Wes Anderson's latest animated offering looks set to be another visual feast. In this video by Entertainment Weekly, we get to take a peek at how the animators created such detailed characters.
Anderson is probably best known for his quirky characters and oddball goings-on. And, while some find his offerings a bit pretentious or "weird," love them or hate them, it can't be denied that all his movies have superb art direction. To me, this is most evident in his meticulous choice of color palette, seemingly representing the gamut of the pastel world. Also, there's always a slightly warmed, vintage toning to the treatment, which lends itself to the costume and set design. This video, however, is less focused on those more obvious and common aspects of Anderson's movies; instead, we are given a backstage pass to the magic that is stop-motion animation.
Still to Life
The various animators, directors, and producers, talk lovingly about how their ideas are brought from conception to screen. The Producer, Jeremy Dawson, explains that if the animation isn't up to scratch, then it doesn't really matter how good the set design is or how well the puppets are made. It is, after all, the animation which brings everything to life, and, as Animation Director Mark Waring tells us, they aren't just making the puppets move, they're trying to get performances from these inanimate objects.
What seems to set this apart from most other stop-motion animation is the attention to detail in the faces of the characters. They were all hand sculpted but they also have a replacement face system for the humans, the details of which give extra life to the subjects. The dogs are also lip-synced and their eyes are made bigger, presumably to give the animators better scope for emotion. But, as we are told in the video, one of the hardest aspects of animation is to give a character a walk. To create the various walks for the dogs they had a "database of dog action" (recording of live dogs) with which to mimic from; while, for the human characters, working with Anderson, they started making LAVS (live-action videos), so the animators could use those as templates.
From emotions to comedic timing, it really is very difficult to fathom how these amazingly talented animators bring such life to these motionless puppets. In my mind these people are wizards, so I'll certainly be going to the cinema to see this. What about you guys; is Wes Anderson's dry, oddball humor your bag? And, if not; would consider going just to bask in the kaleidoscope of pastels, and the fluidity and range of the animation? Let us know in the comments below.
Isle of Dogs is set to be released on March 23rd.