Behind the Scenes of Bertie the Cathedral Cat: A Chichester Christmas Tale

19th Dec 2023
News category
We're taking you behind the scenes to discover the making of Bertie the Cathedral Cat: A Chichester Christmas Tale!

Hear from the talented team who bought Bertie's story to life, including Sussex-based illustrator Chloe Robertson, our animator Daniel Boss and the storyteller himself, Interim Dean of Chichester, The Reverend Simon Holland.

Behind the story | Interim Dean of Chichester, The Reverend Simon Holland

"My part in the process was quite an easy one, because so much of the story is true.  Bertie really does follow me up St Richard's Walk to the Cathedral and he does get very upset when I have to leave him in the Cloisters!  He's a very friendly cat and thoroughly enjoys saying good morning to the Cathedral staff and welcoming those who pass The Deanery. He's 15 now, but he still has lots of energy and a very good appetite.

Bertie, a brown and white tabby cat, follows Interim Dean up St Richard's walk - a stone walkway leading to the Cathedral

The highlight was being given the chance to read the story in the Cathedral to a live audience. It was lovely seeing so many children and their parents and care givers, and I was amazed how many of them had been following Bertie's adventures during Advent.

People sit at the front of the Cathedral Nave, in front of the Advent wreath and listen to Interim Dean reading a story.

I was amazed by the final video!  It was so professional and the illustrations by Chloe Robertson were absolutely perfect. My own family have enjoyed watching it and sharing it with their friends.  I'm so grateful to the Cathedral team and to all those who've worked so hard to bring Bertie's story to life."

Behind the illustration | Chloe Robertson

"I was approached by Chichester Cathedral to illustrate some scenes for a new animation. Having worked together on previous projects, I had a rough idea about how to approach the illustrations for Bertie’s story. I just needed to know the settings needed, scene sizes, and an idea of how many positions were required for the main characters.

I produced rough sketches (loosely based on supplied photographs) in pencil at the beginning of the process, and then I worked up those concepts in gouache and coloured pencil.

Chloe Robertson, who has brown hair and glasses, colours in her illustration of the Chagall window with a red pencil. The table has pencils, paintbrushes and paints on.

The challenges were getting the different illustrations to feel cohesive, particularly when there were multiple positions of the same characters. Also, I was conscious not to over-work the illustrations so they retained movement and energy.

The highlight for me is the process of expressing myself through drawing and painting – bringing everything to life. It’s what makes me tick, my happy place. Also, being part of the team and seeing everyone’s hard work come together was the icing on the cake.

A table with paints, paintbrushes, pencils and paper with illustrations from Bertie the Cathedral Cat's story

It was so great to see the animation launch, see the characters moving and hear the very touching story, beautifully read. It has a nostalgic, comforting and inclusive feel to it."

Behind the animation | Daniel Boss

"I had the pleasure of bringing Chloe’s beautiful illustrations to life.

The first step in my process was to produce a storyboard for each of the 8 individual scenes which will later be put together into one big film. Creating a storyboard is a huge help in visually guiding you throughout the story and saves a lot of time before you edit.

A corner of aMac laptop, next to black and white storyboards depicting Bertie the Cathedral Cat's story

Next, using animation software on Adobe After Effects I brought Bertie and his friends to life. I then finally put the animated clips together on Premier Pro.

Whilst I have animated for the cathedral in previous Christmas videos throughout the years, I hadn’t animated in this much detail before. The goal was to animate the characters whilst still keeping the illustrative feel and not too lifelike. This complex challenge took some time to learn, however it was a lot of fun when it all came together in the end.

Screenshot of Adobe After Effects interface with an illustration of Bertie, a brown and white tabby cat

I am very pleased with how the whole film came together. The combination of the illustrations, music and voiceover nicely portrays Bertie’s life round the Cathedral."

19th Dec 2023
News category