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Doing It For The Art / Animated Films

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  • Just about any film made by animator Ralph Bakshi. He made his films very personal and gritty to contrast to Disney's obsessiveness with slickness and escapist entertainment and to combat tired, dumb cliches and perceptions of what cartoons are in general. He believes animation is a tool that can handle any kind of story, idea, technique or genre, and stresses the importance of content in films, and doesn't remotely care if his animation "works" or not, as long as he tries or has something new to say with the medium. He also adamantly stresses that polish and perfectionism only robs a film of raw energy and vitality, seeing it as a crutch to hide weak, stale ideas (he sees this as a flaw of Disney films and their followers, which he thinks are so overworked, over refined until they're perfect, that he finds them impersonal and boring). He discarded pencil tests and retakes not only for money reasons, but because he trusted the veteran animators to know he expected creativity and professionalism in their animation rather than perfection. And one time, when one artist came up to him pointing out a minor continuity mistake between two layout drawings (specifically, a key switching hands between the drawings), Ralph proceeded to chew him out in front of the whole studio, basically telling him he was wasting his time on irrelevant details, instead of what's really important to the film.
    • While there have been some projects he's done just to keep money flowing, those were just so he would be able to make the projects he really wanted to do, rather than just make a quick buck for its own sake.
    • The DVD commentary of his features, Wizards, mentioned that 75% of the entire movie was animated by veteran Tom and Jerry animator, Irv Spence, and his work was the only reason the film was able to be completed in the first place.
  • Pick a Pixar movie, any Pixar movie. They had to tone down the water for Finding Nemo because it was too real-looking. Pixar mentioned that they learned during the filming of Toy Story that the story has to come first. They had a 60% or 70% finished movie when they sat and watched it... and were revolted. With a deadline looming scarily close, they tore it completely apart and made the amazing movie we know today.
    • Speaking of Toy Story, Toy Story 2 was originally intended to be direct-to-video. But Pixar actually set out to make a movie that was just as good as the first, and Disney milked it with a theater release as a result. Pixar is very well-known for this.
      • For the third TS film, they could have had any actor play the now-grown Andy. Instead, they tracked down the original actor, who had basically retired from acting at that point, to reprise the role. In fact, there's nary an other Darrin in sight in the third film - everyone is voiced by the actors who voiced them in the first two, excepting for Slinky, and even then it was because his original actor died. Special mention goes to Don Rickles, who was 84 when he voiced Mr. Potato Head for Toy Story 3.
    • Originally in WALL•E, the story had it that EVE got electrocuted by AUTO instead of WALL•E, and WALL•E fixes her while in the Garbage Chamber. A preview screening caused Andrew Stanton to realize it didn't fit the emotional flow he wanted to convey. Despite the fact that the scene was 95% complete and the film was only a few months away from release, the animators started from scratch and completely redid the scene, so that WALL•E was electrocuted, and EVE's motivation was about helping WALL•E, rather than just achieving her directive, which makes the story better.
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    • When a director completes a film at Pixar and has finished promoting it, they usually take a year off to relax and perhaps find inspiration for their next film. After Finding Nemo was finished, Andrew Stanton took a small team of writers and artists and spent that year planning the general story and working on the design of the characters of WALL•E, so he could work without deadlines or pressure.
    • In fact, here's something from John Lasseter concerning that:
      "Yes, we worry about what the critics say. Yes, we worry about what the opening box office is going to be. But really, the whole point of why we do what we do is to entertain our audiences. The greatest joy I get as a filmmaker is to slip into an audience for one of our movies anonymously and watch people watch our film. Because people are 100 percent honest when they're watching a movie. And to see the joy on people's faces, to see people really get into our films... to me is the greatest reward I could possibly get."
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    • For Up, the producers actually flew the animation team to Venezuela, to the mountain range that serves as the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the film. The crew went on an exhausting (and potentially life-threatening) all-day hike up the mountain, but it was worth it for the magnificent views they got at the top, which inspired most of the film's imagery. Then a sudden storm rolled in, and they were trapped on top of the mountain for hours, while strong rains and wind slammed them. Eventually, a helicopter was able to rescue them.
