Creature Comforts

Sep 18 2006

A dog from Creature Comforts

© Aardman Entertainment

Creature Comforts is a series of shorts made by Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Grommit. It’s a claymation series in which interviews with average British folk are animated as though the interviewees are animals. It’s brilliantly funny, as droll explanations from hypochondriacs and circus performers seem much more real when coming from a dog or a duck. There’s probably something about the idea of the animals finally getting a say, too, that makes it work.

The really interesting thing about the series, to me, is that the animals don’t move. Well, their mouths move, and their heads, but they don’t walk around while being interviewed. So the animation is entirely focused on their heads, and occasional hand/paw/tail gestures.

This is in violation of a major rule of animation, which says that animation should involve as much movement as possible. Animation is a visual lie, so the theory goes, so you have to keep fooling the eye with lots of fluid motion to distract the human brain from the fact that it’s not seeing real faces.

I haven’t believed this “rule” for some time, as you can probably tell from my tone. And Creature Comforts shows why: Movement is kept to an absolute minimum, and yet the characters are fully realized, highly expressive, and extremely funny.

Abstraction can be just as effective as realism.

Comments:

Brennen There’s also a question of what constitutes “realism” in this context. Lots of animated movement is flatly unrelated to anything that real organisms do.
Brent Good point! I’ve heard of an animation concept called “the lie,” which is some drawing in the animation that looks wrong when looked at alone, but makes the overall animation look right. It’s something inherent in the abstraction.
Anonymous Hi all. nice site.
Vidya I always enjoy reading your book reviews. I like the way u maintain your library. Cool way to keep track.

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