Q&A with Director Tomm Moore
Monday, December 7, 2009 7:00 pm
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 7:00 pm
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 7:00 pm
Thursday, December 10, 2009 7:00 pm

Admission - $12 Adult, $9 Children, $11 Senior
Order Tickets Online Now:;

Buy your tickets online and $4 per ticket will be donated to the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. To purchase tickets, please visit; Select "ASIFA HOLLYWOOD" from the green pull down menu at the top of the site labeled "select my school or organization,” then buy the tickets for whatever screening you’d like to attend."

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Kells screened in Cologne (Hometown of animation supervisor Fabian Erlinghauser who was in attendance ), Canada and London !

CTN Expo Burbank

We had a great Q+A with Charles Solomon and the screening seems to have been very popular last night too.
Hopefully the good word of mouth will spread out here :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The True Secret!

Amazing!!! I'm pretty sure this is the same technique that Donnachada Daly uses in his non glasses 3d images too..that weird magic eye effect.
So it was'nt a crystal after all perhaps???


Researcher uncovers secrets of Kells 'angels'September 2, 2009 By Lauren Gold -->

Professor John Cisne looks at folio 85v in "The Book of Durrow," a manuscript with microscopically detailed illumination. Image: Lindsay France/University Photography
( -- The Book of Kells and similarly illustrated manuscripts of seventh- and eighth-century England and Ireland are known for their entrancingly intricate artwork -- geometric designs so precise that in some places they contain lines less than half a millimeter apart and nearly perfectly reproduced in repeating patterns -- leading a later scholar to call them "works not of men, but of angels."

But behind the artwork's precision is a mystery: How did illustrators refine the details, which rival the precision of engravings on a modern dollar bill, centuries before microscope lenses were invented?
The answer, says Cornell paleontologist John Cisne, may be in the eyes of the creators. The Celtic monks evidently trained their eyes to cross above the plane of the manuscript so they could visually superimpose side-by-side elements of a replicated pattern, and thereby, create 3-D images that magnified differences between the patterns up to 30 times.
The monks could then refine any disparities by minimizing the apparent vertical depth of the images -- ultimately replicating the design element to submillimeter precision. Cisne proposed the idea in the July 17 issue of the journal Perception (Vol. 38, No. 7).
The paper suggests that the technique, called free-fusion stereocomparison, which takes advantage of the brain's ability to perceive depth by integrating the slightly different views from each eye, was known nearly a thousand years before it was articulated by stereoscope inventor Sir George Wheatstone in the 19th century.
Cisne analyzed the most detailed illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, created between 670 and 800 A.D., including the Book of Kells (circa 800 A.D.); some have as many as 30 lines per centimeter.

Detail of folio 85v of "The Book of Durrow"The artists stayed mum about their techniques, possibly because their talent gave their Celtic church an edge over the Roman church in the competition for disciples. "If you're in the middle of a propaganda war, [it helps] if the angels are clearly on your side," Cisne said.
But they left a few clues, he said, including the high degree of symmetry and repetition among many of the most intricate patterns and the elements' spacing, which is usually at about the distance between an average person's pupils.
"It turns out that if you can draw accurately enough, you can easily get a magnification of the lateral [horizontal] distance something like 10, 20 or 30 times -- about the magnification you could get under a dissecting microscope," Cisne said.

CTN Expo Burbank

Really amazed by this expo, very well organised, and so many animation superstars walking around here!

I was sorry I had'nt brought any of the comics with me, and then I met Niklas Anderson master layout dude who worked with us on Kells and he said he saw them for sale in the expo.
I walked around and there was actually a big pile of both volumes at Stuart Ngs table. Amazing!
He got them in France.

Hope we can get an english language publisher around the time of the release here next year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

For your consideration

To all our American Friends...please spread the word!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shout Outs

Just a couple of thank yous to Pam Koller and Jamie Bolio and all the other friends of the film out here in L.A. who have been helping to spread the word on Kells thru the animation community.
They are linking in with Asifa and working with our distributors to help make sure people get to see Kells here in the AMC in Burbank when it does its qualifying run . Hopefully that will get a positive buzz going for the release next year as well.

variety and london buses

In Dreamworks amazing campus yesterday I was flicking thru Variety and saw a picture of Aisling and Brendan at the waterfall in there. Which was a bit surreal. Mentioned in an article about the 20 qualifying features this year. So many great films, hard to believe that theres two handdrawn feature in the running, four stop motion and such exceptional CG entries , when we began production on Kells traditional animation seemed resigned to TV specials for stop mo and tv series for hand drawn .
So its interesting at least to see life in the old dogs yet, however it would be a really great day when the technique was not seen as remarkable and it was excepted that some stories simply suit being told in different techniques.

