My version of the female character of Don Bluth's East of the sun, West of the moon and Thumbelina.
-This project was canceled back in 1982 because of financial problems.
The Fairy Tale (wikipedia)
The White Bear approaches a poor peasant and asks if he will give him his youngest daughter; in return, he will make the man rich. The girl is reluctant, so the peasant asks the bear to return, and persuades her in the meantime. The White Bear takes her off to a rich and enchanted castle. At night, he takes off his bear form in order to come to her bed as a man, although the lack of light means that she never sees him.
When she grows homesick, the bear agrees that she might go home as long as she agrees that she will never speak with her mother alone, but only when other people are about. At home, they welcome her, and her mother makes persistent attempts to speak with her alone, finally succeeding and persuading her to tell the whole tale. Hearing it, her mother insists that the White Bear must really be a troll, gives her some candles, and tells her to light them at night, to see what is sharing her bed.
She obeys, and finds he is a highly attractive prince, but she spills three drops of the melted tallow on him, waking him. He tells her that if she held out a year, he would have been free, but now he must go to his wicked stepmother, who enchanted him into his shape and lives in a castle east of the sun and west of the moon, and marry her hideous daughter.
In the morning, she finds that the palace has vanished. She sets out in search of him. Coming to a great mountain, she finds an old woman playing with a golden apple. She asks if she knows the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon. The old woman cannot tell her, but lends her a horse to reach a neighbor who might know, and gives her the apple. The neighbor is sitting outside another mountain, with a golden carding-comb. She, also, does not know the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but lends her a horse to reach a neighbor who might know, and gives her the carding-comb. The third neighbor has a golden spinning wheel. She, also, does not know the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but lends her a horse to reach the East Wind and gives her the spinning wheel.
The East Wind has never been to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but his brother the West Wind might have, being stronger. He takes her to the West Wind. The West Wind does the same, bringing her to the South Wind; the South Wind does the same, bringing her to the North Wind.
The North Wind reports that he once blew an aspen leaf there, and was exhausted after, but he will take her if she really wants to go. She does, and so he does.
The next morning, she takes out the golden apple. The daughter who was to marry the prince sees it and wants to buy it. The girl agrees, if she can spend the night with the prince. The daughter agrees but gives the prince a sleeping drink, so that the girl cannot wake him, and does the same the next night, when it was the price of the carding comb.
But trying to wake the prince, she had wept and called on him, and some imprisoned townspeople in the castle told the prince of it, and the third night, in return for the golden spinning wheel, the princess brings the drink, but the prince does not drink it, and so is awake. He tells her that she can save him: he will declare that he will not marry anyone who cannot wash the tallow drops from his shirt since trolls, such as his stepmother and her daughter, cannot do it. So instead, he will call her in, and she will be able to do it, so she will marry him.
The plan works, and the trolls, in a rage, burst. So the prince and his bride freed the prisoners captive there, and took the gold and silver, and left the castle east of the sun and west of the moon.
- New concepts from two of Don bluth's canceled projects. Both seemed promising and beautiful.
Beauty and the Beast
-Read my article about this film H.e.r.e.
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
We all have some peculiar habits and unusual passions and so when I was a kid, if there's something I've always loved to do just before going to discover a new animated film at the cinema (usually a Disney classic), it was to go to a toy store to buy all its merchandizing items having to do with it. Usually, they would be dolls bearing the likeness of the characters that I would buy so I could raw them over and over to get better and to get a sense of 3D in my drawings. This brings me to talk about my doll collection of Disney and non-Disney characters that I now own for many years. I have about two hundred of them locked in a discrete window closet somewhere in my house (sounds creepy enough to you?) and I very rarely take them out of there since most of them are hard to be found nowadays and are even considered as genuine pieces of vintage collection.
I will begin by sharing with you my doll collection of independent animated films and later (if this one is successful) I will devote another much longer article to my other collection, dedicated to the characters from the Disney universe.
THE KING AND I (1999 / Playmates)
- Royal Prince
- Musical Anna and King.
- Royal Princess Tuptim
- Basic Tuptim
- Ball gown Anna
THE SWAN PRINCESS (1994 / TYCO)
- Prince Derek (2 outfits)
- Basic Princess Odette
- Royal Wedding Princess Odette
THUMBELINA (1994 / DAKIN)
- Basic Thumbelina + Basic Thumbelina MIB
- Princess Bride Thumbelina
THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998 / HASBRO)
-Queen and Baby Moses
-Tzipporah (aka Cipporah)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER + FERNGULLY, THE LAST RAINFOREST
- Snow white doll ( Including Royal Wedding outfit )
- Basic Crysta (aka Krysta) doll.
PRINCESS SISSI (1997/ LANSAY)
-Basic Prince Frantz
- Horsewoman Sissi
-Basic Princess Sissi
- Ball gown Sissi 1
- Ball gown Sissi 2
- Ball gown Sissi 3
ANASTASIA (1997/ GALOOB)
- Basic together in Paris , Anya.
- Dreaming waltz Anastasia
- Loving memories Anastasia
-Skating Princess Anastasia
- Paris Elegance Anastasia
QUEST FOR CAMELOT + TOTALLY SPICE
- Dream seaker Kayley
- Basic Totally Spice "Sam"
TITANIC + STAR WARS
- Collector "Rose Dewitt Bukater" - Galoob
- Padmé / Amidala - Hasbro
This is the first step of my drawing of Beauty from the canceled project "Beauty and the Beast" by Don Bluth and his friend Gary Goldman.
A few months ago, I've been able to discover a small independent animated short made by a very talented young lady. Her name is Liron Pe'er and she had enough passion in her heart to produce, direct and animate her own film called "Lady Ice". This film is a brilliant and beautiful example of what artists should be able to do to show their love for the industry.
I've been inspired by both the film and the gifted artist behind it and so I asked her a few questions about the production and she was kind enough to give me the answers that I was waiting for.
