On Tuesday, Chog Zoo eyes and ears were treated to a presentation by Richard Beek, production manager from Aardman animation, our stop motion cousins over in Bristol.
We thought we’d share a couple of photos of the wonderful foam-latex models that he brought along from ”The Pirates: An Adventure With Scientists”, and pass on a few interesting insights into the 5 year production of the film.
The modelling material for which Aardman is best known, plastecine, was rarely used in “The Pirates” - and can in fact only be found in the lead character’s eyebrows. The rest of him is foam injected into a cast, over a metal armature (skeleton) finished with latex.
Rapid protoyping (essentially 3D printing) was used to create mouth shapes, with the shapes manipulated in 3D software, and then “printed”. This method is acheived as the mouth area for the models is replaceable, enabling the lip-sync to be produced, and the mouth would be replaced frame by frame. One example given was that the lead character required somewhere in the realm of 300 mouth shapes to be prototyped.
Everything in the film was made from scratch, from the huge $60,000 pirate ship all the way down to miniature props for the sets. Tiny wine glasses were produced by professional wine blowers, while metal items (rails, cages etc) were crafted by local Bristol steelworks, who applied their expertise but on a massively reduced scale.
The sheer amount of work applied is inspirational, although with a $55,000,000 budget the work could definitely be afforded! Someone give us just one of those millions and we’ll put 2D UK feature animation on the map.