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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Barrow animation whiz’s talents cut TV’s Jeremy Paxman down to size

HE has made the most high-profile politicians feel an inch-high with his relentless grilling. But now, courtesy of a Barrow animator, it is Jeremy Paxman who has been cut down to size.

To tie in with the fanfare surrounding The Lego Movie, Russell Peet was tasked with making a special closing sequence of Newsnight.

The 23-year-old had just hours to create a tiny replica of the iconic studio and film the short piece at Signal Films in Abbey Road, before it aired at the end of Tuesday night’s show on BBC2. As he closed the programme, Mr Paxman said: “We learned today that The Simpsons are next on the list for a Lego makeover, whatever next?”

Mr Peet’s Lego animation then aired, showing the studio lights dim and Mr Paxman walk off set.

Mr Peet, a former John Ruskin School and Barrow Sixth Form College student, said: “At about 2pm I got the call asking whether I’d be able to knock up something out of Lego very quickly for them to show as the closing credits.

“It was an incredibly quick, rush-job, but it came out quite nicely. Usually, if someone asks me to do some animation work I’ll have a week, if not months, to be able to make it. So it was really quite good just having a couple of hours to put something together.

“Also, I hadn’t used Lego since I was a kid, so it was quite a shock to be animating with something so small. It was quite far removed from what I normally do, which is animation puppets about 30cm-high.”

Based in Barrow’s Cooke’s Building, where he teaches animation, Mr Peet, of Grizedale, is also sculpting some puppets to be used in future Newsnight shows, but on this occasion there were some unique challenges.

Mr Peet said: “The brief was changing quite rapidly up until we started shooting. They wanted pretty much exactly what happens with the normal Newsnight credits, but made out of Lego. But doing a camera pan on a piece of Lego, which is a hundred times smaller than a human, means the movement on the camera pan has to be a hundred times smaller than it usually would be, so it took an awful lot of concentration to move the camera slowly and smoothly when you’re moving it about a milimetre each picture.”

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