News / Animation

Elliot Dear directs BBC Christmas animation The Supporting Act, using stop frame with CGI faces

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Animator Elliot Dear has directed a short film to launch BBC One’s Christmas season, titled The Supporting Act. The two-minute animation created by BBC Creative with Blinkink, uses stop-motion methods combined with facial expressions created in CGI and mapped on to the puppets. This method gives the film “the charming, handmade qualities of stop-motion animation, the tiny imperfections that let you know it’s been done for real,” Elliot says. “The aim was to combine this with CG animation – which we used for the faces – in order to capture the tiny nuances of human facial expressions, enabling the characters to be very emotive without the use of dialogue.”

Elliot co-directed the John Lewis Christmas advert The Bear and the Hare in 2013, together with Yves Geleyn, which also used a different approach to stop motion with 2D cutout characters in real sets. Elliot worked with an esteemed team of collaborators on The Supporting Act including puppet makers MacKinnon & Saunders (Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride); lead animators Andy Biddle and Dan Gill (Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa ); set builders Clockwork Frog (The Pirates: An Adventure with Scientists by Aardman/Sony); director of photography Toby Howell (Fantastic Mr Fox ); and lead CGI artist Rune Spaans (Trollhunters).

The film sees a young girl obsessed with dancing and keen to gain her father’s attention, though his work sees him increasingly distracted approaching the Christmas season. It culminates in a heart-warming moment at the school talent show, where it’s revealed her dad was noting her talent, and moves, all along.

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act

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Elliot Dear / Blinkink and BBC Creative: The Supporting Act