“Pirates!” Director Is Animated About His Profession


Lights! Camera! Action! Films are a pastime for people from all around the world.

Lights! Camera! Action! Films are a pastime for people from all around the world. Although this art form may seem like it is almost created by magic, it actually wouldn't be possible without many people who work hard to make it what it is. There are many film mediums, including live action and animation. In the animation category, there are many styles such as cel, computer-animated and stop-motion. Each of these techniques takes special skills and much finesse to create, and there are special people to do each job required. Recently, Peter Lord, director and producer of the new stop-motion film, “Pirates! Band of Misfits”, visited Denver. Lord is well-known for his work on many other movies, including “Chicken Run” and the “Wallace and Gromit” franchise. When we recently met, Lord explained that when he and his childhood friend, David Sproxton, were in high school, they made their first animated film. While neither Lord nor Sproxton formally studied film, they went on to found Aardman Animations after college. Aardman was founded in 1972. The first short films produced by the company were the “Morph” series. Soon, they went on to create the beloved “Wallace and Gromit” series. More recently, Aardman has collaborated with both Sony and DreamWorks to make feature length films. On Aardman’s latest film, “Pirates! Band of Misfits”, Peter Lord was both the producer and director. As producer, he was responsible for overseeing the entire production. As director, Lord feels that his main job was to make sure that everyone else has a good time, even if that meant that he had to work hard. Overall, he said that both jobs can be very fun. Although Aardman has worked on both CG (computer graphic) and cel animated films, Lord said that his favorite animated style remains stop-motion. The process of filming stop-motion can be very tedious, but Lord feels that the result is quite rewarding. On “Pirates!”, Lord and his team also used CG and 3D in the production. Lord says that these technologies both provided small challenges and victories to the team. For example, in many scenes, the pirate ship is shown sailing across the sea. In order to create these images, Lord’s team built a 15-foot ship, used machines and levers to move it, filmed each shot on a green screen, and then inserted water and other effects in CG. Lord described the process as laborious, but was very pleased that the final cut almost resembles live action. In order to film in 3D, Lord and his cinematographer had to use two cameras to simulate the viewer’s eyes. In a 3D live action film, the cameras would be spaced at the human interocular distance, or the distance between an average person's eyes. However, when making “Pirates!”, the cameras had to be spaced at the interocular distance of the stop-motion figures, so that the viewers could feel like they were immersed in the world, rather than looking into it. Lord strongly recommends that kids try animation. He says that, once you see how inanimate characters can come to life, you may fall in love with the art form. In his opinion, a good program to start with is Flash. Lord also advises that, if you are a young filmmaker looking to get noticed, you should get your work out into the world. He says that professionals check to see what is hot on the Internet and that posting your work is the best way to get seen. Another piece of advice that Lord gave to young movie makers is follow your instincts: if every single decision is yours, then the final film will be just how you want it. Peter Lord has been active in film for many years. He says that if you are a young person who really wants to be in film, you should consider CG because there are more jobs, but he says that if you love it, you should pursue whatever form you want. So, if you are looking for a fun thing to try, maybe you should check out animation. It can be really fun, and if you have enough initiative, maybe you too could be a famous filmmaker. Book/Website Recommendations Pirates: www.thepirates-movie.com Aardman: www.aardman.com SAM: www.samanimation.com Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu Klutz: http://video.klutz.com/animation Book: “Cracking Animation” by Peter Lord Book: “Beginner's Guide to Animation” by Mary Murphy