FEATURES DreamWorks Animation Reports 4th Quarter, 2014 Losses
DreamWorks Animation reported a significant loss in the fourth quarter of 2014 related to its restructuring and to the lackluster box office performance of its features Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
The company took a $210 million pre-tax charge associated with the restructuring, while the poor performance of Penguins and Peabody resulted in impairment charges of $57.1 million.
Revenues for the quarter that ended Dec. 31 were $234 million, up about 15 percent from the same period in 2013. In addition, DreamWorks Animation reported an adjusted operating loss of $37.6 million and adjusted net loss of $64.1 million.
To improve its liquidity, the company sold its Glendale campus for $185 million in a 20-year lease-back deal.
5- 10Stuttgart Int’l Animation Festival and FMX kick off in Germany, while in Trebon, Czech Republic, you can check out the annual AniFilm. (itfs.de, fmx.de, anifilm.cz)
While most art-of books chronicle the making of full-length features, it’s rare to find one that delves into the details involved in making an animated short film — even one that won an Oscar. That alone makes The Art of Mr. Hublot a real treat for fans and filmmakers who want to know how it was done. The winner of last year’s Best Animated Short Film Oscar is a visual delight, using CG to replicate a stop-motion feel in telling its tale of a lonely mechanical man who lives in a robot city and adopts a pet. Written in both English and French, the book breaks down the entire filmmaking process, with plenty of insights from directors Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares and the film’s crew. Liberally illustrated to show off the detailed designs and immaculately printed, this is a book animators and fans will find well worth the cost of shipping in from Europe.
she’s doing very grown up things in this situation where she’s all alone and having to fend for herself. So she comes across as very old but we still had to find the young in her,” he says.
DreamWorks has been pushing its technical capabilities to new heights with its proprietary Apollo software and a new tool dubbed Premo. Having directed DreamWorks Animation’s first feature, Antz, and 2006’s Over the Hedge, Johnson says the technology has improved drastically in every respect.
For example, on Home the detail built into the digital characters made it possible to use certain cinematic tools, such as allowing the camera to zoom in for a true chin-to-eyebrow cinematic close-up. “With this new software, you could go as close as you wanted and it all really communicated a rich inner life,” says Johnson.
Reisig had taken a few years off from production to help bring an animator’s point of view to developing the new technology, and found it tremendous fun to put the tools he had worked on to the test. The software allows animators to work in real time with full-resolution models, multiple characters and full textured environments.
“It feels like you’re pushing something that’s tactile – it’s got that immediacy to it and you’re not juggling resolutions of characters and turning things on and off because it’s too heavy,” says Reisig.
Producer Susanne Buirgy says the new tech required some training for animators, but the overall process is more intuitive and productive. “You can work so quickly and stuff looks so amazing and you can see it in real time, and I think it added to what we were able to do on the movie,” she says.
The technology also allowed for some seemingly simple changes that live-action filmmakers take for granted. “Hair and makeup is an Academy Award category, and yet in animation you’re lucky to get two hair styles (on any one character),” says Johnson. “I wanted to make sure we had different hair styles through the film and (Tip) has five different hair styles and it’s always blowing in the wind in the car.”
Though Johnson loves science fiction, the genre presents some specific difficulties — namely, how to convey exposition without boring or confusing the audience. That led to many different versions of the film’s opening being written in an attempt to find one that worked. “We must have done — in 2014 alone — 10 openings to the movie,” says Johnson. “We had to explain the Boov and why Oh is different and why Tip is the only human left. It was challenging. We tried to open with Tip but then you never forgive the aliens.” Though work on Home predates DreamWorks Animation’s recent high-profile financial difficulties, Soria says there are hints in the film as to how she and Bonnie Arnold intend to proceed overseeing the creative aspects of the studio’s feature animation department.
“Our plan going forward is we’ll make movies that are universal in appeal and global and leave you feeling good about the human race,” says Soria. “We want people to leave DreamWorks movies with a smile on your face.” [