Mr Jack McGrath

Mr Jack McGrath

Lecturer

School of Creative Industries

From the lecture theatre to the big screen

Jack McGrath’s childhood love for stop-motion animation is now helping filmmakers explore new creative frontiers, merging traditional filmmaking techniques with the latest technologies.

Jack McGrath

Stop-motion is a filmmaking technique that’s been around for well over a century, giving us classic movies such as Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. Since its beginnings, the technique has been constantly evolving. University of Newcastle lecturer, Jack McGrath, is on the forefront of this evolution through his work in education, research and as the founder of Sydney-based production company, Conceptavision.

“Stop-motion animation involves taking photographs of a subject, one frame at a time, then stitching them together to create a film,” explains Jack.

“I love how it brings together so many art and design mediums into the one field: from miniature set design, drawing, photography and sculpture to lighting and sound design.”

Jack’s frequent cross-disciplinary collaborations have allowed for traditional and modern techniques to collide in new ways. He works with a range of artisans, from glass artists to sound designers, to push the creative boundaries.

“I’m interested in how new technologies – such as virtual reality and 3D printing – are being merged with traditional techniques. My work is focused on how the physical material processes of animation stay relevant while incorporating these new practices.”

Collisions of old and new

Jack’s collaborative research has resulted in first-of-their-kind films and received global attention. In partnership with glass artist Mark Eliott, Jack produced one of the world’s first glass stop-motion animations. Another recent collaboration sees Jack working with media artist and academic at the University of Sydney, Andrew Robards, and director and academic at the University of Technology Sydney, Matt Gidney, who has worked on big budget feature films such as the Lego Movie and The Clone Wars series. The trio are experimenting with new and emerging technologies such as 3D printing and stereoscopic installations using 3D movie technology.

“For this new work, we are investigating how the materiality and sense of touch inherent in stop-motion animation can be harnessed and perhaps even strengthened by new technologies as we move into the future.”

Together with his international colleagues, the stop-motion practitioner’s work is also raising questions about how we value hand-crafted and physical objects in our increasingly digital world.

“With the rapid escalation of technology away from the physical, tactile, and tangible, what does the experience of the handcrafted, the material and the haptic mean to us? What is the advantage of keeping such art-making practices alive in the twenty-first century for artisans and audiences?”

In his role as university lecturer, and in animation workshops he has run in the past with school students, Jack often sees how stop-motion’s tactile nature provides a unique and valuable learning opportunity.

“Combining the handcrafted with modern-day technologies provides an accessible point for people of all ages and skill levels to get involved in the filmmaking process and communicate with audiences effectively.”

Movies with meaning

Many of Jack’s films aim to raise awareness of current global issues such as health and wellbeing, or environmental protection. He’s helped schools share health messages with their students, helped communities tell their stories, and recently collaborated with a Denmark-based charity for his film Dr Mermaid and the Abovemarine to screen on an “art ship”: raising environmental awareness among young people.

“The art ship sailed from town to town in Denmark and invited young students on board to learn about art and the importance of protecting deep sea life. In addition to being an educational film, Dr Mermaid showcases the value of working with tangible materials.”

For his stop-motion animated film Dr Mermaid and the Abovemarine, Jack and Mark Eliott created a novel way to inform children and adults globally about the dangers of plastic pollution. The duo developed techniques that fused glass flamework with stop-motion animation and digital image capture. The film was screened in galleries in Australia, New York and Denmark.

“By combining modern-day digital and other technologies with the craft and storytelling art of stop-motion animation, my research has allowed for new ways to tell important stories.”

From his small beginnings as a curious 12-year-old experimenting with clay stop-motion animation, to a renowned stop-motion practitioner whose work is watched and loved around the world, Jack continues to push the boundaries of stop-motion. Jack currently has several film projects on the horizon and continues to welcome industry collaborations that allow messages to be told in creative, effective, and meaningful ways.

“There is something very exciting about bringing a film into the world: all of the ideas, frustrations, craft and emotions behind the film consolidate and appear as one, on the screen. The film then has a life of its own.”

From the lecture theatre to the big screen

Jack McGrath’s childhood love for stop-motion animation is now helping filmmakers explore new creative frontiers, merging traditional filmmaking techniques with the latest technologies.

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Career Summary

Biography

Jack McGrath has a background in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and has lectured in film and animation for a number of years at the University of Sydney, Australian Film Television and Radio School and The University of Technology Sydney. McGrath’s background in fine arts has led to a unique experimental style of animation, working and collaborating with other artists in different disciplines has given birth to a different perspective and aesthetic in animation. He has written and directed a wide range of short films that have been screened around Australia and internationally, and has founded the company Conceptavision; a Sydney based production company that creates animation and video content for academic institutions, non for profit organisations and businesses. 


Qualifications

  • Master of Fine Arts, University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours Class 1, University of Sydney

Keywords

  • Animation
  • Director
  • Documentary
  • Drone
  • Miniatures
  • Motion Control
  • Stop Motion
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Time-lapse
  • UAV
  • Video Production
  • Visual Arts

Languages

  • English (Mother)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
080111 Virtual Reality and Related Simulation 20
190202 Computer Gaming and Animation 80

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Creative Industries
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
24/9/2014 - 24/10/2014 Guest Lecturer

 Video editing classes for Photomedia 3rd year and honors students.

National Art School
Photomedia
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
10/10/2015 - 10/11/2022 Chief Controller UAVs (Drone Pilot)

In charge of safety and chief of all UAV operations. Certified by CASA as chief controller.

