Tag Archives: aardman

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.

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Shaun the Sheep returns

Shaun the Sheep makes his highly anticipated return to the UK small screen this month with twenty brand new episodes – proving that life is never dull on Mossybottom Farm. Shaun and the gang return at the end of February, Monday – Friday from 25th February at 3.15pm on CBBC.

shaun-the-sheep

Shaun and his farm friends cause mayhem in the 20 x 7 minute episodes when they get involved in high jinks with hand gliders, dinosaurs, ducks, graffiti, crows, window cleaning, bulls, skate boards, old home movies and even a piano – in an iconic Laurel and Hardy moment!

To support the new series launch, CBBC have commissioned another five Championsheeps games to add to the existing suite of popular online games released during last year’s summer of sport. The games were produced as an experience with on-going appeal which is both engaging and entertaining for fans and encourages friendly, social competition and interaction with the show’s characters.

The new games, which are available on the CBBC website, were developed by Aardman’s in-house digital team who have made significant updates to the suite including new animations for the main hub and new ways of reporting high scores and achievements. A special unlock code feature has also been created and fans will be provided with codes at the end of each new episode giving players access to special features in each of the new games.

The team have been working closely with Aardman’s expert CG artists in order to progress the look of the characters in the game by developing 3D models, enhancing the game experience both aesthetically and mechanically as the 3D elements provided far greater flexibility than a 2D graphic with the movement of each character. In turn this allowed the Digital team more creative freedom to produce five visually appealing and addictive games for Shaun fans to enjoy across the world.

The Staves Winter Trees Video from Aardman

Aardman have collaborated with Atlantic Records and British folk rock trio The Staves to create a visually stunning music promo to accompany their latest single Winter Trees from their debut album Dead & Born & Grow.

 

Aardman directors Karni and Saul talk about the making of Winter Trees:

“The weird thing for us about this video, is that for a song called Winter Trees we wouldn’t normally base a story in a forest with trees but saying that when we first heard the song, we wrote ideas down separately just brainstorming it… and we both wanted a forest. So we guess it had to be that way, its the feeling the song gave us. So beautiful but slightly sad and bare too – like a forest. Something emotional.

“Then we bashed out the idea back and forth between us – coming up with slightly hybrid animals escaping something and an ‘owl lama’ with a man/spirit on its back.

“We knew from the girls, the song was based on a relationship so we wanted to take it wider and further by showing creatures escaping a flood and hanging precariously of tips of trees. It reminded us of the fisherman who sit on tall poles in the sea, it was a very visual scene. We wanted it to feel emotional while not too twee and have a story that was symbolic of a relationship and slightly surreal.

The trees represent the three staves sisters in a very loose way.

The trees represent the three staves sisters in a very loose way.

“We also wanted to make the trees the musicians, so there are three trees that represent the three staves sisters Emily, Jessica, and Camilla in a very loose way.

“As for the visual treatment we wanted to base it on 3d laser-cut wood puzzles – which we’d been researching it for a while. We made some art work examples and ref images and Saul sketched the rabbit squids and the lama owl.

“After that we showed it to Atlantic and the girls, who loved it and gave us the green light.

“Then we had to figure out how to make it, together with Aardman’s animation and CG team. Obviously we are based in one of the best places in the world for animation, so we figured it out pretty quick. It’s a mix of techniques; hand drawn, flash and CG animation. None of it is classic stop frame though.

The Staves Winter Trees Video“We wanted that hand drawn emotional feel with the ease and 3D model feel of the real world that CG can give. So we mixed it up like we usually do.

“Then it was a matter of an animatic and making it look like wood, giving it dramatic lighting, deciding on shape/style of animation/colours and all that.

“The girls were very trusting in us and the vision and so we could just get on with it. It was a tight schedule and budget so we had to work fast and make everyone else work very hard with us. But they were all so enthusiastic about the visuals and song that they were willing and super collaborative.

“We are really pleased with the end result and the label and girls are too. It seems to have struck a chord with people, it’s getting quite a bit of attention, maybe because it’s something a little fresh visually that’s still delicate and has an emotional story.”

The Staves. Emily Staveley-Taylor - vocals, Camilla Staveley-Taylor - vocals and ukulele, Jessica Staveley-Taylor - vocals and guitar. Photograph by Dan Curwin © Atlantic Records UK.

The Staves. Emily Staveley-Taylor – vocals, Camilla Staveley-Taylor – vocals and ukulele, Jessica Staveley-Taylor – vocals and guitar. Photograph by Dan Curwin © Atlantic Records UK.

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 & WARL create a new look for Clipper Tea

Aardman Commercials have partnered with WARL and Clipper Tea, the UK’s only company to boast a completely Fairtrade and organic range of tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, to create a gorgeous new national TV ad campaign for their Everyday Teas.

