The Pirates!

(The Pirates! Original US Poster...I designed it!!)
So..."The PIRATES! in an Adventure with Scientists" (or "Band of Misfits" if you're in the US) is finally out worldwide...which make this an apt time to post about it I guess. I don't often blog about work, so I guess this is a small glimpse into my life in the Aardman story department!

Working hard!

So...where to begin! The beginning I guess...I found out I was going to be working on "The Pirates!" back in December 2008, but didn't actually begin until Feb 2009 (had to finish up the season on "Shaun the Sheep") right after my 24th birthday and ended on July 1, 2011...so a good few years. I aged horribly and ended up looking like a hobo! It was also the first time I'd ever worked on a feature and I didn't have a clue what to expect! I remember being briefed for a sequence on my first morning for two reasons. One - Pete (Lord...How many people get to say they had Pete Lord as their first director?), the director, took a sharpie to the script and crossed out all the dialogue and told me to "make something up" and two - I really needed the toilet the whole time. Enough of that though.

Story Crew on the "Blood Island" set. (L-R) Mike Salter, Jonny Duddle, Rej Bourdages (Head of Story), Dave Vinicombe, ME!, Victoria Evans, Tara Knowles, JP Vine

The story crew on "Pirates" was great. We were quite a small crew (only a core of five - Rej, Mike, Dave, JP and myself) with other artists coming in occasionally to inject a bit of "je ne sais quoi". I was a little bit the odd one out. Rej is a legend that I'm sure people will sing about in years to come. I learned a huge amount from him...he has this strange knack of being able to make you feel really good about the fact that you have to redraw almost everything. Mike and Dave are the old Aardman stalwarts...it wouldn't be an Aardman film without them. And JP is...well he's JP really. If you know him then you'll get it. I suppose the best way to describe how it was for me, would be to say if you get put up to the swim class above and everyone else is better than you. So you either swim harder to catch up or sink trying. Hopefully I caught up a little but those guys are still light years ahead in terms of storytelling...to the point where two of the five were poached by Pixar! Three if you count Matt Jones...but he's welsh :) Anyway, I suppose you want to know what work was like...

Pitching to Pete!

Well...it was hard work! Lots of drawing (somewhere around the 80,000 mark...give or take a couple of thousand!)...

Queen Victoria seduces Charles Darwin...with an ulterior motive. 

...and like anything there were hard patches and bits that sometimes went wrong, but as always happens when you look back on it, you laugh. I very rarely got stressed out and there was always someone to have a chat with if you did have a problem. I went through a rough patch in October 2010 and Rej was brilliant...don't know if he knows it but he was...and there was a fold out bed under the sofa in story (for lunchtime naps)...plus pizza when you had to work late...the Bowl Inn (local Pub)...and curry nights. What you see on the 'making of' part of the DVD's is only half the amount of fun we have!!

Overall the film was a great experience. Can't wait for the next one (I'm currently working on "Shaun the Sheep" again!) and hopefully people enjoy "The Pirates!" and it's off the wall humour. If you haven't seen it yet, then do! It's hard to cram two and a half years into a small space, so if anyone has any questions just leave a comment!



  1. Awesome post! Good to see they're keeping you busy!

  2. Well done dude n.n
    I'm glad you had a great time on the prod - from watching the film it certainly looked like it would be a lot of fun to be a part of! (But they don't know about Blue Peter in France, so I was the only one that got that reference ;))
    OOO (Raises hand) yes I have a question!
    After you've done your storyboards, do you put them in an animatic or does someone else? And after which, is there another animatic phase before it goes to animation (like Layout for 2D/3D)?
    All the best for the next one my friend!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences Shlee! Yer work-station looks very flash with the cintiq : P Chat soon mate!

  4. It's really great to see some of your panels you've been working on. Great work!

  5. Wait a minute . . .RACIST!