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Adam Elliot on the animation process

By ACMI, 2010 3:01 minutes

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Adam Elliot produced designs of varying complexity for all of the 200 characters in Mary and Max before handing these drawings over to his team of model-making sculptors. It was important that the team remain true to Elliot’s distinctive ‘chunky wonky’ style, with its crooked lines and grungy aesthetic. Because the stop-motion process is so painstaking, the team managed to produce an average of just two and a half minutes of animation each week.

Collection Screen Worlds


Discussion Points

Prior to working on Mary and Max, Elliot had done his own animation and had not been required to articulate the fundamentals of his creative style, however it is clear that the process of pinning down the key elements of his creative practice in his ‘style bible’ was a satisfying one.

  • Why do many visual artists find it hard to talk about their art? For example, Tim Burton often chooses to explain his ideas by drawing a picture.

As this interview attests, Adam Elliot is extremely good at articulating his ideas and explaining the animation process.

Of the look of Mary and Max, he comments that ‘…there were no straight lines – every prop had to look like it had been dropped once, every prop had to look like it had been bought at an op shop and then everything had to be grunged up and aged…’

  • Taking note of Elliot’s description of his style, look for these ‘organic’ qualities in a short scene from Mary and Max.
  • Compare the animation in Mary and Max with Elliot’s earlier work.

In his animations, Elliot creates a unique world in which to locate his characters and their stories. The world of Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit is similarly distinctive.

  • Compare a number of different frames from Mary and Max with some from one of Nick Park’s animations. Consider the mise en scène – in other words, the way in which each of these directors has ‘staged the event’ for the camera.