The Mill meets Merlin Crossingham
Thursday, December 20, 2012
There are a few things that make Christmas complete. Family,
friends, shiny new toys, drowning in wrapping paper, pigs in
blankets, finding yourself eating the rejected Quality Street
toffees even though you don't like them and of course, Wallace and
Gromit! This winter, the new offering from Wallace and Gromit comes
from a team up with Google, to star in a festive video that aims to
connect family and friends this holiday season.
Appearing together with a number of other Aardman Animation
characters for the very first time, the video features Wallace and
Gromit in a Google+ Hangout with Trixie and Captain
Cuddlepuss from Creature Comforts, Shaun the Sheep and Ginger from
I caught up with Merlin Crossingham, Creative Director for
Wallace and Gromit for an exclusive insight into this magical
meeting of much-loved characters.
How did the Google+ creation originate?
From my point of view this was first pitched to us as a concept
created by adam&eveDDB on behalf of Google as part of their
on-going advertising campaign. We all loved the idea, as for many
of us who have worked with these characters for years (decades in
some cases) they are like family.
How did you approach the project?
With great enthusiasm, who wouldn't?
What were the challenges involved?
The biggest challenge for us was the need to have the characters
present continuously on the small screens at the bottom of the
monitor once they joined the hangout conversation. It may seem like
an obvious thing to say but animation takes a long time, and it is
most definitely not live, so making sure that all the characters'
choreography worked was critical. This wasn't 'just' a minute of
animation it was nearer four, and once we started animating the
edit had to lock, as one change in a timeline had a huge domino
effect on the other characters' actions.
It's a huge event for everyone having so many Aardman
characters together at once… At what point was the decision to do
The decision to have all the characters together was intrinsic to
the original brief, of bringing the family together. However our
characters have always been very much kept in their own worlds. I
think the only reason they hadn't come together before was that
there had been no reason to, the Google+ job gave us that reason
with a great idea, and it specifically needed their worlds to
remain apart, but be brought together in a hangout.
Did all the characters get on (personality and
Luckily as it was a video conference none of them had to actually
meet, I think there would have been potential problems with
dressing room size between Piella and Ginger. Shaun and the gang
just muck in and so long as you can take destruction, constant
eating and incessant bleating in your stride, they behave very well
on a shoot. As for Wallace and Gromit they are old pros, Gromit
never misses a beat.
Did you use any new techniques?
The basic stop-motion techniques we use are as old as cinema
itself, however we embrace the latest digital capture and
compositing techniques both within Aardman and at post facilities
like The Mill, wherever it is needed. We use whatever technology is
best to achieve the creativity needed for the job.
What was your favourite moment whilst working on
The best thing about working on Google+ was being able to work
with characters that I never thought I would get the chance to work
with again, but all in one project! The film runs like a
brief history of my career at Aardman.