Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

February 26 2014

‘Sir Billi’ Retitled ‘Guardian Of The Highlands’ for U.S. Distribution

"Sir Billi" is to Scotland what "Toy Story" is to the United States—the country's first CGI animated feature. It's being distributed to ho

February 17 2014

“Steamboat Willie” Has Been Updated for the 21st Century

The YouTube channel Really 3Dmakes a convincing argument that everything is more hilarious when it's remade using computer animation.

February 15 2014

“Angry Birds” Feature Will Be Produced at Sony Imageworks Vancouver

The "Angry Birds" feature film that was announced last October will be animated at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver, Canada.

February 13 2014

“Palmipedarium” by Jeremy Clapin

Simon knows about ducks quite well. They make noise, fly, swim, some even roll. Sometimes, it's a bit confusing and Simon gets lost.

February 10 2014

Here’s a 30-Minute Video About the Making of “LEGO Movie”

Anyone who is remotely interested in the CG artistry behind "The LEGO Movie" should drop everything and head over to fxguide to watch this half-hour behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

February 05 2014

Let’s Talk About the Animation in “The Lego Movie”

Attempting to predict box office results is a fool’s errand, but it’s safe to say at this point that The Lego Movie, which opens this Friday in the U.S., will be a big hit. And I mean, huge. The box office will be much bigger than I imagine most industry observers are anticipating. Its distributor Warner Bros. knows they’ve got a hit of some sort on their hands, so much so that they’re already started laying the groundwork for a sequel. The studio has released loads of clips ahead of the film’s release, perhaps to make clear that this is not standard-fare family CGI. The film’s humor skews older than the typical PG animated movie, and I expect it will attract neglected teen audiences who have aged out of the stream of tonally indistinguishable CG pics pumped out by other studios. The quirky visual approach to such unquirky material as Legos can be attributed to the film’s directing duo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who have carved out a unique niche in Hollywood without being identified for any single project. Unlike animation creators like South Park’s Trey Park and Matt Stone, or the ubiquitous Seth MacFarlane, Lord and Miller aren’t known for any particular style. In fact, their two most significant animated projects prior to The Lego Movie could not be more different: the Teletoon/MTV series Clone High and Sony Picture Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In between those, they’ve also worked as writers and exec producers on the TV series How I Met Your Mother and directed the successful live-action feature-based-on-the-TV-series 21 Jump Street. The Lego Movie may be the clearest expression yet of Lord and Miller’s stil-evolving voice as animation filmmakers. Celebrity voices, franchise cross-overs, rapid-fire jokes, and Legos-this film has it all, but what has been lost in the discussion is the film’s exuberantly original animation style. Many films have attempted to break the Pixar-by-way-of-Disney animation mold by suggesting a more stylized approach to animated movement, among them the Madagascar series, Wreck-It Ralph, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Lego Movie pushes further than any of those films with a consistently inventive style of movement (the key word being consistent). The clip below shows what I’m talking about. I especially love the workout scene with its staccato movements that are accented with held poses. The acting is funny and goofy because of the way it moves, which is something that almost never happens in feature animation nowadays. Even though the film was computer animated, the filmmakers treated the articulation of characters as if they were actual plastic Lego pieces. “Those kinds of limitations are fun,” Miller told Film Journal International, “because you’ve got to find creative ways to solve them—like, there’s only seven points of articulation on a mini-figure, so how do you choreograph a fight sequence with a character who can’t wind up to punch someone? We were really inspired by a lot of the short films that people make in their basements and post online where they come up with such clever solutions to those limitations.” Limiting the articulation of characters had the counterintuitive effect of opening up new creative possibilities. It allowed for an animation style—naive, imperfect—that aspires to the charm of stop motion animation more than the mechanical flawlessness of CG. Not surprisingly then, the film’s animation director, Chris McKay, is a veteran stop motion director of the TV series Robot Chicken and Moral Orel. He was the director stationed alongside the animators at the Australian animation studio Animal Logic (which also produced the animation for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and the Happy Feet movies). From what I’ve been able to discover about the film, McKay played an important in following through on Lord and Miller’s concept and maintaining the film’s stylized approach to animation. Lord, Miller, and McKay deserve massive credit for conceiving an original, expressive vision for computer animation, and more importantly, managing to push it through the conservative studio system. Yes, they had the benefit of working with a unique source material—Legos—but it’s easy to imagine the animation in this film going in any number of less interesting directions. Other studios will try to dissect the successful elements of The Lego Movie, things like its toy-based origins, off-beat voice casting, and cross-branding. Hopefully they won’t overlook one of the major components that distinguishes this film from the pack: its funny and unconventional approach to animation.

