Aardman attracts on pandemic tales for the brand new Born Free movie

The animal protection organization Born Free Foundation has partnered with the animation studio Aardman to create a new short film that picks up the mood of the public regarding the closure to address the problem of wild animals in captivity.

The animation entitled "Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown" shows the plight of animals in zoos, aquariums and circuses, which unlike most of us have endured their freedom far longer than the duration of the pandemic. The film was orchestrated by Engine, who also worked on Born Free’s previous film The Bitter Bond about "Instagram Lions", which received an honorable mention in the CR Annual.

The new short film is based on Aardman's popular Creature Comfort series, in which charming claymation animal figures are combined with everyday human conversations. Due to restriction restrictions, the teams required to create the sound animations could not be merged. The studio opted for a 2D approach instead. While it can't help but overlook the obvious charm of Creature Comforts, the connection is easy with the tone and feeling of humanity.

The dialogue comes from people across the UK who are considering their experiences with the lock and who often address the feeling of isolation and the struggle to explain the situation to children.

“As with all Creature Comfort dialogues, everything was spontaneous and not written. That gives it its authenticity, ”explains director and character designer Peter Peake, who worked in the animation department of the Creature Comforts series. "Given the restrictions on the suspension, we contacted our families and friends to be interviewed about Zoom, and luckily they were very helpful."

The people were interviewed without knowing the context of the project in order to capture as authentic soundbites as possible. "It was really important for us that they didn't know what it was for. That way we could be sure that we got their honest feelings about the lockdown," explains motor creative Pete Ioulianou. "When we matched them to the animals , it worked immediately. Then the hearts were pulled higher. "

"The similarities between us in Lockdown and wild animals in captivity became very clear when we heard what everyone had to say," added creative Ollie Agius. “It was important for us to choose the right nuggets of the recordings so that they fit an animal behind bars. The best thing was to see everything click together and see the caged animals speaking for the first time.

“We made sure that as many different people as possible from all walks of life were accepted in order to get a good selection of everyone's experiences. All of them, from a lonely 89-year-old grandmother who hadn't left home since February to a young family who had just taken in their second child at home during the closure. "

The team first collected the voice recordings and built the characters and animations on them. "We were firmly convinced that it could not be written or done with actors. Once we had the perfect language editing with the right amount of humor and emotion, we could imagine which characters would fit best," explains Ioulianou.

While the animation clearly feels like Aardman, the main difference is in the content of the dialog. Creature Comforts is known for warm, recognizable snapshots of everyday life, but Creature Discomforts contains a heartbreaking message. "We really wanted to find out the overlap between how people feel during lockdown and how wild animals are in captivity," he adds. "Creature Comforts gave us the opportunity to bring the two together in a charming, familiar but heartbreaking way."

Engine attempted to link this collective lack of freedom to the captive animals. "Lockdown is something that we have all experienced now. We were in a unique situation where we knew that everyone had problems in one way or another. By comparing with caged wild animals, we knew that we were creating this tension and hopefully convey a new feeling of compassion to the audience, ”says Agius.

For creative director Steve Hawthorne, the pairing could not be more fitting: “The power of using Creature Comforts lies precisely in its relativity and worldliness. Because it is the worldliness of the lives of millions of wild animals caught that is the problem. While some are actively abused, many are not. For the majority, the horror is far more insidious. "

Agency: ENGINE
CCO: Billy Faithfull
Creative directors: Steve Hawthorne, Katy Hopkins
Creative: Pete Ioulianou, Ollie Agius
Production: Aardman Animations
Director, character designer: Peter Peake
Animator: Jane Davies