1. Can you tell us more about your background and your passion for animation ?
I was born in Israel in 1980 and I am still living here. As far as I remember I always drew, but frankly not professionally until I was about 18! As for animation, well - ever since I saw Disney's The Little Mermaid when I was 9 years old ,I fell in love with Disney movies. As I got older I wanted to be an actor and I even majored in Acting during my high school years. But I also had a place for drawing in my heart and kept drawing all the time. After high school, I went to the army (that's what all the people in Israel have to do at the age of 18 - men and women, I'm a woman btw) and thought about my future. I knew that I loved acting but an actor's life is really hard and I didn't think I had the personality for that, and I also loved drawing, plus I'm a great Disney fan, so the best conclusion was to combine Acting + Drawing = Animation.
A year after I was released from the army I applied to the animation program at Bezalel, Academy of art and design in Jerusalem. I majored in classical animation, and graduated with honors in 2006. I started working on “Lady Ice” in mid 2004 as my final project for the academy, and later on this short work became my own personal project .
After graduating, I started working as an animator at the Israeli studio of an American animation company called “Animated Storyboards” , and about 6 months later I was sent to the company’s studio in Bangkok, Thailand, for two months to manage and supervise the animation department there. During my last four months at the company I managed and supervised the animation department in Israel. At the end of 2008 I left the company after two years, because I realized that my true passion in life was classical animation. I dedicated most of my time in 2009 to working mainly on my “Lady Ice” project ,and so after about five and half long years, working on it mostly in my spare time, it was released in 2010. Ever since then I’ve been working as a freelancer creating different kinds of art, all related in one way or another to animation.
2. How did you come up with the idea of directing your own short animated film ?
A: Lady Ice was supposed to be my final project for the 4th year of my animation studies. This is what you basically do in the 4th year. The movie was supposed to be about 3-4 minutes. I started working on it with one of my classmates . Since he didn’t like doing the animation part and I didn’t like doing the backgrounds, we thought we would form a perfect team. Since we were two of us , we thought we could make the film a bit longer and so we went up to about 6 and a half minutes. Unfortunately, my classmate dropped out from the project before the end of the year and I ended up working with two other people (so I wouldn’t finish it on my own). The teachers knew the whole story so they made me pass basing only on the rough animation, which WAS ready and done on time; my part was actually done on time! After I have finished school , I didn’t want to throw away all the hard work I did on the animation, so I worked on it little by little, only on weekends, holidays etc since I had a full time job at an animation studio. That’s why it took me five and a half entire years to complete this project.
Most people don’t get it, but actually I never “wanted” to direct my own movie, it was just a final school project I had to do, but since I’m not a quitter and I always like to finish what I start no matter how long it takes and how hard it is ;I put my heart into this project and turned it into a personal short film.
3. Can you tell us more about the production of the film ?
A: I hope you are referring to the general process of the production. If not please be more precise with your question and I will answer it again:
- We built up a storyboard and edited it in Premiere to get the timing. Here’s an inside info: The original timing btw changed a lot while I was working on the animation, this was due to my lack of experience but as I kept on working, I acquired more experience to create better timing for the scenes. That is why the WIP version on my website is shorter than the final version.
- Then there was the character design and drawing a model sheet for each character. Here also we decided on the “ART” of the movie – how things will look, the color scheme etc.
- Then we drew the layouts for the scenes that needed layouts – these are the ones in which the characters have contact with the background. The rest of the backgrounds were drawn directly on the computer.
- I also shot some reference using myself as a guide for complicated scenes and analyzed them for my animation. Disney is doing it for all their movies, it’s very common.
- Then I started working on the animation. I used a light table and paper. Then in the computer I used a program that could hold a lot of files and then I played them ,one after the other.
- I started with easy scenes in order to study the characters. This is common when working on an animated film, because if you work according to the timeline, then the beginning of the movie might look worse than the end for example, because you DO get better as you work on it.
- Line test - I tested my animations by putting the frames into the computer, so I can edit and play them.
- When the animation was ok, I scanned everything again and prepared for cleanup.
- Then I cleaned up each frame on the computer. This means the process of going over the rough lines with a new clean line. A tiring process ,I must say.
- Then I colored the scenes in Photoshop.
- Then I completed creating and animating all the SFX – fire, freezing stuff, snow, backgrounds, etc.
- Once I had all the elements ready I edited everything in After Effects – there I added all the fogs, clouds, shines, glows, motion blur, camera movements, timing, holds, zooms, fades, etc .
- After exporting all the parts, I attached everything in Premiere - and the movie was done!
4. What are the best things that you've learned while you were working on the project ?
A: First of all, my animating skills and technique have improved a lot. I had the chance to animate various things, such as men, women, kids, animals and special effects. I also learned After Effects by working on the film (I never used that software before), I became an expert and gained a lot of experience, which is really great for my resume. I also improved my skills in photoshop and premiere and had the chance to experiment and solve problems that had taught me a lot. I also made A LOT of mistakes, and learned from them. I believe that you gain more experience from mistakes, trails and errors that will help you in the future. So I believe the bottom line is just the fact that I finished this film as a much better animator/artist/creator than when I started it, and that’s a huge gain.
5. What are the most difficult aspects of working on a project like this one ?
A: Hmmm.. it depends on how you look at it. On one hand the fact that you basically need to do everything by yourself could be really frustrating and hard. I mean, you are the director, animator, character designer, editor etc and even the publisher and marketing. But on the other hand, and that might just apply to me, you have complete control over everything, and if you are an organized person like me, it actually makes your life a lot easier. You choose what to do, how things will look like, and you can count on yourself 100% and not be stressed by other people’s mistakes, incompletion and nervous breakdowns.
But it is definitely a huge project for one person and it can “grow a few white hairs on your head” if you know what I mean. Being aware of all this, I carefully choose when I am offered new commissioned projects and I carefully explain to the client the amount of work that it requires to be done (since ,unfortunately ,they are usually simply not aware of that fact).
