Morph returns to children’s TV after 15 years

Aardman’s classic character Morph returns to CBBC and a brand new generation of fans.

Morph on telly

Everyone’s favourite terracotta clay hero, Morph, will return to the small screen on CBBC. The new adventures of Morph will be broadcast on the channel next month.

Morph is returning home to the BBC after more than 15 years away from our television screens. Originally created in 1977 by Aardman, Morph first appeared on the BBC Children’s art programme ‘Take Hart’ alongside the artist and presenter Tony Hart.

Staying true to the original format, the new episodes are shot using clay and traditional stop-frame animation at Morph’s original home at the Aardman studios in Bristol.

Peter Lord, Aardman Co-founder and Co-creator of Morph said; “Both Morph and I are equally delighted that his latest adventures are back on the BBC. Although he’s been away for a while, I’m delighted to report that he’s as lively and full-of-fun as ever – and rather more youthful than his creators! It’s fantastic to see him back in his rightful home.”

Cheryl Taylor Controller of CBBC said; “CBBC are delighted that Morph is back on our screens this year. His playful and curious persona has always been a delight and we know that viewers of all ages will welcome him with open arms.”

The new series launched in the summer after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised over £110,000 which part-funded 15 brand new one-minute episodes. The episodes, which have been released throughout the second half of 2014 on Morph’s very own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/MorphOfficial) have been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.

Follow MORPH
YouTube: www.youtube.com/morphofficial
Website: www.amazingmorph.com |Facebook: www.facebook.com/amazingmorph
Twitter: www.twitter.com/amazingmorph | Instagram: @amazingmorph

Morph takes up photography

 

Morph, the classic children’s character created by Bristol-based Aardman Animations, has taken up photography in his brand new episode.

Morph the photographer

‘Sloped World’, is the thirteenth episode in the series of 15 one minute short films to be launched on Morph’s YouTube channel and features Morph and his side-kick Chas honing their photographic skills using a Canon EOS 550D.

Creative Director on the new Morph episodes, Merlin Crossingham said: “When Morph was first created back in 1977, he lived on an artist’s desk alongside ordinary, everyday things like pencils, paints, modelling clay, books and mugs. The new episodes feature Morph on an artist’s desk in a corner of the Aardman Studios in the current day, where along with the paint, pencils and mugs, you’d also expect to find a few electronic items. We asked for feedback on storylines from our Kickstarter backers, and many seemed to agree that Morph would get up to mischief with modern-day gadgets as we received lots of story suggestions featuring mobile phones and digital cameras.”

Merlin adds: “When we came to produce the props for Sloped World, we wanted to stick with the found object approach so we looked at real cameras for Morph and Chas to find. We shoot our animation with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV but it was too big next to Morph for the shot composition so we chose our much smaller EOS 550D as the prop.

Merlin continues: “The entire new Morph series was shot on Canon EOS 1D Mark IV cameras over three months. The EOS 1D Mark IV has a very stable live video feed which gives vital reference for stop motion animation. We actually capture each frame as a raw file which allows us to then out put our final films at any resolution up to 4K with no fuss. It sounds a bit mean but the best thing about the cameras is that you forget that they are there, they just do the job well.”

Guido Jacobs, Country Director at Canon UK & Ireland says: “It’s great to see that Morph is brushing up on his cameras skills in the latest episode and using Canon equipment to do so. We were delighted that the EOS 550D was chosen as a camera for Morph to use as we’re big fans of the series here at Canon. Morph is a complex programme to film and the EOS 1D Mark IV allows Aardman to achieve the best results while staying true to Morph’s traditional stop motion animation.”

The new Morph series launched in the summer, after a successful campaign on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website raised over £110,000 which part-funded 15 brand new episodes. Staying true to the original format, the new episodes are shot using clay and traditional stop-frame animation at Morph’s original home at the Aardman studios in Bristol. Morph first appeared on our TV screens back in 1977 when his creators Peter Lord and David Sproxton produced short films for the BBC children’s art programme, Take Hart with Tony Hart.

