Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas wasn’t easy to make

If there’s another Christmas unique that can fill your time in the week in between the vacation and Brand-new Year’s, it needs to be Aardman Animation’s Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Prior To Christmas.

Two sheep in Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas.

Timmy the Sheep (left) plays a vital function in the story
Image: Netflix

The definitely lovely 30-minute unique is on Netflix, and informs the story of hectic farming-influencer moms and dads and their kid who, in not likely situations, discover themselves in the middle of Shaun and his whole flock of sheep.

An almost wordless story, the plot primarily exists for a possibility to see one beautiful stop-motion gag after another. Including YouTube tutorials, robotic vacuums, sheep snowmen, and extremely carbonated soda, the beauties and thrills of Aardman are plainly at work here. A brand-new piece in Range reveals precisely how long it requires to produce a piece of vacation magic.

The Farmer and Bitzer in Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas

The Farmer has some originalities developing. Bitzer is less ecstatic
Image: Netflix

The making-of story for Flight Prior To Christmas began in 2018. Manufacturers were talking about the concept of future Shaun the Sheep specials prior to the concept of a Christmas unique was okayed the next year. By 2020, it appeared like whatever was moving efficiently, as had actually held true for 2015’s Christmas unique, The Farmer’s Llamas, and the 2018 film, Farmageddon.

Manufacturer Richard Beek informed Range that “everything was going great guns; we’d got the script into such a great place; really, really solid. People were happy with it internally. Our production partners were happy with it. So we felt like we’d used that six months really, really well. And we’re all ready to start [story] boarding … then COVID hit.”

That demanded an eight-week shutdown at Aardman’s studio, with remote work substituting storyboard and animatics. By the end of 2020, storyboarding ended up being a “full-on process,” Beek stated, with the constraints of COVID-19 narrowing the group’s focus.

The plot of the Shaun the Sheep series, for non-Aardman-heads, focuses on a sheep on a little British farm. First airing in 2007, there are 170 episodes that have plenty of wonderful accidents. Shaun is extremely creative, his Farmer is extremely absurd, and the Farmer’s sheepdog, Bitzer, typically discovers himself in more problem than the sheep as he attempts to confine them. It’s all extremely wholesome and ridiculous.

In 2020, Aardman provided The Farmer a set of not-quite competitors in the kind of the influencer-farmer household of Ben, Jin, and their child Ella. However even if the farmer is at chances with the internet-famous couple, they definitely aren’t the bad guys of the series — that’s far too craven for Shaun the Sheep.

Ben and his wife Jin in the Shaun the Sheep The Flight Before Christmas

Ben and his wife Jin
Image: Netflix

Ella in Shaun the Sheep The Flight Before Christmas

Their absolutely adorable daughter Ella.
Image: Netflix

“We were very clear that the film didn’t have villains. So we have people who are causing problems for Shaun, but the family couldn’t be the bad guys,” Beek said. Ben and Jin are just careless in different ways than the Farmer. For instance, in The Flight Before Christmas, when Ella asks her father to read her a bedtime story, instead of actually reading it he gives her a screen with a video of him reading it. Their lives may be smoother than that of the Farmer, but perhaps missing his warmth.

It’s a warmth Ella is missing, and that she finds in the adorable form of Timmy the Sheep over the course of the new special.

It’s all very sweet and quite a bit different than Aardman’s most well-known work, Wallace & Gromit. It also required creating several new characters, which is an involved process. Ella started with two-dimensional drawings, and then eventually was given to Claire Cohen, who designed her metal skeleton (known as an armature), and everything from her clothes to her wild hair were selected in deciding her character.

That’s a tricky part of anything animated: every detail has to be thought through and added in hopes of creating a greater world. That goes double for Ben’s house. Director Steve Cox told Variety that the “art director, Andy Brown, was asking: ‘What kind of curtains do you want in here?’ and I said we need them to be ceiling to floor,” before finding the right solution in a car advertisement.

When Aardman finally got to shooting, it took six “furious” months starting in January 2021, Beek said. “It’s not as considered as some of the other work we do. But that’s part of its energy.”

It’s the type of work that can only be done with an experienced team. “All the things that are economies about Shaun are also part of what makes it Shaun. I think if we were to overthink Shaun, and to start rehearsing all the shots, maybe it would lose its spontaneity and energy,” Beek said.

All that spontaneous energy is definitely on display in Shaun the Sheep: the Flight Prior To Christmas, which is offered to stream on Netflix.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.