Monday, May 31, 2010

A Ray of Sunshine

As I've said, I've watched the visuals for Tangled on different computer screens 'round and about the hat building, and been knocked out. So here's an early squib from somebody who claims to have seen a cut of the feature:

... They maintain the Disney classics (Cinderella, Snow White) look and feel but transition it into the computer generated era. The characters look more like human beings, and less like exaggerated cartoon characters. Rapunzel’s facial expressions are always changing and connected to the actions that she is partaking in. Disney is clearly focused on mirroring Snow White, taking the painting like look, and surrounding it with warm, soothing colors. The watercolor style gives the film a storybook like visual that impresses, but does not dominate the film.

Zachary Levi steals the show as the cocky thief Flynn Rider ...

The consensus of the folks I've talked to is: "They're going for a classically-structured Disney feature with songs, and the songs are pretty good." Everybody is working hard to get the film done under a tight schedule, but they always jam everything through the pipeline in time to hit the deadline. I have faith they will hit the deadline yet again.

Tangled has gone through multiple permutations over its years in development: traditional fairy tale, then comedic spoof (a la Shrek), then back to fairy tale.

I'll be there to see it opening weekend.


Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah. It's nice if it looks good and has good animation and songs. But those things don't really matter if the story/storytelling and characterizations aren't compelling.

How is it as a FILM?

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts as to whether the current Disney administration has the slightest idea what a "Disney classic" really is and what it takes to make one.

I think if Disney really *was* still Disney, then the public would eat up a film like Tangled. But the legacy has been corrupted and diluted. I no longer have any desire to see Tangled.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blah blah blah. There are almost as many examples of the reverse of what you just described.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blah blah blah. There are almost as many examples of the reverse of what you just described.

While I feel that "Mr. Blah blah blah" is being too dismissive, it would be nice if you could elaborate on some examples of the reverse, please.

Anonymous said...

Who's being "dismissive?" Outside of the VERY small bubble of the animation industry, people only care what films look like or good animation insofar as much as they care about the overall story/telling and characters.

Far too many examples of great looking movies that had weak stories, and many great stories that weren't hampered at all by lesser production values.

Floyd Norman said...

As one often accused of "bashing the mouse" I have to say that the footage I've seen so far has truly surprised me.

I think the film looks damn good.

Anonymous said...

I've also seen Tangled in it's unfinished form. It hits on all cylinders. Visuals, story, music, characters, animation, heart, everything. This one is going to be Disneys best in a long, long time.

The only negative thing I can say is that it is maybe too much like 'Beauty and the Beast,' but hey, that one was nominated for an academy award, so...

Anonymous said...

many great stories that weren't hampered at all by lesser production values.

Really, there are many, as in lots and lots? Okay, name half a dozen animated films that were major hits which 'lesser production values.'

Anonymous said...

Really, there are many, as in lots and lots? Okay, name half a dozen animated films that were major hits which 'lesser production values.

Ha! If you read this board, you find many feel that anything from Dreamworks or Seth McFarlane has "lesser" production values... no matter how successful (ratings and boxoffice) they are.

Anonymous said...

Okay, name half a dozen animated films that were major hits which 'lesser production values.'

Famously Dumbo had a lot lower complexity of animation and gee-whiz effects than Bambi.

Dumbo being the cheaper, lower budget, let's make a simple movie kind of thing.

IMO, a better film than Bambi.

More recently, Lilo and Stitch was made on a much more restricted budget than the extravagant behemoth Treasure Planet.

Not that Lilo and Stitch or Dumbo were either one "substandard." They just had a more limited budget to work with, so less of the gee-whiz eye-candy. They focused their resources where it mattered most, and told simple stories well.

robster16 said...

While that may be so, it doesn't necesarrily mean that because people say the movie looks good it automatically lacks in the story department.

From all the reviews and tidbits I've read on the web so far people are giving as much credit to the visuals as they do to the story, it's characters and other elements of the movie. Stating that this will be Disney's strongest film in years.

