Shaun the Sheep: Flight Before Christmas Isn’t Easy

If there’s one more Christmas special that can fill your time in the week between the holiday season and the New Year, it has to be Aardman Animation’s Shaun the Sheep: Flight Before Christmas.

Two sheep in Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas.

Timmy the Sheep (left) plays an important role in the story
Image: Netflix

The 30-minute special is absolutely gripping on Netflix and tells the story of busy farming influencer parents and their kids who, under unlikely circumstances, find themselves in the middle of Shaun and the whole. his sheep.

An almost wordless story, the plot mainly exists for the chance to watch one beautiful stop-motion game after another. Featuring YouTube tutorials, robotic vacuums, sheep snowmen, and insanely hot sodas, Aardman’s charm and fun are clearly at work here. A new part in Diversity shows exactly how long it takes to create a piece of holiday magic.

The Farmer and Bitzer in Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas

Farmers have some new ideas in the works. Bitzer is less excited
Image: Netflix

The creation of stories for Flight before Christmas kicks off in 2018. The producers are discussing the idea of ​​a future Shaun the Sheep special before the idea of ​​a Christmas special gets the green light the following day. For 2020, it looks like everything is going smoothly, just like the Christmas special of 2015, Farmer’s llamas, and 2018 movies Farmageddon.

Producer Richard Beek told Variety that “everything turned out great; we got the script in such a great place; really, really solid. People were satisfied with it internally. Our manufacturing partners were satisfied with it. So we feel like we’ve used those six months really, very well. And we’re all ready to start [story] got on the plane… then COVID hit. ”

That required Aardman’s studio to shut down for eight weeks, with remote work filling in storyboards and animations. By the end of 2020, storyboarding had become a “holistic process,” Beek said, with COVID-19 constraints narrowing the team’s focus.

The plot of clever sheeps series, intended for non-Aardmans, revolves around a sheep on a small British farm. First aired in 2007, there are 170 episodes filled with interesting mishaps. Shaun is smart, his Farmer is dumb, and the Farmer’s sheepdog, Bitzer, often finds himself in more trouble than the sheep when he tries to corral them. All very sane and silly.

In 2020, Aardman pitted The Farmer as a pair of rivals in the influential farming family of Ben, Jin, and their daughter Ella. But even if the farmer is at odds with the internet celebrity couple, they’re definitely not the villains of the series – that’s too bad for clever sheeps.

Ben and his wife Jin in Shaun the Sheep The Flight Before Christmas

Ben and his wife Jin
Image: Netflix

Ella in Shaun the Sheep The Flight Before Christmas

Their adorable daughter Ella.
Image: Netflix

“We have been very clear that the film has no villains. So we have people who are causing problems for Shaun, but the family can’t be the bad guys,” Beek said. Ben and Jin are just careless in different ways than Farmer. For example, in The Flight Before Christmas, when Ella asks her father to read her a bedtime story, instead of actually reading it, he gives her a screen with a video of him reading it. it. Their lives may be smoother than the Farmer, but perhaps his warmth is missing.

It’s a warmth that Ella is lacking, and she finds in Timmy the Sheep’s adorable form throughout the new special.

All very sweet and a little different from Aardman’s most famous work, Wallace & Gromit. It also requires generating some new characters, which is an involved process. Ella started with two-dimensional drawings, and was then eventually assigned to Claire Cohen, who designed her metal skeleton (known as the armature), and everything from her clothes to her wild hair. Her character is selected to determine her character.

It’s a tricky part of anything animated: every detail has to be thought through and added in the hope of creating a more fantastic world. That goes double for Ben’s house. Director Steve Cox told Variety that “the art director, Andy Brown, asked: ‘What kind of curtain do you want here?’ and I said we needed them to be floor-to-ceiling,” before finding the right solution in a car commercial.

When Aardman finally started filming, it took a “crazy” six months starting in January 2021, Beek said. “It’s not supposed to be some of the other work we do. But that’s part of its energy.”

This is the kind of work that can only be done with an experienced team. “All things economic Shaun It’s also part of what makes it Shaun. I think if we think too much Shaun, and to start rehearsing all the shots, it might lose its spontaneity and energy,” says Beek.

All that spontaneous energy is definitely displayed in Shaun the Sheep: Flight Before Christmas, available to stream on Netflix.

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