June 24, 2007

Animation Magazine launches AniMag TV, interviews Coraline animator

Animation Magazine has launched a new broadband video channel called AniMag TV centred on “new animated shorts, classic cartoons, behind-the-scenes documentaries, clips, trailers and original content that brings the world of animation and visual effects to your computer screen.” Work so far available to browse includes a couple of new pilots from Atomic Cartoons (creators of Atomic Betty), Mythunderstood and Big City Birds, as well as Once Upon a Christmas Village by Dream Balloon Productions, an award-winning CG-animated short which is showing at the Cannes Film Festival.

Once Upon a Christmas Village.jpg

(scene from Michael Attardi’s Once Upon a Christmas Village; yes, I know it is May, but it is a lovely little animation of a Christmas village diaroma brought to life and can be viewed on AniMag TV)

Elsewhere on Animation Magazine there is an interview with Travis Knight of LAIKA, the animation studio who created the California Raisins adverts. Travis and LAIKA (presumably named for the first dog the Russians shot into space?) are now working on animating a feature-film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s quite wonderful tale for younger readers (and highly enjoyable to older readers too!), Coraline. Since Coraline takes place in both our world and a parallel fantasy world which she travels to (where she meets the disturbing Other Mother with her button eyes) Travis and his team considered using a mix of CG and stop-motion for the different realities, but finally decided to go fully stop-motion:

We were trying to figure out how best to do the two different worlds, kind of going for that Wizard of Oz-type moment where she goes into this whole new world and we were toying with the idea of having one side of the world be stop-motion and the other side CG. We did some tests and ultimately decided that this story is perhaps better suited to stop-motion. I’m glad we went that way. We were going to have some fairly extensive CG effects but again we decided this film would benefit from having a more hand-crafted look. There are obviously some digital elements in pretty much any stop-motion film you’ll see these days, but it’s almost entirely stop-motion.”

Coraline animated movie.jpg

(Coraline with the very disturbing Other Mother from LAIKA’s site entry on the animated film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel)

I’m relieved to read that since I think a CG/stop motion split would have been intrusive to the feel of the story and quite jarring. Besides, Neil’s tale has a delightfully dark fairy tale feel to it which I feel would be much more suited to traditional stop-motion animation than CG, in much the way as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is. I’m really looking forward to that one.

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