‘Sloped World’ is on Morph’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/MorphOfficial.

Aardman are also running a fab competition to win the very same camera on Morph’s Facebook page starting 5 January 2015.

The story of ‘Brigitte, Bruno and Ben’ animated by Lucy Izzard for Aardman

A 70 second film entitled “Brigitte, Bruno and Ben” tells the story of Ben who helps entrepreneur Brigitte in the ‘developing world’ by directly lending her just £10 through the website Deki.org.uk. Previously Brigitte struggled to feed her family on less than 80p a day.

The film was written and animated by Lucy Izzard for Aardman and Deki. This story emotionally engages the viewer by focusing on particular people and showing the positive effect a loan can have.

Deki loan 3 Deki loan 1 Deki loan 2

Animator Lucy Izzard was born in Sydney, Australia, and moved to the UK at the age of four. Creative from an early age, she spent most of her childhood in Kent, fashioning cuts and bruises out of her mother’s makeup for murder-mystery home videos. After graduating with a First class degree in Illustration and Animation, Lucy won the BBC Three New Talent Animator Award in 2005, and began working on short films and commercials for companies such as Slinky Pictures, 12foot6 and the BBC. She currently resides in Bristol with her family, where she continues her passion for animating in her work for ArthurCox and Aardman.

Lucy Izzard’s website: www.lucyizzard.co.uk

Watch the Deki film: youtu.be/iBrYjSeTpkU

Aardman create new film for Imperial War Museums

Aardman and ad agency Johnny Fearless have created a new film and campaign to promote IWM London and the new First World War Galleries (opening 19 July) and to commemorate the First World War Centenary.

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Flight of the Stories 1
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The 90-second film, “Flight of the Stories”, depicts the journey of personal stories and letters written by those who never left the fields of Northern France during the First World War.

In the film, ‘quotation mark’ characters symbolising these stories emerge as lines are read from letters and diaries entrusted to the museum by relatives during and at the end of the First World War. As the voices gather, the bird-like characters join to form a flock, taking flight across Northern France and the English Channel, over London, and finally resting at IWM London.

Paul Domenet, Executive Creative Director, Johnny Fearless, said:
“ We wanted to bring people to IWM London to see and hear the words of those who lived and died through the war for themselves and encourage them to reappraise the First World War in a way, which is different to the stereotypical mud and blood imagery. “

Aardman combined 2D illustrations and 3D CGI animation techniques to create a hybrid effect, bringing to life the bold landscapes and muted palettes of war artists from the era.

Darren Dubicki, Director, Aardman, adds: “We took an idea that was to create a powerful piece of imagery that is suggestive of the paintings from the era coming to life, and therefore a stunning promotional piece for the Museum’s commemoration plans.”

“Flight of the Stories” will be screened online and in cinemas from Monday 7 July as part of a multi-platform campaign supported by posters, press, radio and online ads promoting the new First World War Galleries.

The posters feature the stories of personal objects will run in Underground stations on cross-track and platform posters, tube cards and digital panels.

Johnny Fearless was appointed by the IWM in an AAR-organised pitch in April 2013.

“The film is both beautiful and poignant,” says Penny Hamilton, Head of Brand and Marketing, IWM. “I think it captures exactly what we were trying to convey – for whilst it is true that some of the people never made it back from the fighting front, their stories have, and it is our duty at IWM to ensure that they continue to be told. This what we will be doing in our new First World War Galleries.”

IWM London and the new First World War Galleries will reopen on 19 July 2014 ready to mark the official start of the Centenary commemorations.

Watch the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lZUTMS8uLA

Behind the Scenes of Maynards TV ad by Aardman

Aardman have created a miniature world bringing the hedgehog family to life with stopframe animation for Maynards Discovery Patch. These are a new range of fun-shaped fruit flavour jelly and foam sweets. The ad took nearly three weeks to shoot, frame by frame.

