Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Crackin' train journey, Gromit!"

Yesterday I spent 7 and a half hours on the train lines of Great Britain, thanks mainly to having been invited down to meet with the lovely people at Aardman, in Bristol. Imagine the joy that burst forth from my chest when getting onto the train at York I found myself sat next to a shaven headed oik with the tinniest R'n'B pumping (or should I say crackling) out of his ipod into his jug ears. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I could have danced. Thankfully, he got off in the Midlands, hopefully to go and submit the good folk of Derby to his not-so-unique brand of poopy music. The rest of journey was an uninterrupted pleasure, there and back, as I was able to crack on with my writing, turning in about 7,000 words.

Big thanks to Dean @ Aards Features for giving me the "special tour", which I was assured was a rarity. The last person he'd done the tour for was some time ago, and happened to be Mike Hodges, director of such wideranging classics as Get Carter and Flash Gordon! So felt suitably VIPped up :-) Got to see some of the rushes from the new Creature Comforts USA series which possibly looks even better than the UK stuff. There's a wealth of loony voices for them to play with there, and they have a crew of something like 30 animators working on it, unbelievable.

Twas a splendid trip (thanks Cath!)

I've attached the picture from A CLOSE SHAVE up top as the soap box is my first ever job in animation. Nick asked me to make a Daz-esque box of soap powder called Sud-U-Like. That felt like a heck of a lot of responisbility for a work experience grunt, but I rushed down to the supermarket and stood there in the detergent aisle, garnering strange looks and looking like a proper plum as I sketched washing powder boxes!

I was made up when the Soap Box featured on one of the official postcards from the film.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the joys of rail travel. Well, pleased you got a good chunk of writing done anyway.
Ooh, fancy tours! When I used to wear my fashion head I designed a mad max inspired bikini for Brookside and as part of my 'reward' I got a tour of the Brookside and Hollyoaks sets! I got to discover I wore the same size trousers as Terry and wrote my name with fridge magnets on the Corkhills fridge! Can only assume that your Aardman experience suffers in light of this, but you still had fun I'm sure.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

That was the best part of the film that soap box :) I like the 'Smeg' fridge in the Curse of the Were Rabbit movie that has been changed to 'Smug'
Glad you had a good time !

dragonhead said...

Gosh, can't remember the last time that a Wallace and Gromit movie was on TV. And Creature Comforts comes on too late for me to watch it. :/

So your first job came from designing a soap box. :) Neat!

Goobeetsablog said...

I painted some fences, and built some props for a stop-motion house in the US- but they went belly up.

glad to see your soap box will be part of animation history for years to come:)

What a great tour! your'e making your fellow artists here jealous (except for those working at aardman of course) Trips like that are inspirational- hope the writing went well.


Andrew Glazebrook said...

The one advantage of having the internet is that now you can search for all or most of your reference online so you don't have to stand in supermarket aisles.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Curtis. I toured the Aardman Studios awhile back when they were making the movie. It was a lot of fun! I got to hold a Wallace stand in doll.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that. Anonymous was me, Jeff Smith.

justinpatrickparpan said...

As always, I'm impressed Mr. Bling. I grew up on that flick, along with that little movie you worked on about a Martian invasion!

How’d it feel when they scrapped the Mars Attacks stop motion for C.G. I bet that had to sting?

ken said...

Wish I could say I designed that soap box! I remember chuckling when I saw that - great design! hehe.

Ahhh a close shave... bringing back nostalgic memories! Was only 12 when it first came out. I have that official postcard too.

Glad u enjoyed the tour, inspiring im sure!

ken :D

The Brothers McLeod said...

Hi Curtis - that's a long ole journey! I used to travel from Bristol to Yorkshire when I lived in the former and my future wife worked up at Harrogate theatre.

I heard once about a disrupter thing that can knock out tvs, radios, speakers and things - it makes those annoying rail passengers listen to white noise. I wonder if they're an old wive's tale or real?

Nice soap box btw. I wonder if Wallace used it later that day for a wool wash?


Jo Bling said...

Hey all. Sorry for break in posts, explanation in following post.

Gobeetsa - it was cool to do thr trip as I'd done it before when there was only a skeleton crew when they axed Tortoise and Hare. To go back when they were fully in production was a different experience altogether.

Glazey - internet is a blessing for any artist, don't know what I'd do without my Google ;-)

Jeff - good to hear from you sir. Nice to hear you got the tour too. A happier bunch of animators I've yet to meet, very smooth running ship. (Also, If you want to put your website address in and avoid the anonymous post, click on "Other" before you send, putting your name then webpage in. That'll work!)

JP - When Mars Attacks dumped stopmotion for CG it was truly gutting for all of us puppeteers. They were genuinely the best stop motion puppets ever made at the time and the sight of an army of marauding Martians would have been quite the spectacle. Still think we missed a trick there, but it's nice that TB came back to Mackinnon & Saunders to get them to make his cast of puppets for Corpse Bride.

Ken - 12 when Close Shave came out? You're a veritable nipper! :-D

Myles, squire! The only disruptor I'd like to use on said be-zitted yoof would have been somekind of alien technology disruptor ray that turned his insides into something that bore the consistency of a slush puppie! Bristol journey, besides that annoyance, was jolly fruitful :-)

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