It might just be the case that it's easier to judge the visuals people have seen based on clips and shots compared to judging the story and full storylines based on those same clips. You can react to visual pretty instantly, a story needs a full 1,5 hour arch. We'll probably see more story focused reviews sooner to the release date after more test screenings. (not that these first test screening haven't given us plenty of positive reviews already though)

I hope that made sense, me being dutch and all...

Anonymous said...

Famously Dumbo had a lot lower complexity of animation and gee-whiz effects than Bambi.

Uh, Dumbo was made using state-of-the-art animation techniques, by the best animation studio in the world, using some of their best talent. To the audience watching the film, there was nothing 'lesser' about it. The animation is beautiful, fluid, and extraordinarily well acted, since it was done by highly trained pros. It may have had 'lesser expenses' when compared to another film, but it's production values were very good to excellent. Bad example.

More recently, Lilo and Stitch was made on a much more restricted budget than the extravagant behemoth Treasure Planet.

You're using the same false financial comparison to come up with 'lesser production values.' Treasure Planet was off the charts in terms of expense and technical complexity. Let's just look at Lilo and Stitch on it's own terms. Like Dumbo, it was lovingly crafted by some of the top talent in the industry, people who were well trained, well paid, experienced professionals who were allowed to take the time to do what they needed to do to make a special film. Again, this is not an example of 'lesser production values.'

Both Dumbo and Lilo and Stitch were full of eye-candy. They are both beautiful, very well acted films, and much of that comes from top-notch animation and technical facility of their crews. There's a difference between 'production values' and 'production costs.'

Anonymous said...

I don't think we're arguing anything but word choices.

Dumbo had a lot less pencil-milage, a lot fewer mutli-plane shots, less effects work, simpler backgrounds, fewer characters, etc than Bambi.

I didn't say it was sub-standard in any way.

I only mean to say, sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is more.

Anonymous said...

I'm arguing with your word choices. You made the point that how great a film looks, and how great the animation is, doesn't matter (I'm assuming the original post was yours, and that's what you meant by the later comment about 'less production values'). You then gave two examples of films that look absolutely fantastic, that have beautiful animation and beautiful backgrounds and settings, and tried to claim that they proved your point about 'less production values.'

Frankly, I thought Lilo and Stitch looked much better than Treasure Planet. It was easier on the eyes, and more consistently animated. TP may have cost at least 50% more, but L&S was NOT an example of a film with lesser production values. Neither was Dumbo.

I agree with you that technically complex, and therefore expensive, animation techniques do not a great film make, but then, no one has yet claimed that Tangled is such a film. All that's been claimed is that the look, the animation, and the songs are good. You're the one who poo-pooed the value of those elements.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Arguer, I don't think you have any idea what the hell you're arguing about. You know what he's saying. Stop having a fit because he said "values" and not "costs."

All he's saying was that, for the most part, we've been hearing about the visuals of Tangled. And that just because the visuals are fantastic, doesn't make the movie great. His examples of Dumbo and Stitch were used to show that they didn't go out and spend a bajillion dollars to make it look pretty, and they were both still great films regardless. It isn't too far of a stretch to assume that Tangled is going to cost quite a bit of money with all the experimenting they're supposedly doing with the visuals, and while it's great they're doing so, it doesn't mean it's going to be a great film, or that it will be a hit with audiences.

On the contrary, I don't know why you're trying to argue that there have not been films with "lesser production VALUES" that have become hits. There have been plenty.

Shrek 3, Monsters vs. Aliens, and most likely they upcoming Megamind by Dreamworks. And don't try and call me out for being a DW hater like so many are. S3 and MvA were both films that I would say had "lesser production values" and yet they became huge hits. Based on the trailer to Megamind, it looks very much like the same thing could happen.

More examples of films like this include Transformers 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Ice Age 3, and G-Force. All films with "lesser production values" that turned out lots of moolah.

So there's your "half a dozen animated films that were major hits which 'lesser production values.'"

Anonymous said...

So first you say that "production values" was a euphemism for "production costs" (which it's not), then you cite a bunch of movies which had HUGE production costs (and, by most standards, high production values) to prove that you don't need to spend a lot to have a hit. Who's the confused one here?