Anyway , the other mad Kells related thing that happened yesterday is that Pauls brother in London texted to say he saw Aisling posters on the side of London buses!! She is the kind of mascot for the London Childrens Film Festival this year!

So even two years almost after we finished productin we still seeing the film creeping out into the world in all sorts of unexpected ways.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sleepless in LA

Hi there,

Paul and I are out here in LA for a week. Kells is screening at the CTN expo and we are doing a Q+A with Charles Solomon.

Anyway I'm all jetlagged and will now try and get some sleep before morning rolls around here again!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Saloon Shop

Just letting folks know that we are planning a Saloon shop on our site to sell DVDs (signed by me with original sketches by myself) , books, etcetera.
Please leave a comment if think you would be interested...good to get an idea of how many to stock up on.
We might sell out . You never know. ahah

Sheridan display

Andrew Murray one of our summer interns took some of the original art from Kells back with him for a display in his college. Here it is in Situ.
It is some animation by David Bols in Belgium from the goose chase, Posing by Barry Reynolds, bg layout by Niklas Anderson and an x-sheet!

The rest of the original artwork will be archived soon in Trinity college no less...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vote for us! Vote for us!

Please vote for THE SECRET OF KELLS in the Indie Wire animated feature poll.

When you have finished voting, please forward this by email to everyone you know.

Thank you!!!!

For more info on THE SECRET OF KELLS, go here:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Variety piece on the Oscar run

Oscar animation race draws competition

GKIDS picks up rights to 'Secret of Kells'

The Oscar animated feature race is getting crowded, with an old-school handdrawn toon ("The Secret of Kells") and a Spanish-made CG talking-critter movie ("The Missing Lynx") pushing the category over the 16-film submission threshold needed to support five nominations.

GKIDS picked up U.S. rights to "The Secret of Kells" just three days before the Oscar submission deadline and plans to open the 2D toon for a one-week qualifying run on Dec. 4 at the AMC Burbank 8 in Los Angeles, followed by a wider release in March 2010.

The story of a ninth-century boy who rebels against his guardian's orders and helps to illuminate a famous Irish manuscript, pic garnered numerous accolades abroad, including an audience award at the Annecy toon fest and a nomination for the European Film Awards' animated feature prize. GKIDS is a for-profit offshoot of the New York International Children's Film Festival focused on distributing quality family-oriented films programmed at the annual kidpic showcase.

"GKIDS came along organically as (the organizers) and filmmakers coming to the festival felt that some really wonderful films were not being distributed in the U.S.," GKIDS prexy and NYICFF co-director Eric Beckman said. NYICFF hosted the U.S. premiere of "The Secret of Kells" at a special event last summer."The Secret of Kells" was directed by Tomm Moore and backed by French-Belgian-Irish co-producers Les Armateurs, Viva Film, Cartoon Saloon and France 2 Cinema.

The U.S. distribution deal was negotiated by Celluloid Dreams, who are also handling international sales, after an earlier domestic license with Empire Film Group fell through. GKIDS also has French-Italian co-production "Mia and the Magoo" (another EFA animated feature nominee) in the pipeline, though the company plans to prepare an English-language dub before releasing in 2010.

As for "The Missing Lynx," the CG toon completed its Oscar qualifying run last Thursday, playing seven days on a single screen in Encino, Calif. The story of an endangered feline trying to evade a big-game hunter, pic is being distributed in North America by Phase 4 and was produced by Kandor Moon in Granada, Spain, with the roles originally performed in English and later dubbed into Spanish.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Oscar Run

The film's qualifying run is December 4-10 at the AMC Burbank 8, with a 7pm show each day...:)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Producer Paul Young Blogs!

