Simon's Cat and His Talented Creator Simon Tofield
Cats are among my favorites in life. They run the gamut from playful and silly to dramatic and arrogant. They are excellent communicators but only to those who take the time to notice the nuances. Cat lovers who are attuned to their felines will be generously rewarded with true affection and companionship peppered with humor and unpredictability.
My early morning habit is checking e-mail while enjoying my cup of coffee. I savor the peace and quiet before the rest of the family wakes up. I happened to open a link to a YouTube posting entitled Cat Man Do and found myself spewing latte and laughing aloud! Rarely have I seen anyone nail cat behavior so perfectly! This was my introduction to the creative genius of Simon Tofield, and I continue to be a huge fan today.
Tofield is a British animator and the director of Tandem Films, a commercial studio in London. Cat Man Do was his first flash-animated film short about a hungry cat's attempts to wake up his owner. It won Best Comedy in the 2008 British Animation Awards. It was also this serendipitous effort inspired by his own kitten, Hugh, that went on to launch the character of "Simon's Cat."
What had started as practice with new animation software ended up going viral after someone absconded with the video. Little did he know at the time that this first post on YouTube would get 3 million hits. Apparently there are many other cat fans in cyberspace!
The animated short that started it all:
Simon's real cat inspiration:
Simon began drawing cartoons as a child and got his first cat at nine. He studied animation and graphic arts at De Montfort University in Leicester, England and started with simple animation flip books. His life-long interest in the outdoors and animals ,especially cats, has helped him develop a keen sense of feline behavior. He finds endless subjects to animate from the antics of his own four cats: Jess, Maisy, Hugh, and Teddy.
Simon, who has been drawing his cats for years, produces his computer images on a Wacom tablet with a Wacom pen then he plays them back at 25 frames per second. That's a lot of drawing! His great ear for cat language enables him to reproduce the sounds himself. They are recorded and dropped into the films by his sound engineer, Russell Pay, from Shrooty. It takes between 6-8 weeks to make an animated short.
Including Cat Man Do, he has produced 75 films and continues to introduce more on a regular basis. Among them are: Let Me In, TV Dinner, Hot Spot, Hop-it, Cat in the Box, Snow Business, Cat & Mouse, Santa Claws, and, two recommended personal favorites: Fly Guy and Hidden Treasure. He occasionally features dogs which are characteristically simple-minded and in search of food. Fed Up, a 2008 contribution to the RSPCA "Give an Animal a Voice" campaign, sends the important message to not overfeed your dogs with table scraps during the holidays. The arrival of a new kitten brings a comic twist beginning with the animation short Double Trouble, and a large and over-zealous tabby, inspired by Simon's own cat Maisy, was recently introduced in the short film Tough Love. Simon's cat remains purposely unnamed so that viewers can identify him with their own favorite felines.
In 2013, Mr.Tofield donated over $56,000.00 to a British children's hospital through the auction of his work entitled "Doodles." His devotion to stray cats is apparent in his own charities and his Sponsor-A-Cat Program. Those who may not be able to have a cat can still help fund the care of sick and needy felines.
Simon finished his first 12 minute color animation short called Off to the Vet in 2015. It was an ambitious undertaking considering his use of the traditional frame to frame process of 25 per second. The projected cost of production was $472,000.00, and he successfully raised that through crowd-funding via IndieGOGO. It went on to earn The McLaren Award for Best British Animation at the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Mr. Tofield and The Endemol Shine Group, Good Catch, just announced the 2018 release of the mobile game Simon's Cat Dash. It challenges players to collect costumed cats by outrunning dogs and acing capers throughout the house, garden, and neighborhood in search of butterflies to impress Simon's love interest. No doubt, Tofield's whimsical animation and humor will insure that it matches or exceeds that of his popular 2017 puzzle game Crunch Time.
When everyday stresses start to wear you down, take a break by viewing these hilarious online animated short films, play a game, or treat yourself to his humorous books and calendars. I guarantee they will all make you smile!
Simon's Cat Philanthropy:
This animated short is from the 2008 RSPCA campaign "Give An Animal A Voice." It highlights the cruelty and danger of overfeeding dogs with table scraps during
© 2011 Catherine Tally