Yesterday was my day to while away an afternoon at DreamWorks. First there was lunch with studio reps discussing business, then my usual walk around ("new 401K books for o-old! New 401K books for o-old!")
I encountered a new DW artist who's working on the upcoming Kung-Fu Panda. He showed me a clip he was animating and opined: "I saw the whole picture a few weeks ago. Story reels, finished scenes, rough animation. I think it's the best feature DreamWorks has done..."
Now that's a pretty sweeping statement, but I haven't seen Panda, so what do I know? The film comes out a year from now, and a large percentage of it is animated. And animators I've talked to are happy to be working on it. The flick has a top-flight cast including Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black, and Angeline Jolie.
Thus far, DW hasn't put out a lot of info on the feature (and I go out of my way to avoid knowledge about continuity; life is simpler that way.) But there's this on Rotten Tomatoes (and this from Movie Insider):
"Kung Fu Panda" features Jack Black as Po the Panda, a lowly waiter in a noodle restaurant, who is a kung fu fanatic but whose shape doesn't exactly lend itself to kung fu fighting. In fact, Po's defining characteristic appears to be that he is the laziest of all the animals in ancient China. That's a problem because powerful enemies are at the gates, and all hopes have been pinned on a prophesy naming Po as the "Chosen One" to save the day. A group of martial arts masters are going to need a black belt in patience if they are going to turn this slacker panda into a kung fu fighter before it's too late. --
One more thing: a story artist and I got into a long discussion about the history of the industry -- which we're both interested in. I related how during my short span I have learned not to take a lot of negative crapola personally since it sort of goes with the job, and it helps (a lot) to save my sanity.
And that tied into a talk about the new Michael Barrier book about Uncle Walt and the '41 Disney strike, and how a lot of employees -- including Walt -- took a whole lot of the things that happened at that turbulent time personally. (Like Mr. Disney feeling betrayed by his employees. Like Art Babbit not working at Disney's no more. Like a rupture in the friendship between Ward Kimball and Walt Kelly.)
What I've learned during my time in the 'toon biz: enjoy what you're doing, take the part that's about doing a good job seriously, but take none of the political and negative effluvia that sails past you personally. (And yes. This is often hard to do when your emotions are wrapped up in something you've deemed "important." A few years further on, you'll be amazed at how much less important it turns out to be.)