6. How did you come up with the final design of the backgrounds and the characters ?
A: As I mentioned before – I started working on this project with another guy and therefore I admit that the backgrounds were not created by me. I only completed a small amount of them after the other guy quit, so the whole design is not mine. As for the characters, we both kind of designed them together. We wanted Asian/Oriental looking characters (because we both love how they look) so we wanted the main character (his name is Sen) to look Asian. But we also wanted to give the film’s location a sense of “it can be anywhere, anytime”, so the main character’s parents are from two different races and Lady Ice herself is, well, like a
spirit. You really can’t pin-point from which race the characters are and where all this is happening, I know that each fan has his/her own associations, and that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve.
As for Lady Ice herself – since she’s the spirit of winter and represents nature, I wanted to give her the feeling of a never ending cycle and regeneration, since nature is always changing and growing. Thus I made her hair always moving, parts detaching and growing back, all the time ( blaming myself for that when animating her, he he) and the bottom of her dress transparent, as if she is growing from the earth itself. Also her “dress” is like a part of her body, you can’t really tell if she has a dress or if she is naked.
The Beast (yes, that’s his nickname) is a mixture of several animals. We wanted to create a mythical kind of a creature. He is the only living being that can be around Lady Ice and does not freeze to death. He’s her sidekick from all times and that is why he is loyal to her till the end.
7. As you are already working in the world of animation now, do you prefer working with the traditional hand drawn technique or the 3D technique ? What do you think will happen to 2D animation in ten years ?
I’m currently working as a freelancer creating Animations, Character Design, Concept Art etc. I had the chance so far to work on several projects, including Hand Drawn Flash Animations for SweetIM company, a project pitch titled “Locke and Ki”, associated with 4th Dimension Entertainment company, creating illustrations and Character Designs on demand, a Mentor and assistant to an animation student on a project entitled “Eclipse” and I give private lessons in Animation.
Before being a freelancer I worked for 2 years for a company called “Animated Storyboards” creating 2D flash animation.
But my real main goal is to work for a large studio, preferring Disney ^_^, so I will get the chance to work on a full feature film, focusing on my own character and not worrying about all the other aspects an animated production has.
As for 2D against 3D – I will ALWAYS choose 2D!!! I hate doing 3D and rather quit being an animator then working on 3D, and that’s the honest truth. As I mentioned before, for me animation is not just the acting, but it’s also the drawing and expressing yourself through a drawn line. So I just have to have the control over the final result, I hate moving just some dots and letting the computer fill in the rest.
But I am aware that 2D has been having problems in the last few years. Yet, this conception is also not completely true, since the far east’s animation industry is just growing and creating tons of classical hand drawn animation all the time. It is only the fact that the west has decided to transfer its 2D productions to the far east for financial reasons that is “seems” that 2D is going away from this world, when it’s not. Most animated series out there are 2D, and some are of a very high quality. Although Disney gave up on 2D for now, Miyazaki is still creating beautiful high quality Hand Drawn animation every year or so. And I also wish to point out that the concept that “2d is more expensive than 3d” is also false. I just happened to check this issue not long ago and I discovered that it’s actually much more expensive to create a 3d movie than a 2d one. It’s only the fact that 3d movies MAKE more money that is causing the studios to quit on 2d and create 3d - not because it is cheaper, but just because it makes 500 million $ instead of 300 million $, go figure this out!. And I invite you to check this yourself : just compare on Wikipedia the cost and gross of 2d and 3d movies, it will take 5 minutes of your time to find out the truth.
Bottom line – I will never quit on 2d and fight to the end to create beautiful high quality 2d animation that a lot of people today miss so much.
8.What are the projects that you are working on right now ?
A: Unfortunately, I’m currently not working on any new personal projects. The work is just too much and I have to make a living. Maybe one day I will feel the urge to create a new movie or find the funds to do it, but for the time being, a year after the release of Lady Ice, I’m more pursuing my professional career than my personal need to create.
As for commissioned projects, some are brewing right now, but nothing serious so far. I have started working on a project called “Locke and Ki”, which should be a pitch for studios to pick up and create an animated series from it, but that is really at a very early stage now. I was contacted by several people regarding creating short animations or short animated music videos and such. Again, nothing fully in production right now, but who knows. And of course I also draw characters and illustrations on request and of course as a freelancer I get the chance to work on something else that is new every week or so.
9. where is your movie "Lady Ice" available ?
Lady Ice is currently available to watch online on the Lady Ice official website. Just log on to:
it is also available for purchase in a 2-Disc Collector’s edition packed with bonus features, behind the scenes and other shorts of mine, plus a signed dedicated poster and 4 lithograph postcards. Purchase is available only online through the Lady Ice official website. More information is on the website as well.
The film has also participated in three festivals so far : Black Bear Festival, Red Stick Festival and Anncey Off Festival, and there might be more on the way.
This small, unpretentious Japanese film is part of the list of animated films that have rocked my childhood. I discovered it when I was about eight years old, long after the popular version by the Disney studios, and in spite of my unconditional love for Ariel and her red hair, I could not help being unfaithful to her from time to time.
For those who are not familiar with this film, it is a much accurate and faithful version of Andersen's tale so, nothing is censored and one can even say that few other dramatic effects were added to it.
The story begins when the youngest princess of a kingdom of the undersea discovers a statue of a handsome young man in the middle of a shipwreck. She falls under the spell of the statute which gives her enough motivation to swim up to the surface to discover the world of human beings that appears very magical and enchanting to her . It just happens that she will be saving the life of that very same young man (a prince!) represented by the statue. A few days later,she decides to go to the sea witch to trade her own voice for legs ..
Before discussing the positive aspects of the film, I must say that it suffers from a lot of weaknesses, starting with the fact that the dialogues are somewhat simple and at times even ridiculous as well as from the fact that the prince is a real retard.
- "I cannot find the girl that I love so I will marry you!"
Then, the animation is also simply hideous, everything is slow and lifeless; the only thing that you would feel like doing is to shake the characters in the background who remain there still smiling like morons while the main characters in the forefront move. The general aspect of the film seems in fact very old and it does not hold anything memorable. The settings are sometimes nice,but there is nothing special or unique about them.
