Robin Robin is a 30-minute Christmas short from Aardman, the four-time Academy Award-winning animation studio. The stop-motion production was recently shortlisted in the “Animated Short Film” category for this year’s Academy Awards, and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Robin Robin is the tale of a small bird, whose egg falls out of its nest, ultimately winding up with a family of mice, and causing quite an identity crisis. Bronte Carmichael voices Robin, with Richard E. Grant voicing Magpie, Gillian Anderson portraying the villainous Cat, and
Adeel Akhtar performing Dad Mouse.
The project marks the UK studio’s first stop-motion musical. It was directed Dan Ojari (Slow Derek) and Mikey Please (The Eagleman Stag, Marilyn Myller ), with Aardman’s Sarah Cox (Tate Movie Project, Heavy Pockets) serving as executive producer and Helen Argo (Tate Movie Project, Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels) as producer.
According to directors Mikey Please and Dan Ojari, the film made use of 75 puppets, including five mice, a magpie, a robin, a cat, three frogs, three hedgehogs and a squirrel.
“Since we were shooting several scenes at once, we needed multiples of each character, and also built sets at three different scales. The heights of the puppets were between 1cm and 30cm high. The numbers of puppets soon adds up!”
A Canon 1Dx Mark 3 was used for the shoot, and the nature of stop-motion animation presented its own set of challenges.
“The opening egg roll scene sticks out as a particularly tricky one, as we had four different types of water effects to incorporate and getting those fluid, stylized elements to work together was a fun problem to solve,” note the duo. “Each element, a running stream, a waterfall, rain and splashes, had its own special in-camera optical illusion that needed to be figured out. The running stream was created with warped acetate strips, which were manipulated at different speeds to create the impression of rippling water, whilst underneath it, sheets of carded wool were pulled at a different speed to give the impression of depth. The splashes were made with dozens of replacement elements molded from glue gun and wool. These elements, along with the rain and waterfall, were animated in conjunction with a camera move and a tumbling egg with several different lighting states thrown into the mix. Luckily our brilliant animation supervisor, Ian Whitlock was able to compartmentalize his brain and juggle everything at once!”