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Watch BBC’s World Cup tapestry animation created by LCF staff and students

Watch BBC’s World Cup tapestry animation created by Fashion Textiles staff and students

Written by Josh De Souza Crook
Published date 23 May 2018

Words by Jo Sait

Andrew Kenny, pathway leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Embroidery and managing director of The London Embroidery Studio, was approached by BBC Creative to make a test frame for an embroidered stop-frame animation, celebrating the 2018 World Cup. This created frame went on to be the successful bid and the studio began working with production company Blinkink to create a one-minute embroidered animation.

The idea was to create football’s version of the Bayeux Tapestry being produced by a fantastical futuristic embroidery machine. It shows a stitched history of the World Cup, starting with Maradona’s legendary and infamous goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, and ending with a dramatic cosmic clash between two of the world’s best players: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pele animated by Andrew Kenny and his team for BBC.

Pele animated by Andrew Kenny and his team for BBC.

In between, the film bursts with references that football fans the world over will recall and recognise: Gazza’s tears; Roger Milla’s celebratory dances; Bobby Charlton lifting the cup; Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in 2010; Gotze’s 2014 winning goal; Vikings celebrating Iceland’s first ever World Cup qualification; and Liverpool’s favourite, Mohamed Salah, standing alone on the pitch, hands raised in his iconic pose.

The London Embroidery Studio, led by director Andrew Kenny and Senior Embroidery Designer Lucie McKenna, embroidered 650 frames at 28cmx19cm, in just over three weeks. For this immense task, the studio hired 14 extra embroiderers, including LCF students to digitise and stitch the frames. Each frame took between two to three hours to digitise, and another two to three hours to stitch using the studio’s state-of-the-art digital embroidery machines.

Messi and Ronaldo animated for BBC.

Messi and Ronaldo animated for BBC.

The studio also made two large-scale frames for the beginning and end sequences of the animation, which will become the first and last parts of a 5.5-metre tapestry. The tapestry will be exhibited at the National Football Museum, Manchester in the summer. Andrew spoke to us after the BBC animation aired, he told us:

“It was really exciting to work on the project but we had an extremely short turnaround of three weeks to make 608 different embroideries. We had to run the machines 23hrs a day and had two teams running them and another, larger team doing all the digitising for the embroideries. Some of the frames, particularly the pink Gazza ones and the black ‘three kings’ ones took longer than 3 hours to stitch and up to 6hrs to digitise which is mad as each one is only on the screen for a 16th of a second! Overall It was difficult keeping momentum and at times it felt like an impossible task but we all came together and everyone worked so hard, but we managed it and it was actually quite good fun as we had such a great group of people! LCF is such a wonderful place for students who like to work hard to learn technical skills to a really high standard and in a really creative and professional way. I couldn’t have asked for a better team and I feel so proud of everyone involved.”

The following LCF students and graduates from BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles Embroidery took part in this project:

Senior Embroidery Designer

Lucie McKenna, graduate 2011
Embroidery Designers:

Giverney Volrath, graduate, 2015
Beth Wilson, graduate 2016

Embroidery Digitisers

Constance Burger, 2nd year
Yu-Ting Wang, third year
Shonaegh Stewart, third year
Sarah Newsome, third year
Ami Waring, graduate, 2016

Assistants

Jubai Haja, BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Embroidery 2nd year
Xiyu Zheng, BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Embroidery 2nd year

Alumni can connect with LCF in the following ways: