Au­gust | Septem­ber Plan­ner 24

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame -


B:TAS voicers Kevin Con­roy and Loren Lester will be at Chicago Comic Con! [wiz­ard­­con/ chicago]

chal­leng­ing and very ex­cit­ing to do.”

Re­viv­ing the 1980s The movie also leans into a 1980s feel­ing through clas­sic songs from the era and the in­tro­duc­tion of su­per vil­lain Balt­hazar Bratt, voiced by Trey Parker. He’s a former child star from that decade, who fell out of fa­vor when he grew up and no longer kept his cute tween looks. The one thing he did keep? His love of all things ’80s.

“One of the rea­sons I got into an­i­ma­tion was that I was in­spired by the A-ha video for the song ‘Take On Me,’ which was ground­break­ing at the time,” says direc­tor Kyle Balda, who is gear­ing up for pro­duc­tion on Min­ions 2. “So work­ing with all the ter­ri­ble fash­ion from the ’80s and the other things that are just so nat­u­rally funny was great for ev­ery­one who re­mem­bers that era. And even for peo­ple who weren’t there, these things — the danc­ing, the fash­ion and mu­sic — are pretty funny.” Soret agrees. “For the as­pect of the ’80s char­ac­ter (for Balt­hazar Bratt), his out­fit is help­ing a lot for us to find poses and at­ti­tudes. But when it came into the an­i­ma­tion process, we wanted to give him re­ally an ’80s kind of move­ment,” writes Soret. “And how can you dif­fer­en­ti­ate some­one mov­ing in 1982 and some­body mov­ing in 2017? By the way they are danc­ing! As a lot of peo­ple in the an­i­ma­tion team were born in the ‘80s, we just had to (re­watch) all the video

the 2D space of a text mes­sage, giv­ing them the kind of depth and round­ness that turns them into movie stars made for com­plex de­sign and tech chal­lenges. Roughly 280 char­ac­ters live in Tex­topo­lis, each one of them with their own unique look that had never been trans­lated to film. Round­ing Out Char­ac­ters “We couldn’t make them look like hu­mans with a gi­ant Sty­ro­foam ball for a head,” says Leondis. “They needed to have arms and legs and move, so we did a lot of tests so they didn’t look like the Jack in the Box guy.”

Vis­ual-ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Dave Smith lead a team spread out be­tween Van­cou­ver and Los An­ge­les to make believ­able, re­lat­able char­ac­ters us­ing tools like WireCore to cut rig­ging pro­cess­ing time from 15 to 35 days down to one to two days. He also used a new shad­ing

“De­vel­op­ing the apps was the most fun, de­vel­op­ing the vi­su­al­iza­tion of a con­cept,” says Leondis. “Spo­tify stream­ing mu­sic just evokes so many metaphors and the idea of streams of mu­sic and the char­ac­ters be­ing on those streams just came right away.”

There are also vis­ual ref­er­ences to clas­sic films like Casablanca, Life of Pi and 2001: A Space Odyssey that Leondis thinks will work for both younger and older au­di­ences.

“There’s no rea­son to dumb down a film for kids,” says Leondis. “The grownups will get it and the kids — if they don’t get it now, they will later, and maybe they’ll ask about it and want to see the films.”

Planet of the Apps With so many apps out there, the film is care­ful to fo­cus on just a few, rather than get lost among them as many of us do on our phones each and every day. Leondis, Kouy­ate and the other film­mak­ers se­lected the apps for their story po­ten­tial. Each one helps the char­ac­ters grow or take an­other step on their jour­ney. Gene finds out be­ing ex­pres­sive — be­ing able to make more than just the one face he’s sup­posed to show — makes him a nat­u­ral in the Just Dance app.

In ad­di­tion to all the pop cul­tural touch­stones, the film boasts im­pres­sive voice tal­ent. Hi-5 is played by James Cor­den, Maya Ru­dolph voiced Smiler, Anna Faris is Jail­break, Sofia Ver­gara is the voice of Fla­menca and Sir Patrick Ste­wart is Poop.

“The idea was how do we do poop with­out do­ing the ob­vi­ous,” says Kouy­ate. “If we didn’t have it in the movie it would be like there was some­thing miss­ing be­cause it’s a very pop­u­lar emoji. So we wanted an up­per crust voice and when we went out to Sir Patrick Ste­wart he got the joke im­me­di­ately.”

For Leondis, who ini­tially wanted to be a Greek Or­tho­dox priest but left to fol­low a path in an­i­ma­tion, the ul­ti­mate goal was to make a movie about more than char­ac­ters who each had just one face to share with an au­di­ence.

“I grew up on an­i­mated films that were about some­thing, there was some­thing to say,” says Leondis. “This movie is about up­set­ting the sta­tus quo when you find out you’re more or dif­fer­ent than you ex­pected and find­ing out that’s okay and that it’s even great.” [ Karen Idel­son lives and works in the South Bay. She’ll text you later.

Kobe, every­body knows. It was the most dif­fi­cult thing I’ve ever an­i­mated.”

An Im­pressed Sub­ject Although Bryant had seen him­self on film count­less times, he was sur­prised when saw the fin­ished an­i­ma­tion. “It was kind of sur­real: It’s one thing to have a vi­sion in your mind of cre­at­ing a film, it’s an­other en­tirely to see the fin­ished prod­uct,” he says. “I had to pinch my­self: I’m sit­ting in a theater watch­ing a piece that I wrote that’s been an­i­mated by Glen Keane and scored by John Wil­liams. Where did this hap­pen?”

There are nu­mer­ous anime sports se­ries — Prince of Ten­nis, Slam Dunk (bas­ket­ball), Free: Eter­nal Sum­mer (swim­ming), Princess Nine and Big Windup! (base­ball) — but Amer­i­can sports-themed car­toons have gen­er­ally been slap­stick come­dies like How to Play Golf and Base­ball Bugs. Bryant and Keane agree that ath­let­ics of­fers an­i­ma­tors ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I be­lieve there’s so much we can do in an­i­ma­tion, par­tic­u­larly with sports,” says Bryant. “This film was a good op­por­tu­nity to move a viewer through three acts, all cen­tered around sport. There wasn’t any­thing added to el­e­vate the drama, which many peo­ple think is needed for a sports film. We wanted to show we can cre­ate a sense of emo­tional con­nec­tion through a piece that’s cen­tered com­pletely around the sport it­self.”

“The prob­lem with watch­ing sports on TV is noth­ing has been edited,” Keane says. “You aren’t be­ing di­rected to ap­pre­ci­ate the line of ac­tion of some­body’s body as they’re push­ing them­selves through the air or the arc of a hand throw­ing a ball. You can di­rect the viewer’s eye with an­i­ma­tion. I be­lieve you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate Kobe Bryant even more watch­ing him an­i­mated: There’s some­thing re­vealed that’s com­ing from in­side of him. An­i­ma­tion can high­light that in ways noth­ing else can.” [

Ac­tor T.J. Miller poses with his char­ac­ter, Gene.

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