The Art of He-Man and the Mas­ters of the Uni­verse

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame - By Tim See­ley, Steve See­ley and James Ea­tock [Dark Horse Books, $39.99]

One of the top pop cul­tural he­roes to come out of the 1980s gets his due in this rev­er­ent, nos­tal­gic col­lec­tion. Through the com­bined ef­forts of Mat­tel and Dark Horse, comics vet­eran Tim See­ley and his co-writ­ers, this hefty ret­ro­spec­tive walks read­ers through He-Man’s decades-long rise from the toy sen­sa­tion of 1983 to peren­nial en­ter­tain­ment icon.

Clock­ing in at 320 pages packed with art­work, the book runs through He-Man’s ap­pear­ances in toy lines, car­toons, film and comics up to the present-day DC ti­tles. The book’s cu­ra­tors man­age to present a fair bal­ance of fa­mil­iar im­agery with more ob­scure pieces, facts and top­ics. Cov­er­ing 35 years in a ma­jor prop­erty’s life is no easy feat, es­pe­cially with armies of fans to please, but few could be dis­ap­pointed with this ef­fort.

Pete Doc­ter tests Pixar’s cre­ative lim­its with 11-year-old girl. By Tom McLean.

El­lie Doc­ter led a nor­mal, very happy child­hood — much to the de­light of her fa­ther, Pete Doc­ter, di­rec­tor of such hit Pixar movies as Mon­sters, Inc. and Up. But some­thing changed when she turned 12: Her goofy, fun per­son­al­ity took a turn to­ward mono­syl­labic an­swers with out­bursts of anger and dis­gust.

None of which is any­thing un­usual or new for par­ents to have to deal with, but when Doc­ter thought to him­self, “What’s go­ing on in her head?” it ig­nited an idea that be­gan a de­mand­ing five-year jour­ney that ends with the June 19 re­lease of In­side Out.

“I had pretty sparse el­e­ments at the very be­gin­ning,” says Doc­ter. “I had a con­cept of a kid and ... in­side (her head) you’d see the emo­tions. I didn’t even know which ones were there or what the kid was do­ing or any­thing like that. It was just kind of the ba­sic con­cept, and then from there it grew — and along the way we took a lot of dead-end wrong turns. But that’s the usual process.”

In­side Out tells the story of an 11-year-old girl named Ri­ley and the emo­tions that live in- side her mind: Joy, Sad­ness, Anger, Fear and Dis­gust. When Ri­ley and her par­ents move from Min­nesota to San Fran­cisco, her typ­i­cally happy out­look be­gins to change as Joy and Sad­ness find them­selves flung from her mind’s Head­quar­ters to the far corners of her mind and have to find a way back. It’s a jour­ney that takes them through lands like Ab­stract Thought, the movie-stu­dio con­fines of Dream Pro­duc­tions, to a trip on the Train of Thought and into the depths of the Sub­con­scious.

Doc­ter — who re­united with pro­ducer Jonas Rivera un­der the ever-present eye of chief cre­ative of­fi­cer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer John Las­seter — says at the start they looked into a lot of re­search into how the brain and emo­tions work and change through a life. What they learned sug­gested Doc­ter’s in­stincts were pointed in the right di­rec­tion.

“Psy­chol­o­gists told us that out of ev­ery­one on Earth, there’s no more so­cially at­tuned crea­ture than an 11- to 15- or 16-year-old girl,” says Doc­ter, who also wrote the screen­play with Meg LeFauve and Josh Coo­ley. “They’re just so di­aled in to all so­cial cues and re­ac­tions and so we felt like, it’s based on real life, the science is re­in­forc­ing that, I think we’re at the right place. And there must be some­thing for me that I haven’t quite put to bed about grow­ing up and the dif­fi­culty of that that makes it still in­trigu­ing to me.”

A Dif­fi­cult Birth But a con­cept is not a story, and com­ing up with one was dif­fi­cult. It’s a process that had more than one film­maker at Pixar in­vok­ing the word “ner­vous” when con­sid­er­ing how In­side Out might be re­ceived when it’s re­leased.

One such crewmem­ber is pro­duc­tion de­signer Ralph Eg­gle­ston, who says the ex­tra­or­di­nary num­ber of changes the film went through made it dif­fi­cult to see how ev­ery­thing would fit to­gether.

