Spoken Language: English
Business: Media Production, Arts and Entertainment
Aardman has a well-deserved reputation as a world leader in model animation. Their award-winning work is often imitated and yet the company continues to lead the field, producing a unique brand of independent film alongside work for broadcast and advertising spots.The studio has had seven Oscar® nominations, and has been awarded four.
Peter Lord and David Sproxton began their animating partnership at school. In 1972 they registered the name Aardman Animations. After graduating, they moved to Bristol in 1976 where they created Morph for the children's programme 'Take Hart'.
From the start Peter and David were interested in developing an adult audience for model animation. Conversation Pieces commissioned by Channel Four Television in 1982 enabled the pair to develop its innovative technique of animating puppet characters to real-life conversations. With films like Early Bird (set in a local radio station) Aardman demonstrated that real people could be characterised with insight, humour and sensitivity.
Peter and David met Nick Park at the National Film and Television School when he was working on his student film A Grand Day Out. He joined Aardman full time in 1985.
In 1986, Peter Gabriel suggested that they collaborate with director Stephen Johnson and the Brothers Quay to create a new rock video. Sledgehammer went on to collect many awards that year. That original combination of rhythm, energy, style and visual flair was also harnessed to provide the visual accompaniment to the late Nina Simone's My Baby Just Cares For Me and Robert Parker's Barefootin'.
In 1989 the studio was again commissioned by Channel Four Television to create a series of five 5-minute films, Lip Synch. This ground-breaking series further explored the world of animation based on true characters and real voices and included Peter Lord's War Story and Going Equipped, Barry Purves' Next, Richard Goleszowski's Ident and Nick Park's Creature Comforts, which went on to win the 1990 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
In 1993 Aardman passed another milestone with the completion of Nick Park's Oscar winning The Wrong Trousers, Aardman's first 30 minute film. Acclaimed world-wide and winner of over thirty awards, The Wrong Trousers has become one of the most successful animated films ever made.
In 1995 Aardman produced Nick Park's third Oscar winning film A Close Shave. An immediate success, it confirmed the studio's reputation as well as establishing Wallace and Gromit as household names. In 1996 the studio produced Peter Lord's Oscar nominated 11' short film, Wat's Pig (for Channel Four) as well as a children's series based on Morph, The Morph Files.
In 1998, Aardman won a BAFTA for Stage Fright, an 11minute short film commissioned by Channel Four Television. Steve Box, Nick Park's key animator on both The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, directed Stage Fright.
The studio's first animated television series for youth and adults, Rex The Runt, created and directed by long time Aardman associate Richard Goleszowski, was first shown on BBC2 in 1998 and garnered many top international awards. A second series was commissioned and shown on BBC2 in 2001. Angry Kid, directed by Darren Walsh, was Aardman's first series released exclusively on the internet, via Atomfilms.com. BBC Three commissioned a second series which played a major part in the channel's launch.
Chicken Run was Aardman's first full-length theatrical feature film to be funded by DreamWorks. Directed by both Peter Lord and Nick Park it was released in June 2000 in the US and UK to excellent reviews and outstanding box office receipts. Chicken Run grossed over $220M at the worldwide box office.
In autumn 2002 Aardman released Cracking Contraptions, a series of 10 x 1 minute Wallace and Gromit films. The films debuted on the Internet and were viewed by hundreds of thousands of people world-wide. All 10 films were then shown on BBC1 over the 2002 autumn and Christmas schedule. The films were also released online in the US via AtomFilms who went on to offer a subscription package for all ten.
To mass critical acclaim and outstanding box office results, Wallace and Gromit's first feature film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was released by DreamWorks in October 2005. The film topped the box office charts in both the US and UK and garnered many prestigious international awards including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and a BAFTA for Best British Film.
As the success of Curse of the Were-Rabbit reverberated around the world a fire swept through a storage warehouse containing models, props and many other treasures created by the animators and designers at Aardman.
Flushed Away, the studio's first CG film was released worldwide by DreamWorks in November 2006, it was nominated for a BAFTA in 2007.
Aardman's television series, Shaun the Sheep debuted on BBC1 and CBBC in March 2007. Inspired by Nick Park's 1995 Academy Award winning short film A Close Shave, the series has been sold worldwide. Also in 2007 Aardman produced a US version of Creature Comforts.
Aardman now has a feature film deal with SONY Pictures. The first film to go into production is 'Pirates', directed by Peter Lord. A number of other feature films are in development.
Wallace and Gromit's latest adventure A Matter of Loaf and Death was broadcast on BBC One on Christmas day 2008 and enthralled a record audience of 16.15M. It went on to win the BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film. Every Wallace and Gromit adventure has now won a BAFTA.
In March 2009 Wallace and Gromit will feature in a major exhibition at the Science Museum in London.
Timmy Time, Aardman's first pre-school TV production is nearing completion and will be broadcast on CBeebies in April 2009.
As the studio's reputation has grown both in the UK and overseas, so has the demand for its commercials work.
Agencies appreciate the contribution that Aardman's directors and animators can make to an original idea and a client list including Chevron, Serta, Hershey's, Tennants, Central Office for Information, McVities, Kelloggs and Leonard Cheshire Disability. Aardman produce approximately 75 commercials each year, using a wide variety of animation styles. As well as working in stop frame, productions in CGI, Flash and mixed media are thriving.
From Peter and David's tabletop beginnings, Aardman has grown into a major, world class studio. Their work continues to be innovative, entertaining, brilliantly characterised and full of charm, reflecting the talent, energy and personal commitment of all the people who comprise the Aardman team.