The truth is that the real weakness of the film is its translation into the English language ;it is simply atrocious, but I mean absolutely atrocious. The girl who dubs Marina actually dubs nothing at all ,she only reads her text and does absolutely nothing except demonstrate an obvious lack of talent and vivacity. So if ,from the very beginning ,the heroine is already extremely naive ,well the film obviously takes a real blow of being old and somewhat idiotic.
So please do watch the movie in Japanese or better still ,in French or Italian ,since they provide a very nice speaking and singing voice for the heroine and the rest of the cast.
Another weakness of the film is that one has the impression that the minor characters are there just for the sake of being there; in fact one of the worst characters in the world of animation is in this film ;it takes the shape of a completely dumb diabolical cat that can speak and who seeks to kill the heroine without any good reason to do so. In addition, we can also mention the lack of presence of the sea witch on the screen who, in spite of her rather intriguing design is only seen twice along the way;this leads us to believe that the real antagonist of the film is .. .a cat!
Apart from all this, the main positive aspect of the film is actually its music. Indeed, the romantic , sweet and melancholic melody fits the story and is often repeated but in different ways. As for the score, it is discreet but memorable for it supports the action in a very light and impeccable way.
What is also worth mentioning about this film is that it is easy to follow the story; it is straightforward and it is told in a brief and efficient way. We can also notice the obvious attachment that a viewer can have for the heroine who, despite the lack of cheerfulness and audacity that is found in Ariel, she comes to seduce us thanks to her sincerity, her naivety and her unconditional love for the unknown prince. Indeed, Marina is the center of the film and manages to keep being its star even though she is quite naive and silent most of the time. I cannot really explain what touches me about this little mermaid who is quite lost and absentminded as even the animation does not really give her a variety of expressions yet there is something that makes me identify with her and her innocence which is on the limit of stupidity.
Moreover, one can notice that she is given a rather neat and cute design even though it is quite simplistic.
(Model sheet Marina's sisters)
(Model sheet Marina)
(Model sheet Marina)
As for other positive aspects of the film, one can mention the choice of not hiding the mermaids’ breast.This could be considered daring for an animated film for children, or totally insane and indecent. What is also interesting to notice is that the Americans are the only ones to have censored the film during its (wretched) DVD release. Indeed, all the scenes or shots showing the heroine's and her sisters’ breasts were cut off, giving a weird shift in the film editing . This is not the only detail worth mentioning: one can also notice that some dialogues in the movie are also missing, including the famous and hilarious "Oh, SHE'S NAKEEEEED!".
" Oh.. BUT SHE'S NAKEEEEED !!! "
Among other positive aspects of the film, one can say is that the original tale is respected and frankly ,it gives a good feeling. So, YES to the end, Marina , unable to kill her prince , to find her mermaid appearance , she sacrifices herself and throws herself off a ship. At eight years old I was not traumatized by this ending; I might even have preferred it to that of Disney. It is true that there is something genuinely disturbing about it but Marina’s sacrifice and true love for her prince makes then sense.
Finally, I do recommend this 1979 film that happens to be surprising and comes to prove that one does not need hundreds of millions of dollars to make an efficient and memorable story and movie as well.
The director of the independent animated feature film "The princess and the pea", Mark Swan, was kind enough to answer some of my question about the project.
To read my review about the film and find some storyboards and model-sheets etc, Click here !
How did you arrive on the project ?
Feature Films for Families had collaborated on a couple animated films with Pannonia Studios in Hungary but called Tiny and Tiny Heroes about a little dog and some rabbits. These were very low budget made-for-video movies. Feature Films for Families (FFF) wasn't completely happy with the quality.
The studios, then ,approached me about directing a new film they wanted to do about the famous fairy tale,Princess and the Pea by Handersen. It was an idea of Forrest Baker, the owner of the company. Forrest Baker specifically wanted to do something like the old Disney classics (a similarity you noticed in your review of the film) and they intended to do this film and others using their connection to Pannonia Studios in Hungary.
(French vs American Dvd cover)
How did you feel about directing this project as an independent filmmaker and as it was your first animated film ?
Well, I was excited because it was my first chance to direct a film but I did suggest to them that since nobody in Pannonia had worked on that high level of theatrical animation that it might be better to train and develop the crew on something simpler with animals as the main characters because doing the realistic animation of a princess and prince like Rollo and Daria is some of the hardest animation to do well. But they wanted to proceed with Princess and the Pea first anyway. And I couldn't turn down the challenge.
(Spanish book based on the film).
Could you tell us a little more about the production of the film ?
I spent a lot of time in Hungary looking at portfolios in Pannonia and searching for the best animators and layout artists and background painters we could find. When we had the best crew we could get assembled we spent several weeks in training and pushing their abilities, doing lots of practice animation with the characters.
How do you feel about the fact that people think that you used some of the well-known Disney gags to serve your story ?
That was a sad twist of fate for us. I had boarded the gag with the fish for a sword before Hercules came out. When we saw that in the Disney movie it made us sick but we had already animated that sequence and on a low budget film you don't have the luxury of going back and redoing expensive animation. The same thing happened with the stained glass figures coming to life. It was after we had already done a lot of work that Anastasia came out. I knew people would think we were copying even though we had come up with those ideas completely on our own. Because they came out first it looked like we had copied them.
Why didn't you give the heroine, Daria, a more important role in the story ?
I suppose there would be two reasons for that. She was harder to animate and therefore more expensive but mainly, and I think this happens even in the old Disney films that the Princess character seems to be the least interesting and entertaining even though she is necessary to the story. (We tried in the beginning to suggest that her character should be more spunky and forceful but FFF wanted her to be sweet and innocent like Snow White and Cinderella so that's the direction we went).
When you think back about the project, what impression do you keep of it ?
There is much that I can't tell you because it would take way too long about the many hurdles we had to overcome just to finish Princess and the Pea. It was a long hard process and took a great deal of endurance to reach the end. I've often said to people who worked on it with me that anyone who knew anything about animation production would be amazed at what was accomplished.
