View Full Version : New Aardman short films on Deadline

09 September 2002, 02:26 AM
Hi all,

Yours truly has just posted this article on the new Deadline short films by Aardman.

Catch it here:



09 September 2002, 03:57 PM
awesome Leo!! I really dig their work. Nice writeup bud :thumbsup:


John Lee
09 September 2002, 04:22 PM
Hey Ill dragon

Yeah i was there last year at Copenhagan 3d festival it was excellent!!! To watch it n the Big screen as was obious they were going to win!!! Big thumbs up!! To Stefan and the Guys at ardman!!!


09 September 2002, 05:08 PM
Great article!
I always liked that "Deadline" animation.

09 September 2002, 05:17 PM
Amazing talent at Aardman. I really think they are in the position to become the next big player in the CG animated feature film arena. Their level of originality and style is right up there with Pixar's.

I would have to think that a CG animated feature would be on the horizon for Aardman and I think they could pull it off with great success. As a studio, they already understand the logistics of a feature as they've already pulled off Chicken Run under Nick Park's direction.

Let's cross are fingers.

genesis max
09 September 2002, 07:12 PM
This article is a little short, and doesn't says much about how they do their shorts, your previous articles are much better.that is my opinion. :shrug:

09 September 2002, 07:29 PM
actually... it's an outdated one :D

I saw this short probably a year ago :shrug: It's cool... not there best but cool.

09 September 2002, 11:28 PM
Hey Visualboo -- you're right, The Deadline is a year old. But the article covers the five new shorts that were produced for Nickelodeon to air in October.



09 September 2002, 11:46 PM
Doh!! :D

09 September 2002, 01:06 AM
i saw this clip before and i realy love them, funny character and funny story line.
Nice stuff, keep post......:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

09 September 2002, 02:55 AM
Looks good
They rule at Aardman
I love the facial morph targets they show there. They're really nicely modeled, only it hurts me to see the Nickelodean logo..

09 September 2002, 09:33 AM
I love Aardman since the 1st W&G film I saw...
Nice article, funny to see they use the same technique for their lip-synchrone (spelling?) in 3D as in clay animation.

09 September 2002, 09:39 AM
Just goes to show that artistic talent supercedes computer-literacy.

Wish they'd make a CG wallace and gromit though.

09 September 2002, 05:26 AM
Awesome work. Good to see 3D Festival coming out with high quality content. I thought the article was just right in legth, I wouldn't have read much more anyway -- and some of you didn't read the article judging from the posts here.



09 September 2002, 02:35 PM

I'm glad you liked the article - I thought Leonard did a very good job. I'm even more glad that you liked the film - thanks.

Maybe one day I'll get a chance to go into more detail as to how we did it (you can probably guess though - it's not very impressive technically). If you can make it - I'll cover it in a little more detail in my talk at LEAF/3DF.

Cheers - Stefan

09 September 2002, 10:07 AM
Ok, for those of you who wanted more about how we made the films (even though I showed you my blendshapes) here's a brief description of the interesting bits.

We started with the photoshop sketches. I find drawing the characters and sticking to those designs results in a much more interesting model than if you start modelling in Maya without some reference. You tend to make things in a way that's easy to do for the software and inevitably it ends up looking a bit, well, computery. I like the quirkiness that comes from using sketches.

So, these drawings were used as a template for the models and then also as the textures. I just projected them on and used the convert to uv tool so that I could tidy them up.

The blend shapes are based on the standard Aardman method. I have a photocopied sheet of the 20 or so different mouths for the chicken run characters. The good thing about a computer is - i don't need to do nearly as many. The plasticene ones are used more as replacements and I can make a lot of the same ones by mixing blendshapes.

I've narrowed it down to 6 really important ones..

uh (also works as a kind of jaw)

I spent a fair bit of time getting these right. I hate it when you see tight creases in the corner of a mouth - flesh, or whatever these characters are made of just doesn't bend like that. I try to get a feel for the volume and how it moves around for the different shapes - it has to go somewhere. Of course they're slightly exagerrated too - with bmp or fv I really like to get a feel of the lower lip and chin flesh being pulled up and stretched over the lower teeth. Also the tension that is inherent in the bmp shape - you can feel it just wanting to pop open.

Dan did a lovely job of modeling and lighting the set. Set wise - we didn't want anything symmetrical - If a cup was made - we'd squash it slightly oval and tilt the top edge off the horizontal. Computers are very good at horizontals and verticals which are more perfect than you ever get in real life. Once you lose the machined look the objects start to get character and warmth. Bevels are very important too for nice highlights - very few things have a razor like edge - apart from razors.

Once we all had our basic characters (nicely setup by Wee Brian) we all customised them with extra blendshapes and so on. The eyes in particular had loads of variations. Dan, as an angry character, made lots of cross, bitter expressions - including a pair of eyes that stuck out like daggers. It's these tweaks that allowed each of us to inject our own character.

Now the animation. We've all got traditional 2D backgrounds - so we're not afraid to use holds or get a move done in the minimum of frames. Often computer animation can look very slow and syrupy - the computers adding too much cushioning. Get in to those curves and break the handles. Use a bit of anticipation and see how fast you can move something acroos the screen or equally, how little you can get away with doing. It makes for much more interesting viewing.

Actually I'm jumping ahead a bit. The fist thing we did was spend a day doing a block through - each doing his own character. These were roughly composited as playblasts so that we could see who was doing what. We could see then wheere to alter the timings, when not to do anything and focus on the others and when we could steal the show. We then went off and animated further. I like to do passes - first the lip synch, then the body, the head, the arms, finishing with the fingers. Others like to just start at the beginning and work their way through doing all the elements together. Every other day we'd put our developing animations together again so as to get an idea of how it was progressing and what we might need to change. Brain chose to experiment with an almost stop motion approach - adding keys all over the place. I think it worked very well - giving his excitable character real energy. Dan added quite a lot of squash and stretch by simply scaling his features - it really helped with the fast moves he made during his outbursts. With my character I tried to keep it very simple - to balance out the other two. I often just sat back and used him as a way of leading the viewers to what they're supposed to look at. When we first put our animations together, there was too much to look at as we were all very animated all the time. So basically I did very little with my character, I just tried to get some of his nervousness across with his eyes - and really savoured the bits when he was talking.

Finally the characters were rendered. In the original short they were rendered together - with the table as a shadow object. In the later episodes they were rendered separately for the sake of speed - but you really don't notice a huge difference.

The rendered frames were composited in After Effects where some fake volumetric lighting and background shadows were added - stuff like this is so much quicker to do here than in the 3D software.

And that was it. Not the most technically impressive film in the world. But by keeping it simple we could concentrate on the story and acting and really enjoy ourselves - and not get stressed about producing a fair bit of animation in quite a short time.

Hope this helps - if nothing else, it's helped me think about my talk next month.

Cheers - Stefan

09 September 2002, 01:49 PM
Wow. I will not be able to attend LEAF/3DF so thank you very much for sharing.

I was able to go back and watch "Deadline" several more times after reading your description and see exactly what you wrote about. The crooked cup and the squash/stretch in Dan's character in particular! It is very educational and inspiring.

Would it be possible to share what you did for "volumetric lighting" in AE?

In any case, thanks again!


09 September 2002, 01:59 PM
I say volumetric lighting - but it's really just a pale yellow triangular mask, softened and overlayed.

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