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Aardman Animations has revealed the first clip from Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up, the studio’s iconic characters’ first new adventure in a decade and their first told exclusively in augmented reality.
In the new story, inventor Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit’s new business venture, Spick & Spanners, takes on a contract to “Fix-Up” Bristol, the city where Aardman is based. In the first clip, which debuted on Tuesday, work is piling up, so the duo embark on a recruitment drive in their “Spick & Span mobile.” The full interactive AR adventure — which fans will be able to experience as a free download on supported Apple or Android smartphones — will be released globally, starting this fall in the UK.
The production is a partnership between Aardman and Fictioneers, a consortium of British creative companies including Potato, Sugar Creative and Tiny Rebel Games, with research support from the University of South Wales. The project is backed by a multimillion pound R&D grant from UK Research & Innovation as part of its Audience of the Future program to pioneer immersive experiences.
The original plan was to include a live-venue story component in Bristol, but amid COVID-19, the production team changed direction slightly, scanning the city center and using 3-D mapping technology Fantasmo to create an exclusively virtual experience. In creating the hybrid stop-motion and CG production, the team also partnered with Unity, which provided its MARS (Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio) toolkit, designed to help users create experiences that intelligently interact with a real-world environment.
Merlin Crossingham, Aardman’s creative director of Wallace & Gromit, who is helming The Big Fix-Up, noted that “Wallace & Gromit’s heart and soul is in stop motion, but they often dabbled in the cutting-edge of tech, and this is one of those occasions.” He added that Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park was involved from the start of the project and was “fundamental in getting Wallace & Gromit to feel comfortable in their new adventure.”
Wallace & Gromit appeared on screen for the first time in 1989’s Oscar-nominated animated short A Grand Day Out, which was followed by several more shorts, including A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers, both of which won Oscars, as well as TV series and the Academy Award-winning animated feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
“We at Fictioneers are on a mission to innovate storytelling. … It’s a rare privilege to be able to do so with some of the most beloved animated characters in the world and give fans the first opportunity to join in Wallace & Gromit’s story,” said Susan Cummings, co-founder of Fictioneers and managing director of Tiny Rebel Games.
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