The biggest mistake we made, that in retrospect I would never do again was this-- the manager of Pannonia said we had to start production quickly or we would lose many artists to other projects in Budapest. So we rushed into production without a finished script or storyboards. Then what happened was we were writing the script and then I was storyboarding,( by myself in the beginning, until FFF were allowed me to add some extra storyboard help to the budget), to keep just ahead of the animators that needed work and trying to direct at the same time. A crazy way to make a film. (It would have been much better to have finished the script and storyboards before starting animation, but that's another discussion).
Of course, that is not the audience's job. They are just supposed to sit back and enjoy the film and it is certain that any animated movie will be compared to the big Disney blockbusters that had budgets over $100 million. In spite of the hard parts, I have very fond memories of the production and especially many of the fine people I got to meet and work with.
This blog has been quite successful since its creation and so I wanted to thank you for all your visits from all around the world. If you ever feel like giving your opinion on the articles or the blog itself, do not hesitate to use the "commentaire" option. :)
Here is a recap of all the articles that I wrote until now.
Princess Sissi. (interview)
It is interesting to note that in the world of the cinema, and more particularly in that of animation, colors hold an extremely important place. Indeed, they can immediately determine (in the eye of the viewer) what type of program or characters are dealt with as soon as the colors chosen appear in a TV series or an animated feature movie.
Nowadays, most professionals as well as fans turn away from the technique known as 2D and turn to 3D animation. Indeed, one can witness this thanks to the immense amount of animated films released made by computers and the serious lack of interest in the traditional technique which brought about several box office flops in recent years including, for example, "Atlantis The Lost Empire,"," Home on the Range "," Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas, "" El Dorado "and more recently the very fine " The Princess and the Frog ".
Apart from the tough competition between 2D and 3D, it is nevertheless important to question whether the projects developed in these two different methods are treated in the same way. Are the colors chosen based on the technique chosen or on the ability to combine perfectly the narrative and visual style?
To illustrate my point, I'd like to compare two great animation classics, namely "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" and "Tangled", which are both Disney films classified as fairy tale genres adapted from many popular stories by the Brothers Grimm. The first, namely "Snow White" is the first Walt Disney feature animation movie and it revolutionized the world of animation as soon as it was released in 1937. The story follows the adventures of a beautiful young girl who was very unhappy with her fate and had to live many quite incredible adventures before fulfilling her dreams and finding love. Similarly, "Tangled" follows the adventures of a beautiful young girl, who was also unhappy with her lot and who was going to go through some amazing adventures before fulfilling her dream and finding love. Besides the change in mentality between 1937 and 2010 which allowed Rapunzel to have a stronger personality than Snow White, the only real difference between these two worldwide popular feature films is that one uses the 2D technique and the other, the 3D technology. Apart from this, producers in both cases have ensured to produce two interesting stories that offer endearing characters, a high quality animation and a palette of rich colors that fit the fairy tale genre.
Thus, in both cases, the color codes are strictly followed. We can see that the heroines, namely Snow White and Rapunzel wear vivid and fresh colors that are appropriate for their status of pure and noble beauty. One can also notice that the colors help the characters to tell their stories. Indeed, in the case of Rapunzel, you must know that the heroine is a princess who was locked in a tower all her life, her dress is then purple, the color of loneliness and sadness as well as that of royalty and sweetness, but above all the color for dreamers and in the case of this young lady, it fits perfectly with her image of a great dreamer who longs to discover the outside world.
Similarly, Snow White wears a blue dress (color of wisdom, truth) and yellow (color of the sun, brightness and joy) these colors represent well this heroine who is so wise, innocent and pure and who brightens the world of the prince and the seven dwarfs.
As for the darker colors that may be referred to as “ambiguous” such as red and black, they tend to be used in stories for dark or evil characters. Thus, Mother Gothel, who is the main antagonist of Tangled, wears a red dress that perfectly represents the angry and dangerous side of this complex character. It is also interesting to note that no princess in the Disney universe or any animation movie in general wears a black or red dress except in very specific cases. Indeed, it is only Esmeralda during the seduction scene in the festival of fools who wears a dress that is red. One can also cite Princess Odette’s evil twin who wears a black dress as well in a ballroom scene in the independent animation feature film "The Swan Princess".
We can say that colors do not only highlight very well characters of a film or series but they can provide all the intensity to a given scene in the story. Thus, the use of soft colors or "harsh/tough" colors would depend on the emotional intensity of the action. One can notice, for instance, the high usage of different shades of orange and red during poignant moments of action in films such as "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"; there is also even different shades of blue in the important magical scenes in movies like "Aladdin" and" The Little Mermaid "; yellow is also used in the great and wonderful ballroom scene that serves as a revelation of love in the movie" Beauty and the Beast. "
Thus, one can notice that colors do not make the story but they definitely back up or highlight the narration or the action as well as the personalities of the characters. In conclusion, whatever the medium, the color palette used in a movie or an animated series is primarily based, if not solely, based on the complexity of the story and the target audience.
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Princess Sissi was 1997 Tv series that was extremely popular all around the world and was based on the life of Elizabeth of Austria. Here is a little interview of one of the main screenwriters of the show who agreed to answers some of my questions !
Can you tell us a little about yourself and about this project?
My name is Claude Scasso, TV movies screenwriter, after having worked quite a lot in animation (Marsupilami, The Odyssey, Walter Melon, Cedric ... and the feature film Pinocchio the Robot).
I have always wanted to do that job but it was hard to break through.
One day I woke up with a thought : but who writes animated series? I inquired and a friend of mine at Canal+ gave me some contacts and two weeks later, I began working on my first series: Princess Sissi.
When I arrived, a team of authors was already established and the first series of the 13 episodes were being distributed. I inherited of the episode 13; I was thrilled but I had to wait for the others' works to progress before starting to really write. Finally, my ideas were really appreciated, I was acknowledged for my work and so and I got to write more for the show.
