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ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

About The Production Design
Much of the early development work on Arthur Christmas took place at Aardman's home base in Bristol, England. "We had sixty or seventy people working there, including several artists from Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks,” says Pegram. When the production moved to Sony Pictures Animation in Culver City, California, "we brought 15 or 20 people with us,” Pegram continues. "Aardman's a very individualistic company – it works in a certain way – so there was a little nervousness about how the relationship would work. But Sony Pictures Animation welcomed the Aardman team, both groups showed great creativity, and it came together very, very successfully.”

Tomov and his team of 25 artists were charged with creating the film's production design. "This film is very ambitious,” he says. "The locations vary from the North Pole to Mexico to Toronto to Africa to Europe. All of those locations had to fit stylistically in the same world, and it needed a lot of research.

"Some of the places we visit in the film are only on screen for a few minutes or even a few seconds, and they have to convey the essence of that place without a caption at the bottom of the screen telling the audience where it is. We'd ask ourselves, what makes Africa Africa?” Tomov says. "On the other hand, there are other locations that are intended to be a surprise and get revealed as the film goes on; that was also a challenge.”

Much of the film is about the clash between Steve's and Grandsanta's different approaches – one ultramodern and high-tech; the other, warmer, but belonging to a world that is slipping away. "It's a challenge to make these two different worlds look like part of the same film,” says Tomov. "Steve's world is very contemporary, while Grandsanta's world carries the soul and warmth that everyone associates with Christmas. Much of the movie is about the conflict of those two worlds, and, of course, at the resolution of the film, the story confirms that they don't necessarily have to be in conflict.”

Arthur's office at the North Pole is in the Letters to Santa department. "His office had to be the beating, warm heart of Christmas,” says Tomov. "We tried to make it a slightly chaotic environment – the letters are piled up in a very spontaneous way. But it was the lighting that really helped – we were able to give the office a warmth and a special, golden glow that was a good juxtaposition to the surrounding cold, icy corridors.”

"His office is just loaded with Santa paraphernalia,” says Doug Ikeler, the visual effects supervisor. "Every country, every age group, every little Santa tchotchke you can think of is in there. I'm really proud of the work that went into that – the Sony Pictures Imageworks modelers, texture artists, lighters really did some knock-out work that I hope the audience never notices – I hope it just seems like a real location.”

For the animators, creating Steve's high-tech world offered a wealth of creative possibility. "Everybody wants to animate science fiction at some point in their career,” says Short. "The elves are pretty well-organized – there's the sergeant, who's the commanding officer of the group, and a delivery elf, who needs a special backpack to deliver the gift, and the gadget elf, with specialized bits of equipment to help overcome any obstacles, from alarms to unruly pets to squeaky floorboards. The gadgetry was a lot of fun for us – it plays out as comedy.”

But perhaps the greatest challenge was to wrap the final present – a bike – as Arthur is riding it, using only three pieces of tape. Is such a thing even possible?

"We got a bike and gave it to one of our superstar animators for research,” says Alan Short, the senior supervising animator. "Well, the next time I saw him, he was in the corridor, trying to wrap a child's bicycle using only three pieces of tape. Later, the supervising animator on that sequence, Alan Hawkins, planned it out meticulously – he could tell you the path the bike takes and how much of the bike is wrapped at any given time.”

Ikeler adds, "We had a little competition amongst the crew – wrap the most exotic thing you can think of. And I'm just saying, if you need to wrap something with three pieces of sticky tape, you can do it. You can absolutely do it.”

The S-1  

Along with Steve at the helm, and the one million elves, the S-1 is THE answer to the big question, how does Santa do it?  

It takes a very special aircraft to circle the globe and make its deliveries all in one night. When the mystery of how Santa can possibly deliver all those presents in one night is revealed, it is Santa's new sleigh that stands out as a feat of engineering – and design.  

The S-1 is enormous: large enough to cover a city while the three-elf teams descend into homes and leave presents for the children. And fast: it travels at 10,368 km/h or 0.92 million miles per hour, 8.4 times faster than the speed of sound.  

The S-1 travels at equipped with camouflage "skin” that allows it to project any image to help camouflage the ship. It's very chameleon-like in the way it can reflect the image that is below it and then the look as if the S1 had disappeared.  

Here's the tale of the tape on what gives the S-1 its oomph:  

Width: 1.16 miles
Length: 2.08 miles
Speed: 0.92 million miles per hour. (8.4 times faster than the speed of sound)
Power: 15.22 trillion watts RP (Reindeerpower)
Propulsion System: STRICTLY CLASSIFIED (except to Clauses and Elves above Level 12. Hacking this information is Level 1 Naughty and WILL RESULT IN LOSS OF PRESENTS!)
Carbon emissions: 0.0000000000000000000000000000000015 g per 1,000 miles.
Camouflage System: K-MELION X 1000 ‘Video Skin' enveloping craft projects any environment onto itself, rendering craft 100% invisible*
Color (at rest, non-stealth conditions): Festiva Red Metallic Finish  

Personnel Capacity
Elves: 1,000,023
Clauses: 5  

Hold Capacity
Presents: 2,000,000,000
Stocking Filler (chocolate coins, candy canes, small toys, oranges): 121,000,000 metric tons  

Miscellaneous
Bathrooms: 62,103
Coffee Machines: 1
Airbags: YES
Rear window defogger USB port with smartphone connectivity
Time to wash: 3,876 Elf Hours

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