And the examples of Transformers and IA3 (you could have used IA2, also) absolutely makes the complete opposite argument. Those were very expensive films, with high production values, that were all about look and animation and action, and very weak on story. And they were huge hits. You're not very good at this debate thing, are you?

Finally, what has been talked about with Tangled is far more than "the look" of the film, or the cost of the film. There have also been compliments about the animation (which is totally separate from "the look") and the songs. That's saying a lot. It doesn't say it will be a hit, or a great film, but having good animation, a great look, and good songs all make it more likely that the film WILL be a hit. If any of those three elements suck, then history shows us the film will probably fail. Just as history shows us that a scintillating, wonderful story is overrated when it comes to box office hits.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Ice Age 3 did not have high production costs relative to other animated films.

Wall-e cost double what Ice Age 3 cost. (180mil to 90mil)

Anonymous said...

You've seen the books?

I thought not.

Anonymous said...

And remember those reported 180 million picture budgets are before their marketing and advertising costs. wowzas!

Anonymous said...

No, I work there. We have pretty open meetings and discussions about our budgets.

But thanks for playing.

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

>"I hope that made sense, me being dutch and all..."<

Yes it did, robster16. Excellent post, I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:24. You are not reading my post correctly. I'm not confused whatsoever.

I was defending the other guy in the first part of my post, talking about production costs. Then, I switched over to the argument that YOU are trying to make, by saying "On the contrary... production VALUES." By citing the movies I did I am not even remotely trying to make any point whatsoever about the money that was spent to make them. In your argument with the first guy, you said there is a difference between cost and value. So you should be able to understand when I'm talking about one and when I'm talking about the other.

Now, we apparently disagree on the definition of "production VALUE." In my world, T2 and IA3 and the others I listed are most certainly not of "high production value" quality. Yes, they were expensive, and they were hits, like you said. But Ice Age 3 did not have "high production values." I'd be happy to hear how you can justify saying that.

And finally, I suppose you're right about Tangled, there have (recently) been reviews which comment on more than how it looks. But still, the point the first guy was making still stands, and you jumped on him for no reason.

Anonymous said...

But Ice Age 3 did not have "high production values.

What is your definition of production value exactly? To me, Ice Age 3 production values are as follows...

1. Fantastic character animation and performances.
2. Impressive lighting and effects
3. Immersive action sequences and cinematography.
4. Funny slapstick comedy

What IA3 lacked, most likely, is a very deep, meaningful story. So, what exactly are you arguing here when you say production value? Writing?

Anonymous said...

About your first two points I agree. The animation and visuals were as good as anyone could ask for.

The cinematography was fine, although I wouldn't call anything in the film "immersive."

The slapstick in the first Ice Age was funny. This time around, it was not. To me, of course. Although I think a lot of people agreed that IA3 lacked a lot of laughs that the first two had.

While all these things do have a hand in the production value of a film, I do think the story has a much bigger part to play. There is only so much that great animation and lighting can do for a sub-par storyline. It's been said a million times. Sure, IA3 wasn't the worst movie ever, but it certainly isn't a movie anyone's going to remember. It's a popcorn movie.

That's mostly what I mean by "low production values."

I think "high production values" come when the story is put first. And now you're making me sound like a JL fanboy.

I suppose I kind of am.

Anonymous said...

Then, therefore, you're using the term "production values" erroneously.

Anonymous said...

I for one am willing to wait until I see the final product before I cast any judgement.

Anonymous said...

"Then, therefore, you're using the term "production values" erroneously."

How so? Is the story not part of the production of a film?

Anonymous said...

No. It isnt. At least not within the industry, and when discussing budgets.

Imagine we're book makers. We do the illustration and binding and printing and leather work. We discuss production value in terms of those things, and how much the book costs to produce. Thats production value, not how the story is.

Its shop talk.

Anonymous said...

Production values are generally the mechanical non-creative things that can be quantified by comaprison and are not really subjective. Story, design, color, etc etc are all subjective and are not considered "production values"

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