Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Aardman 3 Month Training Placement

Aardman NFTS
About time I updated this, to say I was over the moon to have offered a place on the brand new "Certificate in Character Animation" course - a 3 month intensive stop motion animation training course at the amazing Aardman Animation Studios based at their Gasferry Road studio in Bristol - a pilot course set up in conjunction with the prestigious National Film and Television School based in Beaconsfield, UK.

This is the most incredible experience to be trained and receive workshops/masterclasses by some fantastically talented animators and industry professionals. Day to day, I'm being trained by Loyd Price - head of Animation at Aardman, with a long career most of us dream of (credits include Nightmare before Christmas, Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the WereRabbit, Flushed Away and Pirates.) It makes such a difference to be taught by someone who knows exactly what they're talking about, helping me to see where things are going wrong on a shot and understanding how to improve them.

I'm learning loads, my animation skills have come on leaps and bounds - and I even got to pitch a feature film idea to the legendary Peter Lord (co-founder of Aardman - and a bloody marvellous chap).

Amazing just doesn't quite cover it.

: )

Training Puppet © Aardman Animations Ltd 2013   

***UPDATE*** Weekly Diary

Week 1 - Bouncing Balls.
Going back to master the basics. Understanding arcs of motion, weight and bounce of different types of ball - tennis, pingpong and cannon ball. A whole week spent bouncing balls might not sound like a great time, but it became incredibly useful in later weeks and as my tutor Loyd frequently stated - in animation "...it all comes back to the bouncing ball".

Week 2 - Sword thrust
Our first week with a professional puppet from Aardman's feature film "Pirates". Learning to use the puppet, understanding its armature and its limitations of movement. Working on balancing weight, body stances, anticipation of movement and single direction thrust.

Week 3 - Baseball bat
Learning about arcs of motion and how different parts of the body will rotate before others, and at differing speeds.

Week 4 - Weightlift
Learning to convey the illusion of weight, how it transfers and its impact on the body.

Week 5 - Walk cycle
One of the hardest things to convey in animation - a convincing walk cycle. As you rarely animate a character simply walking (they are almost always doing other things at the same time) it was useful to learn and understand the basics, which performance can then be laid on top of. I have shown here a straight walk, and one with a little more... swagger.

Week 6 - Character walks
Animating a walk with purpose. Practicing personality and character animation. One shows a relaxed character suddenly realising he is late and hurrying off in a panic. The second is tired and heavy (unfinished).

Week 7 - Run/Jump
Enhancing the skills learnt from practising walk cycles - now progressing to making a character run and jump. Using rigging to support character when he leaves the ground. (This support can be removed in post-production)

Week 8 - Lipsync
Working with replacement mouths from the Aardman "Pirates" feature film, I had to break down a sample of speech from a Creature Comforts clip and work out and test the mouth shapes to ensure a clean read. After several reworks - I had the mouth shapes and timings worked out, and set about tying them to a strong character performance.

Week 9 - Final project
Putting everything together from all the tasks learnt over the course I took a longer Creature Comforts clip, working out the mouths, planning a strong performance, and including a walk cycle, and several cuts.

And finally the best bits added into my showreel

Stop Motion Showreel 2013 from Adam M. Watts on Vimeo.

Sunday, 9 June 2013


So I was sorting through my models stashed away in boxes around the house - to take some decent pics now I've got a swish little digital camera (seeing as my old digital camera was from about the 1800's!!!)
Thought I'd try a blog post of just some character sculpting/modelmaking work I've done for the world to peruse.

First up - my robot for my university piece "Untitled Robot Adventure #17" (2006).

I didn't know much about lighting... or even animation for that matter... so the end result was a little disappointing looking at it now, but I learned a lot being my first ever stop-mo short film. And about 7 years on the model still looks pretty special (to me at least). Done a quick superglue fix up as it'd fallen apart a bit and finally took some quality photos.

Made using old bits of computers, TV's, radios, cameras - any old crap I found in a big electrical skip outside the uni's tech block... although the base he stands on was a cottonbud pot :)

Any tech nerds that can name 10 random parts win +100 geek points


Next up, my graduation film "Endless Toys" (2007). Again, a large miss-fire on the lighting of the Santa scenes. It was meant to be dark and ominous, but it just ended up dark. Had to do quite an extensive clean up for these photos as he'd started to crumble in a box in the cupboard (urgent nose job required) and a bit of paint work needed. Made mostly with plasticine and milliput.


And finally a maquette I knocked together while pitching for funding for an idea me and Mal had a few years ago. Just wanted to try actively sculpting to someone else's design for once and see how I could visualise a 2D drawn image in 3D. Still very much a work-in-progress... but fun to show off nethertheless. Went through several stages of looking like an evil pig - but I think I'm nearing the "slow-but-good-natured-bear" look.

Let me know what you think!!!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


After 4 years of university studying Animation (dont ask) and then about 6 years of working in call centres and factories (again, seriously, dont ask!!!) in between amazing but short stints freelance animating/modelmaking, I've finally plucked up the courage to put together my greatest stop mo achievements in a "look at me, world... I can animate... honest!" kinda way.
Now lets sit back and watch the jobs roll in *scoff*
Enjoy, and please feel more than free to comment, like, share, facebook to your gran, whatever you kids get up to these days.

Stop Motion Showreel 2013 from Adam M. Watts.

CREDITS Personal/competition/student work - Director, Animator, Modelmaker
   ~ RedBull Canimation competition entry
   ~ Untitled Robot Adventure #17
   ~ Endless Toys

Freelance Animator, Modelmaker @ Second Home Studios
   ~ Pilsner Urquell (British Animation Award 2012 Public Choice Winner)
   ~ CITV "Machine" Ident
   ~ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe "ghoul-boy" ladder climb/arrow death

Half the work here courtesy of the amazing Director/Mentor/Legend Chris @ Second Home Studios