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APSU professor contributes to BBC animated special, “The Highway Rat”

Promo poster for "The Highway Rat"

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Christmas day, when four million Britons saw a talking rat on the telly, they also glimpsed the creative work of an Austin Peay State University professor. That evening, BBC One broadcast the animated special “The Highway Rat,” based on a popular British children’s book, and Scott Raymond, APSU assistant professor of animation and former DreamWorks animator, contributed about 20 seconds to the movie.

“Toward the end of the film, in the final sequence, there are three shots I did with the Highway Rat and a couple of other characters,” Raymond said. “I animated the characters—make them move, give them expressions, look around. I’m one cog in this whole process.”

The Daily Telegraph gave the film four stars, saying it was “Delightfully told by Magic Light Pictures.” That company partnered with Triggerfish Animation, a South African animation studio that recently earned a Best Animated Short Film Oscar nomination, to produce the film staring famed British actors David Tennant and Rob Brydon. Triggerfish contacted Raymond last summer to help them finish the 30-minute film.

“What happens with most freelance work I get is, deadlines are approaching and the studio needs some overflow work,” Raymond said. “It’s real short term. We call it ‘911 work.’ For me, it was only about three weeks.”

The project came at a time when Raymond was preparing for the fall semester and moving into a new office and animation studio in the recently finished Art + Design Building. During this busy period, he spent about eight hours a day figuring out how the characters would move and react to certain situations. Then he animated those performances.

“In my Animation One class, I tell my students that as an animator, you’re a director, an actor, a screenwriter and a cinematographer,” he said.

Raymond came to APSU in 2015 to help build the Department of Art + Design’s animation program. He was a good fit, considering he’s worked on animated features, such as “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.” Since arriving at Austin Peay, he has also animated on a spot for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards and a ride at the PortAventura Theme Park.

At Austin Peay, the animation program continues to grow, with the University offering its new visual effects and digital 3D classes next fall. The Department of Art + Design is working to eventually offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in animation.

For more information on animation at APSU, contact Raymond at raymonds@apsu.edu.

Scott Raymond works with student