AN animator who worked on the latest Aardman film Early Man has been encouraging Bradford children to have a go at making their own stop-motion movies, as he spoke to youngsters at the National Science and Media Museum.

Andy Symanowski has been with Aardman Animations for the past 22 years and worked on the studio’s first feature film, Chicken Run. He visited Bradford today and delighted families at the museum with tales of working behind the scenes on the organisation’s new prehistoric adventure movie.

He revealed early sketches of characters from Early Man and showed children how the figures are then created with adjustable skeletons and silicone and plasticine bodies, with removable heads. Andy said it can take six or seven days to animate just three seconds of footage and there were 30 animators working on the film, with about 20 different puppets for each character.

He said: “I think what we need is focus rather than patience, because we are trying to bring silicone and plasticine to life. You are trying to give the characters some kind of acting performance, so you have to be in touch with them. If they are happy, it helps if you are feeling happy. Basically you have a toy on a set, it’s all real and you have got to bring it to life - that’s what I love about it.

“Asbo is my favourite character in this film, he’s voiced by Johnny Vegas. I was a bit starstruck when he came to the studio.”

Andy said he was inspired to become an animator after seeing stop-motion animated AT-AT walkers in the first Star Wars film and he urged people in the audience of all ages to try making films themselves.

He said: “The only way to get better is to try it. There are different ways to get into animation but the important thing for any art-based career is to have a portfolio. I did a degree and spent the whole year making my third year film to try to get a job at Aardman.

“You can start at any age and look forward to making mistakes because if you make mistakes, you will learn from them and you get better.

“I would encourage anyone to have a go at animation, there’s lots of free software out there.

“For me the best part is seeing an audience watch the film. You see people laughing and enjoying the film.”

A week of half-term activities based on Early Man is taking place at the National Science and Media Museum.