The Oscars: Park Talks Wallace & Gromit
BD: So what was the production experience like on this one?
NP: I think one of the biggest problems of this is that the story was so difficult to get down to 30 minutes, and the BBC were insisting on that so they could sell it on to other TV stations. And so I wanted to do something that was a bit more pacier than before. And I had some big set pieces in mind that were pacey. But I was scared at the same time: I didn't want the whole thing to be just one mad rollercoaster.
BD: Wallace & Gromit is so character-based.
NP: Yeah, and partly what people like about Wallace & Gromit is it has its own sense of pace: quite mild and gentle in some ways. So it was a matter of balancing that out, really.
BD: Did you do anything new technically with stop-motion?
NP: Yeah, it was the first film I made where we didn't shoot on 35mm film. And we were already using high-def cameras on other things, and we went into this cautiously and did a lot of testing. I was impressed the look that Corpse Bride had: cinematic yet digital. So we decided to bite the bullet and go with digital cameras for the first time. And made with the BBC money you just can't justify film anymore. So we shot basically on Canon SLR stills cameras and I really fell in love with it, actually, in a way that I didn't think I would. We were scared that you might get funny kind of strobing and things because quite often digital media are so much sharper. And if you've got edges of an object moving, often a hard edge will strobe, or if there's a camera move, there are lots of vertical lines. But actually you get a lot of that in film, anyway, so we found there were lots of teething problems with lighting but Dave Riddett, our DP, re-educated himself on it, really. Things like having the corner of a room be nice and cozy, you take some light off it. The digital camera seems to have its own mind and will compensate, and will bring out all the garish pinks when you really want to knock them back, so we found working between the DP and the art department that we would dampen the sets down with a gray wash more than we would normally. And it was a great safety net, where you could go back and recreate frames; if a picture falls off the wall; or the leaves on a tree move. And you get so much detail that it shows off the hand-made quality even more in some ways because you can see the fingerprints more.
BD: It must be nice to have a crew comprised of veterans and some newcomers.
NP: Yeah, we're all on the same page already and they know what Wallace & Gromit look like. And very few were totally new. Some had worked on commercials and know how chunky to make things.