10 Oscar Animation Takeaways from the Nominees

This year’s annual round-up of animation Oscar nominees at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater provided a few personal insights into “How They Did it.”

Oscar Week at the Academy threw together the nominees for shorts on Tuesday (hosted by Sean Astin) and features on Thursday (hosted by “Frozen” directors Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee). Rites of passage and storytelling challenges were common talking points, but the discussions came alive when they divulged their eureka moments.

1. Big Hero 6: In Don Hall’s quest to find a unique, huggable robot, he discovered his inspiration while visiting Carnegie Mellon, where the robotics team had perfected inflatable, vinyl bots for health care assistance. Baymax was born and Hall had the linchpin for combining a story about grief with a superhero origin subplot.

2. The Boxtrolls: The ambitious Dickensian look had to match the characters and it wasn’t jelling for director Anthony Stacchi until he recruited head of story Graham Annable to be co-director. He had a wonderful handle on the trolls, thanks to a successful test, which became the most intricately designed puppets in Laika history. The result was the perfect blend of steampunk, rich decor and Monty Python-inspired antics.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 2: Turning a popular franchise into a more ambitious trilogy required a tragedy to propel the reluctant Hiccup to accept his role as leader of the Viking tribe. As inspiration, Dean DeBlois drew on the loss of his own father at the age of 19, which forced him into taking on the mantle of adulthood.

4. Song of the Sea: Tomm Moore believes it’s important to pass on his folkloric Irish heritage to a new generation to keep the storytelling tradition alive. But it wasn’t until he and his son discovered that seals were being killed by angry fishermen that his story crystalized with greater urgency.

5. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: For his Studio Ghibli swan song, Isao Takahata wanted to make an antithetical statement against the tide of CG by stirring the imagination with hand-drawn pictures with lively, expressive lines, wash coloring and flat surfaces. But it would have no meaning without exploring why the princess hates her life and longs to return to the Moon.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Movies, Oscar, Shorts, VFX, Virtual Production

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