Aardman announced the appointments of Steven Shapiro and Harry Linden to the positions of Chief technical Officer (CTO) and stop frame production head respectively. Together, the appointments of Shapiro and Linden bolster the cutting-edge animation work produced at Aardman, enabling further development of skills, processes and techniques to maintain Aardman’s position as a creative leader in entertainment over the coming years.
Steven Shapiro will report to Kerry Lock, Aardman finance and operations director . Harry Linden will report to Carla Shelley, production executive director.
These newly created roles support the continued development of cutting-edge techniques and innovations as the studio builds on recent successes including the Academy Award-nominated Robin Robin. Major new titles are entering production for both new and established IP, including a sequel to Chicken Run and the return of Wallace & Gromit.
“This is an exciting time for Aardman. We have an ambitious slate over the next five years and it is crucial that we continue to lead in the industry in relation to technology and our production planning to do justice to the stories we want to tell. The hiring of Steve and Harry will bolster our continued development and strategic planning around the future use of new techniques and innovations, alongside effective oversight around production planning across all areas of the studios business. Their appointments represent the next phase in a hugely exciting period for the studio, and I look forward to seeing the results of their contributions in the years to come,” Ardman MD Sean Clarke said.
Shapiro will start as CTO on 28 March, overseeing the technology teams and developing a technology strategy reflecting the long-term plans of the studio as it takes on an ambitious slate of projects over the next five years. He will also play a key role as Aardman hones its creative skills bringing character, story and craft to opportunities enabled through new platforms and emerging technologies.
Linden joined the studio as stop frame production head on 14 March. He will support Aardman’s specialist teams to deliver an expanding stop frame slate which includes feature films, shorts, specials, and series. The slate also includes commercials and content produced for partners, such as Turtle Journey (2020), developed for Greenpeace to show the impact of climate change and pollution on marine life, and the music video for Coldplay’s Daddy, made by Aardman in 2019. Linden will work closely with the CG production head, Jess McKillop, to ensure an integrated approach across all techniques as well as collaborating with producers and production teams to ensure this content is delivered to the highest creative standards.
Shapiro joins Aardman from The Walt Disney Studios where, as principal architect, Motion Picture Innovation, he focused on applying innovation to support productions across all The Walt Disney Pictures live action studio banners, from Marvel Studios to Disney Live Action MPP (Motion Picture Productions). Prior to this, he helped build the production technology team at Marvel Studios in his role as director. He has more than 20 years of experience in media and entertainment technology, working on more than 30 features and episodics, managing teams and contributing in the areas of visual effects, gaming, image and colour pipelines, stereography and conversion, finishing, FX art and more.
Linden has worked in film and TV for 25 years across advertising and promos, trailers, series and features. His experience spans live action and animation, 2D and 3D, stop motion and CG, at all levels of budget. He first collaborated with Aardman as floor manager on Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave (1995), before working with the studio again on its first feature, Chicken Run (2000) as production manager. He worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (Warner Bros, 2005) as production manager and was line producer on Coraline (LAIKA, 2009).