Pauly has started blogging his fantastic weekly political cartoons from our local paper The Kilkenny People.

After many years away from the drawing board, producing our projects here in Cartoon Saloon , its been great to see Pauly's inky stylings on a weekly basis again.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oscar Run + New US distribution

We have moved to a new distributor for the US - GKIDS
They have great films like Azur and Asmar, Mia and the Migou and Sita Sings the Blues on their books and we are very happy to be working with them.

They plan a US release next year around St.Patricks day with a few screenings leading up to that starting in the new year.
They have also put Kells in for an Oscar run this year.

Its a crazy competitive year with so many great animated features eligible this year we know a nomination is a long shot but we thought we might as well go for it any way.
You never know....

Monday, November 02, 2009

Kerry Film Festival

Back in the Kingdom, where I was married many moons past.

Lovely intimate festival, had a packed screening today with loads of enthusastic school kids and also a lecture in the Tralee IT.

After screening the film all over the world this year , its great to show it to Irish kids again, but the questions and observations are often very similar no matter what country we show it in!

Plenty of impressive short films on show here , lots of films made on tiny budgets but with impressive results.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

European Film Awards Nomination :)

EFA announces nominees for best animated feature

The European Film Academy has announced the three nominations for its Animated Feature Film Award, to be presented at the 22nd European Film Awards on December 12 in Germany.

Tomm Moore’s The Secret Of Kells (France), Jacques-Rémy Girerd’s Mia And The Migoo (France) and Kari Juusonen & Michael Hegner’s Niko & The Way To The Stars (Finland/Germany/Denmark/Ireland) were selected by a jury made up of EFA board members.

They will now be submitted to EFA members who will vote for the winner.

The Secret Of Kells, which was the big winner at the Cartoon Movie Tributes in March, is about a 9th Century Irish Abbey which is threatened by Vikings. Mia And The Migoo tells the story of a young girl’s encounter with a mysterious creature on her journey to find her father. Niko & The Way To The Stars is about a young reindeer who is still learning how to fly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Israel Sf festival - ICON

Honorable Mention: The Secret of Kells
The Icon award jury: "
The jury would like to award an honorable mention to "The Secret of Kells", a film that stands out in the competition because of its unique design, its brilliant mixing of history, mythology and fantasy, as well as its boldness in using a medieval manuscript as the source of its inspiration, therefore acquiring a depth and a flavor quite unique in the animation sector."

The first prize went to the amazing "Let the Right one in" .

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kells in The Kingdom of Kerry

loads of FREE screenings over Halloween , I will be down there at the weekend too for a few Q+As.

Loads of other great shorts and features showing then too, and Kerry is beautiful - wintry and wild these months.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Animation Workshop

Another Viborg trip comes to an end. I just wanted to post about what a special place this is.
The students have an amazing space tow ork and have consultants from sucha range of background sto look to.

Its been really inspiring for me, to spend time in the energy of this place, do some drawing in different styles and some life drawing, and meet such enthusastic people, students and teachers.

I hope I have been of some use to the students because their influence has certainly left me fired up about my own projects again!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Heres a real Fan....

Wow just saw this on Facebook- what an indelible legacy....Hats off to this persons enthusiasm :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

some great online recent reviews

NB - The folowing article is an impressive analysis of the visual styles and themes in the movie.
The only correction I would say is that the writer misunderstood the name of the crystal magnifying glass in the movie. "The Eye of Crom" refers of course to the worm god Crom Cruach who Brendan battles in the movie.
Still, its impressive and flattering that someone would take the time to write about our film in such depth.


It has been some time since I sat through an animation as gorgeous as The Secret of Kells. Although highly experimental in style, the film is still accessible enough for wide range of audience to enjoy so I encourage you to take a look at this extravagant piece of art. What intrigued me the most about the film was its fascinating designs and animation inspired by the Insular Art (artistic style) of The Book of Kells, which will be the focus of this article.


So what exactly is The Book of Kells? The history or purpose of this illuminated manuscript is not relevant to the interest of this article. What is relevant is its elegant designs and its relations to the film’s visual style. There are three main points I want to make in this post, and the first is its chaotic ‘loop’ of interlacing curves that you can see in the above picture.

