50 Things You Never Knew About Aardman: Part One

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A short while ago, we paid Aardman a visit down in Bristol. We were treated to a VIP access-all-areas tour of the offices, studios and workshop. In the course of that tour, we learnt an awful lot about Aardman - like where does the name even come from? Read on and you will know as much as we do by the end of it. Here's Part One of two:

1. With 4 Oscars, Nick Park is most successful British director in history.

2. They do Yoga on Wednesdays - on the roof terrace if it's nice.

3. The creative director for Wallace and Gromit is called Merlin.

4. They have their own Cycle Club. Merlin built his own bike, creating the prototype out of pencils.

5. Merlin has a model of Gromit as a puppy by his desk.

6. All the Aardman claymation characters have a metal skeleton inside called an armature.

7. Except Morph. He's 100% modelling clay.

8. The modelling clay they use is called Newplast.

9. It's mixed in a bubblegum machine to get the right colour for Wallace. They eye-match it.

10. They create 3D plastic templates to help animator a get a feel for the proportions and expressions of the characters.

11. For feature films, they might use more than 20 versions of each character. They shoot different scenes on different sets at the same time and the light can dry out the modelling clay.

12. On a good day each team might animate 4 seconds of screen time.

13. Two of the interviewees in the Creature Comforts series were the cleaners at Aardman.

14. They still work there now.

15. Aardman preparing to launch a Wallace & Gromit ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

16. It's called "Thrill-O-Matic" and they're describing as a 'pink-knuckle ride'.

17. And you're carried through the ride in one of Wallace's giant slippers.

18. They've created 'Gromit Unleashed' this summer - Eighty Gromits around Bristol, each one 5 feet tall and customised by celebrities and artists to raise money for the Bristol Children's Hospital.

19. Harry Hill, Pixar, Joanna Lumley and Zayn from One Direction all did one each.

Little Egotists with Joanna Lumley's Gromit (not a euphemism)Little Egotists with Joanna Lumley's Gromit (not a euphemism)

20. We found 15 on our trip to Bristol.

21. There's one right outside Aardman's headquarters, designed by Aardman designer, Gavin Strange.

22. You can download a dedicated app to help you find them all. It's called Detect-o-Gromit.

23. Or D.O.G. for short.

24. Aardman HQ is situated by Bristol's historic harbour, 200 yards from the SS Great Britain.

25. They have a larger studio where they make features a little way out of Bristol.

Part Two arrives tomorrow. This is a cross-post from The London Egotist.

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