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It’s an Aard Knock Life recently celebrated hitting a major target in 2016 with a special afternoon workshop hosted by the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman Animations. After some great insights from an Aardman model maker with 20 years in the job (like the fact that each Aardman character has a set of 13 different phonetic mouths for animating speech), it was our turn to follow the expert instructions and attempt to make a Gromit head capable of conveying a specific emotion. You might think that characters such as Gromit, Morph or Shaun the Sheep don’t have much to teach us about communication, seeing as they never speak. However, even minute changes to their body language or expression can have a huge difference in how we understand them. As evidenced by the fact that the professionally-created models were capable of communicating a great deal – with small flickers of movement running across their faces every second - while our somewhat more basic efforts were much more confusing. Variations on a theme – shocked, shocked and shocked – created by staff:

After Gromit, we turned our hand to Morph (with similar level of success), and then worked in groups to compile our own stop-motion animations. Once again – and it should hardly have been a surprise – we discovered that what the experts made look so easy was in fact hugely complicated. An hour’s worth of concentration resulted in around ten seconds of extremely basic animation. did stand out in one respect though, we were certainly creative! The activities we were given to animate did not result in any straightforward re-enactment. Instead, changing a tyre became a fatalistic black comedy, while making a cup of tea got a bit surreal.

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