Project Author: Conrad Molleson
Production year: 2014
Executive producer: Eva Riley
Director: Conrad Molleson
Camera: Adam Gierasimiuk
Editor: Ulli Keil
Author of the script: Conrad Molleson
Musical composer: Conrad Molleson
Script: Rachel McIntyre
Animators: Alex Bannerman, Katie Charter
Colourists: Rosie Walters, Emma Herman Smith
Additional Voice Actors: Len McCaffer, Lula Molleson, Angus Miller, Doug Hudson, Andy Moore
Rock Opera’s journey through time describes an episode of Scotland’s history as seen through the eyes of Sarah, a ten-year old girl. During her adventures she discovers the struggles between James Hutton and Robert Jamieson, encountering singing rocks, talking crows and a boxing match in her riotous exploits.
Take a subject that’s really popular, such as music. Combine this with something considered less immediate , like geology. Then bring the mix to a target group that are really difficult to reach, for example, young kids with autism. Go for walks with them, take drawings, jot down some ideas, make sketches, record sounds, animate these, cleaning these up and you get Rock Opera.
The first aim when developing Rock Opera was to make it accessible. If it works for a 12 year old autistic child then there’s a good bet that it will work across a wider audience demographic. We developed short animations with lower secondary pupils from Kaimes ASL school and Prospect Bank. With these clips under our belt we approached a sponsor who was passionate about geology (Malcolm Rider). We also applied for support from Heritage Lottery Fund and ran a crowd funding campaign.
This was sufficient to assemble a creative team and get us started on the making of the animation, which took the best part of a year. Colourists, animators, sound designers were assembled. The first app was developed in partnership with the Appstillery based in Glasgow by adapting Makka Mappa, and interactive GPS location based app which we made specific to our target group. Heriot Watt Uni kindly lent us some iPhones and we trialled it on location, up on Arthurs Seat, with a variety of kids of different age and ability, who effectively broke it. After much going back and forth with bug-fixing we launched it at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Three years on and several pitches later Dynamic Earth have seen the merit and value in what we have developed and we’ve combined forces to develop the upgrade version of the app in partnership with Former Droid. A game, also developed with Former Droid, playable on iOS and Android platforms is to follow shortly. All the assets are available to download from the rock opera website.