April Plan­ner

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame -

12Ital­ian toon fest Car­toons on the Bay re­turns to Turin for three days of chil­dren’s TV and mul­ti­plat­form ap­pre­ci­a­tion. [car­toons­bay.com/en]

Fox, re­mem­bers feel­ing awestruck when he read the first draft of the script more than three years ago. “I thought that it was a funny and heart­felt script, but I also re­al­ized that it was go­ing to be a chal­lenge lo­gis­ti­cally, be­cause of all the dif­fer­ent ac­tion se­quences and nu­mer­ous lo­ca­tions,” he re­calls. “I think there was one se­quence that had a mon­tage of 22 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. It’s also a movie about talk­ing dogs, so it couldn’t have been done in any other medium but an­i­ma­tion.”

Daw­son says af­ter look­ing at var­i­ous op­tions, they opted for 3 Mills Stu­dios in Lon­don, just as they had done with Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox. He adds, “The thing about Wes is that he brings his own

peo­ple work­ing on site at some point. The movie had about 50 stage units over­all, and took about 18 months to shoot.”

War­ing says An­der­son was very spe­cific about what he wanted in each scene. “He is very de­tail-ori­ented,” notes the an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor. “He has this love for all the ma­te­ri­als and tex­tures. All those dif­fer­ent ele­ments are very im­por­tant to him. He was in­sis­tent on do­ing water in stop-frame rather than CG. We did a lot of test­ing to come up with the ideal way to show water, clouds, rain; what is the best way to use plas­tic wrap to de­pict water. It took us months of an­i­ma­tion tests to find so­lu­tions that looked great on cam­era.”

The an­i­ma­tors knew that they were go­ing for the same hand­made style that au­di­ences loved in Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox. An­der­son also pre­pared them by screen­ing the ’60s-era films of Akira Kuro­sawa. “He wanted us to be in­flu­enced by their style and the re­served ap­proach to per­for­mances,” says War­ing. “We also had lots of dogs run­ning around in the stu­dio, which were sim­i­lar to the ones in the movie, and we stud­ied their move­ments care­fully.”

The film’s ca­nine char­ac­ters also pro­vided the team with lots of ques­tions. “We knew that the dogs only have con­ver­sa­tions amongst them­selves. We had to estab­lish those rules first. Were they hu­man-like or do they act like Scooby-Doo? It’s a clever con­ceit that the hu­mans don’t un­der­stand them, but we em­pathize with them be­cause we un­der­stand them when they are talk­ing to each other. They ac­tu­ally be­have like dogs — they have fleas, they scratch them­selves and bare their teeth.”

One of the amaz­ing facts about the pro­duc­tion is that An­der­son only vis­ited the Lon­don stu­dio a few times and man­aged to do his job by com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the team via emails and video con­fer­enc­ing. “He is so fas­tid­i­ous and re­ally knows what he wants,” ex­plains War­ing. “He fo­cuses on ev­ery el­e­ment of ev­ery scene. He com­ments on ev­ery sin­gle item, ev­ery color, ev­ery shape, ev­ery box, ev­ery leaf, ev­ery book in the back­ground … and he has an en­cy­clo­pe­dic mem­ory. I re­ceived about 50,000 emails from him, and that was just me! The great thing was that we had worked with him be­fore on Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox, so we had es­tab­lished this short­hand on how to make an an­i­mated film. We were three-fourths of the way there al­ready.”

Ac­cord­ing to War­ing, one of the film’s most com­plex se­quences in­volved a Ja­pa­nese chef mak­ing sushi. “Wes told us that he wanted this scene to show the best sushi that has ever been made,” ex­claims War­ing. “He said, real sushi chefs will want to make it this way!”

To pre­pare for this 45-sec­ond scene, War­ing and his team (di­rec­tor Brad Schiff, and an­i­ma­tors Andy Bid­dle, Tony Far­quhar-Smith and To­bias Fouracre) had to study the best sushi chefs for months. The elab­o­rate sushi se­quence took about two and half months to shoot. “It was such an in­volved tech­ni­cal process,” he re­calls. “There are many dif­fer­ent

Sher­lock Holmes is an in­fin­itely com­plex, chal­leng­ing and charis­matic char­ac­ter. He’s been in­ter­preted count­less times in film, tele­vi­sion and lit­er­a­ture and still hasn’t lost his ap­peal to new fans gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion. In the new film Sher­lock Gnomes, a crew of an­i­ma­tion veter­ans rein­ter­pret him in a way he’s never been seen be­fore — as a ce­ramic gar­den gnome.

