June 2, 2015 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Klaus, a new film in development by Sergio Pablos Animation Studios, uses traditional hand-drawn animation and secret compositing techniques to bring its world to breathtaking, painterly life.
posted by overeducated_alligator (9 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful -- but I can't ever see the name Klaus without thinking about this
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:04 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's gorgeous. The lighting is amazing. But why go to the trouble of hand drawing it in a style that looks computer-assisted?
posted by cmoj at 9:28 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is pretty remarkable. I've missed 2D, hand-drawn animations and can't wait to see this project finished. Also, Sergio mentions in the 2nd link that the animators mostly used a program called TVPaint, which I had never heard of but now can't wait to try out myself. Thanks for posting!
posted by stubbehtail at 9:33 AM on June 2, 2015

I have a horrible intuition that the big scary figure in the final shot is Santa. I'm just saying.

cmoj > But why go to the trouble of hand drawing it in a style that looks computer-assisted?

Because you can. Because maybe their techniques make it less trouble than you think it is. I'm looking at this through the lens of my animation training, and the experiments I've been doing with coaxing a "painterly" look out of Adobe Illustrator, and I would bet that the shading pass on this cartoon is only slightly more work than what was done back in the early nineties on stuff like "Lion King" or "Little Mermaid". Mostly I see a textured edge treatment on most of the shading, a section of the inked line that's colored to create a highlight, and a couple of highlights. This is not a lot for a human to draw a few lines to express to custom ink & paint software that fills it in with all the texture. And hell, maybe some of that is even auto-inbetweened, then touched up - the article says this trailer was mostly two animators.

Because it is computer-assisted. There's a few bits that're very definitely CG - every door is a 3D model; some are fairly flat, some are not - check out the one with the gargoyle, but even the first one is full of subtle dimensionality.

But mostly? Because deep in every modern feature animator's heart* is a tiny little room filled with visual development paintings by Mary Blair. There's a certain colorful dry-brush aesthetic that makes us weak in the knees. And this trailer is bringing that aesthetic to life.

Modern 3D films are also approaching that visual aesthetic. Blue Sky's "Ice Age" was the first movie that really began to feel it; their forthcoming take on "Peanuts" is a lot further down that particular visual rabbit hole. But making 3D models move and warp is a lot more work than you may think it is; to truly approach the fluidity of motion a good hand-drawn scene has, you have to sculpt and texture a bunch of extra geometry that only appears for one frame. A 2D animator has a kind of freedom that 3D animators don't. Looking at Pablos' IMDB page and portfolio shows that he's been working on some of the CG blockbusters that you're probably thinking this looks a lot like, as well as some of the later Disney 2D stuff before that imploded.

So I think the "why" comes down to "we want to make a painting that moves exactly the way we want it to".

* okay, not all of them, but definitely in that of anyone who had a career at Disney like this guy did
posted by egypturnash at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

(I am also definitely going to have to keep an eye out for the talk he's going to give at Annecy 2015 in a couple of weeks, I'm very interested to see what kind of ideas I can steal for my own experiments in achieving a painterly look with the kind of speed required for full animation.)
posted by egypturnash at 10:16 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can testify to the amazingness of TVPaint. It's what they're teaching the younguns on at Calarts these days. Aaron Blaise has some really good videos about how to use it.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:49 AM on June 2, 2015

Well, I can't see the name Klaus without thinking about this (which would take about five minutes to animate in any method).

But the animation of the teaser/trailer impressed me mightily... very detailed backgrounds and character design (although the angry townspeople confronting Klaus the mailman were pretty static as much as they were seen) and the lighting effects were very 3D making a very 'best of both worlds' look. Interesting that the story involves a man trying to introduce a new technology (the post office) in a film that proudly takes a technological half-step back. (But then, letter writing today is another 'lost art')
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:10 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

That was gorgeous – beautiful shading and colouring. I’ve always been a huge fan of animation, and it would be wonderful to see the strong point of 2D animation, i.e. (IMHO) character animation be brought back to the fore like this.
posted by bouvin at 1:22 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a hunch they are painting normal maps onto those characters.
posted by hellphish at 6:17 PM on June 2, 2015

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