February 04 2014

January 31 2014

“Love in the Time of Advertising” by Matt Berenty and David Bokser

An animated musical love story about a young man who lives inside a billboard and is charged with updating the advertisements. When he falls in love with a beautiful lady living across the highway, he has to use the only method he knows to get his message across. Advertising.

January 30 2014

Yes, This is A Computer Generated Character

Stockholm, Sweden-based vfx shop Important Looking Pirates created the impressive animation for this Aco skin care product commercial.

January 21 2014

Pixar Makes Painterly CG: New Research Could Change The Look of Their Films

Last summer at SIGGRAPH, Pixar presented a paper offering some clues about one of the major new directions that CG feature animation is headed. The paper, "Stylizing Animation By Example," explored how filmmakers could achieve more expressive rendering styles that disregard the perfect boundaries of computer graphics rendering and mimic traditional painting techniques.

Things That Didn’t Need to Be CG: Rosie the Robot [UPDATED]

A new series of Brazilian ads for Brilux cleaning supplies resurrects Hanna-Barbera's Rosie the Robot in CG. The character is removed from her futuristic context on "The Jetsons" and dropped into a contemporary scene of Brazilian upper class domesticity.

January 15 2014

New Clip from DreamWorks’ “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

Here's a new clip from the upcoming DreamWorks feature "Mr. Peabody and Sherman." The Rob Minkoff-directed film will open in U.S. theaters on March 7, 2014:

January 03 2014

China Produces Its First 3D CGI Feature: “Boonie Bears” [UPDATED]

I’m not sure what’s harder to believe: that China still hasn’t released its own homegrown 3D CGI animated feature or that the first one they are releasing later this month is something called Boonie Bears (Xiong Chumo). [UPDATE: Chinese media reports that this is the country’s first 3D CGI film may be inaccurate; our pals at YAM remind us that there was another Chinese feature in 2011 called Legend of a Rabbit.)

Boonie Bears is based on a popular TV series currently broadcast on Central China Television. Over 200 episodes of the show have been produced, expounding the general theme of peaceful coexistence between man and nature. In the show, man is represented by a logger named Vick and nature comes in the form of two bears, Briar and Bramble. Tons of episodes are posted onto YouTube; here’s a typical example:

A 70-minute TV special, Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey, aired last spring in China, and will be released next week on DVD in the United States. The English-language trailer for the special is memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

Like the TV series, the feature is produced by Fantawild Animation Inc. (whose other shows include Chicken Stew-Tales from the Salted-Egg Temple, Brainy Bubbly Bug Buddies, and Power Panda Posse) in association with Mr. Cartoon Pictures, LEVP and Zhujiang Film.

(via CRI English)

December 18 2013

New Markets for Animators: Crime Re-enactment Films

Here’s a new and potentially lucrative market for animators: recreating alleged crimes with computer animation. Yes, primitive CG is often used in trials to describe locations and recreate crime scenes, but attorney Dan Gilleon is expanding the technique to create character animation that depicts physically accurate representations of the people involved in the incident and their interactions with each other.

Last week Gilleon released a computer animated film in a civil sexual harassment lawsuit filed against disgraced former San Diego mayor and convicted creep, Bob Filner. The video documents Filner’s allegedly crude behavior toward the accuser. Gilleon isn’t done yet either. “For this initial release, we downplayed some of the more severe acts by Filner, such as the initial handlock and the later headlock that included his elbow rubbing her breasts,” the attorney told a local San Diego TV station. “The story and animation will be developed as depositions occur, such as when the two park rangers depicted in the animation testify.”

