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A Small World
Despite the influence of computer animation, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit” does not compromise on the classic, old-world style for which Aardman's most famous duo is known. In fact, while technology has revolutionized much of the animation industry, the painstaking techniques of stop-motion animation—though refined over the years—have remained virtually unchanged since the genre's inception. In some ways, clay animation actually has more in common with live-action filmmaking than other forms of animation, because the characters and sets are all physical, not drawn or computer-generated. Aardman has often referred to their particular style of filmmaking as "live action in miniature,” miniature being the operative word.

There are no location shots in clay animation because, short of traveling to Lilliput, it would be impossible to find locations to fit characters who range from 10- to 12-inches tall. Production designer Phil Lewis was charged with designing 30 individual sets down to the very smallest detail. Having served as the art director on the Wallace & Gromit shorts, Lewis was all-too-familiar with the design of the pair's home at 62 West Wallaby Street. One major change to the décor was the wall of portraits of Anti-Pesto's clients, fitted with flashing eyes that sound the alarm if rabbits are on the prowl for vegetables.

In contrast to Wallace & Gromit's modest residence, the Tottington Hall sets were designed to be elegant and imposing. The stately home of Lady Tottington—complete with its breathtaking rooftop conservatory and lavish gardens—was mainly inspired by the National Trust's landmark Montacute House and took eight weeks to build.

Over 100 varieties of foliage were researched and recreated to add an authentic look to the countryside gardens, woodlands and greenhouses. The greenhouses themselves feature tiny panes of real glass. Filling the gardens, more than 700 little plaster vegetables—mostly melons, pumpkins and carrots—were molded, painted and planted in the ground in anticipation of the "giant” vegetable competition.

All of the wallpaper seen in Tottington Hall and other sets was entirely hand painted. The gardening tools, as well as those seen in Wallace's workshop are working tools, crafted in miniature.

Tremendous attention to detail was paid in the creation of Wallace & Gromit's Anti-Pesto-mobile, which is a miniaturized Austin 35. Various scale models of the van were created, each probably costing more than the original Austin. Virtually everything about the car worked, from the headlights, to the turn signals, to the windshield wipers. The windows, doors, hood and trunk all opened and closed and the doors could even lock. The car builders even made sure that when the tires drove over the ground, they would have the proper compression.

Given the meticulously slow pace of the production, filming was always happening on multiple sets simultaneously. Directors Nick Park and Steve Box split the scenes each would cover, often walking five miles over the course of the day to check on the various sets in operation.

There were also two directors of photography, Dave Alex Riddett and Tristan Oliver, who were responsible for controlling camera movements and maintaining correct light and shadows throughout the filming of a scene, which could take days, weeks or even months. Taking a little of the pressure off of the cinematographers, camera moves are now controlled by computer, so the animators could block for the camera and know exactly where it was going to be at any given point. Nevertheless, if a mistake was made, it was virtually impossible to go back and fix it. Oliver explains, "In live action, you have the luxury of another take. With this kind of animation, you can't do that. If you make a mistake and have to retake, you'll have an animator cursing you because somet


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