‘Chaotic loop of interlacing curves’ is a pretty succinct way of describing the knots, braids and weaving found in the book. Why chaotic? Because chaos refers not to things that are random, it refers to things that are difficult to comprehend. The technique of interlacing in the book follows a number of simple rules but the actual illustrations appear chaotic because of its sheer degree of complexity. We can not fully comprehend the logic of its pattern at glance but we can instantly sense its beauty.What’s interesting about one of these ‘rules’ is how the strands of the crossings must be endless, and that no more than two strands can cross at one point. So if you focus and follow the strand (try doing it above with the picture on right), you will be stuck in an endless loop of one long strand interlacing itself.


There's actually a giant snake interlaced that way...

The reason why the animation of The Secret of Kells is so fascinating is because it feels much like following that interlacing strand. The way characters move, and even how each frame is composed creates that ever flowing sense of movement. You just have to see it. Ben has put it extremely well here so I’m just going to quote him:

The choreography of the movement of the characters through these compositions is quite ingenious. It’s like they’re constantly shifting perspectives on you, coming up with creative new ways for the characters to move through the environs. In that sense it kind of reminded me of The Thief and the Cobbler. Representative of this is a shot in which a character is climbing a tree. The leaves form a sort of line that divides the screen into two. The character climbs up across the left half, then passes under the line, and in the right half the perspective is suddenly different, as if they were two distinct shots. It’s unexpected and subtly done and has a marvelous effect, like a constantly shifting and shimmering optical illusion. So much thought was put into coming up with a variety of ideas to make each shot interesting like this. It’s not just the animation and art that are stylized – the directing is too.


Another thing I want to add is that even the way the consecutive frames are strung together achieves similar effect. Whether it’s climbing a tree, running through a forest, or traversing the walls of the tower, one could almost imagine the camera making elegant curves as it swoops us over these landscapes. It’s like the creative staffs managed to translate the language of Insular interlacing in animation. Brilliant.


"God is in the Details" - Mies van der Rohe, the architect

Another point of interest in the book’s design is the sheer level of details. In fact some details are so meticulous, it can only be fully appreciated with a 10x magnifying glass. There is no magnifying glass in the film but there is a magical artefact called ‘The Eye of Cromwell’, a reference to the fact that the real Book of Kells was lost during the period of Oliver Cromwell.

There’s an interesting relationship between this detailing feature of the book and the way The Secret of Kells presents its landscape. Animation is beyond a 2D plane, it’s an illusion to a 3D world. Our human eyes have a limited visual perception and acuity thresholds, therefore our ability to appreciate the level of colour variations and geometric differences changes as our spatial relationship with that object also changes. This is why architects have to consider, for example, how a surface may look from both end of the spectrum. See below, how Gaudi’s surfaces are so intricate at microscopic level and yet blend in so sublimely with the bench at greater distance.


There is a particular scene in Secret of Kells that does this beautifully as well, which you can see in the below picture. At one moment we see the characters approach a giant ‘ball’ of different coloured spots. At closer inspection we find that the dots are actually butterflies fluttering about and filling that large air gap. It’s also interesting that one of its messages is ‘you learn more from the forest then inside the wall’. From far away, imprisoned by your closed minds, it’s impossible to appreciate great things. You need to open that wall, open your mind, and traverse the nature to find god, to find the truth. To paraphrase Deleuze, philosophy can only be found at the front of non-philosophy.


The Book of Kells is also known for mixing figurative with the ornamental (i.e. iconic pictures of people in decorative background), which continued to be the characteristics of later medieval illumination art. One of the reasons why each screens are so inviting to viewers may be that, despite highly experimental and sophisticated textures of backgrounds, they work well in harmony with more simplistic character designs. There are several other anime titles that I think are exceptional in this field too, including Kemono no Souja Erin.



Although nothing impressive story-wise, this is definitely one of the most visually innovative animation you will likely to see. There is another point I want to mention briefly and that is its harmony between the visuals and soundtrack. It’s simply a feast for eyes and ears. It’s the kind of melancholic and beautiful harmony one would find in Kaiba and Casshern Sins (I remember talking about this type of aesthetics briefly with bateszi on MAL). I’m sure the below clip will win anyone over (also look at how the cat moves in that ‘interlacing’ movement, and how camera movement swoops the tower in similar fashion).

