Luca:I am a massive fan of The Wrong Trousers, A Grand Day Out, The Curse Of The Ware Rabbit, Early Man, Chicken Run, A Close Shave, The Pirates!, A Matter Of Loaf And Death and The Farmer's Llamas. So I interviewed Claire Cohen who works for Aardman Animation.
What do you do in your job?
Claire: I'm Claire and my job title is Creative Lead for the puppet department on the Shaun the Sheep half hour special which Aardman Animation are producing to be released on Netflix this Christmas.
Each morning I arrive at the studio early and we get started with a crew meeting (on zoom) where the producer runs through the day's schedule so that we all know which animators are shooting with which puppets on each set. There are twenty sets, twelve animators and about 60 puppets to keep track of!
I have 8 puppet-makers on my team so I spend some time organising and briefing them so that the right puppets get made for when they are needed on set. I also get to do some making during the day which is the best part of my job. Today I made some different hairstyles for the leading lady.
What qualifications do you need to have in this job?
Claire: It is possible to qualify as a model maker but people come into the profession from many different art backgrounds. For example, I have a university degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing but others in my team come from graphics, fine art or sculpture backgrounds.
Would you recommend this job?
Claire: I would recommend a creative job. It is very satisfying to be making real objects with your hands.
How big are the models for Wallace and Gromit?
Claire: Wallace is about 25cm tall and Gromit is 15cm! We make the puppets so that they are a good size for animators to move by hand.
How much does it cost to make the model and what are they made of?
Claire: Puppets vary in price massively from about £10,000 upwards depending on the length of development time and the number of skilled people working on them, more than the cost of materials. They all have a metal skeleton called an armature so they support themselves and hold all necessary positions. On top of this they may be sculpted in plasticine or moulded and cast in silicone or latex and then painted or dressed in fabric clothes just like tiny little people.
What's the easy part of the job and what's the difficult part?
Claire: The easiest part of the job for me is the metal work followed by fabric work, my favourite. The hardest part is keeping up with the demands of a fast moving shoot, although this is quite exciting!
What would you say to someone who is interested in Stop-frame animation?
Claire:Someone interested in Stop-frame animation should have a go at making their own film there are many apps to try out and all kinds of materials around the house can be brought to life.
What are your favourite Stop-frame animation series?
Claire: My all time favourite stop-frame animation is The Clangers. A classic from the 1970's but maybe you are too young to remember it!
Luca: Overall, I think I am quite interested in stop frame animation. I have booked a Model making webinar with Aardman Animation. I think it is interesting that the models have a metal skeleton underneath. This shows that there are many jobs for Aardman Animation and many different qualifications could lead to a job there.
On 16 May 2021, 18:59 Emrys Green Voice Team commented:
A really insightful interview Luca, thankyou! I never knew there was the skeleton inside the models like that. And glad you're following this up with a webinar too.