The Little World – Just Popping Down To The ( Aardman ) Shops…

It’s hard to convey the sense of wonder that a Little World enthusiast gets when they first see a master model. The museum-quality ships at Greenwich, the scratchbuilt aircraft at Duxford, the railway models in the Science Museum or York…they all have an authority and an educational value that can go far beyond even the full-size original objects on display. The great thing about these artifacts is that, unlike the famous works of art in galleries, the popular knowledge of them is limited – you do not have to breast rooms full of tourists to see the tiny little painting – you don’t have to queue for hours to file past some renaissance daub because it is the ‘ famed ‘ daub.

And yet…there can be the same artistry exhibited by modern model makers, and the impact of it can be far greater for the familiarity of it. The fact that it is in 3 dimensions just adds to the charm. Witness the corner greengrocer’s shop set from ” The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit ”

The set is about a metre and a half long on each side – roughly 1/6 to 1/8 size. Correct internal lighting – the Fujifilm X-T10 was set on the 3200 ISO and the white balance was left on auto to sort itself out. What you see is what you saw in the film, albeit in motion and for a brief periods of time. The detail that you can see bears witness to the integrity and sense of dedication for the modellers. It was impossible to look at any corner of the set – even the doorstep with the milk bottle in front of the hairdresser’s shop – without getting the feeling that you were looking at a full-size scene.

The two display cases – tools and kitchen items – are actually mouth-watering to a miniatures worker. But they, and the detail pictures, can induce a terrible feeling of inadequacy in we amateurs – particularly if we are working in smaller scales with bigger fingers – fingers that are frequently covered in glue and/or stuck to the parts that we are actually working on.

Still…If the Aardman people would like a tasty little earner, they might consider compiling  How-To-Do-It videos and discs or making a book about their techniques. I would be first in line at the bookstore for them.

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Yo Ho Ho In The Little World

It’s a little hard to ignore a pirate ship when it literally towers over you. That’s the main working model ship for the Aardman pirate movie seen at the recent exhibition. No half-made device – not a rough adaptation of a Revell kit. That is solid shipbuilding…I think when it has done with the world travels of the art galleries that it should have a place in Greenwich Maritime Museum in London. It might be a parody, but it is more authentic than most display vessels.

The exhibition was glorious in that it led the viewer through the entire working procedure that Aardman use for ideas – from rough pencil sketchs through story boards to rather large scene drawings made with as much care as any artist’s finished canvas. Then on to the benches and the model makers. Surprisingly, some characters and concepts carry through perfectly from the initial pencil sketches – and some are trimmed ruthlessly…but not until they have been worked up a long way. I can only imagine that their creators fight each other in staff meetings to have their creations live and breathe.

The main actors in any of these productions need to be made and remade to change position thousands of times – changed and distorted would be more accurate. The armature upon which clay, plastic, and fabric is posed seems to be modifications of standard devices available in the industry with flexible but lockable joints places pretty much where real creatures also bend. ” Standard ” hardly applies to the were-rabbit, but nothing fazes Aardman. I should think they are the darlings and saviours of small engineering supply houses in their town.

The Little World – Aardman

N0te: last week was grim here on HAW. This week is not  – this week is fun.

This post and several others will be springboarding on the back of real artists – the Aardman animation studios. I’ve been to see an exhibition devoted to their work and methods and I cannot praise them too much.

The exhibition was going on in the ACMI section of the Federation Square Gallery  connected to the NGV in Melbourne. It may venture to your country or your city, and if it does, it is well worth the price of a ticket. I spent a good two hours going back and forth seeing the exhibits.

Aardman are the authors of the Wallace And Gromit series of clay animations as well a numerous advertisements in Great Britain and the Creature Comfort series. As well, they have done Chicken Run, The Pirates, and Shaun The Sheep. All well worth seeing again and again.

The amazing part of this is the scale of the planning, artistry, and props needed to do this sort of animation. It is not tabletop stuff by any means, unless you consider the sets as individual scenes. The scale of most of the models seems to be about 1:6 to 1:4 and the artistic vision and attention to detail is staggering. I don’t think there is a true Little Worlder who would not be delighted to kick over the traces and build Aardman sets for a living.

Bless them, in addition to getting a look at their artistry, the exhibition had a working animation table and lighting setup that showed me clearly how to solve one of my lighting dilemmas in the Little Studio! I could not have been more pleased.

But here is a taster for the week. All Aardman, all the time.

Welcome To…

I often wonder whether the Ford Motor Company realised just what good fortune they had when they named some of their motor cars ” Victoria “. It seems to be a name that was added when the Model A was born in 1927, thought there may have been a style of coach body made earlier in the horse-drawn days that was similar. Given the immense prestige of the British queen, Victoria, in the 19th and early 20th century there must be literally thousands of product and places that bear the name.

Such as the state of Victoria…the one sandwiched between New South Wales and South Australia. Perpetual rival of NSW…so much so that the federal capital had to be placed in a special administrative territory between the two states…more or less out in the boonies. ( A good place for it, as it keeps the pollies away from the rest of us for much of the time. )

But away from this, the name ” Victoria” applied to sedans made by Ford – such as these seen at the recent VHRS in Melbourne – must have sold cars to Victorian buyers by appealing to that deep-seated home instinct.

