Park, Nick

▪ 2007
 In 2006, at a time when animated film was dominated by computer-generated images and fast-talking celebrity-voiced characters, two of its best-loved stars had feet of clay: Wallace, a cheese-loving inventor of madcap contraptions, and Gromit, his put-upon mouthless dog, both of whom sometimes literally bore the thumbprint of their creator, British animator Nick Park. Some 23 years after they had first emerged from plasticene (modeling clay) in Park's student short film A Grand Day Out, the lovable pair came to the screen in the full-length movie Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), winning for Park and co-director Steve Box the 2006 Academy Award for best animated feature film. With that Oscar, his fourth, Park could lay claim to being the reigning master of stop-motion animation, the painstaking art form that could require 24 adjustments of a model for one second of film.

      Nicholas Wulstan Park was born on Dec. 6, 1958, in Preston, Lancashire, Eng. He demonstrated an early ability to draw, and by age 13 he was animating his cartoon creation Walter the Rat with his mother's standard 8-mm movie camera. When he was 15, one of his homemade films was shown on television as part of the BBC's Young Animator's Film Competition. After graduating from the Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University), Park attended the National Film and Television School. There his first 35-mm film, A Grand Day Out, a work in progress, brought him to the attention of Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who had founded Aardman Animations in Bristol, Eng., and were at the forefront of a revival of clay animation. In 1985 Park joined Aardman, where he worked on commercials and the music video for Peter Gabriel's “Sledgehammer” while completing A Grand Day Out, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best short animated film in 1991. That year he won the award for Creature Comforts, a documentary-like series of interviews with zoo animals.

      With the often-befuddled Wallace and infinitely practical Gromit, Park created a quirky Laurel and Hardy-like comedic duo. In The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), both Oscar winners, the director deftly continued to exploit the pliability and warmth of the clay medium, bringing hilarious nuance to Gromit's silent reactions to his master's overwrought best intentions, such as flying to the Moon in search of cheese. Park loaded his movies with puns and visual gags, many alluding to film classics, from The Great Escape (1963)—which provided the story line for the director's first feature, Chicken Run (2000), with funny fowl replacing POWs—to the horror films that inspired The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Five years in the making, with 115,000 frames of finished footage, Curse was very much an Aardman team effort, but it bore Park's indelible mark.

Jeff Wallenfeldt

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▪ British animator, writer, producer, and director
in full  Nicholas Wulstan Park 
born Dec. 6, 1958, Preston, Lancashire, Eng.
 
 British animator and director of stop-motion films that often feature his characters Wallace and Gromit.

 Park demonstrated an early ability to draw, and by age 13 he was animating his cartoon creation Walter the Rat with his mother's standard 8-mm movie camera. When he was 15, one of his homemade films was shown on television as part of the BBC's Young Animator's Film Competition. After graduating from the Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University), Park attended the National Film and Television School. There his first 35-mm film, A Grand Day Out, a work in progress, brought him to the attention of the founders of Aardman Animations in Bristol, Eng., which was at the forefront of a revival of clay animation. In 1985 Park joined Aardman, where he worked on commercials and the music video for Peter Gabriel (Gabriel, Peter)'s "Sledgehammer" while completing A Grand Day Out, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best short animated film in 1991. That year he won the award for Creature Comforts, a documentary-like series of interviews with zoo animals.

 With Wallace—an oft-befuddled inventor of elaborate contraptions—and his infinitely practical dog, Gromit, Park created a quirky Laurel and Hardy-like comedic duo. In The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), both Oscar winners, the director deftly continued to exploit the pliability and warmth of the clay medium, bringing hilarious nuance to Gromit's silent reactions to his master's overwrought best intentions, such as flying to the Moon in search of cheese. Park made his feature-length directorial debut in 2000 with Chicken Run (codirected by Peter Lord) and later brought his famous pair to the big screen with Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), which won for Park and codirector Steve Box the 2006 Academy Award for best animated feature film. In 2007 Shaun the Sheep, a series of animated shorts cowritten and coproduced by Park, debuted on the BBC.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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