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Kidsday: Meeting animator Peter Lord

Kidsday reporter Max Tunney, of Long Beach with

Kidsday reporter Max Tunney, of Long Beach with animator and director Peter Lord. In the foreground is a clay pirate figure from Lord's new film "The Pirates - Band of Misfits," at the Sony offices in Manhattan. (Jan. 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

Before a news conference about Aardman's new stop-motion animated film, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," I had the opportunity to meet and interview Peter Lord, Aardman Animation's co-owner and the film's director. This was a treat for me, as I have always been a big fan of "Chicken Run," the Oscar-winning "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," and other films created by the Aardman Animations studio in England.

I met Lord at the Sony Building in Manhattan, and spoke with him for nearly a half-hour. He was extremely polite and friendly, and he had a classic British accent. He showed me the main pirate-character puppets used in the film, and a few of the 6,818 interchangeable mouths that were used to allow the characters to speak and show expression. Lord explained how the pirate mouths were originally designed on a computer, and were then printed out by a special 3-D rapid prototyping printer. Lord even allowed me to hold the Pirate Captain puppet. It was made of a rubbery clay material, surrounded by a sturdy puppet skeleton on the inside. It had great detail and was extremely well-built. It's amazing how these still puppets, with a little animation magic, can come to life on screen.

Lord talked about the lengthy process of creating a stop-motion animation film, and how many people it can take to get the job done. It took a crew of 320 people about five years to make "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," from concept to completion. He also explained that during the creation process, thousands of sketches for each character were produced.

He also showed me a few clips from "The Pirates! Band of Misfits." After seeing these clips, I could already tell that this was going to be a high quality, laugh-out-loud film, with scenes that make you think, "Wow! How did they do that?"

Following the interview, I showed Lord some of the art I have done for Kidsday. He really seemed to like my work. He chuckled at some of my cartoons, and even gave me a few tips on how I can enhance my skills. He also discussed how important it is to be original and have your own ideas if you want a future in animation.

Meeting Peter Lord was an incredible experience, and I can't wait to see his new film, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," which opens on April 27.

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