Aardman Animations

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum



Background

Aardman Animations Limited (also known as Aardman Studios, or simply as Aardman) is a British animation studio based in Bristol, which was founded in 1972. The studio's name is taken from Aardman, one of the characters they created for Vision On (a show for deaf children), which was the very first thing Aardman worked on.

Aardman is well-known for its animated shorts made using stop-motion animation and claymation, particularly those featuring a duo of claymation characters, known as Wallace & Gromit. It has also experimented with CGI animation during the late 1990s, including the short film Owzat. Almost all of Aardman's stop-motion films were well-received critically and commercially, with their first feature film, Chicken Run, being their highest-grossing film as well as the highest-grossing stop-motion film.

In 1999, Aardman made a co-financial and distribution deal with DreamWorks Pictures and produced their first film, the aforementioned Chicken Run, followed up by Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and their last film, Flushed Away. However, the contract was not extended beyond the latter film, mainly due to creative differences between the two studios.

Aardman struck a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment afterwards (which was renewed in 2010) and produced two films with Sony Pictures Animation: their first fully CGI film Arthur Christmas, and the stop-motion claymated film The Pirates! In an Adventure with the Scientists!. The deal ended in 2012 with the disappointing performance of the latter film.

In 2015, Aardman bought a majority share in Nathan Love, a New York-based animation studio. Aardman had a brief distribution deal with Lionsgate to release films in the US, starting with Shaun the Sheep Movie in 2015, but ended with the disappointing performance of Early Man in early 2018. In 2019, Aardman partnered with Netflix, which has been distributing their films globally, starting with their first Netflix original film, Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie, in late 2019.



1st Logo (9 April 1992-30 December 1998)


Visuals: On a sunny sky blue background, there is the top of a clay green planet with a river running through it, trees, etc. The planet turns right and a red/yellow polkadot bowtie shaped butterfly places itself on a patch of blue and white, which appears to be a suit. As this is happening, the letters of "AARDMAN" in various shapes arrange and form themselves to the right so they are in separate wooden boxes stacked on each other which form at the same time. A brown pillar, a staircase, a wooden pillar with a yellow and black zigzag plank, and two pieces of wood also arrange and form themselves as a picture frame. A smiling clay face drops from behind the top part of the frame to the suit in a position where its eyes are obscured, then four clouds drop into place in the sky. All of this takes place inside a small white box against a black background. "Aardman Animations presents" fades in below.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, the logo is still with different text and a copyright notice below.
  • On Not Without My Handbag and The Wrong Trousers, the logo is altered. The smile is different, the two clouds above above the face are in a different position, the cloud above the tree on the left side has been lifted up to make it more visible, the number of red spots on the bowtie is slightly reduced and the last "A" in "AARDMAN" is in a different style.
  • The print logo appears on the end card of Rex the Runt. It has the font from the next logo and it seems to be the face speaking through a megaphone with stars (the one on the far right being the one from the next logo) shooting out of it.
  • An alternate version of this logo exists, which appears on the VHS release of Aardman Animations Vol. 1. The box, instead of the normal animation, shows a time-lapse video of a man in a set building the logo together. After a while, the screen zooms in to the logo and the finished result is the altered variant. The text "Aardman Animation presents" is in a different font.
  • At the end of the same VHS release, the normal logo plays, but the text says "Coming Soon: Aardman Animations Vol II" in a different font.
  • At the end of Adam, the copyright text fades in after the still logo appears.
  • On The Morph Files, the normal logo plays, but the text is already there and it says "An AARDMAN ANIMATIONS Production" and there is a copyright notice underneath.
  • At the end of HumDrum, the logo is cut off at the top.

Technique: Stop-motion animation with the use of forced perspective.

Audio: Two ominous violin notes, followed by a 3-note flute tune, a musical "thud" as the head falls into place, and two more short bass violin notes as the clouds fall into place and bounce. At the beginning of the logo, water can be heard. This was composed by Julian Nott.

Audio Variants:

  • A slightly lower pitched version exists, back when Cartoon Network aired The Wrong Trousers on 21 April 2012, and on later North American prints of A Close Shave (due to PAL-to-NTSC conversion).
  • On the Aardman Animations Vol. 1 variant, there is an eerie tune with several synth toms, crash-like sound effects and a harp-like noise when the logo zooms in. This was also composed by Julian Nott.
  • At the end of A Close Shave, there is sheep bleating over the logo.
  • At the end of The Wrong Trousers, there is the final note of the closing theme.
  • The closing variant may be silent or have the closing theme of the short.
  • On the commentary tracks to the first three shorts on the Blu-ray release of Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection, the logo is silent.