11 Responses to “Insular Style of The Secret of Kells”

  1. Well that certainly was lush. Each screen cap is overwhelming. I think I’ve been trying to write this comment for an hour now.

    Your Deleuze quote is delicious. lelangir said it differently, but he and I (and Deleuze apparently) agree that one needn’t look to a ‘deep’ subject the create a deep experience. I can easily have such an experience watching K-ON! as much as anything else.

    In the case of this work, could it be that the thematic expression — the real work in it, is intended to reside less in the narrative, but more in the images and their motion? It seems like an obvious point, but I hope you know what I mean.

  2. 2DT Says:

    Fascinating stuff. I have an amateur interest in illuminated manuscripts, especially the works preserved by Irish monks, so this is definitely something I’ll have to check out.

    For a cross-cultural look, have you seen anything done for the Qu’ran? Islam prohibits images of the prophets, so what artists did instead was turn Arabic itself into a work of art– a twisting, complex, utterly beautiful work of art. I recommend looking into it.

  3. gaguri Says:


    I think Deleuze’s exact quote is “philosophy needs a non-philosophy that comprehends it”, in this case the characters of the film finds philosophy by interacting with the nature, and not confined to the walls of the abbey. I guess it’s possible to find deep things in just about anything, including K-on!, although different people will get out different things (i.e. I didn’t think much of K-on…)

    Yea, it’s much more expressive visually than narrative, although to be honest the story was bit too much lacking imo. Kind of like Ponyo, but in this case it is bit harder to forgive for me. It’s a shame really because it is visually just so strong.


    Haha, I’m really surprised that you seem to know a little about everything I touch on, from Deleuze/nietzsche, Tasha. I am aware of the history of Qu’ran but not terribly familiar with the actual images and texts in it.

    And yes, I highly recommend checking this film out, especially if you have intersted in illuminated manuscripts =D

  4. coburn Says:

    Just finished this (oh joys of the internet age, that such thing can be readily found) and am very pleased. Personally I was quite happy with the simplistic story structure – although it felt a bit too hard on WallMan at times. I did like Aisling’s retreat from Brendan a great deal – one of those unexplained but utterly right developments.

    Anyway, enjoyed your points about intricacy a lot too, and the succession of images from the oak tree scene.

    I was thinking that a lot of the moods/places in the film involved heavily dominant colourschemes which, to me at least, mean a very different way of experiencing intricacy from how I imagine staring into depths of colour in the book. Most frames had one scheme going on, and one doesn’t always have time to stare deeply into it to discover the layers, but the animation leads into the next scene in a manner which makes it feel like an exploration of the same scheme. Well, I’m getting a bit incoherent, but this was gorgeous and a very fine recommendation.

  5. gaguri Says:

    Yay my recommendation worked!

    And yea, I love their colour schemes too. Each frame is so well considered, I wish more studios would put more efforts too.

  6. Cello Says:

    I wanted to check this out but the book is $40 on amazon, a bit pricey for my walletbook. Maybe my patience will pay off!

  7. elianthos Says:

    I’ve been lurking from time to time as I found out we share some anime titles favs-wise , plus you always write thoughtful commentaries.
    I knew nothing of this little jewel of animation, for a medieval fine arts students like me this look like a treat indeed. I’m spamming your post to some pf my friends too XD.
    Thank you for blogging!

  8. gaguri Says:


    I hope you meant blu-ray disc, because $40 is quite a BARGAIN for the price I’d pay for the real book!


    Yay another lurker de-lurking himself ^_^

    Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad my posts have been somewhat amusing. Feel free to de-lurk time to time and fill up my lonely comment box =)

  9. elianthos Says:

    You’re welcome XD, I bow to your taste and your maind.
    Forgive my typos and possibly unclear wording btw, I’m good at drawing but bad at typing. Moreover, English is my secondary language only.
    I’ve spotted Fantascope Tylostoma among your recent viewings (review coming about this title too, yes? ;) ). Perfect timing, as I watched 1001 nights yesterday (oh, my, the Gustave Moreau-esque + sprinkling of Disney Fantasia’s sabbath sequence visuals . And a bit of Kanashimi no Belladonna too, especially in the ’simple sketches moving and morphing’ moments)
    What a treat.Possibly Even more engaging as I was watching it well after midnight , (a bit of altered… self-awareness(?) helped the mind-trip I guess? I felt like I was being sucked in and dreaming along with the characters, so vividly ^_^;; )

    Back to The Secret of Kells. Is indeed visually pleasing and different, chara design – aptily retro – matches backgrounds and Celtic patterns well , plus I love the OST.
    I can only hope Buena Vista International is planning for distribution here in Italy (been spamming this movie to my Medieval Archaeology college professor and plan to notify her colleagues too :P . She’s looking forward to -ahem- sampling it).

