Aardman Animations

From Audiovisual Identity Database




Background

Aardman Animations, Ltd. (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 plasticine characters Wallace and Gromit. It has also experimented with computer 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 top-grossing film as well as the highest-grossing stop-motion film. In 1999, Aardman made a co-financial and distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation and produced Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and 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 Arthur Christmas (the studio's first full CGI animated film) and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (known in the US and internationally as The Pirates! Band of Misfits) with Sony. The deal ended in 2012 with the disappointing performance of the latter film. In 2015, Aardman bought a majority share in New York-based animation studio Nathan Love. 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 Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie in late 2019.

1st Logo (1989?-December 31, 1998)

Logo: On a sunny sky blue background, we see 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 we can't see its eyes. Then four clouds drop into place in the sky, as "Aardman Animations presents" fades in below. All of this takes place inside a small white box against a black background.

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.
  • There is an alternate version of this logo shown on the VHS 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, we zoom 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, 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 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.

Music/Sounds: 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.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • A slightly lower pitched version was found when Cartoon Network aired The Wrong Trousers on April 21, 2012 and on later North American prints of A Close Shave (due to the PAL-to-NTSC conversion).
  • On the Aardman Animations Vol. 1 variant, we hear an eerie tune with several synth toms, crash-like sound effects and a harp-like noise when the logo zooms in.
  • At the end of A Close Shave, we hear sheep bleating over the logo.
  • At the end of The Wrong Trousers, we hear 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 3 shorts on the Blu-ray of Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection, the logo is silent.

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

  • The most notable of these are the Wallace & Gromit shorts A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave.
  • The logo was removed on the 2001 DVD containing all three shorts (from BBC Video/Warner Home Video, a still version with copyright information was seen at the end of TWT and ACS) but was put back in for A Close Shave on Wallace and Gromit in Three Grand Adventures when it was released by DreamWorks (and the 2005 region 4 DVD release containing all 3 shorts, with the TWT and ACS still copyright versions retained at the end of the respective shorts). It also doesn't appear at the start of The Wrong Trousers on its British VHS release, having been replaced by a title card (the copyright version is retained at the end however). The British VHS release of A Close Shave retains this this logo at the start.
  • The logo is intact on the CBS-Fox VHS prints of the shorts, so check eBay, Amazon, or a local thrift store for those tapes.
  • Also seen on Netflix's prints of the three shorts when available on the streaming service.
  • This does not appear on Creature Comforts (original 1990 short film), Next, Going Equipped, Pib and Pog, Owzat, Al Dente, Indent, Pop, War Story and Stage Fright, as they use an in-credit text instead.
  • It's intact at the start and end of Adam on Aardman Animations' YouTube account.

2nd Logo (Still variants) (January 1, 1999-December 3, 2021)

Logo: On a black background, we see the then-current Aardman logo, taking the workmark 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 TV shows and at the end of films, the logo is still.
  • 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) in the center. Copyright info 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 and Purple and Brown, the logo is in-credit. The white version is also used in-credit on Creature Comforts and later episodes of Shaun the Sheep, 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, which looks like a prototype version of the next logo. 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.
  • A filmed variant was spotted on a Russian print of Flushed Away.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: None, just the ending music of the show or the film.

Availability: No longer current.

  • Seen at the end of 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 the American version), and Shaun the Sheep.
  • The in-credit variant is seen on Aardman-produced TV shows.
  • 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 December 3, 2021 and then on BBC One on Christmas Eve, 2021.
  • This logo was spotted on the credits (as well as on the packaging) on all episodes of The Peculiar Adventures of Hector DVD which is only available in Texaco gas stations across the UK for a limited time.

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

Logo: On a light cerulean-blue background with three matching gears, we slowly zoom 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. A human hand then reaches out from the right, grabs the square, and presses its head like a stopwatch, freezing the scenery. "Aardman" is formed below.

Variants:

  • On Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit and Disney+ UK prints of Chicken Run, a short version is used.
  • An in-credit version is used on later episodes of Rex the Runt.

Technique: 2D animation.

Music/Sounds: A sly jazz tune with ticking that stops when the logo does.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • On the Pathé print of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the opening theme of the movie is heard.
  • On Wallace & 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 you select "Play All".
  • On Chop Socky Chooks, the logo is silent.

Availability: Seen on later episodes of Rex the Runt, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, some episodes of Planet Sketch, Chop Socky Chocks, and the Pathé print of Chicken Run, though it was absent on the DreamWorks print (due to the length of the DreamWorks logo at the start of the film. However, a still version of the previous logo below is seen at the end). It did appear on the Chicken Run video game for PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PC. The logo with its fanfare debuted on the 2000 Aardman Classics tape.

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

Logo: On a black background, we see the Aardman logo peeling 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.

Variant: There is a cinematic variant, 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 we zoom out and pan as the machine starts up and we see on the other side that "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.

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

Technique: CGI animation.

Music/Sounds: A quiet grinding noise plays as the logo slides in, then silence, or the opening music of the film.

Availability: No longer current. Seen on Arthur Christmas, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and Early Man, among others.

5th Logo (January 17, 2022- )

Logo: 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.

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.

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

Technique: 2D animation.

Music/Sounds: 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.

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

Availability: Brand new. First seen on Aardman's social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and it also appears on the company's 2022 showreel.

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