  • In a related vein, many animation buffs feel that Disney Animation after John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took over fall under this trope. They killed the direct-to-video "cheapquels", resurrected hand-drawn animation with The Princess and the Frog, and noticeably improved the quality of the studio's offerings across the board (compare Brother Bear, Home on the Range, and Chicken Little to Tangled, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Wreck-It Ralph). In the recent Disney renaissance, the animators at Disney have been pushing the limits of animation and CGI fare beyond what's necessary to just tell the story. Their most recent films are showcases of animating things either considered insanely difficult to do or done with a complexity not previously seen before: hair (Tangled), snow/ice (Frozen (2013)), cityscapes (built from a complete city design) (Big Hero 6), fur (Zootopia), and water/ocean (Moana).
  • Walt Disney himself as quoted on the main page. Despite relinquishing himself from the animation process early on in his career, he helped push the technology and art of animation to new levels, such as making the first synchronized sound cartoon and first Technicolor cartoon. His debut feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was considering extremely risky at the time for being the first ever animated feature film in the United States (though not the first animated feature film in the world— that title goes to Quirino Cristiani's 1917 work El Apóstol); people thought it would be a huge failure and that animation couldn't be long enough for a feature-length film. Snow White became a huge box office success at the time, which gave Walt enough money and success to produce Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi, all three considered classics that still hold up today for the intense amount of detail in the animation, high artistic merits (especially Fantasia) and the impressive special effects for the time. However, those films did not make enough money to keep the Disney Company financially afloat, so they had to make wartime cartoons for the United States in World War II, as well as Dumbo, a much safer film. Walt never made another movie as ambitious as Fantasia again (though Sleeping Beauty was close). If Fantasia had been an economic success, who knows what else Walt would have done.
  • Believe it or not, Felix the Cat: The Movie was an example of this. Say whatever you want about the quality of the movie, but it really was a labor of love by Don Oriolo. The Felix the Cat series was all but dead by the time it was released (to where it only had one license to its name), and his dad, Joe Oriolo (who was the show-runner of the iconic 1960s Felix series) was too ill to make a new Felix movie, so Don, who had previously planned to just work in the music business instead of taking a career in drawing, took it on himself to get a Felix the Cat movie made just to carry on Joe Oriolo's legacy (and also the legacy of Felix's creator, Otto Messmer) and revitalize interest in the character. Even in spite of its helter-skelter quality and box office failure, it at least succeeded in its goal of getting people interested in the Felix franchise again.
  • The Sinbad animated film team went to an incredible amount of effort to make sure that the CG models for the ships and cities were accurate to a tee, once again for a film intended for children.
  • In the Fall of Gravity is an extremely well-animated short that is made by this trope. The whole film was done by one guy, who did everything from the sets to the figures he's animating. What's more impressive is that he built facial mechanisms never before seen in stop-motion specifically for the film, controlled by cables instead of wires or replacement mouths. it really must be seen to be believed.
  • Nick Park's Chicken Run and his Wallace & Gromit shorts.
  • The Prince of Egypt was a huge artistic undertaking for DreamWorks. For example, there were 1,192 scenes in the movie. 1,180 of those scenes featured special effects. And not just things like fire tornadoes or the Red Sea parting (that 7-minute sequence alone took 318,000 hours of rendering), but wind, sand, rainwater, and lighting. The animators also spent two weeks traveling around Egypt to get a sense of the architecture and art style for the film.
    • The writers consulted with over a hundred religious officials from varying sects to make sure they got as close to the heart of the story as possible.
  • Coraline. As if the sheer amount of Fridge Brilliance and Foreshadowing in the writing isn't enough, apparently the animation is good enough that many uninformed people thought that it was made with CGI.
    • For Coraline, they made more than 20 puppets, each one taking months to make. And since it uses puppets instead of clay, they had to make thousands of mouths that they painted individually and replaced between frames.
    • The average production speed is only seconds a day, assuming no mistakes are made. The film is 100 minutes long.
    • The garden scene? The mice circus? The theatre with hundreds of Scotties? They did all that in stop-motion. The mice circus alone took 2 months to animate.
    • Most of the flowers in the garden scene really lit up. It's not digitally enhanced.
    • The lady who made the costumes actually knits them, using the same techniques that would be used to make full-sized clothing but with needles the size of human hairs.
    • The hair for the characters had to be "injected" one by one.
    • The scene where the Other World "disappears"? They did that in stop-motion too.
    • They wanted to shoot the movie in 3D, but the sets were too small to fit 2 cameras side-by-side. So what did they do? They shot each frame twice from different angles with a single camera. The result was a movie with some of the most highly-regarded 3D effects ever.
