Saving Harry is an animated short film about a hedgehog named Harry who journeys from a suburban garden through a town and eventually back into the wilderness. The project, commissioned by Wildlife Aid, was a collaborative project between illustrator Sandra Dieckmann, model maker Joe James and director Kris Hofmann.
Sandra illustrated the world that Harry travels through according to a storyboard provided by Kris. These illustrated elements – walls, trees, bins, etc. – were then recreated in 3D from grey card and arranged in the right configuration. This allows for ultra-realistic details such as shadows from the trees when Harry walks through the woods. The final step was merging Sandra’s drawings with the models that made up the environment. The grouped images depict the key stages of this process.
We chatted with Kris to get to know Harry a little bit better, and to find out some behind-the-scenes details on the process:
The real Harry makes a brief cameo at the end of the video. Can you tell us a bit more about his personality and what he’s like?
Vulnerable, a little scared, but also well looked after. Once they are settled they are very curious creatures. Wildlife Aid takes in a lot of young orphaned hedgehogs.
Since Wildlife Aid is a British organization, we have to ask: is Harry the hedgehog named after anyone in particular?
I don’t think so. But I’ve only been with Wildlife Aid for the length of production of the animation. The campaign been running longer than that, so I couldn’t tell you for sure.
What was the most unexpectedly challenging aspect of creating this animation? What was the most fun part?
The most fun part was the shoot. It was so nice to see Harry walk his cute wiggly walk. We put on some loud music and enjoyed seeing him come to live.
The most challenging part was definitely the post-production. It was really painstaking to cut Harry out, paint out the gap we had for the puppeteer and map the drawings onto the environment and background.
There’s so much attention to detail in all the elements of the video. How many collective hours did it take the team to put everything together?
Ridiculously long hours. Particularly Sandra (the illustrator) and myself were at it for ages.
In what sorts of ways will the funds raised from this campaign be used to help hedgehogs?
Food for over-wintering all the underweight hedgehogs, orthopaedic kits for operations to mend limbs, veterinarian equipment, repair and maintenance of the outside aviaries and pens… and so much more.
Hedgehogs make small grunting noises as they forage for food at night. They have approximately 5000 spines, each of which lasts around a year, after which point it falls out and a replacement spine is grown. You can help keep hedgehogs like Harry safe by: crushing and recycling cans (so they don’t get stuck inside), checking bonfires before lighting them (they seem like ideal nests to sleepy hogs), and making your gardens as wildlife-friendly as possible. More tips on how to help can be found on the Wildlife Aid website.