Category Archives: Plasticine animation

Aardman Launches New Animate It! Kit

Have you ever watched an Aardman film and wanted to try plasticine animation yourself? Aardman have released a brand new Animate It! kit containing materials and software to help you get started.

Built around Aardman’s world-leading stop-frame technique and characters, the pack comes complete with software, tutorials and moulds to make your characters.

The kit contains software that enables you to shoot your animation sequences using a webcam and store them on your computer. A webcam and computer are NOT included. There is an on-screen tutorial from an Aardman Animator. A Morph character can be modeled with the clay supplied. To help with this there is a Flexi-mould and stick-in eyes.
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Aardman announce cast for The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists. © 2011 Aardman Animations/Sony Pictures Animation.

The line up of voice artists for Aardman’s upcoming feature film The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists has been announced. The new stop-motion, Plasticine / claymation animated film is being produced by Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation.

Hugh Grant will voice the Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they do battle with the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!

The film is directed by Peter Lord who said, “Hugh Grant has given a stand-out performance – he combines an effortless on-screen warmth with brilliant comic timing. And as the leader of our motley pirate crew, he shows a real barnstorming, swashbuckling side of his character as well.”

Pirates illustrations copyright © 2011 Aardman Animations/Sony Pictures Animation.

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists will be released March 30, 2012 in the UK.

More info from Aardman.

What lighting to use for Plasticine / clay animation

Lighting Kit - PROKIT Chelsea Kit

The modelling material used for Plasticine or Claymation stop-motion animation tends to soften under hot lights. At best this leads to more fingerprints showing on your models and at worst the models will refuse to hold their shape or collapse.

Daylight may seem like the obvious answer but it can create problems. The sun will move across the sky during the time it takes to complete your animation and the result will be moving shadows cast by your models. Also, if there are clouds in the sky these may cause the brightness of the light to vary and cause a flickering effect on the finished animation.

The ideal lighting would not reflect any heat onto your models, whilst being bright enough to do the job. Keeping the lamps well back would reduce any heat to a minimum but may result in casting a shadow of camera or animator onto the set. The normal ceiling light in your room may do a reasonable job, and is certainly OK for practice runs. When it comes to more serious animation you will want the ability to control the lighting.

Florescent lighting generates the least amount of heat. As well as florescent strip lighting the recently introduced energy saving light bulbs also use the florescent method of producing light.

Having decided on the type of bulbs to use the next decision is what lamp holders to use. Ideally you want the ability to move them around whilst having them firm enough so as not to wobble as you move around your film set.

Curva Chrome Floor Lamp

You need a minimum of two lights; one to act as a soft fill to bring the overall lighting to a sufficient level for filming; plus a key light to create modelling and shadows. A third light can be used as a back-light to create a rim effect that lifts the characters away from the background.

Let’s look at what the professionals use. They may be beyond your budget but it will give an idea at what to aim at.

The lighting kit – PROKIT Chelsea Kit is an example of a portable professional lighting setup. It has two focusing and dimmable 150 watt Dedo heads – use as a hard key, backlight or background light. Focus to a tight spot to highlight an area, or widen for broader coverage. A Lowel Rifa Lite 300 watt soft source – use as a soft key or fill light. One lamp for each light. All in a compact soft case. Price excluding VAT: £1295 from the PROKIT website.

For the home budget you could look at the Curva Chrome Floor Lamp. It has a chrome finish with a height of 143cm. The diameter of the shade is 17cm and it swivels in an up and down direction. It is suitable for use with low energy bulbs. It is available from the Argos catalogue at £29.99.

What lighting do you use? Please let us know in a comment to this post (You can comment without joining).

Hue Animation Studio Plasticine animation kit for kids

Designed for educational use, the Hue Animation Studio is a great way to introduce children aged 5+ to the art of stop-motion animation. At the moment it is selling on Amazon UK for less than £50 (full price £79.99), the kit contains everything you need to create stop motion animation videos, apart from a computer.

The kit includes a Hue HD camera, fully-featured animation software for Windows or Mac and Plasticine modelling clay. With Christmas just around the corner it would make a wonderful gift for a youngster in your family. It is sure to keep them engrossed during the Christmas holidays.

The Hue Animation Studio is perfect for all areas of education. The webcam is flexible, good quality and has manual focus. The camera can also be used as a visualiser or document reader and has a built in mic. The included software allows for both the filming of the animation and the post-production (adding layers of sound, titles and transitions). There is a Mac and PC version.

Oscar Stringer, director and founder of Animation For Education said “I think this is a great combination, I’ve long been a fan of the Hue HD webcam as it is so easy to use and versatile. Now it has been thoroughly tested with this animation software it means you can be making your own animation very quickly.”

After a joint Church Ashton infants school and Lillshall primary school, professional development day using the kit one teacher said: “Excellent day, very informative and useful practical activity. This has made me confident to go back and start implementing animation with my students”.


The Hue Animation Studio kit in action.

Plasticine animation duo Wallace & Gromit to feature on Christmas stamps

Following 12 months in hush-hush development, it has finally been revealed that Wallace & Gromit are to be pictured on this year’s Christmas stamps. Aardman teamed up with Royal Mail to produce the special edition Christmas stamps. They go on sale from the 2nd November 2010 and show the duo going about their seasonal duties.

