FEA­TURES DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion Re­ports 4th Quar­ter, 2014 Losses

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame -

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.” [

Tim John­son

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