A Behind the Scenes Look at Wes Anderson's Latest Stop-Motion Feature 'Isle of Dogs'

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. 

    

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12 Comments

Brad Harris's picture

I couldn't tell what kind of cam they were using in the shots - anyone know?

thomas Palmer's picture

Looks like a Canon 5DSR to me (0:32)

Johnny Rico's picture

1dx mark I , 3:06 white * top left of bottom rear LCD screen.

Michael Holst's picture

"... expression just because it can be done, or never has been done, doesn't mean it should be done"

Interestingly applies to internet comments too!

Anonymous's picture

You tell Michael to get off the internet, and then talk about being tolerant of other people's views. C'mon.

It's his view that not everything needs to be commented on on the internet. That's his opinion. Let him have it.

Anonymous's picture

Yes you did. And you’re wrong about what he said as well. Did he try to get you kicked off a forum, or recommend you consider geting off the internet? No. Then he tolerates your opinion. But he can say what he wants; he doesn’t have to censor his own opinion to appease your sentimentalities or your definition of what is acceptable to say. That is intolerance.

Otherwise, I’m so happy to see you’ve had a change of heart and now wish to stay on topic in general.

Personally, I’m impressed with the craft of stop motion, but it’s jerky movements normally pull me out of the film, so I’m not a fan. Wes Anderson is a wonderful storyteller, however, and his style suits the medium. I defer to his talent and experience, and his decision to film a movie as he pleases.

Thoughts?

Michael Holst's picture

What an ironic comment... I was just stating a fact.

Michael Holst's picture

I'm glad I have your endorsement. See you in 2020?

Peter Timmer's picture

I actually think it's very hard to replicate this in CGI, there's a certain type of movement and flow in stop motion which is created by real hands and puppets that can't be replicated that easy.

I also think making this is CGI would probably be way more expensive. Lets compare Fantastic mr Fox from 2010, 40 million production costs with toy story 3 also 2010, 200 million production costs.

Wes Andersons style of filming is perfect for stop motion. I really enjoyed fantastic mr Fox and i can't wait to see this film

Arber Elezi's picture

Lol?!!! What a Hard Work, well done Guys!

Michael Holst's picture

Ugh I can't wait for this. I loved Fantastic Mr Fox for it's animation.

Peter Timmer's picture

me2! What i loved about it is that i didn't know it was a Wes Anderson movie when i started to watch it but even in the first couple of minutes you recognize his style and humor. I'm really looking forward tot his movie