Conceptavision
Conceptavision
Australia
24/9/2008 -  Director

 • Developing, co-managing and growing animation and video production

   business, Conceptavision

 • Projects completed to date have included animation and video production for

   documentaries, conferences, promotion, major launch events, not-for-profit

   health education and online course content

 • Networking and development of collaborative opportunities with universities

   and not-for-profits

 • For more information visit www.conceptavision.com.</p>

Conceptavision
Conceptavision
Australia

Teaching appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/10/2015 - 31/8/2019 Lecturer

• Undergraduate lecturer for studio animation within the Bachelor of Animation
• Postgraduate lecturer for animation students within the Masters of Design
• Lectures and tutorials in the Master of Design in a number of subject areas
   including stop-motion animation, 2D animation, digital effects, digital editing,
   installation, projection mapping, lighting, script writing, sound design,
   concepts, motion graphics, video craft and photography.

University of Technology Sydney
Design, Architecture and the Built Environment
Australia
24/9/2008 - 24/10/2018 Lecturer

Lecturing in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs in a number of

different subject areas including stop-motion animation, 2D animation, digital

effects, digital editing, foundation concepts, animation history, film theory,

installation, photography, motion graphics, sound design and video craft.

Course Coordinator of various programs.

The University of Sydney
Sydney College of the Arts
Australia
24/9/2009 - 24/10/2016 Lecturer

Teaching primary and high school students film production and animation:

theory and technique.

Training public school teachers in film production and animation software.

Creating and developing educational film production teaching modules and

units.

Curating the end of year exhibition and animation screening in the University

of Sydney’s Great Hall.

The University of Sydney
Social Inclusion Unit
Australia
24/9/2013 - 24/10/2015 Tutor

Lecturing 3D animation and game design as part of the AFTRS Open Program.

Students aged 13 – 17.

Lecturing stop-motion animation and video production and editing in schools

to high school students on behalf of AFTRS.

Australian Film Television and Radio School
Film, Television & Digital Media
Australia
1/1/2015 - 24/10/2015 Lecturer

 Lecturing in animation fundamentals, game design and game theory.

JMC Academy
Animation
Australia
1/1/2015 - 24/11/2015 Lecturer

 Stop-motion animation workshops.

Sydney Film School
Film and Animation
Australia
24/9/2014 - 1/8/2019 Guest Lecturer

Guest master class lecturer for Global Media course, Centre for International

Security Studies.

The University of Sydney
Economics and Political Science
Australia
24/9/2016 - 24/10/2017 Guest Lecturer

 Stop-motion animation guest lecturer.

University of New South Wales
Faculty of Art and Design

Awards

Nomination

Year Award
2019 Finalist Excellence in Innovation
NSW Business Chamber Business Awards Regional 2019 Sydney city region
2019 Finalist Excellence in Micro Business
NSW Business Chamber Business Awards Regional Sydney City
2018 Finalist Outstanding Young Entrepreneur
NSW Business Chamber Business Awards Regional 2019 Sydney city region
2018 Finalist Excellence in Innovation
NSW Business Chamber Business Awards Regional 2019 Sydney city region
2018 Finalist Excellence in Innovation
NSW Business Chamber Business Awards Regional 2019 Sydney city region
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Conference (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 McGrath J, Andrew R, 'Exploring the physicality of the cinematic space through miniatures', University Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias in Lisbon, Portugal (2019)
2017 McGrath J, 'The Movement Between The Frames: Limited animation and the un-scene between', Università degli Studi di Padova Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali, Padova, Italy (2017)
2017 McGrath J, De Windt D, Der Derian J, 'Creating a global media network for peace and security', Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark (2017)
2016 McGrath J, 'Understanding the Universe through Animation: from Surrealism to Quantum Mechanics', College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2016)
2015 McGrath J, 'Animation and artworks: exhibiting the process, the materials and the artwork as installation.', Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom (2015)
Show 2 more conferences

Creative Work (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 McGrath J, Eliott M, Dr Mermaid and the Abovemarine, Exhibition window display at 107 Projects Redfern, Sydney, 107 Projects Redfern, Sydney (2019)
2019 McGrath J, Shadbolt J, Foulcher N, Lightscape, Break Block Park, Newcastle, Australia (2019) [J1]
Co-authors Jane Shadbolt
2019 McGrath J, Robards A, The Lobby, Convento De Sao Pedro, Lisbon, Portugal (2019)
2016 Eliott M, McGrath J, The Flame-ation Project: A look behind the scenes of glass animation, documentary., Screened at the 2016 Glass Art Society Conference in Corning, New York (2016)
Show 1 more creative work

Other (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 McGrath J, Eliott M, 'Screening of glass animation documentary material', (2014) [O1]
2013 Eliott M, McGrath J, 'Screening and presentation of original artwork and glass stop-motion film.', (2013) [O1]
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 2
Total funding $66,006

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20201 grants / $5,000

Faculty of Education and Arts New Start Grant$5,000

Zagreb Animafest and Melbourne RMIT research trips.

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme New Start Grants
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20191 grants / $61,006

Lightscape: Brake Block Park$61,006

Funding body: Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation

Funding body Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation
Project Team Doctor Nicholas Foulcher, Doctor Jane Shadbolt, Mr Jack McGrath
Scheme Newcastle Port Community Contribution
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo G1900438
Type Of Funding C2220 - Aust StateTerritoryLocal - Other
Category 2220
UON Y
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Mr Jack McGrath

Position

Lecturer
School of Creative Industries
Faculty of Education and Arts

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