Sunday, July 29, 2012

The OTHER Animated Features

Laika's CEO Travis Knight informs us:

... "People have been declaring stop-motion dead for a generation," says Mr. Knight. "But living in the digital age, people appreciate the art of craft, or working with your hands." ...

You could replace the words "stop-motion" with "hand-drawn" and have the above quote track equally well.

But of course, hand-drawn has been an underachiever at the world box office during the last few years, so it doesn't get a mention. But Laika has found success with its first stop motion feature (Caroline). And Tim Burton, Henry Selick and some of the Mouse's corporate hierarchy -- visions of the box office for The Nightmare Before Christmas dancing in their eyes -- want to make more stop motion entertainments.

But maybe the fact that hand-drawn animation has gone into a commercial swoon in recent years is the major reason stop-motion is now the favored sub-genre in feature animation. Added to which, it has a passing resemblance to high-grossing CGI.


Joel Fletcher said...

"People have been declaring stop-motion dead for a generation"

That is a stretch, maybe that was said for about 5 years, from around 1995-2000. Since then a bunch of stop-motion features have been produced. But it is true that the appeal of stop-motion is that it is hand-made, which gives it a charm and magic that CGI can never duplicate. Stop-motion is more popular than it ever was in the past.

Coraline was one of the best stop-motion features ever, and Paranorman looks like it will be awesome as well. However, the type of stop-motion done at Laika and other studios is really a hybrid that owes a lot to computers and modern technology. Facial animation is sculpted and animated on a computer and 3D printed. Flying and jumping is accomplished with rigs that are digitally removed. And the animation itself is almost computer smooth from the use of digital frame grabbing software. Perhaps this make the animation look too slick and perfect, but these methods are necessary in order to compete with CG!

Since you mentioned the box office on Nightmare Before Christmas, I actually remember the tally was pretty modest in it's original release. The big bucks came later with video and DVD, and all the merchandising, as it achieved cult status. Having worked on the film, I remember midway through production Disney management getting cold feet about the weirdness of the film. They decided to release it as a Touchtone film, and added "Tim Burton's" to the title in order to not tarnish the Disney label. That sure changed once it became popular and lucrative!

Floyd Norman said...

Good comment, Joel.

I remember Disney getting cold feet when "Nightmare" proved to be too weird for them. Under Walt, Disney was all about innovation and pushing the envelope.

Sadly, not anymore.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Nobody pushes the envelope much these days.

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