Comic-Con Live: Warner Brothers Animation Panel
by Alex Billington
July 20, 2006
2:05PM - Short delays for the transition from the Sony Animation panel to the WB one. Still waiting for everyone to clear out and get setup for the next panel.
Will be coverage on The Any Bully, Happy Feet, TMNT (new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Kevin Munroe - Director of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Time to start…
The Ant Bully
2:07PM - Trailer for The Ant Bully
2:10PM - Director John A. Davis, who brings out/introduces various animators and art directors from The Ant Bully.
2:10PM - John: Put together a short presentation on the process of going from a children's book into the film.
2:12PM - Short film on the production/creation. Sketches of the main boy Lucas during his development from ideas to animation tests and what look to use best for the movie. Goes from design into 3D modeling.
Early concepts of the ant design and modeling, interesting look at its progression from being "ant-like" and realistic looking into something cartoony and also similar to the style that they've created with Lucas as the main character.
2:17PM - Cheers for Bruce Campbell when they are going over the Fugax design in the presentation. Bruce voices Fugax in the movie.
Hilarious studio example of the character rigging using employees at the studio acting as animated characters and cardboard cutouts as "slider controls." Showing the obstacle course (virtually) they use to test the animation and it's construction (limbs, etc).
Rigging crowds using software to construct animation for thousands of pre-animated sequences. Combining those in order to "give a good performance."
A sequence of clips, including once he gets resized and is brought into the colony first.
2:26PM - Back to the panel for questions from the audience.
1 - What was the thought process for the name Lucas?
The character was originally in the book from the author's name.
2 - If the original author worked on the movie in any capacity and what was his input?
The rights were bought and they had free capacity… asked him (the original author) about changing things and the author said "go ahead and have fun."
3 - With regards the biology of ants, did you do research?
Yes… In the end its about performance, so "whatever serves." It's different because these ants have to both work on 4 legs and 6 legs. The joints are identical to real ants except for the first two which are switched backwards.
4 - A little kid asked that animation is a slow process, were there ever days you came back thinking you haven't progressed anywhere?
There's always some times where everyone questions whether they can do this and whether it will get done. But by the end when everything has progressed a lot, people start getting back into it and working hard.
5 - Film viewers are about novelty and originality, and we have A Bug's Life and Ants, did this effect your creative process?
When John Davis first got the book, he though that there were 2 CGI Ant films, and maybe he could change it to some other types of bugs. But then he got back to the point that there are other movies with lots of similarities (he referenced using cowboys) and themes and ideas that are always similar amongst lots of movies. And its his way to do a tribute to some of his own favorite films and is more of an action/adventure film for him.
6 - What was it like working with Bruce Campbell? (cheers/applause)
It was a great Bruce story, because he was shooting and really needed to record, and we wanted him to come to LA. So he convinced John to come to Oregon and record in his home studio/ranch out there. "At one point we were walking through the woods and [I] thought, 'I'm walking through the woods with Ash.'"
7 - A beginning animator. What can I do at home to get into this field?
A fancy rig isn't needed for animation, just make sure you have a simple rig and fantastic animation.
8 - Is there a particular culture that inspired the design for the ant colony?
Yes, a unique alien civilization that we knew nothing about. John read about tribal/aboriginal cultures and found some parallels. Tribal markings and markings on the wall were points of inspiration. Ants communicate non-verbally and there is a lot about them (realistically) that they used. | Think how ants were if they were a real society that lived below your feet. It was interesting to figure out ways to differentiate the ant world and the human world.
9 - Are you work with Steve Oddekar?
No, worked with Tom Hanks and his company.
10 - How much input did Tom Hanks have?
Tom was really involved in where the movie starts and goes, and then once a second script was drafted, just said go for it.
2:40PM - No more audience questions… Film is opening in IMAX 3D on the same day of regular release.
2:42PM - Transition over to Happy Feet. Sad to see The Ant Bully leave a bit early because of no extra questions.
2:45PM - Trailer and a montage of exclusive clips from Happy Feet being shown before the start of TMNT.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)
2:49PM - Kevin Munroe!
2:50PM - Kevin: We had to convince everyone that this is not a show just for 8-10 year olds, and looking out at the audience prooves that is the case. Whenever we would show them a fight, the reaction would be that this is "unlike anything Ninja Turtles" has shown before.