Gilleon intends to introduce the computer-animated film as evidence in the lawsuit. While that plan seems unlikely to be allowed by the courts, the film has already served its purpose as a tactic to draw attention to the case. In the coming years, this novel use of animation could proliferate in our increasingly animated society, and it’s both tempting and troubling to think how a professional-quality animated film that strikes the right emotive notes might decisively alter the outcome of a future lawsuit.

December 07 2013

“SuperBot: A Magnifying Mess” by Gervasio Rodríguez Traverso and Pablo Alberto Díaz

SuperBot, a tiny toy robot, learns that reality depends on the looking glass you are looking through.

CREDITS
Produced by Trexel Animation
Direction, Script, Animation: Gervasio Rodríguez Traverso & Pablo Alberto Díaz
Character Design and Texturing: Gervasio Rodríguez Traverso
Cinematography and Postproduction: Pablo Alberto Díaz
Modeling and Rigging: Juan Elías, Matias Condomí & Nicolás Broner
Original soundtrack: Ber Chese & Ezequiel “Chicho” Scillone
Sound: Ber Chese & Ezequiel “Chicho” Scillone

December 03 2013

(NSFW) “Rosette” by Romain Borrel, Gael Falzowski, Benjamin Rabaste and Vincent Tonelli

The world through pork-colored lenses…

CREDITS
Directed by Romain Borrel, Gael Falzowski, Benjamin Rabaste, Vincent Tonelli
Music by Christophe Belletante, Julien Deparis

(via Short of the Week Vimeo channel)

November 20 2013

Director Jimmy Hayward Talks “Free Birds”

Earlier this month, Dallas-headquartered Reel FX released their first animated feature Free Birds. Over its first three weekends in theaters, the holiday-themed children’s film has earned a respectable $42 million, and it will pad that number even further during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Only 43 years old, the film’s director, Jimmy Hayward, is an industry veteran with over twenty years of industry experience. He was an animator on the pioneering computer animated TV series Reboot, and then animated on the first-ever CG animated feature, Pixar’s Toy Story. He animated for a decade on Pixar films such as A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo, before joining Blue Sky Studios to work as a writer and sequence director on Robots. His directorial debut was Blue Sky’s hit Horton Hears a Who! (2008). He then directed the live-action film Jonah Hex (2010) before joining Reel FX to helm Free Birds.

I recently had a spirited and free-ranging conversation with Jimmy about the making of Free Birds. He opened up the challenges of making a film at a studio that has never produced a feature, discussed why so many animation directors are moving into live-action filmmaking, and offered advice for animators who want to become directors.

Cartoon Brew: Free Birds originally had a different director—Ash Brannon—attached to it. When and how did you become involved with the project?

Jimmy Hayward: I became involved about two and a half years ago. Like a lot of animated movies, it had a winding path to getting made. How did I become involved? I talked to Craig Mazin, who had written a draft of the script that Scott Mosier and I rewrote. Reel FX was really trying to get this movie made. I think they took a couple cracks at it, and at the point that I came along, they wanted to reconceive it.

Cartoon Brew: What stage was the film in storywise? Was it the same story or did you make changes to it?

Jimmy Hayward: Absolutely, we completely changed the story. They’d done artwork, and they’d storyboarded some things. They did some pre-production. And we redid it. When a film is in development, you’re developing things, and they were at a place where they wanted to redo it. With all animated features, you never really make a script. It’s not like a shooting script where you have to prep that script and do exactly what’s in that script. Animated movies are made in the story department and the animation department. That’s where all the comedy comes from and that’s where the story really develops and gets built. We brought in a new character designer, new art director. It was like a whole new thing.

Cartoon Brew: And there were no actors attached at that point, correct?

Jimmy Hayward: Woody [Harrelson] and Owen [Wilson] were the only actors that were attached. Woody and Owen are friends with the owner of Reel FX and they all wanted to do a movie together for a long time. That trio of people—Tom K. and Owen and Woody—was the catalyst for making it happen. Other than that though, all the other cast, all the other dialogue, was redone. Not even redone. I came onto a movie where there was an existing script and I started making a movie. It wasn’t like it was half-done and I picked it up.

