Is Flushed Away Claymation? (& Why This Is A Big Deal For Aardman Animation)


  • Flushed Away marked a departure from Aardman Animation’s claymation style, using CGI instead due to extensive water scenes and the risk of damage to clay models.
  • The use of CGI in Flushed Away opened up new creative possibilities, allowing for stunningly realistic water effects and faster-paced scenes.
  • The film’s successful blend of Aardman’s humor and character design with CGI animation demonstrated the studio’s adaptability and ability to evolve while still retaining its essence.



Flushed Away is one of Aardman Animations’ most beloved movies, but is the animation style claymation? Aardman Animation has long been synonymous with the charm and creativity of clay animation. Rising to prominence with the beloved Wallace & Gromit series, Aardman established itself as a powerhouse in the world of stop-motion, mastering the art of claymation. This distinct animation style, where characters and sets are meticulously crafted from clay and filmed frame by frame, became Aardman’s signature, enchanting audiences worldwide. Their painstaking attention to detail and whimsical storytelling set a gold standard in the genre, making the studio’s work instantly recognizable and highly acclaimed.

2006’s Flushed Away, marked a significant departure from this tradition. The movie is a high-octane adventure that follows Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), an upper-crust “society mouse,” who finds his life turned upside down in an underground London sewer city. With its dynamic plot and unique setting, Flushed Away is one of Aardman’s best movies. Notably, it was the studio’s largest budget project, costing $149 million (via Box Office Mojo), signaling a significant shift in Aardman’s approach to animation. When it comes to Flushed Away, claymation wasn’t at the forefront of Aardman’s experiments.


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Flushed Away Is Aardman Animation’s First CGI Movie

Toad looks angry in Flushed Away

Contrary to Aardman’s traditional claymation approach, Flushed Away was created almost entirely using computer-generated imagery. This significant shift was primarily due to the film’s extensive water scenes, which posed a considerable challenge for clay models. Water and clay do not mix well, and the risk of damage to the painstakingly crafted models was high (via BBC). To circumvent this issue, Aadman had no choice but to trade in clay for fully rendered digital images, but that helped bring the watery world of Flushed Away to life.

The transition to CGI was not just a practical decision; it represented a bold step in Aardman’s evolution as an animation studio. While some purists may have initially been skeptical about the studio dropping its signature style, the move allowed Aardman to explore new creative horizons, expanding the scope of what could be achieved in the studio’s films. Aardman wasn’t put off by CGI either, as the studio’s follow-up, Arthur Christmas, was almost completely CGI too, though it was on a much smaller scale than Flushed Away.

Why CGI Works So Well For Flushed Away

A mouse hugging a slug in Flushed Away

The choice of CGI for Flushed Away opened up a world of possibilities that would have been challenging, if not impossible, to realize with traditional claymation. The fluidity and dynamics of water, central to the film’s setting and plot, were rendered with stunning realism, adding a new layer of immersion to the story. Additionally, CGI enabled more intricate Flushed Away sequences and faster-paced scenes, which would have been extremely time-consuming and difficult to capture frame by frame using clay. Scenes like the high-speed boat chase through the sewers and the detailed depiction of the bustling sewer city showcased the strengths of CGI animation.

These elements not only enhanced the visual appeal of Flushed Away but also allowed for a more expansive and adventurous narrative style. Though Flushed Away bombed at the box office, the film’s successful blend of Aardman’s trademark humor and character design with the advanced capabilities of CGI animation demonstrated the studio’s adaptability. In embracing CGI, Aardman did not abandon its roots but rather expanded its toolkit, showing that the studio could evolve with the times while still retaining the essence of what makes its work special. And despite Flushed Away, claymation is still a style that Aardman can return to, which the studio did several times in the following years.

Where to Watch Flushed Away

Source: BBC


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