Di­rected by John Steven­son ( Kung Fu Panda), the movie re­unites veter­ans of the orig­i­nal 2011 movie Gnomeo and Juliet. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt reprise their roles as the star-crossed lovers, while Mag­gie Smith and Michael Caine voice Lady Blue­berry and Lord Red­brick. New to the gnome uni­verse are Johnny Depp, who voices Sher­lock Gnomes, Chi­we­tel Ejio­for as Wat­son and Mary J. Blige as the enig­matic Irene (who also sings an orig­i­nal song writ­ten by El­ton John for the movie).

While John wrote many songs for the orig­i­nal movie, there are not as many new com­po­si­tions for Sher­lock Gnomes since the genre change from ro­man­tic com­edy to ac­tion ad­ven­ture meant there were fewer mo­ments to stop for some singing in the faster paced mys­tery.

“Johnny [Depp] had done Rango, so he was not un­fa­mil­iar with the process of do­ing a voice for an­i­mated fea­ture, but Chi­we­tel [Ejio­for] had never done it and was cu­ri­ous about it. So, he came to the stu­dio in Lon­don and we showed him how ev­ery­thing worked so he could get a sense of how it was dif­fer­ent from do­ing live ac­tion,” says Steven­son. “That was a thrill get­ting to work with [Ejio­for]. He’s a great ac­tor and I think he adds a lot to the movie. We also have Mary J. Blige as Irene Adler, who was a pop­u­lar fig­ure from Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries of­ten in­ter­preted with a ro­man­tic bent. So, we have gone with a ver­sion of that in our back­story for Sher­lock Gnomes.” A Scene-Steal­ing Side­kick

Steven­son feels that the great sur­prise of the movie may be a per­for­mance by an emerg­ing comic ac­tor. “Our big dis­cov­ery I would say is Jamie Demetriou, who plays our vil­lain Mo­ri­arty,” says Steven­son, who worked on The Mup­pet Show with Jim Hen­son in the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer. “We had him come in to do some scratch voices at first, but we kept com­ing back to him and think­ing, ‘He is Mo­ri­arty.’ He made it im­pos­si­ble for us to think of any­one else in the role.”

RMB (about $250,000) in just 44 days. Our suc­cess caught the at­ten­tion of Wang Chang­tian and Li Xiaop­ing at En­light Me­dia. Af­ter a long meet­ing, we de­cided to work to­gether.”

This ar­range­ment en­abled the artists to com­plete their film. The fi­nal bud­get was 35 mil­lion RMB (about $5.5 mil­lion), al­though the film’s rich vi­su­als ri­val much more ex­pen­sive features. Pure Hearts and Spir­its

In the spirit world she in­hab­its, Chun is ac­com­pa­nied by Qiu, a young man ut­terly de­voted to her. “Chun and Qiu’s names are also from a myth in Wan­der­ing at Ease: ‘In an­cient times there was a great tree; it lived 8,000 years for spring (春 chūn), 8,000 years for au­tumn (秋 qiū),’” Liang ex­plains. “Qiu’s soul is the leaf, and Chun’s soul is the be­go­nia flower. Just as leaves fall to nour­ish a tree, ev­ery­thing Qiu does is to pro­tect Chun. Both of them are very pure.”

The ad­ven­tures Chun and Qiu share send them un­der the sea and over the clouds; they walk through forests and elab­o­rate struc­tures that re­flect tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture. Many of these scenes in­volved a com­bi­na­tion of drawn and CG ele­ments. “3D ren­der­ing some­times gives you an ef­fect that’s overly re­al­is­tic. Big Fish & Be­go­nia is a 2D an­i­ma­tion film, and we needed the fi­nal re­sult to re­sem­ble a hand-drawn an­i­mated film,” says Zhang. “But the sense of perspective in hand-drawn back­grounds is to­tally dif­fer­ent from how things look through a lens in real life. Some­times we had to ad­just re­al­is­tic perspective for the sake of com­po­si­tion and aes­thet­ics.”