Cartoon Brew: But the concept of time-traveling turkeys was there?

Jimmy Hayward: Oh yeah, [John J.] Strauss and [David I.] Stern who are executive producers on the movie had written a script that Reel FX worked with, and we kept the original premise completely: two turkeys go back in time to try and get turkey off the menu.

Cartoon Brew: You mentioned the owner of Reel FX. That’s the businessman Tom Kartsotis, who also owns Fossil Watches, right?

Jimmy Hayward: He’s a great dude. He’s a gutsy, awesome guy. He really stuck to that studio and stuck to the idea that they’d make feature films, and he’s done it.

Cartoon Brew: Does he have any involvement in the day-to-day or does he take a hands-off approach to the studio?

Jimmy Hayward: Completely hands off. He always says, “I don’t know anything about making movies. You guys make the movies.”

Cartoon Brew: That’s what you want!

Jimmy Hayward: Yeah, he’s a lot like Steve Jobs was to Pixar. He was a person that was very successful in another business and saw big potential in a talented group of people that really had a passion to do something. He recognized that and backed it. A lot of the same spirit [as Pixar]. I’m not saying it’s the same company or anything’s the same, just that it’s a lot of the same spirit in that he was awesome enough to put his money behind it and let it go.

Cartoon Brew: That sounds like Nike CEO Phil Knight at LAIKA, too.

Jimmy Hayward: Yeah, exactly like Phil Knight.

Cartoon Brew: You directed Jonah Hex, a live-action film in between Horton Hears a Who! and Free Birds. So many animation directors are moving into live-action nowadays—Henry Selick, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha at Blue Sky are both getting ready. Are the skill sets transferable and what did live-action teach you when you came back to animation?

Jimmy Hayward: Well, I have always made live-action movies. I’ve made both since I was a kid. Even when I was an animator at Pixar, I was shooting 35mm shorts. I’ve always made skate videos, always been doing that kind of stuff. So, for me, personally, it was something I wanted to do since I was young.

We’re all filmmakers; we’re all people that like to make stuff. It’s an exciting challenge for people to want to do. People have varying levels of success with it. [laughs] But I think from the outside, it might be easy to look at and say, ‘Oh, you’re just abandoning art form,’ or ‘It’s cooler to direct live-action.’ All of us have different reasons. For me, it’s just another way to make stuff, challenge yourself and try to tell different stories.

For a situation like Hex, no matter how it turned out, it was a property that I loved when I was a kid and it was something that I jumped at the chance to do and it seemed to make sense at the time. I continue to write and develop both live-action and animated properties because I’ve always been into doing that. I just want to make cool stuff. With Reel FX, it was an opportunity to work with a studio that was making their first feature which is exciting and awesome and fun, and I had a lot to bring to the table.

We all manage our careers in different ways. I’m sure Andrew [Stanton] will make more live-action movies in the future; hopefully Brad [Bird] will do more animation in the future because he’s awesome at it. And you look at [Guillermo] del Toro. He’s a live-action guy. He’s also been working at DreamWorks doing animation, and now he’s doing Jorge Gutierrez’s movie over at Reel FX.

Skill sets are smashing together because there’s so much CG used in live-action. And when you work with actors in a recording studio, getting a performance out of an actor is very similar. The difference is that in live-action, the chemistry has to happen on the set, and in animation we have to completely create it from scratch because we record the actors separately. But at the end of the day, it’s all putting a bunch of stuff together to entertain an audience…or not entertain an audience, depending on how it goes.

Cartoon Brew: Who’s more difficult to deal with…actors or animators. Remember, there’s only one right answer for this site.

Jimmy Hayward: The process of working with animators is one of my favorite things to do. Having an understanding of what a scene is going to be, and then giving somebody the opportunity to go away and come up with a better way of doing it and seeing the results of that, it’s like Christmas everyday. Because all these talented, intelligent people are coming back to you with all these new angles. And that process is vastly different than working with an actor trying to get a performance out of them. You’re still listening to their ideas and all that stuff, but it’s a totally different thing. I wouldn’t say negatively one’s worse to work with than the other, but I definitely love the process of working with the animator.

