In the third in our Aardman Academy guest blog series, Certificate in Character Animation student Evelyn Ross shares her experiences of week 7-9 of the Aardman and NFTS flagship course…
Our next assignment is to animate two characters and have them both show a sense of status and contact. This week was particularly challenging because whenever a stop-motion character attempts to be in contact or hold anything, it’s usually a 50/50 shot whether the puppet can actually hold the object or simply fall over. Thankfully, the Aardman puppets have strong armatures and are well-made, so this potential outcome didn’t happen.
I attempted to animate Jergend riding Hognob across the screen, which in theory could’ve been fun, but being that it was the first quadruped I’ve ever animated it was TOUGH, really tough. There were so many legs I had to keep track of and drilling the holes in the right spot was like playing a game of blind darts. I commend anyone who can do it well. For week 8, we had our first lip sync assignment and everyone was given two sound clips from the original Creature Comforts . Most clips were about 7 to 10 seconds long. One of my clips was a man with a northern English accent, he said, “I don’t think I’m that valuable, I think I’m worth about a hundred and forty two pounds”. I’ll never forget this line because I’ve listened to every syllable and incremental noise it makes. There were a few breaths I included, which was a slightly open replacement mouth, just to give it that extra human quality.
For week 9, everyone was given the sound sequence for their final project which was another clip from Creature Comforts, except that it had two characters speaking dialogue to one another instead of one. This was the first week that almost none of the stop-motion students got to animate because we were busy planning and preparing our set in accordance to our dialogue. In a way, it really feels like a professional animated scene we’ve directed and set-dressed. Even Nat and Guy from the lighting department came to change our lights so all of our scenes look very professional. I chose to animate my two characters in an animal hospital because the dialogue mentions the word “needles” several times. I quickly imagined two characters standing in front of a pig who is in need of a revival shot. It’s an odd choice but, hopefully the comedy in it will be understood.
The course is happening quite quickly now and everyone is in a rush to try and finish their projects. To document this moment we all took a group photo to future reminisce about this wonderful experience together.
Find out more about the Aardman Academy and the variety of training and events they offer here.