Tag Archives: Animation

The Pirates: A Plunderful Life & A Plunderful Film

Drop everything & dash out and see The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists. Well, ok, it might not be out quite yet when you are reading this, but drop everything & see it when it is!

I went adventuring off to Sony Picture’s private screening room in London for a preview and what a treat it was! The Pirate’s author Gideon Defoe was there in person to introduce the film & to answer a few questions. When asked what the difference between writing a book & a film was, he replied when writing a book you can wear a bathrobe all day, but films are too collaborate so you actually have to get dressed! He was delightfully funny. So I admit, I was in a very good mood when the film started, but right from the start I knew that my good mood was going to continue.

I was struck immediately by the creativity & imagination of Defoe in devising the characters & story & also by Aardman & co for making the story come to life. The characters were engaging, charming & amusing and beautifully animated & the storyline was entertaining & even more importantly if there are to be any follow-ups, I was instantly attached to the characters & hooked into the Pirate world.  Just like JK Rowling has managed to create the Harry Potter characters & world that so many want to believe in, Defoe has created a charming Pirate world that I can’t wait to learn more about.  In fact, I am going to have to buy the book to soak up even more.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the storyline revolves around a slightly incompetent Pirate Captain who desperately wants to win Pirate of the Year Award this year. His quest sees him and his crew venturing to the foggy streets of Victorian London, ruled by Queen Victoria who hates pirates, but takes a liking to his parrot.

Aardman are masters of detail & each scene was filled with all sorts of finishing touches that enhanced the main action & goodness, the stop motion animation is amazing! The voice talent is excellent too. Perfectly cast & performed. Easily the best stop motion feature I’ve seen to date, plus now one of my favourite animated films too. It was also one of the best stereoscopic 3D viewings I have seen. The stereo 3D seemed to be just a natural part of the film, rather than annoying eyeball sucking in-your-face 3D. Having said that, I don’t think it really matters whether you see it in 3D or 2D. I think it will be just as great either way.

Huge thanks to Gideon Defoe, Den of Geek, & Sony Pictures (& my animator friend Tom Kloucek) for a great night. Its indeed a Plunderful life, & a Plunderful film.

The Pirates Preview

At the Sony & Den of Geek preview of The Pirates

Special Screening of The Princess & The Frog at Disney London HQ

The Princess & the Frog

The Princess & the Frog

On Tuesday 8th of December I had the pleasure of being invited by one of my favourite animator friends to a special screening of “The Princess and the Frog” at Disney HQ in London along with 4 other fellow animators.

Do you remember the days of going to the cinema to see an animation without 3D glasses? Seems like a distant past to me.  “The Princess and the Frog” sees Disney returning to the glory days of stunningly beautiful 2D animation.  No 3D glasses, no objects flying off the screen towards you – just simple, beautiful & entertaining 2D animation. Well I say simple, but producing such lovely quality 2D animation is not quite so simple! Disney is once again showing the world who are the masters, and who gave us all the 12 principles of animation. Lovely squash and stretch and flowing movements, and many whacky & slightly bizarre 2D musical numbers. Animators are also likely to spot some animation very reminiscent of scenes from past Disney masterpieces like Jungle Book and Cinderella.

The action takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans circa 1930s complete with plenty of fun jazz music and an evil voodoo magician. Dr Facilier and his partners in crime, are bound to give the little ones nightmares, but what’s a Disney film without a good badie? Having said that, I found him rather too creepy to look at myself.

The first five minutes of the film had me laughing at the wonderfully funny cat and other characters, but also wondering if the target audience was only children. Why is it that many of us now associate 3D animation with films for grownups too, but 2D  only for children? But soon enough things changed to include more for the grownups which was just as well, because who wants to take their children to a film and not be entertained themselves? Although the design and art work was a pleasure to watch, I wasn’t overly fond of the styling of the female frog. The male frog was nice and frog like, but I felt they tried to make the female frog have a slight girlie figure, which spoiled her a bit to me. Let her just be a frog folks! Still, that did not spoil the Disney fun for me. The vocal talent is great, and the Disney animators have done a fantastic job of making the characters entertaining and lovable.

The Frog and the Frog

The Frog and the Frog

As a 3D animator, I couldn’t help but compare differences between 2D and 3D animation. Every now and then I noticed how still a background character or set was kept in 2D compared to 3D. It’s interesting how large parts of the drawings can be kept completely still in 2D and remain totally alive. Things would go dead instantly if kept that still in 3D. Animators are the only ones likely to notice any stillness anywhere however, and only then if deliberately looking. The film is an action packed, fast moving visual feast with plenty of toe tapping musical numbers. The characters and storyline are engaging and fun and all without 3D glasses in sight!

So welcome back Disney! Animators are bound to appreciate the return to beautiful tradition animation. Average film goers will hopefully be once again reminded that a well executed & beautifully produced story does not need gimmicks and gadgets to make an enjoyable entertainment experience. I wish Disney well with The Princess and the Frog, and look forward to once again seeing additional successful 2D animations.

The Animation Gang

The Animation Gang