Archive for February, 2010

New How to Train Your Dragon Trailer!

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DreamWorks just released the theatrical trailer for How to Train Your Dragon! This trailer really gets across how killer this film is! Everyone is crazy excited about it and we know you’ll be blown away!

Few more exclamation points for emphasis!!!! and !

So watch it already!


Specificity in Character part 2

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Let’s elaborate on specificity in character.  In my first post I said it wasn’t enough to just slap a lab coat on the rig and call him a doctor.  He has to be a specific person. A specific doctor.  A unique character.

This is not a concept exclusive to animation.  Live action actors must also accomplish the same sort of specificity to be successful*.  Not being a live action actor myself, I can’t venture a guess how one ‘becomes’ a character; though perhaps when they put on a lab coat it actually changes the way they feel and informs their choices.  However, I do enjoy watching talented actors portraying wide varieties of roles, and even though I don’t fully understand the intricacies of the process, I am entertained by the results and fascinated by specificity.

For example, in my personal opinion, Philip Seymour Hoffman (imdb here) is a talented actor capable of such transformations between characters.  He successfully communicates his characters to the audience on a number of levels.  For the sake of argument, I found four images from four different films:

Essentially, the same ‘rig’ is being used in each film.  He is the same height, weight, skeleton, hair color, etc.  And sure, the costume is changed in each – but that’s not enough, remember? To me, the overwhelming concept in these images is not how he’s dressed, it is how he is posed.  How he carries himself is what communicates his character.  In fact, two images feature a character dressed in drab clothing, and two feature a character in elegant, powerful wardrobe.  Yet, despite some costumes being practically interchangeable, none of these characters feel similar.  He has found unique and specific ways for each character to behave.
Number one would never hold a glass like number two.  He just wouldn’t.  Nor would three or four.  I don’t feel like number four could be as internal and reserved as number three (or hold his own hand in such a gentle, comforting way).  And I can’t see number two holding his arms above his head in the way number four does. In fact, I don’t think number two would ever raise his arms above his shoulders, no less his head.  Number one feels more shy and introverted while four feels extroverted and loud.  I could go on and on, but look for yourself and find more specificity dividing these characters.  Now think about this: all of these are just still images.  We are only looking at how these characters hold themselves in a freeze-frame!  Apply motion to it and the differences become exponential.  Then you can find specificity in movements, not just posing.  As animators we control movements on a frame-by-frame basis.  There is no reason not to make posing, and movements, unique to a character.


*successful artistically.  You can be also wildly successful in hollywood if you are very attractive and have marginal talent.

Movie still-frames:
Image 1: Boogie Nights
Image 2: Capote
Image 3: Doubt
Image 4: Along Came Polly

Waking Sleeping Beauty

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The kind people of Waking Sleeping Beauty asked us if we could help get the word out on their film and its up coming release date.   We’re all very interested in seeing this film.  Stay tuned for more information!

After a successful festival debut, Waking Sleeping Beauty will begin its theatrical run with limited releases in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco on March 26, 2010.  Directed by Don Hahn and produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn, Waking Sleeping Beauty was an Official Selection at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and winner of the Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival.  Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairy tale, as it chronicles the time from 1984 to 1994, when a perfect storm of people and circumstances changed the face of animation forever. It is a story of clashing egos, out-of-control budgets, escalating tensions… and one of the most extraordinary creative periods in animation history.

In New York, the film will open at the Landmark Sunshine.
In Los Angeles, the film will open on two screens, at the AMC Century City and AMC Burbank.
In Chicago, the film will open at the AMC River East,
and in San Francisco at the Landmark Embarcadero—all on March 26, 2010.

Director Don Hahn (producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and producer Peter Schneider (former chairman of the studio), key players at Walt Disney Studios feature animation department during the mid1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the animation studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next 10 years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box-office flops, and warring studio leadership create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home movies and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney, alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Steven Spielberg, Richard Williams, John Lasseter and Tim Burton, Waking Sleeping Beauty shines a light on Disney animation’s darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is a Stone Circle Pictures/Red Shoes Production.

Running time: 86 minutes
Rating: PG

37th Annual Annie Awards

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From Left to right: Christian Reese, Jacob Gardner, Ben Willis, Stephen Melagrano, Jacob Melvin, Adam Strick, and Blake Penido

Saturday night the guys from Speaking of Animation were at the UCLA Royce Hall for the 37th Annual Annie Awards. It was our first time there and I have to say it was amazing! ASIFA Hollywood does a fantastic job putting on this event. I can’t tell you how incredible it is seeing so many talents of the animation industry in one room. We’re really excited for all the nominees, I think Pete Doctor said it best when he said, “It was a momentous year for Animation.” Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and to our fellow coworkers: Phillip To, Shane Prigmore, Tom Owens, and Robert Koo. Amazing work all around! And a very special congratulations to Jeffrey Katzenberg for receiving the Winsor McCay Award. You really got the feeling throughout the night of how influential Jeffrey has been in shaping the animation industry that we know today, and that is an amazing feat!

You can see the list of all the nominees and winners here:

“Up” for Best Picture nomination!

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We would like to congratulate Pixar and everyone that worked on Up for being nominated for Best Picture.  It’s great to see an animated film placing in that category and hopefully it will happen more often in the future!  Nice work guys!

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