Hi all you shaun fans out there,
Just to introduce myself...
I am an Animator working on Shaun the Sheep, and have just finished my first week on it, which was spent working on the remaining shots for the Nintendo project – in 3D! I did work on Series 2 of Shaun in 2009/10, but most recently I worked on the feature film, The Pirates: In An Adventure with Scientists, which was a great experience. It's out at the moment – go see it if you can! I also worked on some extra animation that should appear on the DVD/Blu Ray release of the film, and we literally finished shooting on Saturday 24th March.
Since I graduated in 2003 I have also worked as an Animator on a number of pre-school series, including Little Robots, Fifi & the Flowertots, Rupert Bear, Roary the Racing Car and Postman Pat, and I have been with Aardman since March 2009.
My plan is to write on here every week and give you all an insight into my job, and what things I tackle on a day to day basis. In general terms, as an Animator it is my responsibility to bring the characters to life. This involves, for those who are unfamilar with Stop-Motion, the process of physically posing the puppets and everything else that moves, and taking a picture – or frame, as we call it. Twelve of these frames are taken in order to create one second of footage you see on the screen. In reality there are 24 or 25 frames in each second, but we generally shoot everything twice.
(Click to enlarge the photos)
Each time I am about to start a new shot I discuss the 'motivation' of the scene with the director, work out basic timings and what the characters are going to do, and try to apply this as best I can into my animation. Usually we only get one go at each shot, so it is important to try and get things working well for the first time. Once I have been directed I work closely with the camera crew in order to discuss 'start' and 'end' positions for the action, and we also check that everything is in focus. I also work closely with riggers, who provide simple, yet incredibly effective pieces of engineering that are used to help characters do things like jumping, walking etc. Rigs are generally used to help with movements, keep puppets stable in the air, and to support them.
To kick things off then, I've included some pictures from Friday, which was my last shot on the Nintendo project. As you can see, it features a driver in a car and Shaun, along with some of his sheep friends, behind him. You will notice some rigs in the photos I have included. The driver is mounted on a 'winder', that allows him to remain secured to the car, but with the ability to be moved up and down. Shaun and his friends are mounted on similar rigs, but along a track. This way they can be moved along, up and down and in all directions.
Just so this first blog isn't massively long I'll leave it there for now, but will write later in the week and give further details on the action in this shot. In the meantime, why not have a guess at what the characters are up to?