'The Pirates!' presented Flex Animation with a unique challenge:  creating digital facial rigs that would eventually be rapid prototyped (3D printed) as physical stop motion miniatures.  Each one would be replaced during animation as a frame of dialogue, singing or conveying emotion. 

Working closely with Aardman animation veterans and a unique team of model makers, Flex developed a set of tools in MEL and Python that would automate the facial rig build.  This took the facial rigging time from 1-2 weeks to 3 days, and allowed time to be spent where it mattered, on recreating the distinctive Aardman aesthetic.

Flex Animation's David Cowles-Brooks was invited to speak at the Pixel 7 conference in Vienna about his work on 'The Pirates!' following the film's release.  You can read the conference slides here (15 MB).