Genndy Tartakovsky’s Popeye Film To Be “As Artful And Unrealistic” As Possible

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Walt Disney’s Tangled was how the CG animation rigs for the characters became complex enough to offer up something more like the kind of extreme expressions and bold poses more familiar in 2D animation.

Now it’s Sony’s turn to push that envelope, as Genndy Tartakovsky has gotten ambitious with Hotel Transylvania. A new piece on the film in The LA Times focuses on how this neophyte feature director asked for, and fought for, more than is usual:

Tartakovsky’s monsters stretch, squish, hover and crouch in ways that challenge computer software that was designed to replicate the real world. In meetings with the Hotel Transylvania animators, the director drew over frames of the film on a digital tablet and acted out desired poses — Dracula hunched under his cape, for instance. For animators working within the constraints of a CG model, the wildly expressive shapes created problems… For Tartakovsky, the exaggerated poses are the whole point of working in animation to begin with — cartoons, he believes, should actually be cartoonish.

And hopefully Sony are happy with what they see – though I expect just how happy they are will depend on the critical response and, even more, the box office that the film reaps on release next month.

The studio are already working with Tartakovsky on two more projects, and it seems he’s set to continue pushing CG to take on the best of 2D technique:

One will be an original idea of his (a family comedy) and the other a new take on “Popeye” — which he plans to make as artful and unrealistic as possible.

Oh, yes please. Given that he’s also massive and packs some real heft, the elasticity and amorphous flexibility of Popeye is pretty much the whole point of his design. I can’t wait to see how he translates through Tartakovsky’s eye.

It’s an exciting time in CG animation, with lots of directors pushing for new ideas, strong looks and pioneering approaches. Ideally, they’ll all build on one another’s successes, too, and the aesthetic palette will continue to broaden.

And with it, of course, the storytelling potential.

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