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Wallace and Gromit

You are in: Bristol > Features > Wallace and Gromit > Ian's flushed away

Ian's flushed away

Aardman animator Ian Whitlock sends us the second in a series of postcards from the DreamWorks headquarters in California, where he is working on the latest Aardman film Flushed Away - the Bristol company's first CGI feature.

As the hustle and bustle of the Oscars, and Wallace and Gromit's Academy success dies away, it's back to the computer for Ian and the rest of the Aardman animators in Glendale.

Dear Bristol

Things are going well here at the moment although California hasn't been quite as sunny as I thought it would be!

Now that the Oscar hype has died down, things are falling into place with the animation for me. I've had my first shot approved, which is off to a good start and I'm just starting my next batch of shots.

Animator Ian Whitlock at work on Were-Rabbit set

Ian working hands-on on the Were-Rabbit

The difference with working on CGI as opposed to stop-motion is that they tend to launch you on a few shots at once, instead of working on one shot at a time, which does seem to help keep you busy whilst waiting for the director to see you.

The reason this doesn't work for us stop-motion workers is that you really don't want to strike a set until the shot has been definitely approved and the film is back safe from the labs.

Once your shot's been cut into the rest of the feature and the director is happy, then and only then, is it time for the next shot.

As you can see, with up to 30 animators and all the other day-to-day business, your time can get very limited with the director.

But CGI has its fair share of problems too, like being able to go back and constantly tweak shots so it does feel like you've never quite finished anything -  as with most things in life you feel it can always be done that little bit better.

Over the Hedge

The film (due for US release in November) is looking great and DreamWorks are getting ready for their May 19 US release (it's due in the UK on 30 June) of  their latest feature Over The Hedge, which Jeffrey Katzenberg said was the best test screening they'd ever had for one of their animated films.

Scene from Over the Hedge - copyright DreamWorks

DreamWorks' new release - Over the Hedge

This was said at quite a funny company meeting, which Aardman's Nick Park, Steve Box, Peter Lord and David Sproxton attended - of course with the Oscars.

They had a live link up with DreamWorks' other studio, PDI, over in San Francisco and Jeffrey did a Q&A session with them.  

It was good to see them all up there and it did make us all feel proud to have worked on the Curse of the Were-Rabbit film.

Jeffrey read all our names out to the audience to let them know that we were helping out on Flushed Away, which was a nice acknowledgement.

There's not really much else to say at the moment, only that there are a few story changes going on which is normal for any feature and the real pressure's going to come just after the start of May when things will be more or less locked for the film.

I'll write again soon

Ian

last updated: 18/09/07

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