Monday, September 20, 2010

Published In: ASIFA-SF NEWSLETTER November 2009

I wrote an article for ASIFA-SF's newsletter, the November 2009 issue. To see an archive of the whole newsletter go here: ASIFA-SF 11/2009

Or read below for my contribution.

3-D: LESS IS MORE by Raen Payne

With many young animators clamoring for jobs it is no wonder that Henry Selick received a round of applause from the audience when he announced that he has in fact moved back to the Bay Area at the special 3-D screening of Coraline, October 11th at the Metreon.

A fan of Neil Gaiman, Selick received the manuscript for Coraline in 2000, 18 months before its publication, “Out of the blue he sent me the manuscript for Coraline…and [Neil Gaiman] couldn’t get a publisher…it’s too scary for children and not scary enough for an older audience.” Laika was willing to produce it using the RealD projection system. Coraline was the first stop-motion film planned to be shot in 3-D.

Selick thinks 3-D is often over used in films. He didn’t want to use it all the time as a kind of gimmick. Instead he “looked to the story to guide the 3-D. We used 3-D to make the other world seem more inviting.” In the beginning, the real world looks sort of dull, and flat, whereas the other world seems a bit more colorful, more inviting. The real world was filmed using long lenses, creating a shorter depth of field, whereas wide-angle lenses were used for the other world. In addition, two versions of the sets were built. The real world sets had a physically shorter depth, while the other world uses an exaggerated depth.

Live action films are shot with coverage, but with animation, “you have to edit the movie before you make it,” said Selick. Though a lot of editing may take place before production they only “storyboarded a quarter of Nightmare. Disney storyboards the whole thing.” Preferring the imperfections of stop-motion, Selick tends to board loosely because as the film is being made a lot will change and “it all has to stay alive. I’ve gone from trying to do everything perfectly and it’s not so important anymore…leave some of the bumps in, let it breathe.”

Yet Selick also wanted to push the animation of Coraline, “We wanted to go farther than we had. You don’t get the opportunity to do that many stop-motion films.” In wanting to push the film as far as possible they chose not to use CG where it may have been a blessing to many other directors. For the circus scene, with the many mice and the auditorium full of dogs, Selick said they “were urged to make the mice and dogs all CG. If we did that, they wouldn’t be special.” Selick believes that with 3D, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” It has to serve the story.

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