“The idea it­self is so in­tel­lec­tual and I never felt I com­pletely got a foot­ing on the con­ceit of how the world works be­cause there was so much churn,” he says. “Pete and I would have talks, and he’d be feel­ing the same thing, and we would just have to say this is the hard­est thing we’ve ever done. All we could do was

“I once said it was like roller-skat­ing drunk on mar­bles while spin­ning plates,” he says of com­ing up with a color script for the movie. “We prob­a­bly did 200 de­signs on Head­quar­ters be­fore we set­tled on where we were.”

De­sign, color and tex­ture were key to dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the film’s var­i­ous set­tings. Min­nesota, for ex­am­ple, fea­tures pas­tel col­ors and pat­terns. As Ri­ley and her fam­ily travel fur­ther from Min­nesota, the en­vi­ron­ments be­come more dis­con­nected, shown via zigzag pat­terns of train tracks and elec­tric wires.

The big­gest tech­ni­cal chal­lenge was cre­at­ing the ef­fer­ves­cent look each of the emo­tions has in the film. Pro­posed by art di­rec­tor of char­ac­ters Al­bert Lozano, the idea was to give Joy the zip of a sparkler or the bub­bly look of a glass of cham­pagne.

“We worked for about eight months to get that idea work­ing, and we got it to work but we were lit­er­ally on the verge of not be­ing able to do it be­cause it was too ex­pen­sive,” says Eg­gle­ston. “We didn’t plan to have it on any of the other char­ac­ters out the door be­cause of that. We got it to work, and we showed it to John Las­seter and the first words out of his mouth were: ‘Great! Put it on all the char­ac­ters!’ And you could hear – thud, thud – the poor tech­ni­cal guys hit­ting the ground.”

Comedic Con­flict Cast­ing was a key el­e­ment, with Doc­ter’s in­stincts lead­ing to­ward the emo­tions be­ing a com­edy ensem­ble. “If you have Anger, who feels like you should go out and hit peo­ple, and Fear just wants to run away, this is a great way for char­ac­ters to re­ally bump up against each other in op­po­si­tion, which is what com­edy seems to be largely about,” says Doc­ter.

The process started with sim­ple moviemak­ing con­cepts: ac­tors who fit the char­ac­ters and didn’t sound too much alike. Doc­ter says he had pro­posed cast­ing co­me­dian Lewis Black as Anger as an ex­am­ple of what he was think­ing — only to have Black agree to do the role. For­mer Satur­day Night Live star Bill Hader was the first to be cast, as Fear. And for­mer The Of­fice ac­tress Phyl­lis Smith was cast as Sad­ness based on a sug­ges­tion from Rivera, who had liked her in Bad Teacher.

“That was a key to un­lock­ing that char­ac­ter,” says Doc­ter. “Up to then, we had thought of her as ‘wah, wah!’ — kind of on the nose. And think­ing about her as more in­se­cure in­stead of straight up sad ended up be­ing a real turn­ing point for us.”

Set­tling an in­ter­nal de­bate about whether Dis­gust should be dis­gust­ing or act dis­gusted led to cast­ing Mindy Kal­ing, and Amy Poehler per­fectly per­son­i­fied for the an­i­ma­tors the idea for Joy.

“Once we got Amy Poehler’s voice in there it re­ally so­lid­i­fied who this char­ac­ter was,” says su­per­vis­ing an­i­ma­tor Shawn Krause. “Pete had been say­ing, ‘I see her as kind of Bugs Bunny and I see her as ras­cally.’ I was treat­ing her at first more like Peter Pan, as spritely and kind of lighter than air. No, she’s grounded, she’s ram­bunc­tious, she’s dev­il­ish. They didn’t want her to feel like hap­pi­ness; she’s more in­fec­tious and inspires fun and joy.”

Krause per­son­i­fied this in a walk cy­cle test for Joy in which the char­ac­ter stomped around with en­thu­si­asm and a bit of mis­chief in­stead of float­ing along bliss­fully.

“It was sur­pris­ing but also sort of per­fect be­cause she was earthy and grounded,” says Doc­ter. “Those kinds of mo­ments are what keep you go­ing on a pro­ject for five years.”

Other cast mem­bers in­clude Kait­lyn Dias as Ri­ley, with Diane Lane and Kyle Ma­cLach­lan play­ing her par­ents.

Ideas in Mo­tion Krause says one or two an­i­ma­tors were as­signed at the be­gin­ning of pro­duc­tion to each char­ac­ter to de­velop a style for them to move.

The fi­nal stages of the de­sign pro­gres­sion for the emo­tions and the main con­sole in Head­quar­ters shows the team at Pixar’s fi­nal re­fine­ments to the look of each el­e­ment.

De­cid­ing what Ri­ley’s Head­quar­ters would look like was a ma­jor de­ci­sion for the film­mak­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.