About two or three years ago I decided I wanted to create a viral video to promote The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil. The original plan was to take a scene from the story and make a short film. Ideally the scene selected should show something of the nature of the story, its humour, how the magic works, how it’s not bloody Harry Potter with sparks coming out of wands. All that stuff.

Well making a live action film soon proved impractical so I decided on an animation. I built a 3D model of a Victorian back alley so I could use it as a virtual film set by taking shots from different angles. Google SketchUp proved pretty easy to learn and I soon had all the background images. Next thing I spent a summer trying to learn Flash animation which proved beyond me so I gave that up as a bad job. (Oh yes, in the mean time I actually had a job for part of this time so that took it’s toll on progress.) Next thing I had to learn Photoshop to paint the sky, delete all the little construction artefacts, joins in wall panels, etc. That took a year on and off including a twelve week evening class.


Finally, around Yule 2011, I had all the backgrounds and was ready to start drawing the figures. (The final plan was not to have them move or to bother with dialogue so speech bubbles were the obvious way ahead.) I wanted the figures to wear the specific clothes that they wear in the book; a flying jacket and a sailors reefer coat. The web was the obvious place to find the images but I had a stroke of luck that I found a couple of TV programmes where the actors wore the coats I wanted to feature. So I ended up with stills from TV and filled in the gaps with photos from other sources where they didn’t include the angles I wanted. Of course at this time I realised that using faces of specific people for each character meant that I could find the expressions I wanted and trace them rather than drawing them from scratch. I’m really not sure where I stand on copyright having traced photos so I’m not saying who they are but if you want to Facebook me privately I might be prepared to confirm or deny a guess but no more than that. Hopefully the faces are changed enough to disguise who they are.

Anyway, it took a year to draw the figures ending just about Yule 2012. Then someone suggested that I needed a soundtrack. I looked into music but it was all too challenging to find something of the right length and tone. However, I’ve got a sound editing suite that I bought for preparing music for parties so that seemed the obvious choice. The sound of raindrops (unrealistically loud but you can’t really hear light rain), cat noises and lightning were all easy to find and it was a matter of an evening or so to come up with the sound track.


So here it is, three years in the making, almost as long as it took to write the book that’s it’s intended to promote. However, since my first ever book (non fiction back in 1989) described the idea of the information virus I might have accidentally invented viral marketing before the technology existed to make it possible. Was fate waiting for me to make the viral video before I could have my big break? You decide. Here’s the video. You might need to enlarge it to full screen to read the captions.