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Il Returno de Wallace i Gromit

Wallace and Gromit have returned! From a story on BBC News:

Oscar-winning animated duo Wallace and Gromit have returned after a six-year absence in a series of short films -- and BBC News Online has exclusive footage.

Maker Aardman Animations has produced 10 one-minute movies featuring Wallace and his canny pet dog Gromit, entitled Cracking Contraptions.

The films are launching on Tuesday with the world exclusive première of the first short, Soccamatic, on BBC News Online. The film is downloadable and free to view.

The story contains links to both streaming and downloadable versions of the first of the 10 shorts. There's more good news as well:

The pair's creator, Nick Park, is currently working on a script for the first full length Wallace and Gromit feature film with Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studio, to be be released in two years.

"We wanted to get Wallace and Gromit out there again because we missed them really," he said.

"The short films were partly to train people up for doing the feature film.

"I was nervous at first because no-one has animated them for a long time. But it's worked a treat. I've been very impressed."

Apparently we'll be able to pay $9.95 to see all 10 shorts beginning next week. According to Atom Films:

AtomFilms today announced the premiere of Wallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions, a new series of ten short films from Aardman featuring two of the world's best-loved animated characters. The first episode, titled Soccamatic, will debut for free at noon PST on October 15 at http://wallace.atomfilms.com. One week later, AtomFilms will present the world premiere of the entire Cracking Contraptions series exclusively to online subscribers...

Like the earlier Wallace & Gromit films, Cracking Contraptions was produced by master animator Nick Park. This time, Park asked past collaborators Chris Sadler and Loyd Price to direct the project. "Wallace and Gromit are like family to me," said Park. "I couldn't be prouder of Cracking Contraptions, which provides new insights into the unique relationship of my characters. And considering their love of advanced technology, the Internet is the perfect place for these guys."

AtomFilms has made it very easy for novices and techies alike to own Cracking Contraptions. After paying a one-time fee of $9.95, subscribers will gain instant access to all ten episodes and a special "making of" feature. The episodes can be downloaded to a subscriber's computer for unlimited high-quality playback, or streamed for online viewing. The series will be delivered exclusively in the Windows Media video format, with digital-rights-management services provided by SyncCast.

That last bit is worrisome -- what sorts of "digital rights management" will be imposed on us? -- but it is a small blemish on what has to be considered wonderful news. 10 minutes of Wallace and Gromit now, with a feature film to follow within a couple of years. This was just the sort of news I needed to brighten my day.

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