Stop-motion animation studio Aardman has begun production on its next two features,Arthur Christmas andPirates!to be distributed by Sony.

Sarah Smith and Barry Cook are co-directing the computer animated Arthur Christmas, which takes place on Christmas night and offers a glimpse behind the scenes at Father Christmas’ high-tech gift distribution enterprise.

Aardman is working closely with Sony Pictures Imageworks on the animation and Smith co-write the screenplay with Peter Baynham. Cheryl Abood is producing and Carla Shelley, Peter Lord and David Sproxton serve as executive producers.

Pirates! is co-directed by Aardman founding partner and Chicken Run co-director Lord along with Jeff Newitt based on a screenplay that Gideon Defoe adapted from his books. The story follows a hapless band of pirates in search of adventure

Julie Lockhart is producing and the executive producers are Carla Shelley, Sproxton and Lord.

Aardman and Sony signed a three-year first-look deal in 2007.