Friday, September 30, 2005

Thoughts on Disney 3-D

This is pure speculation on my part, but while I was reading a press release regarding Chicken Little being projected in 3-D (w/ glasses), a thought suddenly popped into my head. What if this whole DFA shift from traditional animation to CG animation was an engineered event to open up a whole new revenue source for Disney? ...continued...

For a moment, let's pretend that Disney was looking to not only put more people in theatre seats for their movies, but potentially open up a revenue source where other film makers had to pay Disney to display their 3-D movies in those specially equipped theatres. You are probably thinking that 3-D had its chance back in the 40's and 50's. The difference is that 3D CG films is a natural use for 3-D projection. The objects all exist in 3D space, they just need to be rendered twice (one for each eye). Sure you can go back and fake 3-D to already existing live action or traditionally animated films, but it would'nt come close to CG 3-D.

The first film to showcase this new technology in mass will be Chicken Little. Disney is helping to install the hardware in some 100 theatres across the country by the time CL releases. Before Wilbur Robinson comes out (Disney already announced that it will be displayed in 3-D too), there will be a much larger number of theatres equipped. Think about it. If Disney can get their "Disney 3-D" into most of the major theatres, any other company that produces a film and wants to jump onto the 3-D bandwaggon will have to pay a licensing fee to display it using their techniques. Not only are they potentially getting more people in seats for their movies (from the "wow" factor), they are potentially opening up a new revenue source from other movie makers that want to do the same.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with Disney dumping traditional cartoons for computer ones. Disney already got beat by Pixar with the move to CG. They've got to be pissed they didn't do it first. How do you one-up the competition (and yes, Pixar is competition to them)? You go one step further with 3-D projection. You push 3D a little further. If they are going to take advantage of this new technology and sell it as THE way to display animated films, they have got to go balls out and be completely CG.

Disney is accomplishing a few things with the release of Disney 3-D and Chicken Little. First, their first full CG film. Second, their first full CG film that will showcase new 3-D technology and potentially excite more people to go to the theatre. Third, possibly opening up a new revenue source when other film companies want to release a film in 3-D and use their equipped theatres (that will require them to license Disney's technology). Sure, they are taking a risk that no one really cares for 3-D. But if people do, they are locking in a potentially lucrative niche for themselves.

Makes perfect sense to me.

A Few Tidbits

I'm tired of making excuses for the lack of blog updates, so let's just get to it. Today I'm going to just talk about a few things going on around the animation community. Just general animation news. ...continued...

First up. Iger is about to officially step in and take over for Eisner. There is undoubtedly a lot of celebration going on in the Disney Animation buildings. I'd like to be positive about the situation, but I have some hesitation to get all crazy about it. Iger seems like a chip off the old block. Let's hope he has a brain of his own. Maybe take things in a new direction and considers cleaning house a little bit. Of course the major concern for those in the animation world is the relationship between Pixar/Disney. There has got to be an announcement coming soon. It is way overdue. My view hasn't changed. I want these guys to go their separate ways. Makes life more interesting.

I heard rumors a while ago about Wild Brain losing the Opus project. It was all but confirmed by an article on AWN.COM. Part of the rumor is that a few other LA based studios are trying to win the homeless project and do the production on their first CG film. I guess this is a loss for Wild Brain, but I'm sure they will be working on a new feature in no time.

Although Disney Toons studio shuttered their Austrailian studio, they are hard at work finding animation studios in the US to do outsourcing work on their future CG direct-to-video movies. It is sad that the 2D Aussie studio closed, but I see this as good news as more work may be given to US studios instead of shipped out. They will probably continue to outsource to other countries, but if some of the work can stay here, then that is great.

The Animation News website posted some previs images of "The Wild". Unfortunately for them or unfortunately for Disney, they didn't put the disclaimer that the pictures were previs and Disney told the website to take them down. Disney should of never put the images on the "New Groove Edition" DVD to begin with. Let this be a lesson to any animation company out there. Do not release images of projects that are not fully rendered. Someone is bound to post it on a website somewhere without letting people know that they are not final production renderings. It only casts a bad light on your production. Speaking of "The Wild", this project is not a CORE project. CORE is the for hire facility creating the visuals. They are simply executing the work. This could potentially be the future business model for a lot of CG feature films. Small team made up of directors/producers/animation supervisors get the work and have it executed at some other CG facility. Although the costs of paying an existing animation facility could be more expensive, there is no expense in between projects to keep staff around. Basically, the average outsourcing mentality, but hopefully outsourcing to companies in the US.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Run Down

Keeping this blog updated has been extremely difficult. Between my schedule and sometimes a complete lack of motivation, I have let this thing slide. I don't really have a specific topic, so I'll just start typing about various things. ...continued...

  • First things first. DreamWorks has announced a whole bunch of new films. Including Rex Havoc, How To Train Your Dragon, It Came From Earth, and Route 66. You can wander over to the "Comming Soon" website to read about each of these. Personally I think "It Came From Earth" sounds interesting. Madagascar 2 is also happening. I don't feel the first one warranted a sequel, evidentially someone high on the food chain has a different opinion. The penguins from Madagascar are also going to star in their own DTV film. That is good. They were funny and probably the most entertaining part of Madagascar. The critters will also star in a short film that will be showing in from of "The Curse of the Were Rabbit".
  • Speaking of short films. I caught a glimpse of a film that a colleague of mine is working on. I don't want to name the film or the artist, because I'd rather he didn't know this was my website. I just want to anonymously say it was one of the better animated films I have seen in a while. Story and production value are extremely good. I don't normally fawn over shorts, but this thing is going to rock. I can't wait to see it finished in the next few months.
  • Seems that Sega is entering the CG film business. Why not? Everyone else and their mother is.
  • Disney is starting the marketing muscle for Chicken Little. I'm excited to check out this film and will hopefully get a chance to see it projected in 3-D (stereoscopic). A lot is riding on this film for Disney. A success puts another nail in Disney's 2D efforts, a failure will push them closer to Pixar. I'm rooting for a success. I'd like to see Pixar and Disney part company. Competition makes life more entertaining.
  • The Corpse Bride opens this weekend. I'd like to go see this movie. Nightmare Before Christmas was a favorite of mine and I'd like to see how this film turned out. CG may rule the roost, but there is always room for alternatives like this.
  • I have not forgotten about Part 3 of the Power Rankings. I'm working on it here and there, however time isn't a commodity I have much of at the time.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bitchiness Is Spreading

Someone forwarded me a link to a survey of the best and worst VFX facilities. Never mind the survey results, read the comments. ...continued...

There are literally pages and pages of people moaning and groaning about various studios. Although you have to take it with a grain of salt, a lot of it is pretty accurate from my experience.