The Pearce Sisters - directed by Luis Cook

A Winning Weekend for The Pearce Sisters

On Sunday 10th February, Director Luis Cook and Producer Jo Allen picked up the prestigious BAFTA film award for best short animation

I looked at a lot of St Ives artists such as Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis and wanted to evoke a bit of that natural, hand-drawn, scruffy, naive, outsider art. I also like the idea that this story could have happened 50 years ago, and as if the film itself had been washed up by the sea. I was also trying to make it austere and beautifully ugly, atmospheric.

The way we ended up making it was quite experimental. I knew I wanted to mix 3d CGI with 2d somehow- rough it up a bit. I also knew I wanted to show what else we can do here. Obviously we are well known for clay stop motion with Wallace and Gromit, etc. But we do everything here. I thought a film that came out of the aardman studio that didn't touch clay would be a good thing (actually we did build the characters roughly in clay before we built them in the computer, so its not strictly true).

So we animated everything in the computer with cg models, then printed the frames out and worked over them in 2D filling in the details and expressions and scanning it all back in over the 3D. This also meant we could get fills, shadows and textures from the 3D and all the 2D looseness. It also meant that the characters could interact with 3D objects. 2D artwork was wrapped around 3D cg so hopefully the whole film is integrated even though we have used lots of techniques to achieve it. The 3D also gave the characters a sense of reality, weight and volume, which I thought important to the narrative.

To hold it all together aesthetically I did a fully rendered design for all of the 180 shots. So we all knew - cg, 2D, comp- where we were headed. The backgrounds were taken from the Photoshop layers as were all the textures placed upon the models. It reduced the amount of discussion. Just look at the visual, everything we need to know is there. Confused? So were we, but blundered our way in, we found shortcuts along the way, like putting animated 2D textures onto the CGI models. Every shot seemed to have a set of different problems but we just about worked out what we were doing.