Bulk­ing Up

Animation Magazine - - Features -

Blue Sky Stu­dios takes Scrat into space and threat­ens the ever-grow­ing cast of he­roes of its well-chilled flag­ship fran­chise with cosmic-level ex­tinc­tion in Ice Age: Collision Course. By Tom McLean.

DDreamWorks strips down the look of its hit CG fea­ture to flesh out the heart and com­edy for the new series com­ing July 29 to Net­flix. By Tom McLean

es­pite hav­ing started at DreamWorks as a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant who worked up to sto­ry­board­ing on fea­tures, Ryan Crego’s most-re­cent suc­cesses had been as a writer and di­rec­tor on Sanjay and Craig at Nick­elodeon, work­ing with his long­time friend Thurop Van Or­man, cre­ator of The Mis­ad­ven­tures of Flap­jack. With that series over, the duo took an of­fer from DreamWorks ex­ecs to come Home and de­velop a series based on the 2015 hit fea­ture for its ex­pand­ing TV di­vi­sion.

“We went off and watched the movie and started talk­ing about how strong the char­ac­ters were and what we could do with it,” says Crego, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the series, which de­buts 13 half-hours (each com­prised of two quar­ter-hour episodes) July 29 on Net­flix. “We came back, we said we love it, we love these char­ac­ters, we think we can do some­thing re­ally special — but we re­ally want to do a 2D show. We want to do what we know, be­cause we are both board artists and we wanted to do some­thing board driven.”

DreamWorks gave the OK and Crego says he and Van Or­man — to­gether they’re cred­ited as show cre­ators — be­gan work­ing out a look for the show. “Part of it was find­ing a style that we en­joyed the de­sign of and that was re­ally de­signed to be an­i­mated,” he says. Char­ac­ter de­signer Martin Wit­tig came up with some thumb­nail sketches. “He re­ally ex­plored how to push these char­ac­ters and get their faces, and they still re­tain the char­ac­ter that you know but they also can be re­ally stretched into funny ex­pres­sions,” says Crego.

The sto­ries fo­cus on the two main char­ac­ters and their re­la­tion­ship as they each ad­just to changes in their lives.

“(Oh) is learn­ing some­thing about fam­ily or the hu­man way of life and he’s learn­ing it through Tip,” he says. “And Tip, she’s 13 years old, she thinks she’s got it all fig­ured out — like a lot of 13-year-old girls — and she learns through Oh that you have to look at things through a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive some­times.”

Trust­ing the Process Writ­ing be­gins with a one-page premise that’s fleshed out to a five-page out­line and handed off to a team of a sto­ry­board di­rec­tor and sto­ry­board artist. “We have a lot of faith in our process,” Crego says. “We’re work­ing with our sto­ries like a mound of clay, in a sense. ... I love the fact that we are all con­tribut­ing and that you get to see a piece of your­self as an artist on this crew in ev­ery story that you work on.”

The show def­i­nitely aims to hit view­ers’ funny bones, de­liv­er­ing some hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments that — like an early episode where Oh and the Boov de­cide they like to eat kitty lit­ter — also play to kids’ love of all things gross.

“It’s a tricky bal­ance be­cause we want the show to re­tain its sort of sticky sweet cen­ter,” says Crego. “As long as that joke isn’t over­pow­er­ing the char­ac­ter arc or that sen­si­tive mo­ment between the char­ac­ters, we tend to go for it. It is sort of the tone of the show to give you a lit­tle bit of the un­ex­pected.”

Mu­sic was a huge part of the fea­ture, and re­mains so in the series with com­poser Alex Geringas de­liv­er­ing a mix of con­tem­po­rary pop and elec­tronic hooks for the series to play off of. “We tend to make spa­ces in the out­lines for the pop songs, and the board artists a lot of times will write most of the lyrics in the sto­ry­board process and start to board out how the song will change the story, be­cause we do want the songs to be within the sto­ries, be a part of the sto­ry­telling,” says Crego. [

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