Even if they do not admit it, the pull of a locale name always boosts the popularity of a song or product. And in this case the consonance between place, royal association, and the word for winning would have been worth millions to the car company.

Other makers have tried it too – Austin tried to foist a terrible car on us by calling it a ” Tasman “. Holden stacked on Monaro, and there have been others. No-one has had the nerve to try ” Adelaide ” or ” Mount Isa ” but there were probably moments in the board rooms when the danger was clear. I am hoping for the Renault ” Manangatang ” some day, but the company has stopped returning my phone calls.

The Eco-Friendly Claymore Mine

Every time I turn to the social media pages, there seems to be something that is eco-friendly – whether it is eye makeup or a motor car. And oddly enough, each mention of this wonderful property seems to be connected with an offer to sell me that product. I am starting to see a pattern.

I wonder if it would be a good thing to extend this to items – like the standard claymore mine or phosgene artillery shells – that are normally looked upon with horror. They need a better press and perhaps the idea of making them green is a good one.

Of course pedants will point out that claymores and gas shells are already green in colour, but this is merely playing with words. We want to make them desirable on an environmental basis. Given the fact that they are designed to kill, this may be a hard thing to do, but spin doctoring is a skilled profession – just ask the practitioners who attend the American president.

Let’s start with the phosgene gas shells. Okay, they have been estimated to have caused 65,000 casualties in WWI, but that was 100 years ago and surely no-one would remember that now…In any case, it was used by the French and we could always show pictures of a girl in a french maid’s uniform to make it seem a lot nicer. And remember that it is a valued industrial compound for other chemical manufacture. The fact that it is sitting in artillery shell…in some cases very old artillery shells…is just incidental. If we paint them pink we can probably sell them as sex toys.

The claymore mines are another thing entirely. They’re pretty new and much more likely to find their way into the hands of school children and people at senior citizen centers. Indeed, there are few better ways of clearing pesky teenagers off your lawn if yelling at them from the porch doesn’t work. They also keep your walkway free of religious callers and pizza delivery people.

What the manufacturers want to do is develop a claymore that does not spit out steel balls when fired – just a humongous blast of flame. These could be supplied in packs of ten at the local Home Depot store for use as snow clearing devices in northern cities. You open the front door on a snow day when a drift has buried your walkway, place the mine on the doormat, and squeeze the clicker. WHOOMP! Clean sidewalk. Think of the number of heart attacks this would prevent in middle-aged people.

Also on the cards would be a festive claymore for the Latin countries. Brightly decorated  and filled with Jaffas and Skittles instead of the steel balls, they could be hung in the trees and detonated during the fiesta instead of a pinata, No more danger of blindfolded little children swinging bats. Might be a good idea to reduce the charge in the candy ones to prevent melting the chocolate…Olé!

 

 

SOBCoin…You Knew It Was coming

Now that the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has launched the BGAcoin it was only a matter of time before it released the next in the series – the Bitscoin. This should be carefully distinguished from Bitcoin by the fact that there is an ” s ” in the middle and by the fact that we only accept cash in a brown paper bag to pay for it. Or chickens. Or S&H coupons.

Let’s face it…we’ll take anything.

And that’s the problem. The cryptocurrency market needs respectability and dignity, and the BGA keeps very little stock of that. So we are going to introduce the ultimate respectable and dignified business scheme that you just read about on our cellphone screen – the Bitscoin.

To help us market this easy passport to financial success ( ours ), we have engaged Sunova Marketing Associates to lay the proposition before the public. They’ve agreed to lend their name to the project – we are proud to announce the Sunova Bitscoin.

There will be several levels of marketing available for this product – all the way from the Simple Sunova Bits to the Complex Sunova Bits. Those of you who have ever taken apart a Holley 4-barrel carburetor will know exactly what we mean. There will be Mean Sunova Bits and Lying Sunova Bits available, too, but only if you are over 18. We anticipate a good market in Canada where this sort of thing has been a long-established tradition, eh?

Remember that you will never forgive yourself if you do not buy Sunova Bitscoins now. Tomorrow will be too late, and it may be difficult to contact our representatives. If we play our cards right…

Fire Alarm!

We were visiting the Federation Square gallery in Melbourne for a tour of modern art. It was fine and apart from the vague feeling that someone had gotten rich on the public purse, a nourishing experience.

Until the fire alarm went off. It was a gentle, mellifluous sound and would not have been out-of-place rising from the pit of an opera house. Not like a fire alarm or diving klaxon at all. There seemed to be no sense of urgency about it, nor did the patrons of the place worry about it. It took the arrival of an appliance and a team of fireys to cause the staff to round us all up and ask us politely to go downstairs. No-one was crushed in the rush, though a few were miffed that they had to stop browsing in the bookshop.

The most entertaining sight was the last of the firemen heading up the stairs. A young man …fit, as he would be, and clattered out in the yellow reflective protection suit and helmet of the modern emergency services… with a look of intense anticipation on his face. And clutching an axe with the obvious desire to chop something. For his sake I hope they allowed him to make a hole in a door. Or a wall.

From the look of some of the art, I am also hoping they smelled smoke behind the frames of the paintings…he’d have enjoyed himself and done the art world a vast favour.