Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Commercial Animation?

There are those constant questions: "So which animated features connect with the movie-going public, and which not?"

And more to the point (as far as Hollywood is concerned: "What's going to make the turnstiles whirl and the grosses pile up?"

Because ultimately a feature's box office totals are what cause more of animation to get made. ...

I'm not certain Metropia (seen above) is what America's been looking for, but hey. I've been wrong before ...

"What we wanted to do [with "Metropia"] was create something almost like a moving painting," says Tarik Saleh, the director ... "We had very experienced animators come in, but they had never worked with this technique, because we developed it. So it took a month of training before they could even animate a frame."

From conception to release, "Metropia" took about six years to make. The movie's creators say the software they used is a common animation tool that any movie maker has access to. What they did differently was use a very old, almost outdated software plug-in, and then manipulate and update that plug-in to suit their needs. ...

The look of the piece is kind of intriguing, tinged with photo-realism but definitely not mo-cap. Metropia is probably going to be an attention grabber, but will the thing attract sizable audiences?

The look and execution of the piece is always important, but the characters and story are usually the ultimate deal-makers. Sadly, Scott Ross of NBC isn't super-encouraging:

The sepia-toned rendering of the world Roger and friends live is attention-grabbing, but as the film wears on, its magic wears off. ... [T]he faces that are embedded into the animation are beautifully expressive and lifelike, [but] the characters' movements prove to be limited, looking as much as anything like the Supermarionation that brought "Thunderbirds" to life more than 40 years ago.

"Metropia" is reasonably smart, thoughtful and well-intentioned, but it lacks warmth, humor or anything truly new to say about the nightmare we're all hurtling towards. ..

I believe it's a good thing when animation's envelope is pushed out into new territory, but I want the enlarged container to be successful, and become sulky when it's not. I'm funny that way.


Anonymous said...

Metropia is not everyone's cup of tea, but I found it incredibly funny (in a dark Fight Club kind of way). VERY stylized movement works as well as a limitation on the budget/schedule. It's certainly for mature audiences, and thankfully eschews the juvenile approach of most Japanese cartoons in it's approach to adult storytelling.

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