Monday, June 27, 2005

Chicken Little to be Shown in 3-D

I was wondering how long it would take for a major 3D CG film to be released in 3-D (you wear special glasses). This is exciting news. Maybe just a gimic, but very neat, none the less.

The Walt Disney Studios and Dolby Bring Disney Digital 3-D(TM) to Selected Theaters Nationwide With CHICKEN LITTLE on Dolby Digital Cinema

In a Revolutionary Collaboration With Dolby Laboratories, Employing Dolby Digital Cinema Combined With Industrial Light & Magic's Proprietary Software Technology, Walt Disney Pictures Debuts New 3-D TECHNOLOGY With CHICKEN LITTLE, Its First All-CGI Animated Feature

BURBANK, Calif., June 27 -- Disney once again leads the film industry by introducing Disney Digital 3D(TM), a brand new, state-of-the-art technology providing the first true three-dimensional digital experience in movie theatres, with the highly anticipated movie Chicken Little to be released on November 4, 2005. In collaboration with Disney, Dolby Laboratories plans to install its Dolby® Digital Cinema systems in approximately 100 specially-selected, high-profile theatres in 25 top markets that will present the 3D film. Visual effects giant Industrial Light & Magic (a Lucasfilm Ltd. company) will render the movie in 3D so it can be played on Dolby Digital Cinema servers at selected theatres. This joint effort will create the next leap forward in the evolution of motion picture entertainment, bringing animation to life.

This historic debut of an entirely new release format will further define, refine, and elevate the film art form and marks the first time a major motion picture studio (Disney) has fully embraced a digital deployment plan. Disney selected Dolby Digital Cinema, a state-of-the-art digital cinema presentation system, to debut Chicken Little's brand new proprietary CG animation process. Dolby's technology, combined with Industrial Light & Magic's newly invented method of creating digital 3D imagery, provides the first feature motion picture presented in true digital 3D. Viewers of Chicken Little will experience this revolutionary format with the use of special 3D glasses offering greater clarity and more comfort than conventional 3D glasses.

Commenting on the announcement, Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, said, "Disney Digital 3D is a truly groundbreaking technology that combines the latest innovations of science and art, and we are proud to be a part of filmmaking history. Our proprietary, state-of-the-art CG animation process used to make Chicken Little and future animation projects will finally allow moviegoers to experience true digital three-dimensional entertainment in theatres." Cook continued, "Walt Disney pioneered many technological breakthroughs and set an uncompromising goal for his Studio to constantly push the envelope to offer a superior movie going experience. We are very proud to add this animation milestone to the long list of technological breakthroughs for the studio, and we are especially thrilled to work with entertainment technology leader Dolby in this exciting launch. Likewise, we are proud to have the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic to help deliver the movie in 3D."

"Disney and Dolby's commitment to digital cinema paves the way for a large scale digital cinema deployment," said Tim Partridge, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Professional Division, Dolby Laboratories. "Dolby is a trusted brand for providing technologies that dramatically improve the moviegoing experience, and Disney has a fantastic reputation for delivering incredible movies to audiences worldwide. This is a great collaboration between both companies to launch Chicken Little on Dolby Digital Cinema."

ILM President Chrissie England said, "The digital 3D release of Chicken Little is a very exciting chapter in Hollywood history as it marks the next generation of moviemaking. We are delighted to participate with Disney in setting a new benchmark for the future. We are pleased that Chicken Little is the first animated movie to use our new process using Disney's actual 3D models, animation, and camera data. This process allows us to provide a richer, more nuanced viewing experience for moviegoers than any existing postproduction techniques. We feel audiences will embrace this experience as the new standard in animated features."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Use 'Em Then Dump 'Em

CG features seem to be starting to follow the live-action trend of setting up for a specific project, then dismantling everything...

Except for the big studios that are creating movie after movie (Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks), it seems that companies are keeping lean and mean. Bulking up for the project then letting everyone go afterwards. There is no other way that these $20 million features can exist. (Unless they are moving immediately onto another movie project. And that is not easy for a new studio to do.) There is most likely going to be enough down time inbetween that there is no way they can continue to pay employees to play solitaire at their workstations.

This works for live-action films because... well.. it just works. It could work in animation, but production crews don't seem to get rolling or gel'ing until a movie production is coming to an end anyway. If you lay these folks up and try to re-hire for the next project, you are risking many things. First off. Will the employees that were dumped in the street even want to come back when they have a chance to move to a studio that cares more about long term multi-project hiring? It makes sense financially. Or it seems that it would on the surface. But with all the retraining and restaffing, infrastructure buildup. It isn't exactly as easy as a live action film.

The Ever Increasing List of Feature Studios

The list of those jumping into the CG feature game has got to be at its height. I'm hearing about new a new studio almost once a week now. Simply incredible. The budgets seem to be getting lower and lower too....

I read a press release from a studio in Florida called "Raven Moon". Their goal is to create a CG feature for 1.5 million! Yes, that decimal is in the right place. It doesn't appear that they have distribution yet. They expect to make $25M return. Super low budget films have their place. And if they can pull it off, $25M is a huge return. Surely the marketing would have to be more than the whole budget for the movie itself!

