Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Company research: Aardman Animations

I have looked into the Bristol based animation studio quite thoroughly as I did my dissertation on marketing stop-motion animation as an art form. Looking specifically at two animation studios as case studies. The well established Aardman animations and the fairly new company Laika. 

In 1972 Peter Lord and David Sproxton registered the name Aardman Animations, and began their 
partnership. After graduating they moved to Bristol and created Morph for the children's programme 'Take Hart'.

From the start Peter and David were interested in developing an adult audience for model animation. Conversation Pieces commissioned by Channel Four Television in 1982 enabled the pair to develop its innovative technique of animating puppet characters to real-life conversations. With films like Early Bird (set in a local radio station) Aardman demonstrated that real people could be characterised with insight, humour and sensitivity.

Aardman's audience is one that includes everyone of any and all ages. 

The name Aardman comes from the name of a super-hero character imagined and designed by Peter Lord when he was 15. The “aard” prefix itself derives from an African anteater, the aardvark. This traditionally animated film about an “Aardman” was eventually sold to TV, and from that point Peter Lord perfected it.

Peter and David met Nick Park at the National film and television school, where he was working on his student film, A Grand Day Out. He joined Aardman full time in 1985.

1993 saw the completion of the Oscar winning 30 minute film The wrong Trousers, which has become one of the most successful animated films ever made. 

In 1995 they produced Nick Park's third Oscar winning film A Close Shave, which was an 
immediate success establishing Aardman's reputation and making Wallace and Gromit household 

The year 2000 brought Aardman's first full-length feature film Chicken Run, funded by Dreamworks. It was released in the UK and the US at the same time and received excellent reviews and outstanding box office receipts.

In 2006 the studio release their first CG film Flushed Away, by Dreamworks. Although the film was 
not stop-motion animated, the CG characters had the same style and texture as Aardmans characters, so people still knew it was an Aardman production. 

In 2008 Wallace and Gromit's A Matter of Loaf and Death was broadcast on BBC One and captured a record audience of 16.15 million people. It was nominated for an Oscar in the Best short Animated Film category and went on to win a BAFTA. This means that every Wallace and Gromit film has won a BAFTA and they have all been nominated for an Oscar.

In 2009 Aardman partnered with Tate Museums and Legacy Trust UK on a major filmmaking project, a challenge to get children across the UK to come together and contribute ideas for an animated movie via a successful online community. This was the first Tate Movie of its kind, and on the films release it set a new Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest Number of Contributors to a Film Production’. The project won a number awards including BAFTA for Best Interactive. Aardman now holds three unbeaten world records. They have expanded their company in numerous way, showing the world who they are and what they can do, and what better way to get your audience involved and making them feel like they matter than asking for their ideas for a movie.

While I was doing my research about Aardman Animations I get the feeling that they are a very enbracing company and the more I learnt about them the more I want to work for them.

I am going to Annecy festival in June with some of my classmates, and we are currently trying to find a way of visiting the first ever Art of Aardman exhibition in Paris.

"Over 400 concept drawings, character and background studies, watercolours, and storyboards will complete this exceptional exhibition, where one can even discover Nick Park’s sketchbook as a student, containing the first drawings of Wallace and Gromit, never before seen by the public. The exhibition will display numerous screens, allowing visitors to discover as a family the incredible creativity of the studio, through extracts of its most famous films, but also with more than 60 short and feature films, hilarious advertisements or magical video clips"

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