Sunday, March 21, 2010

Your Early-Morning Read

Kevin points out one of the cornerstones of effective story-telling in Animationland.

My Final Answer to the Question

We’ve established that I don’t think story is the end all and be all for successful animated films, and that it might not even be crucial. And I’ve written that I think storytelling is one factor that is absolutely crucial. But is there more? Yeah, I think so, and I think both of these things are separable from story and storytelling.

My answer to the question, ‘What are the three most important things for a successful animated film?’ is, Storytelling, great characters, appeal. When you’ve have these three things going on, you have a chance unleash a Lion King or a Toy Story or an Ice Age.

Appeal, as I’ve discussed before, is difficult to quantify, and I’m not going to try here. We know it when we see it. The first moment we saw Skrat in the very first teaser for the very first Ice Age, we were hooked. Regardless of what the story might turn out to be, we were going to that film ....

Go read the whole thing.

I'll offer only one small spoiler: Kevin holds up Dumbo as a cartoon feature with appeal. In this he appears to have a slightly different take from one of the old animation masters.

I was coming out of a third-floor screening room after watching Dumbo (under instructions from Woolie Reitherman, as I remember.) Frank was walking toward me down the hall. He smiled when he saw me, and asked what I'd been watching.

"Dumbo", I said. "Woolie wanted me to look at it. Man, it's a great movie."

Frank's smile got wider. "There's a mistake in every scene."

I nodded blankly. Said "Oh."

Frank walked on down the hall.

Six months later, I ... mentioned my brief exchange with Frank about Dumbo to Ward Kimball, and Frank's "mistake" comment. "It seemed kind of strange to me," I said. "Why do you think Frank would say say something like that?"

Ward beamed at me from behind his big round glasses. "Because Frank didn't work on Dumbo."

By the way, if you want to comment on Kevin's post, you'll need to do it over at SynchroLux.
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