What was the role of France in this project and that of Canada?
The episodes would have logically been written half in France and half in Canada but the fact is all the story and developments of the arches were made in France. And I was led to rewrite several times Canadian scenarios that were not up to the standard without getting credit for it.
Obviously, their authors were working too far away from our energy that was in perpetual motion; ideas did not circulate well.
The texts were reread and discussed not only in France,and Canada but also by the Italian co-producers and the U.S. broadcaster. This often led to lots of contradictory remarks: the French commented more on the structure ... The Italians wanted romance to always be present, the Canadians were not involved much and the Americans were obsessed with anything that might offend the young audiance ...
I remember one of my episodes that the Italians had found too violent and the Americans too romantic. I gathered that I didn’t have to change anything, it was perfect.
How did you create the characters and their personalities? (Sissi and Helena who were actually sisters and very close, for example.)
When I arrived on the series, the main characters were already quite defined . Much writing work had already preceded with other authors who have disappeared .Tommy, for example, was already well constructedI was surprised at the distances taken away from reality but I got adjusted to it and then from then on we continued to let our imagination flow ...
We even invented an Austro-Hungarian war that never took place but something that fascinated the Americans,who were excited about this chapter of the story. My work consisted of characterizing most of the small details about the individual characters. I was the king of the gimmick sentences on this show : “Not more complicated !" for Tina, "Ridiculous!" for Helena. the mutterings of Von Grossberg ,the animated shadow of Zottornick etc..
What were the steps to be followed and what was the average amount of time that you had to write an episode?
Honestly, I do not remember. I think that writing the 52 episodes lasted a year and a half, which is quite short. The pace was very intensive.
We wrote blindly. I saw for the first time an episode of Sissi well after writing episode 52.
What did you keep of the "real" life of Elizabeth or the films with Romy Schneider?
Whenever we were short of ideas for the next adventures, we would return to the real story ... and we would find nothing.
Indeed,We had changed too many things : Ida Ferenczy, for example, had become a Hungarian friend instead of being her lady and this was to be able to find a companion for Andrassy, who in real life was Sissi’s lover.
Of course, we kept the main places of her life but we added Paris as well, the island where her father was deported and many other crazy and imaginary things.And then we had to tell the story of Sissi’s life putting her marriage to Franz only until episode 52 ,whereas we all know it took place way before then.
As for the films, we weren’t inspired by them for the story but they were present in our minds. We had to find that romance touch that had made the success of the movies, of course.
Do you have a favorite episode?
I love the screenplay of the 13th one, but the animation of this episode is disastrous.I also really love the episodes with Prince Fritz as well as “The Quarrel” episode which is lovely because it is the only one outside the global drama. A bubble which works on its own for 26 minutes.
I also find that the two final episodes are quite successful as well. We had a great time integrating in them all the characters encountered before, each in his/her characterization.
Are you aware of any re-releasing of the show on DVD?
No but the one that exists is complete and quite descent. Yes, the image is poor but then again it has the credit of existing.
What are your plans now?
Too many ...
I just worked in animation again : two episodes for a series called "Sherlock Yack" and a lot of fiction projects for France Television.
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Quest for Camelot is an animated film made by the Belgian director Frederik Chau that was released in 1998. It is an adaption of the very successful novel by Vera Chapman, The King's Damosel and it mainly focuses on the legend of King Arthur of Excalibur and the famous round table. It was produced by Warner Bros. whose studios had already produced two commercially unsuccessful films before then.
Nonexistent namely Thumbelina (originally developed at the MGM ) and the winner of an Annie Award for best animated film in 1997, Cats Do NotDance. Yet, it is thanks to the immense success of The Lion King in 1995 that Warner Bros. started to work immediately on a new animated project in which they put a lot of hope and money initially called "The Quest", then "The Quest for the Grail ", and finally" Quest for Camelot "(the title was changed once more in England to become" The Magic Sword ").
This film follows the adventures of Kayley, the daughter of one of the knights of the round table .After the sudden death of her father,she grew up with dreams and hopes of serving she herself the people and the king of her country (Yeahhh GIRL POWA). She finds the perfect opportunity when Exaclibur, the magical sword is stolen by Ruber, a dangerous and very powerful knight, and is lost in the forbidden forest. The girl flees from her home and then comes across a dragon with two heads, a young handsome blind man and a falcon with silver wings that will help her find the sword and (of course) save the kingdom. Youyou!
It must be said the story seems interesting at first glance and the idea of love-interest for a blind character foreshadows many good things. Nevertheless, the girl is retarded and her love interest is an annoying and painful character to watch. As for the comical duo, it is everything but funny !. Ultimately, the film has no interest and does not incite the viewer to get attached to anything or anyone.
The cast , however, is quite interesting and gives several good performances. Among it is Gary Oldman (Ruber), Jane Seymour (Julianna) as well as Pierce Brosnan (King Arthur).We can even evoke the cameo of Celine Dion’s singing voice of the heroine’s mother,for a moment of a nice song but which, in reality, is completely unnecessary.
Actually, the project was supposed to be directed by Bill Kroyer (who had already made Ferngully, the last rainforest) and his wife Sue Kroyer but because of great artistic differences with the compagny, the couple decided to leave the project which was then submitted to the Belgian animator Frereik Chau who, it must be said ,didn”t exactly have a say in anything concerning the direction chosen for the film. The film also met
several problems before its release. Indeed, the script was finalized while the work had already started, several members of the team were fired and head animators and character designers left the project, including among others the Brewster couple(who worked on respective designs of Kayley and Garrett).
(Concept and Characters research by the Brewster couple)
In addition to being an artistic and critical flop, the film was also a huge commercial one as well. Thus, Quest for Camelot that had been produced with a budget of over 40 million dollars only gained back half of that amount after three months that it had been shown in movie theaters. This other new commercial failure followed closely by the flop of The King and I directed by Richard Rich (The Swan Princess) and distributed by Warner Bros. caused the cancellation of the Planet Ice project which was later taken over by Don Bluth who named it Titan AE.