The res­o­lute hero­ine and imag­i­na­tive vi­su­als in Big Fish sug­gest the in­flu­ence of the Stu­dio Ghi­bli features. Liang says, “When I first saw Miyazaki’s work, I was sur­prised that this an­i­ma­tion fore­fa­ther’s films had so many ideas that were sim­i­lar to what was in my own head — you have to re­mem­ber, we have a 40-year age gap be­tween us.” In­spired by Ariel

“When we did the short film ver­sion of Big Fish & Be­go­nia in 2004, I was greatly in­flu- enced by The Lit­tle Mer­maid, which is a fairy tale I re­vere,” he con­tin­ues. “I also love the Coen Broth­ers, James Cameron and Ang Lee. I feel Lee’s movies main­tain an artis­tic sen­si­bil­ity while achiev­ing com­mer­cial suc­cess. So I hope our movies can achieve a sim­i­lar re­sult.”

Chi­nese an­i­mated films have only re­cently be­gun to ap­pear in Amer­i­can the­aters. Liang com­ments, “We didn’t think too much about who was the in­tended au­di­ence when we started. I only wanted to tell the story I en­vi­sioned. There’s a lot of tra­di­tional Chi­nese ele­ments and mythol­ogy in the film, so Chi­nese au­di­ences might be able to see more they can re­late to. But I be­lieve peo­ple ev­ery­where who en­joy films full of heart or who are in­ter­ested in Chi­nese cul­ture will like this film.”

Zhang and Liang are al­ready do­ing pre-pro­duc­tion work for the se­quel to Big Fish & Be­go­nia. Af­ter that, they to hope to cre­ate other fan­tasy or sci-fi an­i­mated films. Shout! Stu­dios will re­lease Big Fish & Be­go­nia in se­lect U.S. the­aters April 8.

It’s been 34 years since the an­i­mated baby ver­sions of Ker­mit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, An­i­mal and other of Jim Hen­son’s Mup­pets first en­ter­tained Satur­day morn­ing TV au­di­ences. A new gen­er­a­tion of view­ers will get to meet the love­able tod­dler gang this month when the CG-an­i­mated Mup­pet Ba­bies wreaks havoc on Dis­ney Ju­nior.

The show’s exec pro­ducer Tom War­bur­ton says he was thrilled to be asked to de­velop and pro­duce this new ver­sion of the clas­sic prop­erty. He re­calls, “I was fin­ish­ing up work on the Dis­ney’s The 7D when Nancy Kan­ter [Dis­ney Chan­nel’s exec VP and gen­eral man­ager of Dis­ney Ju­nior] called me up and said, ‘We think you’ll be great to de­velop the new re­boot of Mup­pet Ba­bies.’ And of course, I said yes!”

Al­though the re­boot is CG-an­i­mated, the new Mup­pet Ba­bies re­tains the orig­i­nal’s won­der­ful char­ac­ters and dis­tinc­tive, silly charms. “At its heart, the show is about a lov­able band of weirdos,” says War­bur­ton, who is best known for cre­at­ing the pop­u­lar Car­toon Net­work se­ries Co­de­name: Kids Next Door and has also worked on shows such as Doug, Pep­per Ann, Sheep in the City and Fish Hooks. “Peo­ple re­spond to the fact that de­spite all their quirks, they are all friends and love hang­ing out to­gether. It’s all about Fozzie Bear and his silly jokes, Gonzo get­ting shot out of can­nons, Miss Piggy’s self-ab­sorp­tion and crazi­ness, and Ker­mit pulling them all to­gether. It’s re­ally a big honor to bring them back and in­tro­duce a new au­di­ence to these spe­cial char­ac­ters.”

This time around, voic­ing the se­ries’ time­less char­ac­ters are Jenny Slate as Miss Nanny, Me­lanie Harrison ( Fish Hooks) as Piggy, Dee Bradley Baker ( Phineas and Ferb) as An­i­mal, Ben Diskin ( The Spec­tac­u­lar Spi­der-Man) as Gonzo, Eric Bauza ( The Ad­ven­tures of Puss in Boots) as Fozzie Bear, and su­per­vis­ing di­rec- pets Take Man­hat­tan. The cre­ative team stud­ied the move­ments of the orig­i­nal Mup­pet Ba­bies pup­pets and de­vel­oped a dig­i­tal sim tech­nique called “Jig­gle Tech” which al­lows the an­i­mated Mup­pet Ba­bies to move just like their pup­pet char­ac­ter coun­ter­parts. Pow­ered by Imag­i­na­tion Each episode of the new show features two

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