Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kidding Around

In this age of computer-generated animation à la Pixar, it’s nice to see that some “old-school” techniques are often still the best school. Wallace and Gromit are two animated characters—a man and a dog, respectively—created by what is colloquially known as “claymation”—plasticine modeling clay is applied to metal armatures, and the figures are filmed using stop-motion photography, or one tiny movement at a time. It’s a time-consuming and laborious process, but the results speak for themselves, as you’ll be able to see on Saturday night, January 14, when the Saratoga Film Forum screens three W&G short features as part of the “Family Flick” series.
Wallace and Gromit were the brainchild of the UK’s Nick Park, who has a long history in animation. In 1985, he was hired by Bristol-based Aardman Animations (which produces the W&G films), and one of his earliest claims to fame was working on the cutting-edge stop-motion-animated music video for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” (the dancing chickens were his). In 1989, a short film about talking animals living in a zoo (“Creature Comforts”) was spun off into a much-loved series of advertisements for the UK Electricity Board, which have since been named among the top 20 TV ads of the past 50 years.
Park created Wallace and Gromit in 1989 and the first W&G short was A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit which, along with The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, will be screened on Saturday. The series has gone on to win numerous awards, including three Oscars.
An extensive interview with Nick Park can be found by clicking here.
By the way, the Film Forum Family Flick is a new series launched last fall in which the screening is run entirely by kids who choose the film, man the projection booth, sell the concessions and generally run the show. If you happen to know any kids who might be interested, let us know at The Family Flick series is sponsored by the Nordlys Foundation and all proceeds will be donated to charity.

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