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Aardman Animations, Ltd., also known as Aardman Studios, is an Academy Award-winning Britishmarker animation studio based in Bristolmarker, United Kingdommarker. The studio is famous for its stop-motion, clay animation productions, particularly those featuring Plasticine duo Wallace & Gromit. However, it successfully entered the computer animation market with its 2006 film, Flushed Away.


Early years

Aardman was founded in 1975 as a low-budget project by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who wanted to realise their dream of producing an animated motion picture. The duo's first big break was providing animated sequences for the children's art series, Vision On, for which they created Morph, a simple clay character. Around the same time Lord and Sproxton made their first foray into adult animation with the shorts Down and Out and Confessions of a Foyer Girl, entries in the BBC's Animated Conversations series using real-life conversations as soundtracks. However, these two shorts were not actual Aardman productions.

Later Aardman produced a number of shorts for Channel 4 including the Conversation Pieces series. These five shorts worked in the same area as the Animated Conversations pieces, but were more sophisticated. Lord and Sproxton began hiring more animators at this point; three of the newcomers made their directorial debut at Aardman with the Lip Synch series. Of the five Lip Synch shorts two were directed by Peter Lord, one by Barry Purves, one by Richard Goleszowski and one by Nick Park.


Park's short, Creature Comforts, was the first Aardman production to win an Oscar. Park also developed the world-famous clay modelled shorts featuring the adventures of Wallace & Gromit, a comical pair of friends: Wallace being a naive English green-knitted-vest-wearing inventor, and Gromit his best friend, the intelligent but silent dog. The pair undertake many adventures such as A Grand Day Out (1989), The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), the latter two winning Academy awards. In 2000 Aardman Studios produced their first feature film, Chicken Run, an award-winning worldwide box-office hit.

In 2000 Simon J. Smith a visual effects artist at PDI established a 3D layout department for Aardman and it was first used in the post-production of Chicken Run it was later used on Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away. It is now a major part of Aardman's 3D filmaking process.


Following the success of Chicken Run, DreamWorks and Aardman signed a 3-picture deal, the first being the return of Wallace and Gromit after a ten year absence in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The film took the next Academy award for full-length animated film.

From 2006-2007, the Ghibli Museummarker in Mitaka, Tokyomarker, Japanmarker, had an exhibit featuring the works of Aardman Studios. Sproxton and Lord visited the exhibit in May 2006 and met with Hayao Miyazaki during the visit. Miyazaki has long been a fan of the Aardman Animation works.

On October 3, 2006, The New York Times reported that due to creative differences Dreamworks Animation and Aardman would not be extending their contract. According to Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff, "The business model of DreamWorks no longer suits Aardman and vice versa. But the split couldn't have been more amicable."


In April 2007 Aardman signed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Aardman co-founder Peter Lord remarked "We are all very excited by the potential and have a number of projects we are keen to bring to fruition with this new relationship."

In June 2007 a further press release gave details of four movies on Aardman's development slate:
  • The Pirates!, Peter Lord's first film as a director since Chicken Run, an adaption of Gideon Defoe's cult book's about hapless pirates. Some early development sketches can be found here.
  • The Cat Burglars, directed by Steve Box, about cats that steal milk, and their plans to pull off 'the great milk float robbery'. It is touted as a 'Tarantino' cross Ocean's Eleven style picture and written by Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham of Life on Mars .
  • Arthur Christmas (originally called Operation Rudolph), a CGI-holiday picture from Borat writer Peter Baynham and director Sarah Smith which depicts Santa's North Pole as a high tech installation requiring a highly trained army of elves. This, and Lord's film, are said to be in "advanced development"
  • The Scarecrow and His Servant, the award winning Phillip Pullman novel is being adapted by Danny Brocklehurst.
  • and finally an untitled Nick Park project (although confirmed not a Wallace and Gromit feature).

While Aardman is best known for stop motion, the studio has also dabbled in CGI with productions such as Owzat, Al Dante, The Deadline, Planet Sketch and Flushed Away.

Aardman Features is a feature film division of Aardman Animations.

Aardman is also known to provide generous resources and training to young animators by providing awards at various animation festivals. For example, The Aardman Award at the UK's Animex Festival in Teesside (held in February,) provides world class story consultation to a promising young animator, for their next film.

In 2008, Aardman joined with Channel 4 and Lupus Films to launch a user-generated content animation portal called 4mations. They also designed the BBC One Christmas Idents for that year, which featured Wallace and Gromit to tie in with the showing of the new Wallace and Gromit film entitled A Matter of Loaf and Death on Christmas Day at 8:30pm.

Currently, Aardman are partnered with Cosgrove Hall Films to produce a feature film version of the popular animated series Count Duckula to be distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In April 2008, Aardman launched the Aardman Youtube channel, which is a Youtube Partner channel featuring the entire Creature Comforts TV series, the Morph series, Cracking Contraptions and clips from the Wallace and Gromit films.

In 2009 Nintendo announced that Aardman would make twelve films using only Flipnote Studio from Nintendo DSi. All 12 films will be posted on Flipnote's Hatena web service provider. The first film is entitled 'The Sandwich Twins' and will be released on September 16,2009. The remaining eleven films will posted on a weekly basis until Christmas, and can also be downloaded using Hatena .

Company name

The company name is taken from one of its early characters, a superhero created for Vision On in 1972. Unlike the claymation productions that the company are famous for, Aardman was cel-animated. The name comes from the Dutch word "aarde" meaning "earth". However, "aardman" is more commonly translated as "goblin".

Warehouse fire

On October 10, 2005, a serious fire at Aardman's storage warehouse destroyed over 30 years of prop, models, scenery and awards collected by the company. This warehouse was used for storage of past projects and so did not prevent the production of their current projects at the time. In addition, the company's library of finished films were stored elsewhere and were undamaged. An electrical fault was determined to be the cause of the blaze. [8919]Referring to the South Asia earthquake, Nick Park was quoted as saying, "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal."[8920] The warehouse has been repaired.

Non-Aardman productions by Aardman directors

A number of Aardman directors have worked at other studios, taking the distinctive Aardman style with them. As a result, there are some animated films that, while not actually made by Aardman, are often mistaken for Aardman productions, and may be of interest to fans of the studio.

Barry Purves, director of the Aardman short Next, also directed Hamilton Mattress for Harvest Films. The film, a half-hour special that premiered on Christmas Day 2001, was produced by Chris Moll, producer of the Wallace and Gromit short film The Wrong Trousers. The models were provided by Mackinnon & Saunders, a firm that did the same for Bob the Builder and Corpse Bride.

Similarly, Robbie the Reindeer in Hooves of Fire, a BBC Bristol/Comic Relief production, was directed by Richard Goleszowski, creator of Rex the Runt. Its sequel, Robbie the Reindeer in Legend of the Lost Tribe, was directed by Peter Peake, whose directorial credits for Aardman include Pib and Pog and Humdrum.

Complete list of productions


  • Peter Lord & Brian Sibley: Cracking Animation (1998) Thames & Hudson; ISBN 0-500-28168-8
  • Wallace & Gromit and the Lost Slipper (1997)
  • Wallace & Gromit in Anoraknophobia (1998)
  • Wallace & Gromit: Crackers in Space (1999)
  • Creating Creature Comforts (2003)
  • The World of Wallace & Gromit (2004)
  • The Art of Wallace & Gromit: Curse of The Were-Rabbit (2005)
  • Wallace & Gromit's official UK publisher, Egmont UK

See also


External links

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