The 20-second stop frame commercial, which was launched on 27 April and runs for a month, has been brought to life by Aardman director Daniel Cohen, who has created a never-ending ‘conga’ of mugs joyously dancing past a box of Clipper Everyday Tea while being filled with tea bags and hot water from a kettle. “The simple concept of mugs dancing ‘the conga’ worked tremendously and was great fun to direct!” says Cohen.
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Arthur Christmas by Aardman Animations released

Arthur Christmas is a 2011 British/American 3-D computer animated fantasy comedy film produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation. It was released on November 11, 2011, in the UK, and is scheduled to be released on November 23, 2011, in the USA.

The film was directed by Sarah Smith, and it features voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen. Set on the North Pole, the plot tells about Santa’s son Arthur Christmas, who must complete a mission before Christmas morning.

The story of Arthur Christmas revolves around Santa’s ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole, his family and especially around his son, Arthur. When on a Christmas night a single present for a very upset little girl is missed, Arthur must go on a mission with Grandsanta and elf Byrony using an old sled and eight flying reindeer to deliver the present before the Christmas morning. Info from Wikipedia

Arthur Christmas illustrations copyright Aardman Animations / Sony Pictures Animation.

“Visually, the film may not be as technologically lavish as those produced by Pixar or DreamWorks,” writes Robbie Collin in The Telegraph, “but the characters are utterly charming, and the astute use of 3-D lends a thrilling sweep to the sleigh-ride scenes, too. Arthur Christmas might be made of pixels rather than Plasticine, but it still has Aardman’s fingerprints all over it.”

Gulp – The World’s Largest Stop-Motion Shot With A Nokia N8

Nokia and Aardman Animations have set another Guinness World Record for the ‘World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’ with their follow up short film: Gulp, shot entirely on the Nokia N8, after having set a record for the ‘Smallest Stop-motion Animated Character’ last summer with Dot.

As part of Nokia ’s on-going campaign to bring amazing, authentic uses of mobile technology to life, Nokia has partnered with Aardman Animations and Wieden + Kennedy once again to create Gulp, a new animation filmed on the Nokia N8.

The film explores the life of a little fishing boat when the tide goes out. As the sea ebbs away oilskins and nets come to life manifesting a lone fisherman, out to find the catch of the day.

When he sets off across the sea he encounters an ocean vista of waves, gulls, clouds and fish all created using giant sand animation, carved in the beach itself. As the fisherman hauls in his sandy catch he is swallowed by a huge sea monster. Trapped inside the beast’s cavernous stomach, he accidentally sets off a chain reaction and is catapulted back to the surface, too late to save his catch from escaping back into the ocean.

Shot entirely on the new Nokia N8 smartphone, Gulp showcases the smartphone’s Carl Zeiss optics and its 12-megapixel photography capabilities. Three phones elevated 36 meters above the ground on a cherry picker on a beach in South Wales, UK, shot a canvas of 42.71 meters x 24 meters creating the ‘World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’. The phones were mounted in a custom built rig inside a specially designed Peli Box and operated remotely by the camera crew in order to capture the huge images.

Tate Movie Project “The Itch of the Golden Nit” premiered

Captain Iron Ears’ Pirate Ship. © Tate Movie Project 2011.

The Tate Movie Project’s The Itch of the Golden Nit was premiered in Leicester Square, London, on 29 June 2011 and will be shown at regional galleries over the summer. The film is the first of its kind – an animation made by children ranging from 5 to 13 years old. Thousands of drawings, sound effects and story ideas by children from across the UK make up the action-packed, half hour animation as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The Itch of the Golden Nit follows 11-year-old hero Beanie on his mission to save his parents from Evil Stella and to return the Golden Nit to its rightful place at the heart of the sun, thereby saving the universe. It features the voices of David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Catherine Tate and Rik Mayall. The film was brought together by the Tate and Aardman Animations.

Aardman used CelAction2D animation software to maintain the hand-drawn quality of the characters. This enabled the production team to animate quickly whilst achieving a high quality.

Andy Blazdell, CelActionCEO, said: “Working with Aardman was a real highlight. It’s always a pleasure to see such talented people using our software and on a project of this scale, for such a worthy cause, we feel proud to be a part of it.”

CelAction2D is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Useful link: celaction.com

Wallace & Gromit’s Wrong Trousers Day – 24th June 2011

A message from Academy Award winning animator Nick Park:

Hello there,

Wrong Trousers Day is organised by Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation of which I am a trustee and is inspired by Aardman’s award-winning film ‘The Wrong Trousers’.

Money raised helps sick children in hospitals and hospices across the UK.

This year’s Wrong Trousers Day is on Friday 24th June, when we hope to see as many people as possible going to school or work in their ‘wrong trousers’. Everyone who takes part pays £1 for the right to be ‘wrong’ for the day and has a really fun time.

Thousands of people have already promised to throw aside their regular trousers and go to work sporting anything from football shorts, pyjamas, board shorts and other funny and wrong bottom halves – all in the name of charity!

If you would like to join me and get involved in Wrong Trousers Day on Friday 24th June 2011, you can register for a fundraising pack at www.wrongtrousersday.org.

Thank you for your support.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Park.

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.