Sunday, 21 July 2013

Aardman

Back in November/December, I was lucky enough to be offered some work with Aardman Animations, and it was every bit as cool as I thought it would be. I worked a little on the Ad below, though my contributions weren't particularly game changing (I made all of the sheep's purple eyelids seen at around the 30 second mark, and cleaned up some of Wallace's mouth pieces) I enjoyed myself immensely though, and it was a pretty big step up from filming in the basement of a student house at 3 in the morning...
 I also had a crack at making my own Wallace and Gromit, (just the heads, Wallace's body was pre-made) which was a hell of a lot harder than it looks, the most difficult thing was getting the heads perfectly clean and smooth, and keeping them that way. Still, I learned a hell of a lot in a short time, and picked up a few sexy new model making techniques.
 Unfortunately there weren't any spare Gromit noses lying around, so I had to improvise by making a plasticine one of equal size and polishing the crap out of it, it's not quite the same, but it did the trick.
 My next endeavour was to spent about a week doing some test animations with Morph, making him was relatively easy, having made him several times before (though this time I was shown the exact amount of plasticine needed to make him the right size) animating him was quite tricky, as he has no armature and falls apart at least once every 15 frames, so I ended up making about 12 different Morphs and decided to have three of them interacting with one another. Not exactly Oscar winning stuff, but it was great and invaluable experience nonetheless.
video
My last task was two weeks of test animations with one of the background characters from 'The Pirates', and even though it was a background character, the puppet was no less advanced and was by far the best puppet I have ever worked with. It was the first time I have ever worked with a puppet that wasn't made out of plasticine (except the forehead, the rest of the head was 3D printed) and the foam latex body didn't require re-sculpting every 8 bloody seconds. The puppet was also far more articulate than I'm used to, as it weighed a lot less and had a proper professional armature inside it, so I was able to make it do a lot of things far easier (and MUCH faster) than I could with a plasticine character with a wire armature.

All in all, I enjoyed every second I spent with Aardman, I learned a lot of new tricks and techniques, met some great people (including Nick Park and Peter Lord, with whom I shared an impromptu Christmas dinner) and it left me very hungry for more work with professional studios.

Oh, and I drank an obscene amount of free tea, which is always nice...

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