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Directors Karni and Saul had a very specific visual treatment in mind for the spot: “We were looking for a textured, intimate and handmade look so we decided to opt for needle felting finish which gives the puppets a realistic, yet cosy feel.

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“The challenge was creating a world – part hedgehog, part person – that humans can relate to. It was loads of fun coming up with the small details in the set like the nature themed elements.”

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The advert, which runs from 9th May, features a family of hedgehogs trying Maynards Discovery Patch for the first time and exploring the questions on pack. The ad has been produced by Aardman, the studio famous for popular characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph.

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The Maynards Discovery Patch range includes four themed variants – Discovery Patch Animals, Discovery Patch Body Bits, Discovery Patch Myths & Monsters and a multipack of treatsize Discovery Patch Mini Creatures. All packs feature fun facts or quizzes on the back of pack to inspire moments of family discovery. There is also a Maynards Discovery Patch app which you can unlock by scanning the pack, giving families an opportunity to discover even more through an augmented reality experience.

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The TV campaign is part of a £3 million UK media investment of this year, which will also include cinema, video on demand, out of home (close to stores), digital, experiential PR and in-store activity.

Kaitlin Williams, Brand Manager for Candy at Mondelēz International, said: “We’re hugely excited to be working with Aardman for our first TV campaign for Discovery Patch. The hedgehogs are the perfect fit with the quirky and curious personality of the product, and we expect the ad’s going to be a big hit with consumers.

Watch the ad: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGfGJIhZkb0

Making of the ad: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku7u2gygtAg

NFTS applications now open for 2014 course

Aardman Animations has hired three graduates from the 2013 NFTS Certificate in Character Animation.

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) has confirmed that it is to run its Certificate in Character Animation course in partnership with Aardman Animations following the successful of the inaugural course last year.

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The intensive 12- week course offering training for 12 CG and stop frame animators was launched last June to meet the growing demand for animation talent in the UK. The 2014 course will run from 15th Sept to 5th Dec 2014.

Taught at Aardman’s Bristol studios by industry professionals, tutors included Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists) with one-to one feedback sessions with Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park (an NFTS graduate), Peter Lord and Shelley Page (Dreamworks talent outreach).

The course also attracted top masterclass speakers such as and Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and six major animation companies including Sarah Fell (Series Producer, Turner, The Amazing Adventures of Gumball), Darren Walsh (Director Passion Pictures), Oli Hyatt (Co-owner Blue Zoo), Sarah Cox (Director at Arthur Cox) and Andy McEvoy (Supervising Animator, DNEG).

David Sproxton, Aardman co-founder and producer said: “This first Aardman/ NFTS animation course proved beyond doubt the effectiveness of linking a strong training institution with a first class industry player when it comes to high-level skills training. From the selection of the students to the finer points of the curriculum this was a very strong partnership. Having the students training alongside working professionals at our studio in Bristol was a great experience for everyone. The results speak for themselves, with excellent work being screened in the final showcase event, demonstrating imagination, verve and strength in character animation. We look forward greatly to running another course.”

The training gives 12 selected students the core practical skills needed to become professional animators. The majority of the course is practical with participants working on animation exercises to improve their skills, knowledge and experience. This is also supported by animation theory. It culminates in a short character animation sequence – pre-planned and boarded – to showcase the skills learnt during the course. You can view the 2013 student showreels here http://vimeo.com/81089765

Loyd Price, Aardman Head of Animation, added: “Without exception all of the students’ animation, acting and understanding of performance greatly improved over the 12 weeks and they produced a final sequence far in advance of what many of them believed they would ever have been capable of.”

Asked what were the highlights of the course, the students said:

“Having one-on-one time with legends like Nick Park and Peter Lord, the chance to pitch a feature film to them and be in a studio like Aardman every day.” (Adam Watts)

“I genuinely felt like I came away a better animator. ” (William O’Neill)

“Getting our work looked at and critiqued by Nick Park and Peter Lord was not only a rare opportunity but was a great experience.” (Hannah Wright)

“There’s just nothing to beat actually being at Aardman and standing in the lunch queue next to Nick Park.” (Alexandra Kogl)

This is one of six new courses launched by the NFTS last year with partners from the film and television industry. Many of these courses include employment opportunities and work placements for graduates.

NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “When students invest in education, they want to know there is a chance of a job when they graduate. The success of this NFTS course and the contracts offered by Aardman goes to show how valuable it is for film schools to partner with leading companies to train talented people for the UK’s growing film, television and games industries.”

Apply before JUNE 5th deadline for the NFTS Certificate in Character Animation in partnership with Aardman Animations. http://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/certificate/character-animation

National Accident Helpline / Aardman animation competition

Aardman animation competitionNational Accident Helpline has teamed up with Aardman to run an animation competition. Aspiring animators are being invited to create a short animation on the theme ‘Success against the odds’ for a chance to win an animation lover’s experience including a tour of the Aardman studios, ‘Make a morph’ workshop, original Morph artwork signed by Peter Lord, travel and accommodation. The winner and shortlisted entrants also get personalised feedback on their animation from Aardman.

More information and entry pack available here: http://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/success-against-the-odds

Entries must be submitted by 18 May 2014.

Aardman plan to bring back Morph

MorphFans of Aardman may remember Morph, the loveable clay character who could change into lots of different shapes.

After an amazing response from the public, Morph creator and Aardman co-founder Peter Lord is launching a campaign to bring Morph back for a new series of adventures!

Using Kickstarter, Peter is appealing to fans for backing in return for a host of exclusive rewards and the chance to be involved in the production process. Find out more on his Kickstarter page.

Scratch and the Yellow Dustbin released on YouTube

 

Yellow Dustbin is a seven minute animated film starring Scratch, Itch and Eve. It is the first Scratch film to be made in thirty years. Scratch last appeared on British television in 1983. In the meantime Scratch and his cartoon pals are alive and well, and appearing regularly as a strip cartoon in the Salisbury Journal.

Armed with a simple love story, Paul Thomas has set his new film in the town of Totnes, where the Scratch strip cartoons are published. Paul says the architecture proved to be ideal for the backgrounds creating a nostalgic English feel. The surreal images were inspired by Dada and psychedelia.

We asked Paul about the production of Yellow Dustbin.

David Jefferson: You were making short animations for the BBC Take Hart programs in the 1980s when film ruled the day. How do the digital tools available to the present day animator compare with shooting on film?

Scratch last appeared on BBC TV with artist and children's television presenter Tony Hart in 1983

Scratch last appeared on BBC TV with artist and children’s television presenter Tony Hart in 1983.

Paul Thomas: There was tension and anticipation when awaiting the delivery of a 16mm cutting copy being processed over night at the Rank Film Labs. Hoping there were no scratches on the neg and I always did mixes and fades ‘in camera’ which too were a risk. Then watching the precious piece of film on the Steenbeck editing table, breathing a sigh of relief that all went to plan.
Then later in the process to have Peter Harwood (the voice of Morph) create a soundtrack to picture. I relished the challenge to bring all the creative contributions together for a short animated film fit for broadcast on national television.

In comparison all the previous processes can be achieved digitally on a computer without leaving your seat. Yes you bypass time consuming activities. Yes you can create everything yourself with the aid of software packages but I always enjoyed the adventure of going to BBC TV Centre. I felt a part of the programme while being able to drop in the production office on spec. Sit in on editing and dubbing. Having the privileged position of watching unedited sequences of Tony Hart unhindered by music overdubs as he performed to camera.

DJ: What were the main software tools used in the production of Yellow Dustbin?

PT: My home computer was the main tool used to create Yellow Dustbin. I used Windows Movie Maker software to assemble the images. It’s a godsend. I can make my crazy illustrated films with The Hare and The Moon on tap. I wished to maintain the rouge edge look of the original Scratch films and that was achieved through the artwork and the various mediums I used. It was the first time working without a rostrum camera so my work was simply scanned in using a peg bar taped to the scanner.