Cartoon Brew: Was it more difficult to do a film at a studio that didn’t have a feature pipeline, and did that impact how you directed?

Jimmy Hayward: A little bit. I think having some people with me that I’d done it with before. Rich McKain came from Pixar to supervise the animation. Chris DiGiovanni—Mad Dog—who was the animation manager at Pixar, has worked with me on movies like Horton Hears a Who! A lot of the people that came on with me helped that process along, and there was a bunch of great talented people there already, of course. The main difference between making a feature film from script to screen, and doing [service] work on other projects is that there has to be a unilateral component to the pipeline where when things change upstream, you can go back downstream and fix them so that the whole thing sticks together.

“A certain director I worked for when I was a young fellow said the greatest components of a film come together in the last five per cent.”

The biggest trick in making that leap is the understanding that the story changes not just a little bit, but all the time. A certain director I worked for when I was a young fellow who’s massively successful and runs a huge studio now said the greatest components of a film come together in the last five per cent. If you see an opportunity to make it better, you have to be nimble enough to do it. The idea is you have to be open to the constant changing and I think the guys at Reel FX did a great job of adapting themselves to that and now have that pipeline in place—the way you report production issues, the way you track changes and fixes. The only thing that changed anything for me is that I would get a little bit more involved in producing stuff than I would normally have to, but that was fine because it was all in the name of creating this engine that you could put stories through.

Cartoon Brew: The film looks very rich for the budget it was made on, which is a fraction of what other major studios spend on their films. I’m curious, how were you able to streamline the production and economize to create a film that looks like this on your budget?

Jimmy Hayward: Some of that comes from Scott Mosier and myself writing and making the film together, and then having Aron Warner as the head of animation at Reel FX. Not having to go through a long winding process of approvals was paramount in getting it done.

Also, creating some new ways of working was the key to making the movie at a level of quality that defies budget. The animators did a lot of video reference. I’d give them 24 hours to come back and show me what they were going to do. Rather than an animator going off and blocking for three or four days and showing me something that wasn’t going to work, we had a room where we’d shoot green screen shots. You got the characters staged in a frame the way the animated characters were supposed to be, and they’d act it out to the voice track. And then they’d use frame skipping and cutting techniques to blend together five or ten different performances to get the exact thing they wanted. And we got back hilarious and amazing stuff from that, and then when they had that clip, they’d animate to that. I didn’t demand everybody use it, but I really encouraged people to use it because we got such excellent results. And what happened, a few of the animators wound up becoming sort of almost like the acting cast for video reference and it worked out great for the emotive scenes. It really opens up this incredible new opportunity for us to get higher quality stuff much faster than going down a hundred different rabbit holes trying to figure out what something’s going to be.

Cartoon Brew: I recently wrote a biography of Ward Kimball, who designed Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, and he often discussed the evolution of that character from a realistic cricket into what essentially became a little man in a top hat. But you tell audiences Jiminy is a cricket, and that’s what he was. In your film, they’re clearly turkeys, but they lack the grotesque characteristics of real turkeys and don’t move like turkeys. How many iterations did you go through before arriving at the final designs and what were the essential elements for making them turkey-like?

Jimmy Hayward: I didn’t really want them to be like people in rubber suits, and they’re not really. The way they hold their wrist is more wing-like and I think the transition between wings to hands was a really big trick. But I agree with Ward in that what really matters is the feel. And that goes both ways. I think Rango’s really appealing but he still walks around like a man sometimes and sometimes acts like a lizard. With the turkeys, it’s the same thing. Because the movie’s told from their perspective, it’s ok if they appear more human-like when we need to, like they need to push buttons or climb a ladder. But also when they’re in panic mode, a lot of times they flap their wings. So we made specific choices about that. But yeah, you’re right. Turkeys are ugly. They look like melted candles. They have dangling bits of fat hanging off their faces and they look like they’re diseased so that wasn’t going to work.

One of the first things I approached with the design was the eye language. Audiences are looking at eyes most of the time. So getting the eye language between all the species and characters to line up, and the structure around their faces [was important]. I think it’s really important that the audience has something appealing to look at for the movie.

