As modern life has changed the way people live their life, more and more people are busy and do want to produce an indisputable result in a certain period. However, contrary to the current times, there are people who have endeavored to accomplish a result for a long period of as little as two years and as long as 12 years. They are the artists of the Aardman Studio. The creators use clay as the material making animations. They invest a great deal of enthusiasm and time to bring the world imagined in their head to reality. The Argus had a look at the exhibition where works full of the artists’ commitment were exhibited.
Going closer to Aardman Studio
As soon as the reporter entered the exhibition hall, there were a lot of people who were enjoying this exhibition, not only the couple who came with their children, but also students in their 20s and an old lady who came with her daughter. The reporter could feel that the works of Aardman Studio were loved by people of various ages.
The first part of the exhibition started with a description of the Aardman Studio. Contrary to what people would think, Aardman is the name of an animation studio. It is the combination of Aardvark and Superman, the hero character of the early “Vision On (1972).” It was founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton who had interest and talent in animation. Later, in 1985, Nick Park joined them and created “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005),” and he continues to produce clay animations to this day. At the beginning of the exhibition, there were pictures of the three people who founded the Aardman Studio. Also, the reporter was able to know how passionate they were for clay animation by looking at the pictures of how they brought their dreams to reality in a small studio.
Clay animation, from start to end
The idea takes shape with drawings
After a brief introduction to the Aardman Studio, the reporter could make the first steps in the production process. A large number of papers were displayed. This was very interesting as paintings and texts on papers of various sizes were the main focus. These were the starting points of all the stories that were created by Aardman’s artists when designing animation for the first time.
This picture is about the “Concept Art” for the giant rabbit in one of Aardman?s most famous works, “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).” Concept Art describes the character’s personality and detailed characteristics. It differs from the “Sketchbook,” which depicts only the approximate shape of the character, but they are all called drawings. The giant rabbit was initially set relatively small and looked funny because its eyes pointed in different directions.
Wallace’s appearance was changed more than 40 times during the drawing phase, which was the early stage of visual development. The visitors could see traces of his hairstyles, external outlines, facial expressions, and posture. In early sketches, Wallace was not even called Wallace but Jerry as a mailman with a mustache.
However, as the character developed, it became the current character with the big nose and the hair people remember. “It was so amazing to know the background of the characters I had seen often when I was a kid. This process helped me realize how much effort the artists put into it,” said a 25-year-old woman Kim Min-young.
At this stage, character research is carried out in all aspects such as character shape, size, atmosphere and expression. Such attempts and experiments result in character identity and the worldview of the movie.
The drawing takes shape with sculpture
Passing through the drawing section, these ideas were embodied in practical forms. The artists do not limit the kinds of materials used when making characters, so they make characters using various materials: metal, glass and cotton. Among them, they have their own clay, Aard-mix. It is usually less solid than normal clay, so the makers can modify motions of the character more flexibly. Therefore, characters made of this special clay can be considered to have the unique characteristics of Aardman.
Aardman’s artists place great importance on the details of each character’s facial expressions and actions, and their enthusiasm for their characters can be confirmed by creating a number of versions of characters. In the section of “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” the reporter could see Wallace and Gromit, which have various facial expressions and poses. Although not all of them could be seen at the exhibition, the artists actually made over 500 rabbit dolls of different versions, 43 Gromit dolls and more than 35 Wallace dolls.
Here are the three stages showing the construction process and composition of the Were-Rabbit.
1. The metal framework serves as the articulated skeleton of the rabbit. The reporter saw that the artist had attached a small lever that could manipulate the movement of the model. This made it possible to create movements without directly touching the character.
2. The clay was placed on top of the steel frame to maximize the size of a giant rabbit.
3. The artists added fluff to express the rabbit model more realistically and the reporter found that it was as soft as real rabbit fur.
The sculpture takes shape with movement
Through the hands of Aardman's artists, the carefully crafted sculptures gained movement through various filming techniques. The clay characters gain their movements through the production of “Stop motion” animation or “Puppet” animation.
When working on Stop motion, the artists make 50 dolls of the same size, color them one by one and then change the dolls in each frame. They have the same size and color, but their looks and posture are slightly different. This is a task that must be performed by moving the objects finely on a frame-by-frame basis. It is an operation that cannot be accomplished without the sweat and effort of many artists.
In addition, it usually takes roughly six weeks of preparation and testing and three weeks of shooting to make a single film. However, some of this time and effort is not included in the final editing of the film. Nevertheless, artists constantly strive for the perfect work.
The light vitalizes the animation
At the end of the exhibition, there was a part showing where Aardman Studio puts the most effort into completing the animation. This is the step of setting the light. Lighting is an important element that brings life to animation.
There was a small set where the reporter could actually see how the Aardman Studio used lighting to create animations. There were lighting fixtures with different colors and brightness. These devices are studio equipment used by Aardman’s artists. In fact, over 10 lighting devices are used to shoot a scene. By finely adjusting the brightness of these lights, the artists can change the overall background and the mood of the characters.
“I?ve learned that so many lights are used when filming a scene of animation. Through this, I could realize that animation required as much effort as a movie,” said Jeong Ho-young, a 52-year-old.
Think about the days before we entered university. We lived hard every day in our teenage days for the dream of going to college. Some people in this process might have been disappointed because they did not get as much result as they expected. Also, other people would have been tempted to give up because of their hasty heart. However, we eventually reached our goal of going to college and now we are moving on to bigger dreams. Like this, we live like floundering in the water for our uncertain future. If you are feeling anxious at the moment, it would be better to put it down for a while and brace yourself. Just like the artists of the Aardman gather together for a day of hard work, we will also be able to catch the dream as we imagine.
By Lee Jun-young
Staff Reporter of Culture Section