February 3, 2023


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Del Toro, Selick, Yuasa and more in their animated movies

9 min read

In 2022, animated features used different techniques and looks to tell their stories, such as stop motion for “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” and Henry Selick’s “Wendel and Wilde”. There were more mainstream CGI features and 2D also made a bit of a splash. diversity We spoke to some of the animators behind the film about their artwork.


When Fleischer-Kamp first began designing his main character for “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” he did extensive research on the science of cuteness and came up with the idea that baby mammals often have wide eyes and heads that are disproportionate. Their body relations are large.

“I thought there were no wide-set eyes except one,” says Fleischer-Kamp. “We’ve done a bit of a redesign for the feature and made it a little bit more, but it’s basically stayed the same.”

Helmer’s tale of an outsider in search of home seemed a perfect fit for stop motion, with all its quirky, unique charm. He could never imagine speaking through any other medium.

“(Stop motion) is such an old craft and so much has stayed the same for so long,” says Fleischer-Kamp. “I think for whatever reason, in the digital age of special effects and visual effects it’s one of the last things to be disrupted and reinvented. Now we have really easy and low lift access to things like rig removal and that makes the process easier, but also increases all kinds of applications and opportunities for stop motion. By ‘Marcel’ we were doing a lot of research and figuring things out. It was kind of unprecedented because I think ‘Monkeybone’ was the last time something like this was attempted in a feature, which was before people grew up in after effects and editing software. It made me feel that there is a lot of great potential for combining stop motion techniques with other types of techniques, not just stop motion. And in ‘Robin Robin’, I think I saw the use of layers for the first time. Basically, every shot in that movie, I think 15 layers. So, I think it’s an indicator of what’s to come and I hope it’s a new revolution in stop motion.”

Guillermo del Toro

Del Toro has spoken many times about his relationship with his father and how it spills over into the movies he loves and the films he makes. “Pinocchio” wasn’t completed until five years after his father’s death, but the influence is still there, deep in the storytelling.

“For a lot of people who see what you do, you’re a director and you have a filmography but, for you, you’re a person and it’s a biography,” said del Toro. “We really have family albums for the world to see. Some say, ‘This is how I vacationed in Yosemite.’ We say this is how the last decade and a half has passed. This is how I spent the last 1,000 days shared with an incredible group of artists. I think when you tackle a film with artists who understand how deep it is for you, you make it deeper for them. Management deepens the experience for everyone. That’s really it. People depend on you to be an inspiration or a traffic police. You can say more magenta or less magenta, more cyan, or move these here. You say what this scene is and that’s what the doll should feel like. How are you going to show it? Tell me a little about it. And you take the time to talk to the animators as much as the artists.

“So, I think that when my father was kidnapped, and we rescued him in 1998, something changed. He came out very fragile. Suddenly I saw him as a man, not my father.

“The second big moment was in his last days, when I was able to sit next to him not feeling like a monster, but a person, and I understood things on an instinctive level. And these are the things you ask yourself and yourself in public, like in the movies. with [“Pinocchio”]You know, and as one of the great mysteries of the universe, we have to see each other and love each other.”

Peggy Holmes

As a helmer, choreographer, screenwriter and dancer, Holmes worked on “The Pirate Fairy,” “Secret of the Wings” and “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas” before “Luck.” It is within Skydance Animation that he finds opportunities to learn from fellow artists and refine his own work.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be at a company where I can actually work there and develop stories with the people there,” Holmes said. “I think the unique thing about animation is that you create a studio with a lot of artists and you start creating stories within that studio. Different artists are working on your different stories. This is a great opportunity for more people to tell their stories. And that’s the idea that in animation, you want to create an animation studio and a community of artists, that grows and develops over time, and you get to be a part of that community. Maybe that’s really where the animation makes a big difference. You get a lot of guidance as you develop stories within the company. The studio is investing in artists and putting together creative teams and investing in artists to see what can come from writing or creating ideas or being attached to a project. That’s where it really allows artists to thrive.”

Holmes likes the opportunity to work with groups of artists who exchange feedback on the work. He feels he learns from watching others grow their projects and from day-to-day discussions about how story and animation are coming together.

“You’re looking at other artists’ work and you’re looking at their films and progress and it’s not always easy,” Holmes said. “I think it’s a lot easier to learn something when you’re watching someone else’s film than yourself, because it’s so hard to separate from what you’re doing.”

Nora Toomey

Irish animation helmer and co-founder of Cartoon Salon, Tomei created the acclaimed “Wolfwalkers” and his latest work as a director is “My Father’s Dragon,” a 2D animated adventure. As someone who took up animation early in his life, he thinks the medium appeals to a certain type of artist.