Cartoon Brew: Speaking of eyes, there’s a running gag with the character Jenny where her pupil falls out of its socket. It’s one of the weirdest gags I’ve seen in an animated film, and it was both funny and uncomfortable at the same time. What was the thinking behind that idea?

Jimmy Hayward: The fact that she had a funny eye came in a different form from Craig Mazin, the writer. The idea was that Reggie was a shallow guy on the surface, but actually he liked her for who she was even though she had this funny eye. It’s really difficult to play that off in a movie. I put in a version where it falls out the first time, and Jake makes fun of her because of it, and it was kind of repulsive and not cool. Amy Poehler and I talked a lot about it. I sent her an email at one point and said, “I think I’m going to take it out,” and she said, “I’m really bummed about that. I thought that was really cool.”

And then I realized it was all about how the other characters reacted to it that made it either cute and funny or offputting. So we changed it so that nobody else says anything about it and it only kind of happens when Reggie’s around, and when it happens, it doesn’t faze him at all. He loves her just the way she is. It makes her a stronger character that she doesn’t even worry about it: her eye falls out of the socket and she rolls it back into place like nothing happened. I think girls really connect with it and think it’s funny.

Cartoon Brew: You’re right, no one else really reacts to it in the film. It’s only between Reggie and her, but it’s not a group thing where everybody piles onto her.

Jimmy Hayward: There used to be a line of dialogue in there where Jake says to Reggie, “You like the 400-year-old turkey with the crazy eyeball?” It was a great line, but I had to cut that.

Cartoon Brew: That was an actual line?

Jimmy Hayward: Yeah! [laughs] There was a lot of stuff that I really regret cutting out of this movie. There’s some big out loud laughs that Scott, Aron and I all together loved so very dearly [but] that people had trepidation about offending people.

Cartoon Brew: That leads into my next question: The film’s assistant director Chris DiGiovanni said in an interview that there’s a director’s cut which he hopes people will someday see.

Jimmy Hayward: He said that? [laughter]

Cartoon Brew: I’m not sure if he was supposed to say that, but he did. [laughter] So I’m curious, what kind of stuff did you want to have in the film that was cut out?

Jimmy Hayward: One of the things Scott [Mosier] and I tried to do was put jokes in for adults because the people that sit and watch the movies with kids can be bored sometimes. Scott and I also have a bizarre sense of humor between us, and we had a bunch of material where we wanted to push the edge and see where it was. And we tested it and people laughed their heads and then at the end were like, ‘How dare you!’ because little kids saw it. It wasn’t even that gnarly, but I think we pulled it back too far in some very specific places.

There’s one point in the movie where Jake and Reggie first meet where Jake tackles Reggie, lays on top of him, and says, “I don’t know who you are but you’re seriously jeopardizing this mission!” Reggie’s like, “Are you crazy, it’s me.” Then, you cut to this close-up of Jake and he’s studying Reggie’s eyes. You cut back to Reggie uncomfortably looking at him. You cut back to Jake and he goes, “You have really nice eyes.” And Reggie is like, “Yea, thanks, could you get off me.” Then, Jake, without blinking, goes, “Why.” And even me pitching it doesn’t seem that funny, but in the execution and the animation, it was hilarious. It was supposed to be a personal space joke because Jake has no sense of personal space, which was a running gag. It made audiences laugh out loud but some people really took it the wrong way.

Cartoon Brew: Who took it the wrong way though— the distributors?

Jimmy Hayward: It’s just test audiences. We tried all kinds of stuff with test audiences.

Cartoon Brew: Are test audiences an important part of the process for you?

Jimmy Hayward: I think in the movie business of today, yes. In the movie business of today where money is much harder to come by and studios don’t take that many risks—it’s one of those things where you want to make sure that someone goes and sees your movie.

“Every test audience I showed this movie to said that [the death] was their least favorite part of the movie. And my argument was, ‘Good…makes people cry…it’s good to have an emotional experience in a movie.’”