Let me fire up the calculator. If the production takes 12 months to complete (yeah right!), and you need 40 people to complete the movie (again, "yeah right!"), you end up with an average salary of $37,500. Anything is possible, but these guys are really expecting 1.5 million to go far. And I didn't even account post-production, voicing, composing, etc, etc, etc, etc. Their accountant must be far sighted.

The latest trend in most of these new studios is creating a film between 20-30 million. That is certainly doable if everything goes smoothly. However you better have pretty simple requirements. Twenty million gets eaten up fast. Don't make any mistakes. Bwaahaha

Since the money spigot is obviously flowing freely, if any of you rich visitors to this blog would like to fund a CG film, please contact me at I'll take your $10-$50 million and get together a few guys and come up with the next block buster. If your going to throw some dollars around, throw them my way. :o)

Friday, June 10, 2005

List of Animated Movies

"Fesler" posted a comment for one of the blog entries I made. It was interesting enough to post a reply and see exactly what we have in store for us in our animation future.

Fesler posted a list of upcoming animated movies. To put an interesting twist on it and to piss some people off, let's play CG FILM Word Association. For those of you that have never been to a psychologist. This is where you blab the first thing that comes to your mind when given a name.


Foodfight -- Probably will never be finished. If so, will never see a theatrical release.

Surf's Up -- Interesting premise. I'm looking forward to this one.

Valiant -- Didn't do very well in Europe. Will do even worse here in the states.

Chicken Little -- So far, it looks good and could help Disney regain some shine. If it does poorly, look for Disney to freak out and fire more people.

Happily Never After -- Lower quality, not excited about this film.

Delgo -- Read comments for Foodfight.

Water Warriors -- I think Henson was doing this by motion capturing puppets. Stupid way of animating a CG film. Just for that fact, I hope it fails.

Ice Age 2 -- Not sure of the premise for this movie. I'm sure it will do okay. Hopefully the story is better than Robots.

Barnyard -- Stinker. Almost as smelly as a real barnyard.

The Wild -- Lots of technical trouble on this film.

Over the Hedge -- Did they fix the story problems?

Ant Bully -- No comment.

American Dog -- Optimistic.

Where the Wild Things Are -- Dead.

Yankee Irving -- Died along with Christopher Reeves?

Horton -- Not a fan of Dr. Seuss.

Day With Wilbur Robinson -- Originally the project that everyone jumped to when they wanted off of Chicken Little.

Jimmy Neutron 2 -- Please tell me this franchise is dying.

Cars -- I'm sure it will be good.

Spider and the Fly -- Sounds like a good time for a nap.

Flushed Away -- Intersted to see what they do with this.

Gnomeo and Juliett -- Did this die yet?

Bee Movie -- Jerry Seinfeld. It must be good! hah

Igor -- Interesting story. Probably will look like crap and end up as a DTV.

Opus -- Wild Brain. Mixed feelings. Hope it turns out nice.

Crood Awakening -- Sounds funny.

Rapunzel Unbraided -- Directed by a guy that probably hates CG.

Pixar Rat Movie -- Who doesn't love rats? :|

Shrek 3 -- Enough already.

Toy Story 3 -- Ditto. But still intersted to see the fist fight between Pixar and Disney.

Ollie the Otter -- Oh boy. I will be surprised if this gets a theatrical release more than a few theatres.

Kung Fu Panda -- Who wouldn't like an ass kickin Panda?

Puss and Boots -- Best character in Shrek 2.

Ribbit -- Vanguard tries again.

Space Chimps -- Interesting. Probably a flop.

Amarillo Armadillo -- No clue.

That concludes today's word association. Boy, wasn't that fun? :D

Open Season

For those of you that did not get a chance to see the Open Season teaser before Madagascar, it was released on the web a couple of weeks ago.

If you click on the link from above, you can check it out. Overall I was disappointed by the effort. Now, before anyone goes crazy, I know this is only a teaser and not an indication of how wonderful the film may be. But, you have to judge what you are given.

The look and animation far surpasses Jimmy Neutron or what we will see from Barnyard and the other animation properties we'll see from studios we've never heard of. However, I hold Sony Pictures Animation on another level and expect them to be the closest competition to Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks that you will find.

So what is my problem with it? First off, the colors are completely murky and depressing. The animation is okay, but nothing to get excited about. I'm especially disappointed with the acting at the end with the bear and the deer. The lipsync lacks a crispness that makes me feel like these characters are not talking. It is obvious that the animators are using IK for the deers arms, because they forgot to animate some movement in a couple of places and reeks of some sloppy execution. It just is a few levels below what I would expect from SPA.

As far as voices? Ashton Kutcher is a horrible choice for a cartoon. The bear doesn't feel right to me either. I just don't feel a connection between the voices and the characters.

Do I have anything good to say about it? Yeah, as a matter of a fact... The story sounds promising and the bear's character design and technical execution is nice. The human character looks good (and works far better than any of the animals, imo).

Hopefully this teaser was rushed and the final product will be better animated. Right now I'm sitting back and feeling a little disappointed.