Saturday, May 11, 2013

Belated updates, and Frankenweenie stuff

It's been too long...

So here's a little update. I work for DreamWorks now, currently at the PDI/DreamWorks facility at Redwood City. In other news I'm leaving San Francisco for LA after a tumultuous two years that have seen many highs, but just as many lows. I'm working on a completely awesome project for the mighty Kevin Lima, and I couldn't be happier! To celebrate I'm posting this very unhappy sequence from Frankenweenie. Sparky has just been killed in a car accident, and as is the title of the scene,  "Victor Grieves".

Part One:
Frankenweenie was an interesting show in that the wonderful Allison Abbate gave us an enormous amount of creative freedom. Initially we had very little direction in terms of camera or acting- beyond paying homage to classic monster movie camerawork, and always under the mantra "Do not fall back on animation tropes". As a result we were allowed to completely invest in our scenes. Here is an early version of, what I think at least, was one of the more important early scenes in the film, setting up Victors loneliness for Sparky. Any sequence in an animated film will go through many iterations on its journey from script to screen, so a lot of stuff plays differently to the final film. This is probably "take" three or four of what was (I think) about fifteen takes. It was absolutely one of my favourite scenes to work on in my career, and one of the few that remained true to what I envisioned when I first started boarding it.

On a side note, there's a part of the scene where Victor feels isolated and numb to the world, and his surroundings change while he remains catatonic with grief. I'd always thought that the way to shoot that would be to shoot the Victor puppet in front of a green-screen and then plop him digitally into the various locations in post-production. Boy was I wrong! Trey Thomas told me that this was one of the single hardest shots to achieve as they shot that whole thing- location changes and all, in camera!! Watch it again and shut-yo-mouth!

 Part 2
This part of the scene was largely adapted from the original short film. I used key angles and cuts from that version of the scene, only really expanding upon it to include the other kids who are more featured players than in the short. I kinda looked at it as my Gus Van Sant "Psycho" remake moment. In the finished film a lot of the action is completely reimagined, but I think it's interesting to show this version as it represents where we began.

Also, pretty much none of the "extras" were designed at the point in the production this was drawn, so a lot of the BG characters are lifted from Dean Roberts' scene from earlier in the film where we meet Mr R for the first time.