|Peter Lord and David Sproxton are executive Producers/Co-Founders of Aardman Animations. David and Peter began their animating partnership at school. Early kitchen table endeavours were bought by BBC Children's TV, and in 1972 they set up Aardman Animations, moving to Bristol in 1976.
The now legendary plasticine man Morph made his debut as clownish accomplice to Tony Hart in the same year. Morph's fame blossomed far beyond his diminutive stature and in 1980 he began his career as principal performer in The Amazing Adventures of Morph - 26 x 5 minute episodes drawing the largest ever audience for its BBC slot at 5:35pm.
However, the Aardmen were interested in developing an adult audience for model animation. Conversation Pieces, commissioned by Channel Four Television in 1982, enabled the company to develop their innovative technique of animating puppet characters to real-life conversations, a process originating in two Animated Conversations made for BBC Bristol in 1978.
In the five x five minute Conversation Pieces, plasticine personalities enact scenarios suggested by documentary-style recorded dialogue. In Early Bird, a breakfast show host in his private domain of toasters and tape-recorders is beautifully matched to the public voice of a local radio presenter. For Late Edition, the personal conflicts and disgruntlements of magazine journalists provide the basis for a wonderful study of gesture and expression.
With these and their companion pieces Sales Pitch, On Probation and Palmy Days, Aardman Animations demonstrated how real people could be characterised with insight, humour and sensitivity. Handling these films as a series rather than fillers, Channel 4 contributed to the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response of the viewing public.
The possibilities of animating for adults stimulated commercial producers and the company soon became inundated with requests from advertising agencies and the music industry. In 1986, Peter Gabriel suggested that they collaborate with director Stephen Johnson and the Brothers Quay to create a new rock video. Sledgehammer went on to collect almost every award that year. That original combination of rhythmic energy, style and visual flair was also harnessed to provide the visual accompaniment to Nina Simone's My Baby Just Cares For Me.
Meanwhile, an unparalleled reputation for the creation of commercials has led to commissions for an international list of clients. Agencies appreciate the contribution that Aardman's animators can make to an original idea and a client list including LURPAK, THE ELECTRICITY ASSOCIATION, MITA COPIERS, CHEVRON OIL, MEULE D'OR and CADBURY'S is a testament to their continued success.
As demand for their expertise and invention has grown, the company has expanded, nurturing the talents of animators Richard Goleszowski, Nick Park, Lloyd Price, Dave Osmand, Luis Cook and Steve Box. The Lip Synch series featuring the Oscar® -winning Creature Comforts, together with more recent films such as the Oscar® -nominated Adam, Rex The Runt and Loves Me...Loves Me Not, illustrates a broadening style and content whilst retaining the company's position at the forefront of technical skill.
As well as servicing the creative needs of its own directors, Aardman has also become involved in the Channel Four/Museum Of the Moving Image for First-time Directors, helping to produce Louise Spraggon's Never Say Pink Furry Die and Boris Kossmehl's Not Without My Handbag.
At Aardman the short film is respected as a worthy form in its own right as evidenced by Peter Lord's Wat's Pig and work on an eleven minute piece from Steve Box , Stagefright. The studio's continuing commitment to longer work is seen in the completion of Nick Park's A Close Shave.
Aardman Animations now need more space! Plans have been drawn up to build a new studio and planning permission has been applied for. The new building is needed to accommodate Aardman's first, and as yet untitled, feature film. This multi-million dollar movie will be co-directed and co-written by Nick Park and Peter Lord and work is well underway on the script and the creation of new characters. It is hoped that shooting will commence at the beginning of 1998 and will last for approximately 2 years. The new building will be adjoining the existing facilities in Bristol where Aardman have built up a good talent base of loyal staff and free-lancers. Aardman Animations are very busy preparing for the feature film as well as continuing other commercial and broadcast work.
Integrity and innovation are at the heart of Aardman Animation's work. Rejecting experiment for its own sake, Aardman thrives on the excitement of new discoveries in the creation of animated film.
For regular updates on developments, keep an eye on the News Page.
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