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With a very generic 'Making of' in the title, let us see if all the usual checkpoints are present and accounted for: Producers explaining the difficulties of computer animation? Present. Animators playing guitar on the side? Check. Storyboard artists acting out their art during story meetings? Does just about everyone stress the totally uniqueness of this movie, it containing so much stuff that's never been done before, and how difficult rendering hair, faces and clothes in 3D animation really is? Of course they do. What makes behind the scenes of a big budget animated show (read: motion picture) different is:Brad Bird. He's a raving lunatic who never shuts up. This man basically is Syndrome, the arch villain of the piece. They say Mr. Incredible has elements of Bird as well, but I only see Syndrome. They even sound alike and use the same speech pattern. Just look at the guy: even during serious meetings, he is drawing attention away from the speaker (producer John Walker) and hogging the camera. Naturaly, they edited all of Brad's silly voices, faces and a lot of shouting together to make him appear even more crazy, or endearing, depending on your point of view. Some of the animators actually admit they find it difficult to work for him, and go on to say that if Bird had not been paired with his total opposite, laid back mumbler (and supervising animator) Tony Fucile to absorb the energy as it were, they might never have made it all the way through.
It turns out Brad was never really interested in making a computer animated picture until his college buddy and Pixar pioneer John Lassiter asked him if he had any story ideas lying around. Out of their class, BB was the last of that group to become a director, explains Lassiter, who is seen as always in front of a growing collection of Toy Story merchandising, wearing loud shirts of ever increasing size. Lucky for John, Big Bird did have a story in his head for over ten years, and because of this, found it extraordinary difficult to leave some of the stuff that did'nt work on the cutting room floor. (cue video of Bird arguing with the producer). Elsewhere on the DVD, Bird-Man mentions that each time someone came up with a change to one of his original ideas, it took a whole lot of persuading before he finally saw it their way. But the overriding sentiment of this making off remains that Brad is still a super-powered genius. Lest you think the whole half hour is wall to wall Brad, rest assured: a special mention goes out to the three supervising editors on the picture, collectively known as the Three Caballeros, three more or less computer illiterate traditional hand drawn kind of guys brought in by the Bradster so he would not be alone amongst the tech-no nerds.
Of course, no Pixar production could be complete without a gentle a sideswipe at Dreamworks: Tony Fucile claims they used caricatures of people, because they are more believable in animation than 'realistic' humans. Still, this is nothing compared to statements made on promotional material released when the Incredibles was first released, which had the Pixar people pretending Shrek, Final Fantasy and all other non-Disney productions were never produced, saying this was the first computer animation film ever that starring actual humans, with actual hair, wearing real clothes and all. One animator living in complete denial claimed the only CGI clothes they had ever done before was one shirt in Monsters Inc. But you know, what they say: healthy competition brings out the best in people. And with Brad Bird at the helm, they have to 'use every part of the buffalo', like the Indians did.
7 out of 10 buffalo parts.
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