“I often wonder about animation in general what kind of people it attracts,” Twomey says. “To draw, you have to be able to listen. You have to be able to see yourself properly and you have to be able to make space in your brain for things that are unexpected and not normal, that are not what you would expect. I think in animation, a There’s more openness. Not to say that’s always been the case. Even when I started 25 years ago, I think I was one of four women in my year in college. I think I’m the only one of those four still working in animation. is doing, but I’ve seen that change over the years. Now if I go into a university classroom, it’s mostly women. My crew on my film was mostly women and many of the top jobs in that film, like art director and head of animation, were women. It’s not usually going to be what you had 10 or 15 years ago. And it’s so much that I’ve started to take it for granted. I’ve always wanted to be a part of stories that are a little bit different, and I think by having a crew like that. People who aren’t a certain age or a certain gender or come from a certain background, you get more voices and more interesting storytelling.”

Henry Selick

As an iconic voice in stop motion, Selick has been dedicated to the medium for decades. With his latest, “Wendell & Wild,” he partnered with Jordan Peele to create a story about grief and loss and parent/child relationships, which he refers to as “Needle Drops,” selected from the Afropunk catalog. The film is the latest unique story in a long line of quirky, definitive stories.

“I was an animator at Disney drawing a lot of cute little things,” Selick says. “But I’ve been involved with stop motion for a very, very long time and I’ve always been drawn to stop motion. For ‘Wendel and Wild,’ we’ve got a PG13 rating right up front, which is important. We asked for this in our contract because we wanted to be able to explore things a little more than what happens in most American animated films. There are plenty of animated films where the parent is absent or the child is an orphan but they don’t go as far as we do – where the child carries this guilt and feels responsible for the death of the parent. This was new. It was hard to deal with in the story but it needed to be there. I think a lot of people think that kids can’t handle something like that in a story but often they can. We should give them stories that get to where they are, as they see the world. And animation isn’t just for cute children’s stories that always have a happy ending where all is well. You can tell stories that are complicated, that don’t have stereotypical happy endings, that are complex. Stop motion is also great for this. It is a medium that has many imperfections. Movements are not as smooth as CG. It’s very organic and really has the signature of each artist.”

Masaki Yuasa

A Japanese animation helmer and co-founder of animation studio Science Saru, Yuasa has worked in both film and television throughout his career. His most recent work, “Inu-oh”, is based on Hideo Furukawa’s novel “Tales of the Heike: Inu-oh” and follows the friendship between a dancer and a blind musician. Yusa spoke with diversity To discuss his vision of animation through a translator.

“I’m in animation because the first job I got was animation,” says Yuasa “It is true that it is a place of endless possibilities but it is not easy to build. Not everything is easy to do when you make an animation film or show, so there are some limitations to what you can do as an individual, but I want to continue directing animation with an eye on that endless possibility. I hope to make more animation features and make them better than before. I also want to go into different media like YouTube and I want to try doing projects for a kind of planetarium-style theater. here [in Japan] Everything surrounds itself with images. I am also interested in VR. So, I will continue to produce like film and TV but I want to try to challenge myself with those different media. If I have some new ways that I can entertain people, it could be streaming or movies, or more innovative ways of entertaining people, which I find more interesting.”

Although he keeps an eye on working in new mediums, the challenge of telling an ancient story in “Inu-Oh” still fascinates him.

“I wanted to portray what life was like at that time and 600 years ago, and because of animation we can do that much more realistically,” says Yuasa. “I wanted people in today’s world to understand so I needed to have a more exaggerated art form to give a similar feeling to the people of that time.”

Mark Gustafson

Gustafsson’s work in stop motion was legendary from the start. Early in his career he worked on commercials featuring California Raisins. He later began working on features starting with Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” He is now the co-director of “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” where he collaborated with Guillermo del Toro for much of Pandemic on a feature that took 10 years to make.

“You can’t immediately be objective about the film you’re making, and you have to know that it takes time to be objective about what you’re working on,” says Gustafson. “When you’re making it you try to keep your distance as much as possible because you have to make a lot of choices that have nothing to do with making the film. Practical decisions about schedule and budget. It’s part of the discipline of making a film like this to understand that your ideas have to serve the story as opposed to some instant gratification for you. You have this moment of, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea!’ You get that all the time. And then you realize, I can’t do it because I have this big thing that I have to respect.

“The pandemic was actually, in some ways, a blessing for us because we were able to just refocus on the story without the weight of the production going on behind us. Everything slowed down so much that we took a breath and Guillermo said, “Okay, let’s see what we’re making.”

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