(Backgrounds research by Michael Spooner)
If we can complain about the script, setting, animation, colors, directing and ,above all, the annoying characters, we can still ,however, appreciate the quality of the soundtrack, whether it is the music of Patrick Doyle or the songs interpreted by several popular artists ("TheCorrs", CelineDion, Steve Perry..) and written by David Foster and Carole Sager that fit (with some exceptions) quite well in the film. We can even point out the fact that the soundtrack gained a nice critical and commercial success therefore allowing the film to be a little bit better known and appreciated. The song "The Prayer"(a remarkable duet of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli was by and large very well received and was even nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe award as best song (Losing both to The prince of Egypt).
In conclusion, Quest for Camelot is a failed animated film with at times some very nice images and songs; it still remains,however,a perfect example of the animated "non-Disney" film which desperately tried to find an audiance and especially to make money by taking children for fools.
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La Rosa di Bagdad or The Singing Princess (American/DVD title) is an animated film by Anron Gingo Domeneghini that was released in movie theaters in1949, twelve years after Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and ten years after Gulliver's Travels.
This little Italian film can hardly be found anywhere nowadays, and in spite of the fact that the quality of the film itself is not very exquisite nor believable,and its scenerio is quite confusing ,it still remains a small classic of the animation world because it has the credit of being ableto enchant us thanks to its amazing music and its scenery of rare beauty.
The film is set in an oriental country and follows the adventures of a young music teacher who must save Zeila, a beautiful fourteen-year-old princess from the clutches of Jaffar,a powerful sheik who, with an enchanted ring ,puts a spell on her and forces her to marry him.
The film's production began in Italy in 1942 when Domeneghini, a great man in the field of advertisement, realized that the advertising world was deteriorating mainly because of political tensions that were prevailing in the world at that time. The film team then was made of many people who came straight out of the world of advertising. The realization of the feature film was given to Domeneghini with the help of the Trans-national and Irma film as well. He put Riccardo Pick Mangiagalli,a worldwide known composer ,in charge of the music and Libico Maraja that of the setting.
In spite of a great financial support and a talented artistic team ,Domeneghini had a hard time completing the film because, on one hand, he began the production before finishing the work on the script and ,therefore, met some obvious problems that had to do with the narration. Consequently, even though the film had some very nice images,it doesn’t succeed in captivating the spectator who, being quite confused, continues to follow the adventures (sometimes very doubtful) of the small white boy, Amin, who is punished and turned into an ugly little black boy for about twenty minutes. In addition to screenwriting problems, the film team was confronted with a problem having to do with expired film. Hence, although it was completed in 1946 , to the greatest astonishment of everyone ,it had to wait three years to be filmed once more in England.
(Promotion Snow white vs UK Promotion of "The Rose of Bagdad" (UK title)
It is quite obvious that there is a striking similarity between Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and The Singing Princess . Indeed, the design of the heroine ,that is ,the pretty princess Zeila is somewhat modeled on that of Snow White. Similarly, the three small comic magi in the story strongly remind us of the dwarfs who accompany Snow White on her adventures. One can even say that Domeneghini and his team did not even try to hide this fact; this director claimed out loud that film he wanted to produce the first Italian animated feature film with the same quality as that of a good American cartoon.
When the film was finally released in Italy, it was met with great success ;it was even acclaimed by critics who felt that there was an innocent ,warm, and entertaining aspect to it . La Rosa di Bagdad even had the privilege of winning the Youth’s Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1949 and premiered at the royal court in London that same year. Nevertheless, the American critics and public discovered it only eighteen years later in 1967, making somewhat fun of the director’s intentions and the artistic quality of the film itself. Nevertheless , the critics praised The quality of the Riccardo PickMangiagalli's music and the performance of the talented beginner Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music).
In conclusion, La Rosa di Bagdad is a small Italian animated film, full of flaws and inconsistencies ,but it has the credit of holding my attention with its impeccable soundtrack, a delightful Julie Andrews and its marvelous scenery.
(the new visual for the Italian DVD cover tries to attract a new audience)
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“Gulliver, who survived a shipwreck near the Lilliput Island , is taken care of by some small strange but yet cute human beings. This giant among his tiny friends will then have to face a horrible war between two neighboring kingdoms which will compromise the dreams of love and marriage that Prince David and the beautiful Princess Glory have awaited for so long.”
This film is the first animation movie by the Fleischer brothers but it is also one of the numerous adaptations of Swift's famous novel, Gulliver's Travels.
After the immense success of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Paramount decided to give the Fleischer brothers the task of preparing in great haste a film that would be similar to it. One should know that back then, the rivalry between Disney and Fleischer was incredibly fierce and tough.
The two rival studios were both very inventive and creative with on each side very attaching and amusing characters .. One can even say that some Fleischers Bros. characters were even more popular than Disney’s.
Indeed, "Popeye" and "Betty Boop" had nothing to envy "Mickey Mouse", "Minnie" or to "Donald Duck" for..
It would be wrong or at least, not entirely true to say that Gulliver's Travels is their first try with an animated feature since they had already produced documentaries including live action animated pieces of short works in the twenties, among them "The Einstein Theory of Relativity” as well as "Darwin's Theory of Evolution". Nevertheless, with this project they signed their first "real" animated feature movie.
It must be said that this crazy idea had already crossed their minds in 1934, shortly after Disney‘s announcement about Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Paramount , which was already producing at that time all the episodes of Popeye and Betty Boop, didn’t believe much in the success of Snow White and refused to produce the project out of fear of losing money.
It wasn’t until 1937, after the surprise success of Snow White that it agreed to produce Gulliver's Travels seeing to it that it would be made very rapidly, that is, in a year and a half for its release in 1939 .
A team was very quickly set up and immediately began working on the project even before the script and the look of the film were finalized. Out of fear of losing money as well as a desperate need to find an audience, the company planned to put Popeye in the role of Gulliver, but the idea was quickly rejected and finally it was decided that a real actor would be hired in order to trace his movements and give Gulliver the aspect of a real character. So ,Sam Parker was hired to lend not only his voice but also his character traits to the "giant" who,after a shipwreck, landed on one of Lilliput Island’s beaches.
