News
General questions

Q. Will there be another Wallace and Gromit film?
A. Wallace and Gromit will certainly make a return to your screens, but we can't say exactly when yet.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?
A. We're in the final stages of producing 'Chicken Run' and the early stages of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' (working title). We are also working on a new children's series for TV, a new series of Rex the Runt, and a new character is coming your way very soon (watch this space). We are also working on any number of commercials at any one point, which go to screens around the world. In the past these have included Crunchie, Chevron, Dairylea Dunkers, Lego Star Wars, Lipton Noodleoids, Pringles, Rice Crispies, Polo as well as pop videos for artists such as the Spice Girls and Peter Gabriel.

Q. How do I get a job at Aardman?
A. Let our HR team give you a few tips.

Q. Where are your studios and how do I get in touch?
A. We are based in Bristol, which is an old city of about half a million people, located about 150km west of London.
You can write to us at:

Aardman
Gasferry Road
Bristol
BS1 6UN
UK

We do try to read all your mail but we're sorry we can't promise to reply.

If you have a comment on this site or about our films, please sign our guestbook.

We apologise that we cannot offer you an E-mail address to write to, but we just cannot handle them all.

Q. Can I get a tour of the studio?
A. Tours are severely restricted by busy production schedules and so are limited to animation students and must be pre-organised by your college. They are run at approximately 8 week intervals. There is a long waiting list, but you may request a tour by writing to the address above.

In the meantime, take a virtual 'tour of the studio' on the web site. Or read about some of the jobs that the people do.


Questions about Sets and Effects

Q. How would a model fly?
A. Models are held from some kind of rig - either with wire or something solid, which is then painted out afterwards on CGI.

Q. How do you effect lighting within scenes, such as street lamps?
A. A range of lights can be used, such as L.E.D’s (light emitting diode’s) or just tiny bulbs linked to a transformer. Other options would be fibre optics or small torch bulbs.

Q. How did you make the soapy bubbles in A Close Shave?
A. The soapy bubbles on the clock tower were made from little glass balls and hair gel.

Q. And the flying oatmeal?
A. To make the oatmeal fly so fluently we mixed oatmeal with wax. The difficulty was how to suspend it in mid-air. We managed to hold it out of shot whereby they could attach a rig and control the distance it moved accurately.

Q. And how do you make Tea pour?
A. We managed to make Wallace pour the tea by using cling film (cellophone) coloured with a marker pen and replaced every frame, which gives it an erratic pouring effect with the right sound in the background.


Questions about Cameras

Q. What sort of cameras do you use?
A. We shoot everything on film at the moment. The 35mm film cameras we use are mainly "Mitchells" and have, in most cases, been considerably adapted to our purposes. For example, they have video assist cameras which look through the lenses on our film cameras so the animators can see the picture that will be recorded on each frame of film.

The other camera that we still sometimes use which is more affordable is the 16mm Bolex. Failing that, you’d have to be thinking about super 8mm. Peter Lord’s book ‘Cracking Animation’ goes into these issues more thoroughly.

For more info try our studio tour and Chris Barrow's article on being a spark.


Questions on Model Making

Q. What materials are the models made from?
A. We have made models from a wide range of products, such as plasticene, foam latex, wood, metal, silicone, resin and milliput.

Clay and Plasticine
Wallace and Gromit and many of our other characters used to be made out of ordinary Harbutt's Plasticine. Harbutts no longer exists, but Peter Pan Playthings (also known as Blue Bird toys) distribute Newplast, which is made by Newclay, which is a softer version of plasticine than Harbutts. Newplast can be bought direct from Newclay - 01626 835700, 1 Battle Road, Heathfield Ind Est, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6RY. UK

Newplast is softer than Harbutts and its more difficult to get a smooth surface. To harden the clay we suggest putting it in an aluminium tray with a lid and warming it gently in an oven, manipulating it gently every 10 minutes to check for tackiness. Take care because if you cook it too long it will drive out too much moisture and it will go to chalk.


Foam latex
We purchase it from Sherman Laboratories on +44 (0)181 559 9666, Unit 2B, Whilems Works, Forest Road, Hainault, Essex IG6 5HJ.

We would warn you that foam latex can be very temperamental, if it is humid, too dry, if the mix isn't exact or the kit is slightly different it may not work very well. We buy a 5Litre kit which comes with all the additives as needed, and costs £160.00. You must also make sure you have plenty of ventilation as it is a very smelly process, lots of ammonia in the mixture and a rather hydrogen sulphide (eggy smell) on cooking. It’s a complicated process to get right.

Armatures
These are the skeletons under the clay of many of our characters. On the commercials/short films site we use stainless steel or mild steel plate to make the armature pieces from. We generally design the skeleton and use a local model making company (John Wright Model Making) to hand cut the plates and drill the ball bearings to create the ball and socket joints as required.

On the feature site, because of the much larger quantities of joints needed the pieces are not hand cut but machined in a factory.

We use aluminium wire for parts of the armature, i.e. the fingers. If we are making a puppet that is not going to be animated over a long period, or a puppet that is a background character their armature may be only wire with K&S (tubular brass which interlocks) to locate parts to the body, i.e. head and hands. Aluminium wire is very flexible and also strong. We buy many different guages of wire and in some cases twist thinner guage wire together to make it even stronger.

What happens to models when they are finished?
Some models go on display in our studio, some commercials models go to the client but most are set free onto the streets of Aardworld underneath our studio.

For more info on modelling, see the Studio Tour and Jan Sanger's article on working in model making.


Questions about Wallace and Gromit

Q. Will there be another Wallace and Gromit film?
A. Wallace and Gromit will certainly make a return to your screens, but we can't say exactly when yet.

Q. What is WENDSLEYDALE cheese like?
A. It is a regional (Yorkshire) English cheese which, happens to taste rather nice. Its white, crumbly and creamy.

Q. What kind of motorbike does Wallace have?
A. The motorbike and sidecar model used in 'A Close Shave' were based on a customized Triumph Tiger Cub.

Q. How is Shaun made?
A. Shaun is approximately 3.5 inches tall. His black legs are made from a special silicone, which is no longer made. He has metal plates on the bottoms of his feet so that he can be magnetised to the set when he is being animated. He has a hard piece in his body, a core, to pad him out, and then mock fleece on top as his fleece. His head is made with a mixture of very hard wax and plasticine. When he has had his fleece sheared, his sweater is made from foam latex, this is a material which we mix together, a bit like egg whites whipped into meringue. The foam latex is then painted and dabbed into a mould, and the mould put together and baked overnight on a very low heat. The foam latex sweater is then painted to look more realistic. His legs are attached with grub screws so that they stay in place. His head is located to his body by means of K&S, which is brass tube either round or square, which interlocks to create a very snug fit, thus avoiding the heads from falling off or wobbling about.

Q. Wallace calls Wendolene "Chuck" and Wallace calls Feathers McGraw, the penguin, 'tyke'. What do these expressions mean ?
A. 'Chuck' , like 'love' is a Northern English endearment. A local Lancashire mother might call her child 'chuck' or 'chicken' in an affectionate moment.
A 'tyke' is defined at www.dictionary.com as:
1.A small child, especially a boy.
2.A mongrel or cur.
3.Chiefly British. A man considered uncouth or mean; a boor.


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