Bath's Creative Powerhouse: Interview with Sigh Jones

30 March 2021 | 6 min read | Digital
Helen Fripp

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section” _builder_version=”3.22″][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”4.6.5″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″]Bath has long attracted artists and writers to its environs, but in 2021 it has become a hub for creatives. From animators, to illustrators and designers, to digital talent who possess a rare talent for ‘conceiving with fire in the soul, but executing with clinical coolness,’ to steal a phrase from the great surrealist artist, Joan Miró.

According to the DCMS, creative industries are one of the UK’s most powerful tools in driving growth, worth over £77 billion a year to the UK economy. In Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), creative industries generate over £183m in GVA (Gross Value Added) with 700 businesses employing 4,200 people. This is supported by a further 2,500 individuals in self-employment, while arts and cultural activities in BANES generate at least £157 million and provide over 6,000 jobs.

We at Clearly are privileged be able to draw upon a roster of brilliant creatives, both in and out-of-house, and our Bath’s Creative Powerhouse blog series turns the spotlight on the creative talent who are making waves in our city.

Sigh Jones

Sigh is an animator, photographer and filmmaker based in Bath whose clients include Disney, Nickelodeon and Land Rover. We talk to him about how he got here, all things animation and what the future of the craft holds.

A lifelong obsession

We grew up watching Looney Tunes, which was quite violent and weirdly surreal in retrospect. Me and my brother had a Super8 camera and we wanted to recreate that fun, so we’d take off and make stupid films in the woods and fields near our house.

Since then, I’ve always had a fascination with cameras. I just love the joining together of tech and art. My Dad’s friend lent me a camera – an EOS 1000D – which was one of the first electronic Canon cameras. That was back in 1992. When he asked for it back, I was heartbroken, so I saved up and bought my own. It was the beginning of a life-long obsession. Of course, everything’s digital now, but I still have my old medium-format cameras.

Everything is possible

I just love visual culture and graphics, it’s so wide now. Thirty years ago, you were just a photographer. Now, with the democratisation of platforms, anybody can create anything they want from their laptop. Just take the time to teach yourself, and off you go.

I never plan anything

Everything in my life is unplanned. I go through life waking up thinking, ‘I’ll just do that.’ My decisions in life are completely random, much to the chagrin of my wife! But there is method in my madness. I write lists, leave them, then come back to them, sometimes years later, and it’s happened. I really believe that things will happen when the time is right.

I’ve worked for some big names, and again, it hasn’t always been planned. You meet people and get on. You do a job and it works well, and you begin to work up a network. However, I’m not afraid of bailing if it doesn’t feel right. It’s a matter of trusting your instincts.

I teach my kids that happy accidents are where the magic happens. You have to give yourself the time to play, to experiment. It’s those times when the solution almost presents itself to you like an ‘ahhh’ in an angelic voice, that are the best.

Animation is like a signature

There are a million ways you can tell your brand story, and good animation doesn’t come cheap. But the best way for people to retain things is if you give them something attractive or funny and animation lends itself to visual gags – we drop them in all the time. And of course, you can take people anywhere with animation, it doesn’t have to be physically available to film or photograph and it’s unique to you.

The future’s about the craft and the tech

There are a plethora of platforms for small budgets like Biteable, explainer video apps, whiteboard videos, and these platforms that will do many things for you.

While those things are useful, if you really want something special, there’s still no substitute for professionals who’ll sit down and think about scenes, how the story plays out, the message, the craft.

Using game engines like Unreal Engine for live action has really taken off. Until recently it was just used for making PS4 and Xbox games but it’s now widely available. With it, you can be filming with any camera, hooked up to your computer and create virtual scenes which are fully lit and rendered.

It’s a brilliant piece of kit. Whichever way you pan, all the perspectives are worked out for you, so you essentially control the view for the digital camera. It means that you can film real people and they are instantly placed within this VR environment. A great example of this is Disney’s The Mandalorian. They use an enormous LED screen bigger than a five-storey building. They build a VR set on the screen, then put the actor in place, and film him within the VR set. No special effects required – it’s literally created with a film and a camera.

My other obsession…

…is cheese. It’s soul food and I make the best grilled cheese sandwich within a hundred miles. Who knows, I might put a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant on my to-do list, and it might have happened in a few years’ time.


Sigh Jones was talking to Associate Director, Helen Fripp.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]