They wanted to have the debut here at Comic-Con, because animation is a genre, not a medium. He wants to stop talking because everyone wants to see the Teaser.
2:53PM - Teaser trailer debuts in 10 minutes on Apple.com! The trailer is really quick, mentioning that (originally) the CGI is only the same turtle, but no one will notice the difference. But in this trailer they've now done it with all 4 different versions of turtles.
2:54PM - Teaser Trailer!! Description (it'll be out momentarily anyway): Tall buildings in a city, flying backwards through it to show a silhouette turtles on the roof. They jump around and start flying through the air and across roof tops. Jumping over roof tops. Lots and lots of flying through the air. Each lands on the ground in an alley and does a cameo of their weapon types and some fight moves. One falls into the dumpster. Cops show up and look down alley where they landed. Sewer closes saying "TMNT." 3-30-07. Lots of cheers!
2:58PM - There will be 5 minutes of exclusive clips for the attendees soon.
2:59PM - Audience Q&A starts.
1 - As a fan of the entire series and everything, what will we see?
This is the next step in the theatrical version in the series. We don't ignore the fact that Part 3 happened, but there's little hidden jokes specifically for fans in the movie (from animated and comic-book and everything).
2 - Praise for the trailer, made his experience. Didn't really have a question. Seems like designs are based on the classics.
Talking about the story shortly, and what they wanted to get. They really wanted to go back to the classics.
Splinter confirmed! He will be in some footage.
3 - Do you feel you have to live up to all the fans?
Yes. Tells a story about meeting Peter and getting his comic book signed with a signature that said "make a good movie or else." Kevin says its got a long history (30+ years). Having Peter as a co-pilot, because he has an authority and can help prevent them from going out too far and also knowing when to push it and when to push something to the next level. Should be able to watch this movie like it's in the same universe and in conjunction with the other original movies.
4 - Was there any temptation to makes this as a drama as opposed to action film?
No… Turtles is to John, a really elusive mix of action and comedy. It's character based comedy… we never deny there is a humor side to the Turtles. We really want to make sure characters have dimensions.
5 - Is Vanilla Ice still in?
"Robin Williams is doing all the voices - don't blog that!" Kevin makes a joke. The voices for the 4 turtles are all NOT celebrity voices - so that it doesn't ruin the experience. They put all 4 turtles in the same studio for recording so they could interact and read off of each other. For Splinter - the voice is Mako. Update: in an unfortunate coincidence, Mako passed away on Friday - news source.
6 - No Corey Feldman?
7 - Does Casey Jones still have something going on with April O'Niel?
Yes, they progressed their relationship to the next stage. It's classic Casey, it'll be really fun.
8 - Thought it died years ago, John Woo was supposed to be involved, is he still?
Kevin says it was just a rumor, but he doesn't know too much.
9 - What kind of universe are you looking to create?
A realistic universe… it's "realistic," but the idea is that it has to be some believable reality. It's the first movie like that.
10 - Is shredder going to be the bad guy?
No, he's not the bad guy. They might continue the series on, sequels, and more. "Might" is the word he used. Even from the beginning, Shredder wasn't supposed to be anything like a Darth Vader. They do have Kirai. There will also be a cool hint as to what comes next at the end of this.
11 - Is there going to be any "human on turtle action."
Kevin says: "Security…!" Hahaha…
3:18PM - Time for the Comic-Con exclusive clip.
Splinter talking about wisdom/history. All kinds of footage and montages. CGI footage. Talking about "brothers you shall remain." Footage of new bad guy in all kinds of armor. Grey scale footage of sword fighting scenes and action. Car chase sequences. Early Donatello (orange) footage of him being in a costume of himself at a birthday party. Showing more animatiomation models of the bad guy. Facial tests of the turtles. Muscle tests. Fight tests in grey scale. Lots of test footage, LOTS!
3:25PM - Last question: is it a different music direction… or… conceptually?
Marco Beltrami doing the score (Hellboy, T3 composer) - currently working on themes. A big Turtles orchestral theme that he is working on and pushing for. Julian Jordan is the musical director - picking songs that naturally match.
"This film is in very good hands." Lots of applause.
3:26PM Wrapping up, finished up. That's all for WB.
March 30th, 2007 Release
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