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WALLACE AND GROMIT:
THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

3D In 3D
Computer animation and clay animation could both be termed 3D animation, although they are worlds apart in terms of execution. "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit” represents the most extensive use of computer animation of any Aardman film to date, long or short.

Nick Park remarks, "There are limits to Plasticine. You can't do fog or smoke or water—I mean, you could, but it would take forever. So we went to The Moving Picture Company (MPC) to create our visual effects.” "We're not biased towards any one technique,” Steve Box states. "One is as important as another; it's just a different tool that we use. We'll use the right technique for the right job. We used CGI for things like water and smoke and dust and dirt, and it added so much to the film. The way the vicar walks down the path towards the church and the fog swirls behind him—gone are the days of cotton wool on strings. MPC did the most amazing work, and it really gives a new dimension to the film.”

The most extensive use of computer animation in the film is seen in two of Wallace's latest inventions: the Mind-O-Matic, where visual effects were employed to add a light show of thought waves; and the Bun-Vac 6000 where, once the rabbits are sucked into the chamber, they float around in mid-air until they are released without harm to hide nor "hare.”

Getting the rabbits to fly around in the Bun-Vac 6000 without colliding was relatively simple. However, Jason Wen, MPC's lead animator for the computer-generated rabbits, offers, "We didn't want static bunnies to just swirl around; we needed to add a little of that ‘Aardman touch' to each shot. I had to go in and hand animate all 30 rabbits—I added some cute bunny motions, like waving or grabbing at something or making their ears twirl around—to help sell the shot and make it more humorous.”

Interestingly, the biggest challenge to the computer animators was to make the computer-generated bunnies look like the more rough-hewn Plasticine models. Wen attests, "We had to study the texture closely. When the clay animators have to bend an arm or move an ear, there is no way it will look as smooth and precise as a computer generated model. We had to add those slight, random movements that happen when the animators get in there with their hands and manipulate the clay, and to simulate the subtle fingerprint impressions you can see on the clay models. It took quite a bit of research and experimenting, but I think we pulled it off.”

"It was very important to us that they gave the rabbits a Plasticine finish, and I think they replicated the rabbits really well,” Park affirms. "Even I have a hard time telling the difference.”

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