There’s a death in the movie and every test audience I showed this movie to said that was their least favorite part of the movie. And my argument was, “Good…that’s the point…makes people cry…it’s good to have an emotional experience in a movie.” That’s the kind of thing where the audience all said it was something that they didn’t like, but that just made me want it in the movie even more. It’s not like we test it, and the audience says they don’t like things and we just let them take it out. Really, the best thing about testing a movie is to figure out where the flat spots are and also figure out the distance behind jokes. So if you have a joke in there and the audience laughs at it, you don’t run over the next line of dialogue that’s important to the story…it helps you pace things.

Cartoon Brew: You made the leap from animating to directing in your mid-’30s. What advice do you have for someone who wants to transition from animation to direction?

Jimmy Hayward: For me personally, it was making things outside of the studio. When I was at Pixar, I was making music videos and film before I got there and the whole time I was working there. I’m always working on side projects. I’m in Florida right now to play with my band. I play music, I make movies. To me, it’s about developing your skillset past just that [single] thing. Look, I’m a good animator’s director because I used to be an animator for a long time. What you need to do as a director is to get your idea across to all these different people and all these different departments in their language. So it’s important to know a lot of stuff about the process.

Some people have different approaches to it, but for me, it’s a leadership job. It’s a job where you have to motivate people to see things your way. I think having a healthy respect for all the other departments is a great start. At this point, technology is so easy to get…if I had all these tools when I was a kid, I can’t even imagine what crazy shit I would’ve made. It’s so easy now to make a short film on your own. That’s my advice to young animators who want to be directors: make movies.

November 19 2013

Cartier Releases “Winter Tale” Directed by Bibo Bergeron

This year, Christmas has turned into the season of feature film-quality animation spots. First, British retailer John Lewis released a this hand-drawn animated piece, and today French-founded/Swiss-owned jeweler Cartier countered with a mini-CG short called Winter Tale, set in 1920s Paris. A full credit list isn’t available yet, but we know that it was directed by Bibo Bergeron (A Monster in Paris, Shark Tale) and produced at Stink Paris.

November 03 2013

Can South America’s Most Expensive Animated Film Compete with American Blockbusters?

The top three grossing films at the Argentine box office this year are all animated: Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, and Metegol. If the last film sounds unfamiliar, that’s because Metegol (aka Foosball) is a homegrown animated feature from Argentina directed by one of that country’s most respected filmmakers, Juan José Campanella. His 2009 film El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

Metegol cost $22 million, which makes it the most expensive film, animated or otherwise, ever produced in Argentina, as well as the most expensive animated feature ever made in South America. The film was funded by a Colombian oil exec Jorge Estrada Mora, whose resources allowed Campanella to set up an animation studio in Buenos Aires and hire advisors like Disney animation veteran and Despicable Me story originator Sergio Pablos. These details are discussed in a New Yorker piece, which is the most in-depth write-up the film has received in the American media.

It doesn’t appear that the film has a U.S. distributor yet, but that’s irrelevant. The film has already proven to be a financial success thanks to strong foreign sales in Europe, Latin America and Asia, as well as the massive success on its home turf.

Low-to-mid-budget foreign animated features are increasingly common from every corner of the world, and as I’ve said before in interviews, such films stand a better chance of breaking out when they don’t attempt to replicate the form and subject matter of big-budget American animated features. The producers of Metegol charted their own path and avoided Americanizing the film, Ian Mount writes in the New Yorker:

Metegol is full of childhood magic and underdog heroics, and astutely plays on the fame of international soccer icons. The nerdy protagonist bears more than a passing resemblance to FC Barcelona’s Argentine star, Lionel Messi, while the villain has the arrogance and good looks of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (whose smug grin and perfect hair have made him a real-life villain for soccer fans worldwide). The movie, even though it embraces universal themes and looks like a Hollywood product, also feels distinctly Latin and Argentine, from the characters’ Italianate gestures and soccer-mullet hairstyles to their ironic, rapid-fire humor.

Last summer, a lot of American media outlets complained that the animated feature marketplace was overcrowded. They should brace themselves because it’s only going to become more crowded and more competitive as other countries start to distribute their films around the globe.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl