I talked about Hotel Transylvania’s 2D aesthetic and its technical challenges with director Genndy Tartakovsky, VFX supervisor Dan Kramer, and character animator Bill Haller for my latest TOH/Indiewire column. It was a very liberating experience breaking rigs and tweaking the deformers.
“Starting it and not having any idea what it was going to be as the story was still being rewritten was really hard and makes you nervous,” the director concedes. “Then you know what the tone is and it becomes easier.” He was kind of like Drac in search of control. “Every week was a new challenge whether it was technical or creative. I couldn’t control the pieces as much as I’m use to.”
In fact, the technical demands of the director’s hand-drawn aesthetic nearly upended Sony Pictures Animation, especially after it achieved such photo-realistic strides on Surf’s Up and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. They worked on the fly for a year keeping up with Tartakovsky: breaking rigs and coming up with various deforming tweaks to get the right squash-and-stretch in CG. Sometimes this was simulated, other times it was customized. During one sequence in Humanville, for instance, Drac sees that one of the zombie’s heads has fallen off and he zips through the crowd very quickly and becomes snake-like.