The team also got hold of singers of popular radio stations namely, Lanny Ross for the role of Prince David and Jessica Dragonette for that of Princess Glory.
(Gulliver's travels- book)
As for the songs of the film, they were written by Sammy Timberg and Al Neiburg in collaboration with Victor Young and Ralph Raigner who were in charge of writing the soundtrack. Several beautiful and memorable songs were born from this collaboration, namely "All is Well", "It's A Happy Day," "Forever," "Faithful" and especially the moving duo "Faithful / Forever" which got a best song Oscar nomination that year..
When the film was released, it had a nice success and thus the two brothers were able to launch a second project. Nevertheless, Gulliver's Travels was to be forgotten over time and was even shunned by Paramount for no suitable reason. It was not until 2009 that it came out on DVD with decent sound and picture. One should be aware however that the images were distorted and therefore changing the characters, making them even uglier and more deformed than they initially were. Anyways , it would be a shame not to see it for pleasure since no other no release is planned for the time being.
(Snow white vs Glory)
Personally, I love this little unknown and unloved animated film ;I found it quite charming. It is clear that there are several defects that appear during the film such as the lack of risk taking ,for example; while Disney tried to include a real tension and a dramatic storyline in its first film, the Fleischer brothers filled theirs with gags fit for TV cartoons. So we can criticize this film for its lack of seriousness. We also do not get attached to many people except Gabby (who later became an acclaimed character of the Fleischers) and may be, the Prince David and Princess Glory couple. As far as I’m concerned, I find that Glory is marvelous even though she is of very simplistic design and appears very rarely on screen. It is worth mentioning that her design (and especially her dress) strangely reminds us of that of Snow White in the artistic research of the character.
As for the rotoscopy technique,it seems quite dull ,even ugly at times ; and the fact that the character of Gulliver is a real geek, a moralist and a singer in his spare time doesn’t do much good to the film either .
In conclusion, Gulliver's Travel is a cute and quite entertaining animated film that allows fans of wonderful love stories as well as those of Swift to enjoy a ‘lighter’ version of his novel, yet all along respectful of the writer's satirical message . This film could also be seen as a better adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet than the recent film “Gnomeo and Juliet”.
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There are projects that take time, lots of time to be developed and especially take a lifetime to finally appear on the screen. Among them are Sleeping Beauty, Tangled as well as the recent 3D animation film, Gnomeo and Juliet.
Indeed, I heard about this film way back in 2003, when it was initially supposed to be on the long list of projects to be developed by the Disney studios. At the time it was said that Kate Winslet and Ewan McGreggor were chosen for the main roles of the film but after several problems concerning time and money, the film entered in "development hell", going from one studio to another until the day of its release under ‘s Disney subsidiary, Touchstone.
(Model sheets Gnomeo and Juliet)
Gnomeo and Juliet is a story based on Shakespeare’s epic and outstanding play,Romeo and Juliet, which follows the adventures of a young gnomes couple trying to live a love story in spite of the fact that their families hate each other.
I must admit I was quite reluctant to go see it but since Juliet looked cute, I pushed myself a bit to go, by forcing a friend to accompany me just in case I would suddenly feel like cutting my veins! Finally, I discovered that this movie is not that horrible in itself; let’s just say that it's a bad 3D animation movie in which several styles are mixed together and the combination of all this turned out to be quite poor.
Some good ideas in it could be found here and there but ultimately we witness an absurd and ridiculous mixture of contemporary humor and an irritating feeling of desperate need to make the spectator get attached to the characters. From this perspective, the movie is a real fiasco : we don’t get attached to anyone; the character development is weak and sloppy. As I said earlier, the film is not so bad ;we do laugh heartily once or twice but there is no real show and nothing is really captivating , we just watch pictures parade before our eyes , wondering when will it all come to an end.
Going back to the characters, Gnomeo is so annoying and stupid that we thank God every time he doesn’t appear on the screen (SPOILER) At one time everyone thought that he was dead and frankly I felt relieved(/SPOILER). Juliet is on the whole quite interesting and her design remains delightful but then again if we compare her to Jessie from Toy Story 2, we can quickly realize that there is nothing special or entertaining about her.The rest of the cast is quite superficial and useless apart from the hilarious mower "Terrafirminator" that unfortunately appears far too rarely so as to save the film. Needless to say that the original version ends up quite violated ,practically nothing of it has been respected and where they could have at least taken chances in order to surprise the audience, ,Kelly Asbury(shrek 2)’s team, did simply nothing other than imposing a so-called romantic funny/comedy full of scenes that don’t seem to fit with each other coherently and even, at times are in contradict one another . Most of the moments that could have been quite charming,entertaining and interesting to develop turned out to be ridiculous and unjustified just like the first meeting between the two lovers that could make one cry because of its ridiculousness and of it being so kitsch.
Another example of this is the story of Featherstone ,a plastic flamingo (who is even more annoying than the birds in The Swan Princess and The Princess and the Pea put together), who tells us in a musical sequence that comes out of nowhere and that pushes one to tears that he was separated from his beloved twenty years earlier . There is a moment in the film that had a nice risk-taking twist in which one comes to believe (SPOILER) that Tybalt is dead since he breaks into pieces but unfortunately in the end, he is glued together and can be seen dancing like a fool. (SPOILER /).
As for the soundtrack of the film, we do not keep in mind anything much except Elton John’s songs that I do not particularly like but I guess the fans will be amused by all the stuff (and believe me there are loads and loads of them ) concerning him. From my point of view it is a bit pretentious of him to produce the soundtrack and pay tribute to himself but then again hey, nothing is really shocking in this world.
In conclusion, Gnomeo and Juliet is a fiasco which most certainly began with good-intentions but ultimately ends up offering nothing special , just some good moments that are spoiled by an immensely predictable script. It seems like some films in development hell should remain there!
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