Moving images: Creature Comforts — Humans in animal disguise

30 08 2009

Using clay animation to embody human communication in animal shapes. Creates a comical reflection on verbal communication. Quite enjoyable!
The movie production company Aardman, specializing in animation, and the director and animator Nick Park, are well-known as the creators of The “Wallace & Gromit” movies, and the Academy Award winning feature “Chicken Run“. But another set of creations from those guys is the “Creature Comfort” episodes.

Creature Comforts (DVD)

Creature Comforts (DVD)

The concept on which is it based is that the audio track contains the voices of people talking about their everyday lives, and these voices are visually matched by talking animals, created using clay animation. So if you close your eyes and just listen to the audio track, then it is just slightly amusing. But when combined with the animal embodiments — where the facial and body dynamics are extremely expressive — then we reach a very high level of comedy.

After a trial episode and some successful commercials based on the same idea, a more ambitious initiative was embarked upon. A set of half-hour programmes were created for televised broadcasting (on British television network ITV) and ran for two seasons  — 2003
(UK series 1 at IMDB )  and 2005-2006 (UK series 2 at IMDB), respectively.
This is basically a very strange idea for a movie with broad appeal. But it worked. The two seasons broadcast in the UK were very well received by the audience. A follow-up Aardman production — created in the US for CBS television (US series at IMDB) — did not attract a large-enough audience, and the planned  sequence of episodes was  only partly televised.
The difference between the British and the American versions are noticeable. The quality of the UK versions is based both on the presence of a quiet or slightly absurd actual humor in what is being said, and on good choice of what kinds of animals to embody what is being said. The vocal track of the American version is more flat, and what is said is not so amusing, which means that the visual track has not so much to work with. Is this because British humour — as expressed — is more to the point, in contrast to American humour which — in the television sector — is highly oriented towards high-pitched laughter.

Or is the difference in final productions the effect of being too cautious in terms of what audiences might accept? That is, is American television, at least the major channels, careful not to offend anyone, and that eliminates much of what may serve as funny “double entendre”.
Conclusion: this Aardman production is an enjoyable idea, well-produced, with visualisations full of funny background details.

More details about “Creature Comforts” can be found at Wikipedia/Creature Comforts.

Moving images: Creature Comforts — Humans in animal disguise

Using clay animation to embody human communication in animal shapes. Creates a comical reflection on verbal communication. Quite enjoyable!

The movie production company Aardman, specialising in animation, and the director and animator Nick Park, are well-known as the creators of The “Wallace & Gromit” movies, and the Academy Award winning feature “Chick Run”. But another set of creations from those guys is the “Creature Comfort” episodes.

The concept on which is it based is that the audio track contains the voices of people talking about their everyday lives, and these voices are visually matched by talking animals, created using clay animation. So if you close your eyes and just perceive the audio track, then it is just slightly amusing. But when combined with the animal embodiments — where the facial and body dynamics are extremely expressive — then we reach a very high level of comedy.

After a trial episode and some successful commercials based on the same idea, a more ambitious initiative was embarked upon. A set of half-hour programmes were created for televised broadcasting (on British television network ITV) and ran for two seasons (2003, and 2005-2006, respectively)

This is basically a very strange idea for a movie with broad appeal. But it works. The two seasons broadcast in the UK were very well received by the audience. The later Aardman production — created in the US for CBS television — did not attract enough audience, and it was never fully completed.

The difference between the British and the American versions are noticeable. The quality of the UK versions is based both on the presence of a quiet or slightly absurd actual humour in what is being said, and on good choice of what kinds of animals to embody what is being said. The vocal track of the American version is more flat, and what is said is not so amusing, which means that the visual track has not so much to work with. Is this because British humour — as expressed — is more to the point, in contrast to American humour which — in the television sector — is highly oriented towards high-pitched laughter.

Or is he difference in final productions the effect of being too cautious in terms of what audiences might accept? That is, is American television, at least the major channels, careful not to offend anyone, and that eliminates much of what may be “double entendre”.

Conclusion: this Aardman production is an enjoyable idea, well-produced, with visualisations full of funny background details.

More details at at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creature_Comforts

(UK series 1 at IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0324742/ ,

UK series 2 at IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419660/)

(US series at IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0759097/)

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