Sunday, July 25, 2021

On Story 1103: A Conversation with Brenda Chapman

Interview with Brenda Chapman, director and writer on hits such as The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, and Brave. Chapman brings her views on strong female characters, story and flawed characters. Brought to you by Austin Film Festival's On Story.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Innovations in Animation - Part 3 - The Peanuts Movie

(copyright Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Animation, United Features Syndicate, and of course "Sparky" Charles M. Schulz)

Late to the party again, I finally borrowed the The Peanuts Movie screener DVD from work. After virtually growing up with all the original Bill Melendez animated TV specials from the 60's, I was hesitant to face a possible "South Park" kind of treatment of my childhood heroes. 

 But this film wasn't bad. As a family film, The Peanuts Movie is a nostalgic romp going through the key story points of the entire Charlie Brown saga: the childhood torments of grade school, his love of baseball and his longing for the distant, seemingly unattainable attention of the Little Red-Headed Girl. And of course, Snoopy relives his never ending aerial battles with the mysterious and relentless Red Baron. And then there is the actual design of the movie itself, and how the director Steve Martino and crew strove to stay faithful to style and charm of Charles Schulz' original comic strip.

 Looking back on my last entry, I'm beginning to notice how studios having been making big strides in creating 3D polygon models to resemble flat, cartoon shapes. As with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Blue Sky Studios worked overtime to take Charles M. Schulz' beloved Peanuts comic strip into the CG world, and then make it "flat" again. I used to think that the studios are using 3D animation in ways that it was "not meant to be used", in as far as the usual process of modeling, rigging and animating CG characters.

But The Peanuts Movie is a nice reminder of how CG can do virtually anything, and should not just be shoehorned into mimicking alternate concrete looking realities. Director Steve Martino described how their first attempts with traditional modeling and rigging just didn't cut it, and eventually switched to a stop motion style to maintain the illusion of Schulz' and Melendez' art and animation styles. On a smaller scale, shows like South Park and the Olive The Other Reindeer Holiday special may have solved similar issues in the past with these techniques.

To sum up, The Peanuts Movie is worth a look, and can be a warm, fuzzy torch to pass on to a new generation.

c • C • ɔ


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Animation Studios Use Game Engines for Production

 This relatively new area of using game engines to render is uncharted territory for me. I experimented with Unity and Maya a couple of years ago, but now Unreal Engine seems to be the leader in game engine technology. I'm not sure if, or how a game engine station will take the place of a render farm. I'm trying to study this procedure, but it has been tough after over a year of lockdown with no clear signs of life returning back to normal.

All I have is the links to the articles down below. I'm still trying to learn about what output settings the studios are using to get finished footage on the air. Or onto streaming, as the case may be.

I'll try to update this asap.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Innovations in Animation - Part 2 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 It's been a hard year. As we start to dig out from under the horrors of 2020 and the Covid pandemic, let's take a moment to get back to my topic of Innovations in Animation. After my first entry from the 1980's, ("Twice Upon A Time") I want to jump forward to the 21st Century. Through the years, Sony Pictures was not my top pick as far as animation or superhero film studios go. But Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for the studio. I finally saw it on Blu-Ray, and it definitely caught my attention.

(copyright Sony/Marvel/Disney?) 

Comic book style! Other attempts have been made, with dubious success.

Hand drawn effects over 3D, far advanced from old cell shaders.

 Art Direction by Dean Gordon, Patrick O'Keefe

Production Design -  Justin K. Thompson

Danny Dimian - Visual Effects Supervisor

Directed by
Bob Persichetti     
Peter Ramsey     
Rodney Rothman

Writing Credits  
Phil Lord     ...     Screenplay
Rodney Rothman     ...     Screenplay
Phil Lord     ...    Story

Paul Watling - Head of Story


While it's not a direct part of the MCU, Kevin Feige's hand still seemed to be felt.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Gnomon_School Animatics for Indie Filmmakers with Unreal Engine

(Copyright Miguel Ortega & Tran Ma - Gnomon School)

Here is the short film project of Miguel Ortega, director and VFX artist, and Tran Ma, production designer and VFX artist. They demonstrate on the fly layout, scene composition and film direction using 3D assets in the Unreal Engine. Moderated by Beau Janzen, Gnomon Education lead.

Will look for youtube link asap.