DreamWorks took its time when creating the Joyce story
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/17/2012 -- The project of bringing to life the Sandman has been years in the making. A group of designers from DreamWorks have been working tirelessly to bring animated life to the concept created nearly a half-decade ago.
Lore-friendly characters, whose roots stem from Euro-based fairytales will soon grace the screen. Characters that have been immortalized already in children’s tales will now take on a 3-D existence thanks to the tale “Rise of the Guardians”, based upon the William Joyce book series, “The Guardians of Childhood.”
The movie project will do its best to stay faithful to Joyce’s illustrations. However, creating the three-dimensional Sandman caused some rather specific technical challenges for the DreamWorks’ animation professionals.
“He is a very different kind of character,” said production designer Patrick Hanenberger of the character probably best known from Pat Ballard’s timeless 1954 song.
“He is short. He is round. His body looks like it is made out of marzipan, and his hair looks like cotton candy. He is not someone who looks like he is as powerful as he is in our story, but he is the most magical of all the Guardians — and he does not speak.”
“Rise of the Guardians” premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival near San Francisco and will debut nationwide on the final week of November. The story centers on Jack Frost, who joins a Avengers-esque team of mythical flag bearers such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman.
The difficulties faced with the Sandman stem from the character’s lack of vocalization, which places heavy emphasis on the ability to convey his thoughts and emotions through his facial features.
His ability to craft imagery in the sand was also a difficult task, as to animate thousands up thousands of individual grains can be a painstaking task for any animator.
Filmmakers, knowing the task of the project would be difficult, took plenty of pre-production time to develop the characters properly.
Gabe Hordos, head of character animation, noted that the extra time used to prepare was very useful.
“We often get stuck with this problem where, as animators come on, we have many ideas that kind of pollute the main idea,” he said. “Because we had nine months before we started production, we were able to iron stuff down, so once we started, we had a great idea about the characters. They changed a little less, and we played their arcs more subtly.”
The problems faced with the Sandman were not always easily answered given the nature of the used sand that he utilized. And he noted it took special care and engineering to effectively succeed in the team’s efforts.
“The complexity isn’t in the sand itself but in how many different ways we use it,” said Lindquist. “Sandy makes unicorns and dinosaurs and sea horses and all sorts of things out of sand, but he also has these streams of sand, and he stands on a cloud of sand. It’s a lot. Hopefully, when you watch the film, you appreciate that, but it’s not something you notice.”
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