Availability: Seen on many Aardman shorts from the time period until 1998.

  • The most notable of these are the Wallace & Gromit shorts A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave, however original prints of the first short do not have this logo at the start. A still version with copyright information was seen at the end of the latter two.
    • The logo was removed on the 2001 DVD containing all three shorts from BBC Video/Warner Home Video, but was put back in for A Close Shave on Wallace and Gromit in Three Grand Adventures, back when it was released by DreamWorks Home Entertainment (and the 2005 region 4 DVD release containing all 3 shorts, with the TWT and ACS still copyright versions being retained at the end of both of their respective shorts).
      • It also does not appear at the beginning of The Wrong Trousers on the 1994 UK VHS release, having been replaced by a title card (the copyright version is retained at the end however).
      • The 1995 UK VHS release of A Close Shave also retains this logo at the beginning of the short.
    • The logo is also intact on the CBS-Fox VHS prints of all three shorts.
    • Also seen on Netflix's prints of all three shorts when they were available on the streaming service.
  • This does not appear on Creature Comforts (original 1990 short film), Next, Going Equipped, Pib and Pog, Owzat, Never Say Pink Furry Die, Al Dente, Ident, Pop, War Story and Stage Fright, as they use in-credit text instead.
  • It is also intact at the beginning and end of Adam on Aardman Animations' official YouTube channel.

2nd Logo (Still variants) (5 December 1998-24 December 2021)



Visuals: On a black background is the Aardman logo, taking the wordmark and one of the stars on the top left of the text from the 1st print logo. The entire logo is red and has tiny spots surrounding it.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, there is a copyright notice below the logo.
  • On Wallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions, the Shaun the Sheep game for Nintendo DS and 2016 Morph episodes, a white background is used.
  • Sometimes, the logo is white or black.
  • On Shaun the Sheep, this logo is shown at the top, with the 2005 CBBC logo (a green egg shape with a big "C" on it and the BBC logo below in white) being positioned in the center. The copyright information is shown below.
  • On Timmy Time, Wussywat the Clumsy Cat, Digby Dragon, The Peculiar Adventures of Hector, episodes of the 2016 Morph reboot on YouTube, Purple and Brown, and Aardman movies co-produced with StudioCanal, the logo is in-credit. The white version is also used in-credit on Creature Comforts, later episodes of Shaun the Sheep and Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie, while the black in-credit version appeared on some videos on the Morph YouTube channel.
  • Sometimes, the star is slightly shifted further away from the word.
  • On Flushed Away, an animated version exists. The text appears by rolling up on an invisible roller, and the star pops in after it emerges. This variant would become the basis of the fourth logo.

Technique: A still image, fading effects or a scrolling effect.

Audio: None, just the ending music of the show or the film.

Audio Variant: On the Angry Kid Season 1 finale Kidnap, Dad (voiced by David Holt) is heard shouting "Bo***cks!" and laughing, continuing from the end of the episode, after dropping Angry Kid off at "The Home".

Availability:

  • Seen at the end of the DreamWorks co-produced films Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away, plus TV shows such as the English version of A Town Called Panic, the television version of Creature Comforts (along with its short-lived American counterpart), and Shaun the Sheep.
  • The in-credit variant is seen on Aardman-produced TV shows, both Shaun the Sheep films and Early Man. The last 3 projects are produced in co-production with StudioCanal.
  • The animated variant is seen on Flushed Away.
  • The logo first appeared in Angry Kid and its final appearance overall was in Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, which premiered in international territories on Netflix on 3 December 2021, and then on BBC One on Christmas Eve of that same year.
  • This logo was spotted on the credits (as well as on the packaging) on all episodes of The Peculiar Adventures of Hector DVD, which was only available in Texaco fuel stations across the UK for a limited time.
  • It also appears at the end of Wallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions.

3rd Logo (23 June 2000-1 March 2009)


Visuals: On a light cerulean-blue background with three matching gears, the camera slowly zooms toward a blue square with the Aardman star (with gears inside) on it. It has little arms, legs, and a head, and is running on a green gear-like object that has some of the letters of "Aardman" printed on it in red and green. Some letters in red are also spinning around in different directions on black sticks by teal and green gears. Surrounding the square are clouds, hands, cars, trees, anthropomorphic planes, houses, buildings, and people rotating around on different colored gears. Then, a human hand reaches out from the right, grabs the square, and presses its head like a stopwatch, freezing the scenery. "Aardman" is formed below.

