Puppet Makers from the North of England Collaborate with Tim Burton

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Manchester Puppetry Experts Mackinnon & Saunders Produce Animated Short for New York City’s Museum of Modern Art

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I didn’t really have time to shoot a rehearsal so I prepped by filming myself acting out the robot’s actions, then using that as reference for the actual animation. I did my acting in the parking lot. I got a few funny looks but it really helped us nail the timings down.

A world-leading stop-motion animation, model-making and puppet making firm in the North of England recently teamed up with Tim Burton and New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to create a 30 second film to help promote the Tim Burton exhibit.

Based in Manchester, in the North of England, Mackinnon & Saunders worked under the direction of Burton to create and film the spot in a record time of three weeks to support MoMA’s retrospective of his work.

Mackinnon & Saunders have been designing and creating puppets for over 17 years and have contributed to several film and television projects shown in the United States and throughout the world. The firm has worked on several previous Tim Burton productions, including Mars Attacks! and Corpse Bride, both of which are currently displayed at MoMA. Other notable Mackinnnon & Saunders projects include Bob the Builder, Fantastic Mr. Fox and the animated series of Puffs tissues commercials.

MoMA asked Tim Burton to create a short trailer for the exhibit. He, in turn, reached out to Mackinnon & Saunders. The resulting animated short film, designed by Burton, features a quirky robot character inflating four Burton-style balloons that spell out ‘MoMA.’ The animated short is currently online and will be broadcast on television in the United States. The Mackinnon & Saunders team worked under tight deadline to make the puppet, balloons and set, and film the entire sequence in three weeks.

Veteran animator Chris Tichborne commented on the timeline: “I didn’t really have time to shoot a rehearsal so I prepped by filming myself acting out the robot’s actions, then using that as reference for the actual animation. I did my acting in the parking lot. I got a few funny looks but it really helped us nail the timings down.”

The North of England, with cities Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle Upon Tyne, is home to one of the world’s largest clusters of animation, digital production and puppet-making companies. Manchester, specifically, is a home for several pioneers in the field, including Mackinnon & Saunders.

“With an active film and television industry and emerging media communities like MediaCityUK and Digital City, the North of England is a thriving environment for creative, digital and media companies complete with skilled talent, facilities, development, support services and state-of-the-art infrastructure,” says J-C Jeffrey of The North of England Inward Investment Agency.

About the North of England Inward Investment Agency (NoE)
The North England Inward Investment Agency is a British Government-funded consultancy and UK-based inward investment agency whose role is to advise and assist North American companies considering UK/European expansion. Our services are free and confidential and include the provision of information on a wide range of important issues such as: market feasibility studies, business plan support, site selection, potential procurement of financial assistance/public grants, taxation issues, work-force training and recruitment, supply chain opportunities, skills availability, labor costs and regulations, market data, links and collaborations with universities, introductions to key professional services and regulation advice. For more information, please visit http://www.northengland.com

About Mackinnon & Saunders
Mackinnon & Saunders are an award-winning production company based in Manchester, England. They have been designing and creating puppets for over 17 years and have contributed to television projects including Bob the Builder, Postman Pat, Pingu, Fifi & the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car. Their film projects include Mars Attacks! (1995), Corpse Bride (2005), Max & Co (2006) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), and they are currently working with Tim Burton on his next feature, Frankenweenie, which is due for release in 2011.

Mackinnon & Saunders have also produced a number of television projects including the highly popular series of TV ads for Procter & Gamble’s Puffs tissues in the US which is now in its ninth year, the hit series Frankenstein’s Cat for CBBC and the upcoming RAH RAH: The Noisy Lion with Chapman Entertainment for CBeebies. For more information, please visit http://www.mackinnonandsaunders.com.

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