Nick Park, the Creator of Wallace and Gromit, said “It was one of the biggest challenges my talented team and I have faced yet – to create memorable Christmas images of the duo – the size of postage stamps. But we knew we’d lick it in the end. It’s been such a wonderful honour and a pleasure to work with Royal Mail and to have my characters, Wallace and Gromit, immortalised on their very own stamps”.

The pictures are packed with detail, like the duo’s award-winning films, but with the added challenge of shrinking the ‘World of Wallace and Gromit’ to the size of a postage stamp.

Source: Aardman

A Matter of Loaf and Death nominated for an Oscar

A Matter of Loaf and Death

The Wallace and Gromit TV short “A Matter of Loaf and Death” has been nominated for an Oscar for best animated short film in the 82nd Academy Awards. It was made at the Aardman animation studio and directed by Nick Park. Nick has previously been Oscar nominated five times and won four times (the fifth nomination was against another of his own films).

A Matter of Loaf and Death was the big TV hit of Christmas 2008 and features the voices of Geraldine McEwan, Peter Sallis and Sally Lindsay.

In the movie Wallace and Gromit have opened a bakery and business is booming, mainly because a Cereal Killer has murdered all the other bakers in town. Gromit is worried that they may be the next victims, but Wallace does not care, as he has fallen head over heels in love with former star of the Bake-O-Lite bread commercials, Piella Bakewell. Then Gromit makes a shocking discovery which points to the killer’s true identity. Can he save his master from becoming the next baker to be butchered?

In an interview with Times Online it was pointed out that there are fingerprints in the Plasticine characters. Nick Park replied; “We’re very proud that it’s hand-made, and we don’t want to tidy things up too much. Those thumb prints are a reminder of the work that went into it.”


A Matter of Loaf and Death – extract – Top Bun.

See the other nominations on the Oscars website.

Aardman shorts added to free film site

A collection of 13 short films from the Aardman Animations studio have been added to a film site called Indie Movies Online. The movies are free to watch although you do have to sit through a 30 second advert before the movie plays.

Among the movies on offer are Peter Lord’s Oscar-nominated Adam in which God is attempting to lay down some rules to the first man on Earth – while Adam himself is longing for somebody to keep him company. Plasticine animation.

Will Becher’s Boxed In centres on an old man, living alone in a sparse room. But when a mouse incurs into his tiny world, he rediscovers some purpose and vigor. Puppet animation.

Creature Comfortsis the Oscar-winning short from Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, in which interviews with the public are used to put words in animal mouths. Plasticine animation.

Adam, Boxed In and Creature Comforts from Aardman Animations studio.

Let us know your favourite out of this Aardman collection in a comment to this post.

Make your own Plasticine Morph

Morph

Cover of the Morph DVD.

If you are considering having a go at Plasticine animation then an easy way to start is with a “my own Morph” kit from Flair Create. It is available from Amazon .

The Plasticine stop-motion character Morph first appeared on a children’s TV art show called “Take Hart” in 1977. He interacted with the shows presenter Tony Hart, providing short humorous sequences. Much of the action consisted of Morph changing shape, such as rolling into a ball. Or he would disappear into the table top as if sinking into water. These kind of actions suit the medium of Plasticine as it is infinitely changeable.

Morph was created by Peter Lord of Aardman animation. The studio went on to produce the “Wallace and Gromit” movies, so from small acorns great oak trees grow.

The kit contains three blocks of Plasticine; a large terracotta block for Morph’s body, and small blocks of white and black for the eyes. There are some suitably sized plastic props including a skate board and a cricket bat. There is a leaflet with diagrams on modelling Morph and the best bit of all; a “How to model Morph” DVD. The DVD has Peter Lord modelling Morph from a block of modelling clay, or Plasticine, as we call it in England. As he models he gives tips on how to go about it. For example the legs and arms are pulled out of the ball of Plasticine rather than being added on. This gives them more strength. The DVD also includes 15 Morph episodes.

There is also a “my own Chas” kit that enables you to create your own cheeky Chas out of Plasticine. This also has an instructional DVD that includes 10 bumper length episodes plus an introduction to Chas from Peter Lord.

Cracking Movie Lad! The Making of Wallace and Gromit reviewed

Tristan Oliver.

Tristan Oliver.

Director of Photography, Tristan Oliver, demonstrated the secrets behind Aardman’s animated Wallace and Gromit movie “The Curse of the Wererabbit” to a group of 11 year olds in a video clip on the BAFTA website.

In very clear language Tristan takes the children through the process from scripting to animation using clips, real models from the films, drawings and stories. Near the end of the video clip he takes questions from the children who demonstrate a great enthusiasm for the subject.

A sequence I found particularly interesting was how they get the plasticine characters lips to move in time with the sound track. He shows a set of pre-moulded plasticine mouths that are substituted in turn to give the movements. That alone shows the great attention to detail that is needed to bring the characters to life.

Tristan Oliver has shot all of Aardman’s best loved stop frame animations, including The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, Chicken Run and The Curse of the Wererabbit.