The music, vocal and Matt Dean’s photographs were loaded from emails and CD’s. It was the editing though that made the film. I was surprised my computer offered so much for me to achieve what I wanted. The ability to drop images in here and there. Pull the soundtrack into line with the picture and move entire scenes around at the click of a button.

DJ: The voice of I.V. Webb has a beautiful clarity. Is she a professional actress?

PT: No. I.V. Webb is a singer songwriter currently recording an album in the UK. Once the music for Yellow Dustbin, composed by performed by The Hare And The Moon, was complete I sought a vocalist. I found I.V. Webb. On hearing the warmth and tone in her voice knew she was the one. I was fortunate I.V. took a shine to the script and I made a return to the old ways by taking her into a recording studio to put the vocal down.

I.V. Webb records the voiceover for Yellow Dustbin.

I.V. Webb records the voiceover for Yellow Dustbin.

Paul explained that Yellow Dustbin is structured as a four part symphony.

Part 1. Home: Sitting on a bench in Totnes high street Paul reflects on his animated cartoon characters. They escape once more from his imagination with help from the music of The Hare And The Moon, the voice of I.V. Webb and photographs taken by Matt Dean. Scratch in his Yellow Dustbin is lifted above the top of the steep high street looking down to his destination as oranges race by Itch mouse.

Part 2. Sky: Itch decorates the sky with whimsical waggish dazzle. Scratch is side tracked but entertained.

Part 3. Remember: As the sky display dwindles The Gallery takes us back to where it all began with Tony Hart. Hanging on a pink wall are scenes from those first animated appearances in Take Hart.

Part 4. Love: Unaware of his interruptions as she dreams of their romance Eve waits for Scratch at the bottom of the high street. It’s clear they are in love. Paul bids us thank you and goodbye in a very Dylanesque way.

Totness museum poster

Totness museum poster

NFTS launches new animation course with Aardman

The NFTS (National Film and Television School) has launched a new animation course in partnership with the Aardman Animations to meet the growing demand for animators in the UK.

The exciting new three-month Certificate in Character Animation course will be taught by industry professionals, including main tutors Loyd Price, Head of Animation at Aardman (Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists) and Mathew Rees, Supervising Senior CG Animator (commercials for clients such as Serta, Chevron, British Gas, Hershey’s as well as work on Pirates!).

The Pirates! from Aardman Animations.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists from Aardman Animations.

Loyd Price said: “The UK is very much a powerhouse of animation at the moment. Our continued success at Aardman and that of others such as the NFTS means that people are travelling to the UK from all over the world to learn our style of stop frame and CG animation. We’d like to build on that success by developing home-grown talent to work in this exciting entertainment industry.”

The Bristol based studio has enjoyed continued popularity at both the box office and the Academy Awards. It has won four Oscars and had 10 Oscar nominations including the animated feature film Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film this year.

The NFTS’ stop-frame animated film Head Over Heels was nominated for Best Short Animation this year – the only film school nominated for an Oscar in 2013. The School’s stop-frame animated film Miss Todd is also a finalist in the Oscar qualifying 2013 student Academy Awards (a competition it has previously won 5 times) and its charcoal-drawn animated film Magnificent Lion Boy is the only UK film school film in Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Nik Powell, NFTS Director said: “We’re looking for applicants with a real passion for animation to join this flagship course.”

Jon Wardle, NFTS Director of Curriculum and Registrar added: “This course will give participants a chance in a life-time opportunity to train with Aardman animators and gain the highest level of animation skills that can help them get jobs in this growing industry.”

The 12 –week intensive course will take place at Aardman’s Bristol headquarters and provide the core practical skills needed to become professional animators. The majority of the course is practical with participants working on animation exercises to improve their skills, knowledge and experience. This will also be supported by animation theory. It culminates in a short character animation sequence – pre-planned and boarded – to showcase the skills learnt during the course.

Don’t miss out – Apply before the Friday 21st June 2013 deadline for the Certificate in Character Animation course that starts in September 2013.