Stop Motion- Aardman and the Likeability

One of the things I wanted to look into more for this project was the likeability with characters, specifically Aardman, and what makes their work prolifically popular with their audiences.

An Interview with Aardman founder Peter Lord

In the interview Lord was asked, with the rise in CGI animated films, what is it about the hand-made style adopted by Aardman that still remains so popular?

Lord replied that is was to to do with the  “warmth… and intimacy, like the viewer shares in the experience that little bit more.Most of us have some sort of memory from childhood playing with cowboys, dolls or puppets, things that you give life through play, and that’s one of the things we do. The viewer knows it’s hand-made, they know it’s a puppet, but they believe it’s alive at the same time. There’s magic in there somewhere. I’m not knocking computer animation…Whereas ours is a feat of human ingenuity with touch and feel that people seem to care about. In Britain today, there are three stop motion films being made. We’re making one in Bristol, there’s one being made in London by the same team that made Fantastic Mr. Fox and one made in Wales by Michael Mort. That, twenty years ago, was unthinkable. It’s great that there’s an appetite for it.” (Lickley and Lickley, 2017).

An interview with creator Nick Park

Park describes how he discovered his medium of choice.

“I suddenly saw what a magical effect it had. Everybody knows what a lump of clay is and seeing it come to life is quite a magical thing. You can see the material and see it moving and suddenly gaining a character somehow,” he says. (Gibson, 2017).

Shaun the Sheep

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Shaun the sheep and co. (Gritten, 2017).

Shaun the sheep is a show more aimed at families, and has developed a following in many places including Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and Asian. In Japan, arguably the epicentre of Shaunmania, an exhibition about the little sheep’s world toured major cities – in Tokyo, it drew 30,000 people in five days.

The reason for its popularity compared to Wallace and Gromit is quintessentially British, but slightly old fashioned with humour stereotypical of British culture.This is different for Shaun, the only sound to issue from him is ‘baa’ – no cultural obstacles or language barriers for the rest of the world there.

Yet in his British homeland he has yet to achieve the same kind of recognition or breakthrough he enjoys abroad. ‘Shaun is easily Aardman’s biggest global brand,’ Clarke says. ‘We’re [broadcast] in 170 countries. Don’t ask me to name them all. But you’d never know it from this country.’

His success, as described by Nick Park, is due to him being ‘cute and cool at the same time.’ He also believes his simple shapes help him with merchandising,.

Starzak, Burton and Kewley watched several silent films, some by Jacques Tati, who famously used sound as a way of telling a story. Burton says, ‘On a practical level Shaun can’t do much with his face, but then again, that’s the Buster Keaton approach to comedy – slapstick and deadpan combined.’ Starzak also feels they were influenced by Pixar’s film WALL.E. ‘It had over 30 minutes without [human] dialogue. And everyone I know thinks that’s the best part of the film. (Gritten, 2017).

Animators also watched films like The Artist and Mr Bean to create this humour. This is another thing we could look at for the acting and timing of our jokes/ puns.

This applies to our own ident- there is no dialogue at all throughout the series.

References

Gritten, D. (2017). How Shaun the Sheep became a global phenomenon: behind the scenes at Aardman. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11365274/shaun-the-sheep-movie-aardman-behind-the-scenes.html [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].

Lickley, P. and Lickley, P. (2017). An interview with Aardman Animations founder Peter Lord – The Bradford Review. [online] The Bradford Review. Available at: http://www.thebradfordreview.co.uk/interview-aardman-animations-founder-peter-lord-cbe/ [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].

Gibson, O. (2017). Interview: Nick Park, Oscar-winning creator of Wallace and Gromit. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2008/jul/21/television [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].

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