Playgrounds In Motion is a new travelling animation, motion design and digital art festival held in London and Rotterdam over September and October. Procreate supported the event as Principal sponsor and saw it as the perfect moment to launch something special. You might have heard about it by now — if not, watch this.
When we arrived for the initial leg of the festival in London, it was unusually balmy for September. Positively sizzling. As a result, the festival’s many events were electrified and buzzing like a hard disk drive rendering someone’s magnum opus.
The In Motion festival vibe was that rare combination of awe-inspiring and friendly camaraderie. A haven for kindred spirits and a critical-mass-collision of talent. The main draw for the excited crowds was the chance to hear from some of the world’s best artists working in animation, motion design, character design, concept art, and illustration. The eminent line-up included Aaron Blaise, Anna Ginsburg, Patrick O’Keefe, Animade, FX Goby, and Andrew Gordon, among many other industry legends.
The festival scored an absolute coup booking Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse production designer, Patrick O’Keefe. The film had released only a few months ago, wowing audiences and critics alike with its watershed technical achievements and engaging story. Off the back of that acclaim, crowds swarmed in to hear how the groundbreaking animation was realised. Patrick O’Keefe didn't disappoint, digging into the detail in a wide-ranging talk traversing his background in graffiti to his journey into film and animation.
Alongside portfolio reviews and panels, the festival offered up a range of hands-on events. We schlepped thirty iPads along to four Procreate Dreams workshops in the NOW Trending building in the Outernet district in London. Led by the illustrious illustrator and animator talents of Alex Grigg, Michael Relth, Danni Fisher-Shin, Lisa Bardot, and Nikolai Lockertsen, this was an opportunity for members of the public to experience Procreate Dreams for the very first time. We were stoked with the reaction. Each iPad had a constant crowd around it with some eager beavers staying for over two hours, delighting in the learning.
For Lisa Bardot, the excitement was palpable, “it was such an exciting moment to be a part of. It’s going to bring a new form of creativity to so many different people. When I got up there and did my demo, showing the video and animations that I made, you could see people saying, and they told me afterwards, ‘this feels like something that I can do, and I'm excited to try it.’”
The Rotterdam leg followed on 5-6 October at the industrial party venue, and repurposed grain silo, Maassilo. Playgrounds In Motion Rotterdam evolved out of We Are Playground’s popular BLEND festival, carrying-on its topical focus of visual storytelling, avant-garde creativity, cutting-edge media, and all-round celebration of artists.
The inspiring line of speakers included the Daniels (Everything Everywhere All At Once) — who received an unprecedented one-minute standing ovation — Julia Pott (Adventure Time, Summer Camp Island), Kirsten Lepore (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On), and Patrick O’Keefe re-joining after the London event.
After the dust had settled, Leon van Rooij, director of Playgrounds, reflected: "A new festival in two cities. Two sold-out festivals...we’re super happy that film and image makers have embraced Playgrounds and grown together with us.
"Many were on our stage back when they first started out and returned years later now they’re famous. Towards the audience, all artists have an open and approachable attitude. And that works! We literally follow the development and journey of these creators. What was new this year were the very vulnerable themes that were shared. Through friendship on stage directly with the audience."
It’s a feature of our digital and screen-based industries that we’re often so absorbed in our work we neglect the in-real-life occasions where people live, breathe, and exclaim “ooh” a lot. The Playgrounds In Motion festival offers that magic opportunity to come together as a community to inspire and support. It’s nourishing. We’re looking forward to seeing what Playgrounds come up with in 2024.