After their success with the ‘Smallest Stop-motion Animated Character’, Aardman creative team Sumo Science directors Will Studd and Ed Patterson were set with the task of going large with their next film for Nokia.
The film explores the life of a little fishing boat when the tide goes out. As the sea ebbs away oilskins and nets come to life manifesting a lone fisherman, out to find the catch of the day.
When he sets off across the sea he encounters an ocean vista of waves, gulls, clouds and fish all created using giant sand animation, carved in the beach itself. As the fisherman hauls in his sandy catch he is swallowed by a huge sea monster. Trapped inside the beast’s cavernous stomach, he accidentally sets off a chain reaction and is catapulted back to the surface, too late to save his catch from escaping back into the ocean.
Shot entirely on the new Nokia N8 smartphone, Gulp showcases the smartphone’s Carl Zeiss optics and its 12-megapixel photography capabilities. Three phones elevated 36 meters above the ground on a cherry picker on a beach in South Wales, UK, shot a canvas of 42.71 meters x 24 meters creating the ‘World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’.Â The phones were mounted in a custom built rig inside a specially designed Peli Box and operated remotely by the camera crew in order to capture the huge images.
Sand In Your Eye director Jamie Wardley, choreographed a team of sand artists and 30 art student volunteers to create gigantic sand drawings with precision timing that had to be smoothed over and re-drawn every 4 minutes to stay on the tight schedule dictated by the spring tide. The team was shooting up to 75 frames per day and each time the sand had to be raked over in order to create the individual drawings for each frame. The shoot lasted for seven days including one night’s shoot.
The huge set was made up of recognizable nautical objects, such as seaweed, ropes and nets. Aardman’s expert prop makers built a replica life-sized fishing boat that was light enough to carry around on set.Â Both a half boat and full boat were constructed for the different perspectives.
Heather Wright, Executive Producer on the project and Head of Aardman’s Commercials and Branded Content department was delighted with the follow up challenge. ”Gulp is crazily ambitious.Â We’ve never done anything even approaching this enormous scale before and it’s a massive technical, logistical and artistic learning curve — once again!Â We’re working right at the edge of what’s possible in all areas,” says Wright.
Philip Hickey, Global Digital Marketing Manager Nokia, says, “We are extremely proud of Gulp and are delighted to have achieved yet another Guinness world record in film and animation. The creativity of Aardman Studios, coupled with the industry leading imaging capabilities of the Nokia N8 smartphone has resulted in a beautiful animation which will astonish all our advocates, fans and customers.”
Will Studd shared his experience of directing this ground breaking film, “The film was a huge test of planning and coordination with Mother Nature, we were incredibly lucky with conditions and tide times, sometimes we got our final frame for the day just as the waves crashed in around our set! Obviously the turnaround had to be so quick with such a short window, but working with the W + K team was fantastic as usual and we got everything we set out to achieve. The Nokia N8 stood up to the challenge and produced some outstanding images.”
Nokia and Aardman have been engaging fans by opening up the production process on blogging and social media sites, revealing the challenges and excitement of the shoot through photographs and behind the scenes video snippets.
Tom Seymour and David Bruno, Creatives at Wieden + Kennedy London said, “Attempting a Guinness world record was never going to be easy, especially the World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’. But with the right team of people, the right technology and a little optimism how could we possibly fail? The Nokia N8 produced some amazingly detailed photographs, both day and night. The result is a charming short film with a fantastic production story.”