  • 9, both the short film and the long film. The short film's CG looks rather rough, but it's still clear that Shane Acker put a great deal into it. The feature film's CGi is equal to, if not better than, that of WALL•E. Everything has detail. Everything looks convincingly real, especially the monsters. However, many film critics accused Acker of doing it too much for the art and not enough for the story, though Acker has stated multiple times that the film has a very big emphasis on "showing, not telling". He and others who worked on the film also note in the DVD Commentary that they didn't care if anyone else didn't like it; they were making it for themselves and that was that. Whether or not this worked for the film is up to the viewer.
  • Don Bluth was always all about doing it for the art. He probably wasn't expecting to make much off of Banjo the Woodpile Cat when he began the side project from his garage while still working for Disney and barely had the budget to cover its production, and his mission while making The Secret of NIMH was to bring the quality animation from the golden age back to the cinema. He succeeded... for a while at least.
  • The Secret of Kells, especially since it's all about medieval art in the first place. And it shows.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: Dear Lord. One doesn't spend 28 years trying to get a movie made unless he's sure it'll be worth it.
    • The Recobbled Cut, made by a fan, fits this too. It's a close approximation of what the original film would have been like. It uses the original audio, rediscovered footage, unfinished animatics, and even rough sketches to flesh out the runtime.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, the directors proposed the famous rope bridge fight and were delighted at seeing the animators blanch at the idea. That was because that meant that such a scene had never been done before and it's that attitude that helped create the film and made Dreamworks Animation grow its beard.
  • The 2006 independent animated feature Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss. Ex-Disney animator Phil Nibbelink, disillusioned by the "big industry merry-go-round", decided to spend 4 1/2 years of his life to make this film, drawing all 112,000 frames of animation by himself, by a Wacom Tablet onto flash. The voice acting was all handled in a recording studio he built in his own basement. He also deliberately made the film a G-rated kids flick to contrast to the lack of such animated films coming out at the time. This may have ironically been the film's undoing, since Nibbelink was so insistent on doing the film himself that there was no one around to assist with the story, resulting in a very messy and saccharine plot and characters and a poor critical reception.
  • Jorge Gutierrez spent over 14 years trying to get The Book of Life off the ground. In addition, he also wrote the film's art book and animated all of the 2-D sequences by himself.
  • The original plot for Zootopia was scrapped and reworked from the ground up just 9 months before the intended release date (Nick was the original protagonist). That didn't stop the studio and the dedicated creative team from producing a film with incredible animation or storytelling, though.
  • Blue Sky Studios's original films may not have much going for them, but the studio almost always puts their best foot forward when it comes to an adaptation.
    • Horton Hears a Who! came along after Dr. Seuss's widow declared that all future film adaptations of his work would exclusively be animated, as a result of the widely-panned Cat in the Hat live-action movie. As such, they worked to adapt Seuss's visuals to animation in a way that also stuck when Illumination took on The Lorax a few years later.
    • The Peanuts Movie had several of Charles Schulz's relatives on board, with his son and grandson being among the writing team. In addition, the animators made the effort to make their CGI look as close to the original television specials as possible, by not utilizing motion blur and giving the movie an overall 2.5-D aesthetic.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas required an entire production studio to be built up from scratch in four months and took over three years to film, utilizing up over a dozen sound stages, a phenomenal amount of space. It was also a technical innovation: a special motion-control camera was created to allow for more sweeping cinematography.
  • While Next Gen is a decent film in its own right, it serves as a testament to the power of Blender Foundation's flagship open source animation software. Almost the entire film was created using software that anyone can get a hold of completely for free!
  • "Sanrio Animation" (aka "Sanrio Film") was Sanrio's animation studio that was not only dedicated to making film and short adaptations, but would also make some animated films (and occasionally live-action) usually referred as "Art Films" in order to be taken more seriously by the general public. Outside of cameo appearances from some popular Sanrio characters (such as The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and A Journey Through Fairy Land), Sanrio Animation explicitly avoided focusing on Sanrio characters in order to be taken more seriously by other animation studios at the time. While the studio was active between 1977 till 1985, it's fondly remembered in Japan for pushing the limits of children's films, decent animation, and memorable musical scores. Their film adaptation of Takashi Yanase's Chirin no Suzu and both film adaptations of Osamu Tezuka's Unico series (The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico in the Island of Magic) are their most beloved works.

Alternative Title(s): Animated Film


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