    Thanks again for blogging and sharing your thoughts with us.

    P.S.: I’m a ’she’ XD

  10. elianthos Says:

    EDIT: digressing some more on Yoshitaka Amano, I’m being irresistibly drawn to this right now
    . I hope someone will sub it ^^
    Does Fantascope Tylostoma feature some dialogue or nothing at all? Just to know if I can watch it raw ^^

  11. gaguri Says:

    Altered state is the best state to be in when watching artsy stuff like Fantascope =D. Your body needs to be relaxed, to feel those colours, movements and lines with your body, and just tired enough for your mind to not think too much, untie our way of thinking, and just connect to the imagination.

    As for Fantascope, it has lot of dialogues, but I watched it raw anyway. Of course I didn’t understand the details but I think it’s better to watch it raw than not watch it at all!

    And I hope your professor and colleagues enjoy the film too. And thank you again for the kind words, really makes my efforts worthwhile!


Brendan And The Secret Of Kells - Melbourne International Film Festival August 2009


Though a cheerful atheist I still have great artistic respect for the magnificently illustrated Book Of Kells. For me, the twelve hundred year old manuscript is enhanced well beyond its religious origins by the exceptional richness of its illuminations and calligraphy.

One of Ireland’s key national treasures the book is now kept at Dublin’s Trinity College. The circumstances that resulted in the survival of this artistic jewel are obscure, especially since Kells Abbey, where the book was kept and perhaps worked upon, was sacked by Viking raiders in the 10th Century.

Fiction takes root in the cracks of history, which is where director Tomm Moore and his Cartoon Saloon studio plant this perfectly rendered animated feature that sheds its own civilised illumination upon the preservation of the book, taking inspiration from it for the stylised design of the characters and backgrounds.

In a 9th century Abbey, 12 year old novice Monk Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire) is entranced by the beauty of the book, carried to Kells by a refugee artist-Brother from another sanctuary already fallen to the sea reivers. Brendan is torn between his desire to work on the unfinished book and his duty to his uncle, Abbot Cellach, who is understandably focused on the Viking threat. Brendan is aided in his quest to keep the light of art shining in the darkness by Master Artist Aiden and his cat, which has a pretentious name and attitude to match, as well as a Puckish forest spirit that can manifest as a white wolf. That last sounds a bit curious in context but this film is inclusive in its acceptance of alternative religious fantasies. It reminds me of some of the more liberal modern Arthurian novels where Christians and ‘Pagans’ coexist in relative, if unlikely, harmony where normally they get on like heretics on fire. Spiritual companionship is not extended to the invaders, who are depicted as looming, brutish monsters, reminding me of similar beasties seen in Genndy Tartakovsky’s classic animated series, Samurai Jack. (Not surprising, if you’ve seen any of Cartoon Saloon’s own children’s TV show, Skunk-Fu.) The Jack comparison can be further worked, as the book’s own illuminations are the inspiration for a serpentine Demonic Dark Power, reminiscent of Jack’s nemesis Aku, cleverly brought to life here as animated Celtic ‘knotwork’ and border designs.

The pitch perfect vocal cast includes Brendan Gleeson, whom genre buffs know as the cab driving survivor in 28 Days Later and also as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody in Harry Potter.

We’re used to the wonders produced by Studio Ghibli and its kin but it’s cool to discover a new source of high grade storytelling where form and content are so masterfully blended. The beautiful Brendan & The Secret Of The Kells is one of the most illuminating features at the Festival.

Rob Jan
Zero-G: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Historical Radio 3RRR FM Melbourne, Australia. 1-2pm Mondays Australian Eastern Standard Time