Aardman Animations

Aardman Animations

Aardman Animations, Ltd., also known as Aardman Studios, is an Academy Award-winning British animation studio based in Bristol, United Kingdom. The studio is famous for its stop-motion, clay animation productions, particularly those featuring Plasticine duo Wallace & Gromit.


Early years

Aardman was founded in 1976 as a low-budget project by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who wanted to realize their dream of producing an animated motion picture. The duo's first big break was providing animated sequences for the children's art series, Vision On, for which they created Morph, a simple clay character. Around the same time Lord and Sproxton made their first foray into adult animation with the shorts Down and Out and Confessions of a Foyer Girl, entries in the BBC's Animated Conversations series using used real-life conversations as soundtracks. However, these two shorts were not actual Aardman productions.

Later Aardman produced a number of shorts for Channel 4 including the Conversation Pieces series. These five shorts worked in the same area as the Animated Conversations pieces, but were more sophisticated. Lord and Sproxton began hiring more animators at this point; three of the newcomers made their directorial debut at Aardman with the Lip Synch series. Of the five Lip Synch shorts two were directed by Peter Lord, one by Barry Purves, one by Richard Goleszowski and one by Nick Park.


Park's short, Creature Comforts, was the first Aardman production to win an Oscar. Park also developed the world-famous clay modelled shorts featuring the adventures of Wallace & Gromit, a comical pair of buddies: Wallace being a naive English green-knitted-tank-top-wearing inventor, and Gromit his best pal, the intelligent but silent dog. The pair undertake many adventures such as A Grand Day Out (1989), The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), the latter two winning Academy awards. In 2000 Aardman Studios produced their first feature film, Chicken Run, an award-winning worldwide box-office hit.


Following the success of Chicken Run, DreamWorks and Aardman signed a 3-picture deal, the first being the return of Wallace and Gromit after a ten year absence in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The film took the next Academy award for full-length animated film.

From 2006-2007, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan, had an exhibit featuring the works of Aardman Studios. Sproxton and Lord visited the exhibit in May 2006 and met with Hayao Miyazaki during the visit. Miyazaki has long been a fan of the Aardman Animation works.

On October 3, 2006, The New York Times reported that due to creative differences Dreamworks Animation and Aardman would not be extending their contract. According to Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff, "The business model of DreamWorks no longer suits Aardman and vice versa. But the split couldn't have been more amicable."


In April 2007 Aardman signed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Aardman co-founder Peter Lord remarked "We are all very excited by the potential and have a number of projects we are keen to bring to fruition with this new relationship.

While Aardman is best known for stop motion, the studio has also dabbled in CGI with productions such as Owzat, Al Dante, The Deadline, Planet Sketch and Flushed Away.

Aardman Features is a feature film division of Aardman Animations.

Aardman is also known to provide generous resources and training to young animators by providing awards at various animation festivals. For example, The Aardman Award at the UK's Animex Festival in Teesside (held in February,) provides world class story consultation to a promising young animator, for their next film.

Aardman Also Signed a deal with Hit Entertainment then back to DreamWorks

Company name

The company name is taken from one of its early characters, a superhero created for Vision On in 1972. Aardman was cel-animated. The name comes from the Dutch word "aard" meaning "earth". However, "aardman" is more commonly translated as "goblin".

Selected productions

Warehouse fire

On October 10, 2005, a serious fire at Aardman's storage warehouse destroyed over 30 years of props, models, scenery and awards collected by the company. This warehouse was used for storage of past projects and so did not prevent the production of their current projects at the time. In addition, the company's library of finished films were stored elsewhere and were undamaged. An electrical fault was determined to be the cause of the blaze. Referring to the South Asia earthquake, Nick Park was quoted as saying, "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal."

Non-Aardman productions by Aardman directors

A number of Aardman directors have worked at other studios, taking the distinctive Aardman style with them. As a result, there are some animated films that, while not actually made by Aardman, are often mistaken for Aardman productions, and may be of interest to fans of the studio.

Barry Purves, director of the Aardman short Next, also directed Hamilton Mattress for Harvest Films. The film, a half-hour special that premiered on Christmas Day 2001, was produced by Chris Moll, producer of the Wallace and Gromit short film The Wrong Trousers. The models were provided by Mackinnon & Saunders, a firm that did the same for Bob the Builder and Corpse Bride.

Similarly, Robbie the Reindeer in Hooves of Fire, a BBC Bristol/Comic Relief production, was directed by Richard Goleszowski, creator of Rex the Runt. Its sequel, Robbie the Reindeer in Legend of the Lost Tribe, was directed by Peter Peake, whose directorial credits for Aardman include Pib and Pog and Humdrum.


  • Peter Lord & Brian Sibley: Cracking Animation (1998) Thames & Hudson; ISBN 0-500-28168-8
  • Wallace & Gromit and the Lost Slipper (1997)
  • Wallace & Gromit in Anoraknophobia (1998)
  • Wallace & Gromit: Crackers in Space (1999)
  • Creating Creature Comforts (2003)
  • The World of Wallace & Gromit (2004)

See also

External links

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