How did the evo­lu­tion of an­i­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy help you out?

Animation Magazine - - Features -

We have five live ac­tors in­side the an­i­ma­tion. They are in­te­grated in­side the an­i­ma­tion. I’m shoot­ing the film, so it’s not some­thing that is com­pletely drawn by the an­i­ma­tors. They had to come to our world. I’m shoot­ing a two-hour movie and this se­quence is 15 min­utes and is shot with ma­jor mu­si­cal per­for­mances, singing and danc­ing. They needed to fold into our world. The in­te­gra­tion was so de­tailed. We had to do pre­vi­su­al­iza­tion and sto­ry­boards for ev­ery lit­tle bit of it. We also had to fit into the an­i­ma­tors’ world as well. I have to say “A Cover Is Not the Book.” It was won­der­ful to cre­ate a the­atri­cal num­ber set in a mu­sic hall stage with an au­di­ence, with the­atri­cal light­ing, spot­lights and back­ground and stage lights. Of course, we’re light­ing it at the same time, but it needs to be com­pleted by the an­i­ma­tors. To see this the­atri­cal per­for­mance in­side this an­i­mated world is fan­tas­tic. We also took the four pen­guins from the first film and gave them a lit­tle more dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties. It was so much fun to put them in the mu­si­cal num- bers. That was one of the big high­lights for me. The an­i­ma­tion se­quence is one of the many ad­ven­tures that Mary and the kids have in this movie. The first one is an un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­ture they have as they go in­side their bath­tub. Meryl Streep plays Cousin Topsy, and they visit her and the whole room turns up­side down. All of the ad­ven­tures have a point be­cause Mary has this mas­ter plan, which is meant to heal the fam­ily. It helps the chil­dren learn some­thing and move for­ward. There are so many big set pieces. There’s a whole fi­nale that takes place in the air. It was a won­der­ful se­quence that Travers wrote her­self.

We cherry-picked many of these ad­ven­tures from the eight Mary Pop­pins books she wrote. It has to do with the mag­i­cal bal­loon lady, and if you pick the right bal­loon you fly. So there’s a big mu­si­cal num­ber called “No Way to Go But Up” that is a big CGI event. When I work with ac­tors, I re­ally try to limit the amount of CGI work be­cause I want to see how much we do in the real space. We did a lot of the bal­loon num­ber in a real space, shot in the back­lot at Pinewood Stu­dio, which be­came our city park. Then, we moved it to green­screen. But we tried to in­te­grate it all so you didn’t feel like you were in this fake world. I did this movie be­cause I re­ally wanted to send this mes­sage of hope and joy out into the world. I just feel that we live in such a dark time — that this was a nec­es­sary movie to re­mem­ber your child­like sen­si­bil­ity, to re­mem­ber the light against the dark. Lin-manuel Mi­randa plays a lamp­lighter, and that’s both a fig­u­ra­tive job and a lit­eral one: He is bring­ing light into the dark­ness of Lon­don. I feel that our film is do­ing the same thing, and that is bring­ing light into a darker time. That’s why such great ac­tors like Meryl Streep and Colin Firth signed on, be­cause they also felt that this was the right time to send this mes­sage out into the world. ◆

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