Manimation ’15 Report – Wool: The Final Frontier

Posted on: Thursday 19 November 2015 9:54pm by Kath Shackleton

Mole Hill Co-Director ‘Clangers’ (Coolabi/Factory)

  • What a joy to see a remake of an old classic dare I say to be almost better than the original!
  • “Less like designing a show, more like refurbishing a grade 1 listed building”
  • Clearly made with great love and care.

Mole Hill and the Clangers

When Factory approached Mole Hill about co-directing ‘The Clangers’ with Chris Titchborne, it was not without a hint of trepidation that they took it on.

He loved the show as a child, and went about re-watching all the episodes.

Peter Firmin, now aged 85 was very much involved and kept everyone to task, and Oliver Postgate’s son Dan came on board, wrote half of the episodes and did a brilliant job.

Deciding which aspects of the original should stay and which should be updated was a real challenge. The team looked at lots of pink wool!   They needed to keep a handmade look, so most of the individual elements were hand created by the team in the studio.  One key task was to find ways to differentiate between the characters.  The puppets (made by McKinnon and Saunders) have modern technology underneath but keep the simple look of the original puppets.    They made the special effects in camera and then were dressed up in post-production rather than creating in computer. Keeping a tactile look was important, and cotton wool came into its own in a really effective way!

Michael Palin’s voice was perfect for the series. He is warm, witty and unpatronising.  He doesn’t talk down to the audience, he just observes the Clangers and draws the audience in.

So four top tips for bringing back an old classic

  1. Make sure you really love it
  2. Know what you love about it
  3. Surround yourself with others that really love it
  4. Make the show!

Their attention to detail has really paid off – they are up for a Children’s BAFTA on Sunday – wishing them well-deserved luck!

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Kath Shackleton

About the author

Kath Shackleton

Fettle Animation, Producer

Kath Shackleton is producer of Fettle Animation, a 2D Studio based in Marsden, near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. She set up her company with her partner Zane Whittingham, an animator with over 25 years’ experience. They produce award winning character animation for broadcast, web and digital devices. Their animated documentary… Read more