If any of you are fans of Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run, you've probably heard of Shaun the Sheep. Or if you have kids and watch the short episodes that appear on the Disney Channel, you've probably heard of or even seen Shaun the Sheep, which seems to air between other shows. The stop-motion animated series is about a flock of sheep on a farm and the trouble they get into in their daily lives.
The character of Shaun the Sheep first appeared in Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave back in 1995. In 2007 he got his shot at the big time in his own series. And over the last couple of years, working with Lionsgate, and HIT Entertainment, these great stop-motion animated episodes have been coming to the US on DVD as well as on the Disney Channel.
Aardman Animations uses traditional stop-motion animation to create their shorts. That means 12 pictures are shot with small models and sets for every second of air time. For a five-minute episode of Shaun the Sheep, you're looking at about 3,600 pictures that are then shown sequentially to provide the illusion of movement. It's a ton of work and Aardman has done an amazing job with their shorts, television series, and movies over the last 30 years, gaining quite a worldwide following here in the US since the mid-'90s.
The Shaun the Sheep series focuses on a small set of characters. There's of course the title character, Shaun. Shaun has a wide mischievous and curious streak that often gets him and his flock into entertaining predicaments. Bitzer is a farm dog whose responsibility it is to make sure things get done, including watching Shaun's flock. As a consequence, he often gets drawn into the machinations of Shaun's schemes. And then there's The Farmer, who wears thick glasses and has little imagination. It's his farm that all the characters live upon, and he is often duped by Bitzer and Shaun to get the sheep in and out of trouble. Beyond Shaun, Bitzer, and The Farmer, there are many other characters in the flock and around the farm.