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Shaun the Sheep Movie

So this is was an interesting personal introduction to how stuff gets done At The Movies….  Bristol sure isn’t Hollywood, thankfully, and this was definitely the case with my involvement in a short motion graphics sequence in Aardman’s Golden Globe/Annie/BAFTA/OSCAR nominated* Shaun the Sheep feature film.  Senior designer at Aardman, also an annual collaborator, creative gangster and guilty by association Gav Strange was involved in the film designing graphics for a blog, memes, tablet & phone screens, and a few other bits and bobs to look the part in the STS world and he suggested to the producers that I get involved to bring his still images to life.

What I did:

Motion graphics and some basic compositing for a montage sequence in the middle of the film, loosely based around sharing photos online, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, image searches, memes, social media frenzies, moral panics, onion terrors… that kind of thing.

How I did it:

After Effects and Mocha AE.  Nothing fancy, just a healthy dollop of “Let’s get this done”, keyframes, indefatigable patience and constantly bashing my head off a brick wall trying to work out why colourspaces weren’t matching up and how to correct it – we ended up rendering out mattes for the graphics and those fine folks in Technicolour grading it accordingly, happy days at last.

Animation? No probs.  It goes without saying that the motion graphics here are pretty low key and uncomplicated, in keeping with the STS style – initially we were thinking to throw in all manner of super high-tech AE craziness, which would’ve put Iron Man style HUD’s and Minority Report holographic computer interfaces to shame, but we quickly worked out that would’ve looked ludicrous by comparison to the STS aesthetic…

Tracking wasn’t easy, down to a lack of tracking markers (grumblegrumble), followed by a reshoot for a couple of shots (cue John McEnroe-style anger), but not really that difficult, despite practically doing it frame by frame.  However, knowing that both the entire film is created frame by frame and that fans of the film could easily watch this film a couple of hundred times or even that this will end up broadcast countless of times over Christmas in years to come was constantly running in the back of my head, which can lead to undue anxiety/World Cup winning goal celebrations.  The film was done at 1998 x 1124, but considering Aardman shoot their stop-frame work with a DSLR, several images were huuuuuge and just right for doing the auld zoom-into-a-screen thing where you need more pixels to play with.

Background info:

Gav & I have done a handful of small-scale side projects for fun over the years, but when people like Aardman come knocking, you make sure you answer the door, invite them in, feed them your own personal batch of high-grade salted caramel cookies and get them comfy on your Eames lounge chair.  Christ, it’s Aardman…  When I first moved to Bristol from Dublin back in 2004, doing something like this for a company like this was simply a pipe dream, a completely distant, unrealistic ambition, so needless to say, I was excited/nervous as all hell to get involved with this.

Check out a review here and a quick behind the scenes article here.

*Get on down with your bad self!  Working on an Oscar nominated film, so stoked on this!

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