Wallace and Gromit are national heroes in the U.K. The cheery, if absent-minded inventor/baker/pest control expert and his faithful Dostoyevsky-reading canine companion have starred in some of the most fun and inventive adventures in stop-motion ever committed to film. And now, British fans of the Plasticine pair will get the chance to wander around a life-size version of their 62 West Wallaby Street home, at the London Science Museum's latest exhibition, Wallace & Gromit present A World of Cracking Ideas.
Drawing its inspiration from Wallace's amusing inventions, the exhibit is designed to introduce kids (and kid-like adults) to the creative process around inventions and ideas. It's the result of a partnership between Aardman Animation, the studios behind Wallace and Gromit, and Britain's Intellectual Property Office, so in addition such Wallace-inspired inventions as the karaoke shower, it also includes somewhat heady information on intellectual property rights. The exhibit opens on March 28 and runs through November 1 (the link contains one of the most time-consuming games to cross my desktop since TextTwist).
In the spirit of inspiration, we decided to compile a list of a few facts about Britain's favorite stop-motion adventurers. Here a few things you might not know about Wallace and Gromit:
1. Wallace and Gromit Save Dairy
2. The Truth about Cats and Dogs
Nick Park has said that neither character was exactly based on anyone he knew, although the ever-cheerful Wallace had often been compared to his father and the much put-upon Gromit compared to Park himself. Park has also said that Wallace and Gromit's adventures are a bit of a pastiche, inspired by other films and genres, including Hitchcock and Laurel and Hardy films, as well as a real-life Lancashire, Britain 1950s, "˜60s, and "˜70s aesthetic. And one more thing: Gromit was originally going to be a cat.
3. Honing his skills with a Sledgehammer
4. They're Animated like Kong
All of the Wallace and Gromit movies use the same technique that brought King Kong to life in the 1933 film "“ stop-motion models made of Plasticine. Animators at Aardman Animations, however, use a special blend of the modeling clay nicknamed "Aard-mix" that's slightly more resilient. Liquid and fur are the hardest to animate, say animators at Aardman.
5. The Queen Likes It!
6. Tail Wagging Takes a Very Long Time
Each character moves 12 times a second to achieve that life-like animation. Animator Merlin Crossingham, talking to the Daily Mail, explained, "If Gromit is wagging his tail enthusiastically for 30 seconds, that's 360 movements. That's why it can take us days to do a four-second shot."
7.Oscar and Gromit
8. Trouble at DreamWorks
Working with Plasticine models takes an incredibly long time to film "“ A Matter of Loaf and Death, a half-hour special featuring Wallace and Gromit in a bakery-based murder mystery that aired this past Christmas Day, took 18 months to complete. The special was also Nick Park's first production since his five-film deal with DreamWorks broke down last year after only three films. Park said later that "culture clash" contributed to the collapse of the relationship: DreamWorks couldn't help but try to Americanize the very British Wallace and Gromit, tarnishing some of the duo's nostalgic charm.