The Shrek, Surf's Up and Ratatouille launches are behind us. The next big animation offering is The Simpsons Movie coming to a multiplex near you at the end of July.
David Silverman, director of The Simpsons Movie, is confident that audiences will love the film... But he's not pretending it has been an easy project, what with the expectations of a fanatical fan base plus the job of corralling the 400-odd animators, writers, producers, actors and assistants who worked on the film.
"Yes, there was a lot of pressure," said the 50-year-old director the morning after the film finally wrapped up at the end of last month. "We were working right down to the wire — I think we even animated a small detail last Thursday and were making negatives over the weekend. But I actually feel very confident now that we're done. And I think it looks really beautiful."
I'd concur. The bits and pieces that I've seen on various computer monitors at the studio look terrific, and the wide-screen format is used to good effect.
"We were working at an incredibly fast pace," says Silverman. "Most animated features are not produced this quickly. We decided we didn't want to overdo the animation, because if you have too much of that Disney-like nuance, it doesn't feel like our characters."
Large parts of the film were animated by Rough Draft Animation in Korea, but there was a number of Disney-experienced animators working on the flick stateside. (Actually, a lot of old Disney hands worked on it.) The Simpsons Movie had at least three different animation crews in different geographic locations turning out footage.
The bulk of production on the film took about a year, which is fast but not unprecedented. Space Jam and it's sixty minutes of animation was done in ten or eleven months; the Fleischers got most of Gulliver's Travels cranked out in less than twelve months. And the grandmother of all animated features -- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- completed the majority of the film in a little over a year (and yeah, they had SW in story way longer than that...).
I'm betting that The Simpsons Movie's opening weekend numbers are as good or better than Ratatouille's.. In two weeks we'll get to see if I'm a prophet or an ignorant moron.