Variants:

  • An in-credit version is used on later episodes of Rex the Runt.
  • On Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a short version is used.
  • On Chop Socky Chooks and some episodes of Planet Sketch, the logo is cut to its last few seconds.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: A sly jazz tune with ticking that stops when the logo does. This was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Audio Variants:

  • On British prints of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the opening theme of the movie is heard.
  • OnWallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions on disc 2 (Cracking Extras) of the 2-disc DVD of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the music is low pitched. This can only be seen when "Play All" is selected.
  • On Chop Socky Chooks, the logo is silent.

Availability:

  • It debuted on the UK release of Chicken Run, in addition to other regions where Pathé distributed the movie (DreamWorks prints omit it because of the length of their own logo).
  • The standard length variant with music appears as a de-facto home video logo on Momentum Pictures releases of Aardman material, such as the British VHS/DVD release of Aardman Classics (which is also where this variant debuted), the sampler VHS The Aardman Selection, all four DVD sets of Creature Comforts, and Wallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions (retained on the 2006 DreamWorks UK print featured on Disc 2 of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but only the first episode, the others start with none at least if "Play all" is selected).
    • It also appears on the video game adaptions of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, alongside Wallace and Gromit: Project Zoo.
    • On the Creature Comforts DVDs, the logo cuts to the DVD menu with a TV static effect.
  • The shortened variant appears on Chop Socky Chooks, and some episodes of Planet Sketch.
  • The still variant appears on Series 2 of Rex the Runt.

4th Logo (11 November 2011-14 February 2020)


Visuals: On a black background, the Aardman logo peels up out of the blackness, while a printed reflection is seen at an angle below. When the logo fully appears, the reflection fades out, leaving just the logo.

Trivia: This logo was based off the Flushed Away variant of the 2nd logo, just with the star also being printed out.

Variant: A cinematic variant exists, where the print blocks of "Aardman" are placed in a print machine. A pair of tweezers puts the star block in its matching slot. Then the screen zooms out and pans as the machine starts up, revealing that on the other side "Aardman" and the star is printed on the conveyor belt with red paint. This was initially exclusive to online before making its debut on Early Man. The regular version described above is a shorter version.

Technique: CGI animation.

Audio: The rumbling sound of the print machine, ending in a pop.

Audio Variants:

  • On The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the opening theme of the movie plays.
  • For the cinematic variant, the sounds of the tweezers and the print machine are played, along with the opening theme of the movie on Early Man.

Availability:

  • This logo debuted on Arthur Christmas and later appeared on The Pirates! In an Adventure with the Scientists! (released in the US as The Pirates! Band of Misfits).
  • The cinematic variant was only seen on Early Man.

5th Logo (17 January 2022-)


Visuals: On a dark red background, a tiny white star is seen turning around its vertical axis as it zooms in. Then, the star "explodes", revealing a pink-red background full of constantly changing fingerprints, as the text "AARDMAN" forms, but the first "A" is upside-down. Then, a tiny star emerges and lands on the first "A", turning it back upright. A few seconds later, everything slides down the screen.

Trivia: This was designed by Gavin Strange, who also designed the "Silly" variant of the BBC Two "Curve" IDs.

Variants:

  • A square video version of the logo exists. It can be seen on the company's Facebook page.
  • At the end of Aardman's 2022 showreel, the logo is still and smaller with pink-red text on a black background.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: A choir with ticks, then a smack sound, then a weird "pop" sound, and finally a ding with a different choir with laughing sounds. Weird reverse sounds are heard. A melting sound is heard after that. Like the 3rd logo, this was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Audio Variant: On the 2022 showreel, a drum beat tune with ticks is heard.

Availability: First seen on Aardman's social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and it also appears on the company's 2022 showreel. It was also seen on the Star Wars: Visions episode "I Am Your Mother", which was animated by the studio.

6th Logo (15 December 2023-)


Visuals: From a backdrop of red clay, the company's name (in the same font as before) rises. The lighting changes so that the shadow of the name spins clockwise around the text until it settles. A red ball falls onto the first "A" and bounces twice before transforming into the star.

Technique: Stop-motion claymation.

Audio: A mysterious music box-like tune, with the bouncing of the ball against the "A" and a chime when the star forms. Like the 3rd and 5th logos, this was once again composed by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Availability: Debuted on Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.