Awww. The bounce has gone from his bungee.”
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is the first feature length adventure of the characters already made popular in a series of Oscar-winning short films by British animator, Nick Park. It tells the story of cheese-loving inventor, Wallace, and his intelligent and anthropomorphic dog, Gromit, as they run a pest control business during the time of their town’s annual vegetable growing contest. The town’s residents are all eager to win this contest and are paranoid about any potential damage that pests might inflict upon their entries. Anti-Pesto, Wallace and Gromit’s business, is a humane pest control service. Wallace has invented a machine designed to brainwash rabbits into even hating even the mere thought of eating a vegetable. The machine seems to be success. A short time later, the town’s vegetable gardens are terrorized by a giant “Were-Rabbit” and it is up to Wallace and Gromit to try to catch it.
As with all Wallace and Gromit films, Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a technical marvel. I am amazed that anyone can have the patience that is required to use stop-action animation to produce a movie of this quality. I’ll just borrow from Wikipedia here, because it does a better job of explaining the process then I would.
The Wallace and Gromit movies are shot using the stop motion animation technique. After detailed storyboarding, set and plasticine model construction, the movies are shot one frame at a time, moving the models of the characters slightly to give the impression of movement in the final film. In common with other animation techniques, the stop motion animation in Wallace and Gromit may duplicate frames if there is little motion, and in action scenes sometimes multiple exposures per frame are used to produce a faux motion blur. Because a second of film constitutes 24 separate frames, even a short half-hour film like A Close Shave takes a great deal of time to animate well. General quotes on the speed of animation of a Wallace and Gromit film put the filming rate at typically around 30 frames per day — i.e. just over one second of film photographed for each day of production. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an example for how long this technique takes to produce quality animation; it took 15 months to make.
As with Park’s previous movies, the special effects achieved within the limitations of the stop motion technique were quite pioneering and ambitious. In A Close Shave, for example, consider the soap suds in the window cleaning scene, and the projectile globs of porridge in Wallace’s house. There was even an explosion in “The Auto Chef”, part of the Cracking Contraptions shorts. Some effects (particularly fire, smoke, and floating bunnies) in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit proved impossible to do in stop motion and so were rendered on computer.
Park has consistently turned down requests for an ongoing television series due to the time and effort that would be required for even a single episode.
This video gives you a pretty good idea into how the models are made for a Wallace and Gromit film.
Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit is not just impressive technically, it also rife with British humor and very entertaining. It won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature of 2005.