Short Stories (Every Tuesday): Paperman

So I forgot to mention before the title card came up for Wreck-it Ralph and in true Pixar spirit, I had the delight to view Pixar’s latest short called Paperman. Before I go into Paperman, Pixar Studios got their start with highly recognized shorts such as Geri’s Game, Luxo Jr. and Knick Knack. I am certain Pixar has just as much stress on the team to make a good movie and an even better short.

A good summary direct from the words of the director John Kahrs, “how fates would conspire to bring them back together“. Paperman is about a man and a woman who cross paths on a train platform and how the lost connection is repaired.

I can easily say that out of all the animated shorts that has come out of Pixar (including La Luna), Paperman is the best made and my new favorite. The style alone is what caught my eye; a combination of hand drawing and 3D rendering has given depth and really brought something different. Compared to the high polished look of the main feature that followed it, I can only hope Pixar will learn from Paperman and explore this technique to make a unique look for their future projects.

I know I find something great when I become curious to see production. I must admit I do have a obsession with storyboards and character design sketches. Not only is the final product beautiful, but the sketches and roughs as well.

See what I did there.

Soon I will be talking about when Disney copies their own films. But I thought the main character of Paperman(I think his name was Greg) look similar to another famous face.

Sketches of “Greg” (2012)

Roger (1961)

Some food for thought, here are some videos were the director talks about the drawings. It has some nice rough cell animation from Peter Pan(1953).

Wreck-it Ralph: P.S. I love you Gamers

It seems every time a movie comes out of the studios of Pixar, the masses flock out to see. Despite that I and my friend who writes  Scarina’s Scary Vault of Scariness do agree that the animated eyes of all 3D rendered characters seem soulless, I must admit Pixar movies are very entertaining and really create a great cinematic experience by drawing the viewers into the fantastic worlds that are created.

The story of Wreck-it Ralph is about a “villain” named Ralph, bad guy/wrecker of a retro arcade game who becomes tired of the perks of being a villain; which include but is not limited to loneliness, in acceptance and overall disregard. Ralph makes the assumption that all heroes win medals, following the model set by the good guy/fixer named Felix, the “main character” of same game they share titled ‘Fix-it-Felix’.  And so Ralph sets off in hopes of winning a medal to then return to his own game to be recognized as “not a bad guy”.  Without leaving a run-away note, Ralph sneaks himself (or accidentally crashes) into new and challenging game worlds similar to the current gaming trends of hyper-realistic graphics and highly stylized characters. During the film Ralph meets a tough cookie/dynamite gal named Sargent Calhoun,  a nasty adaptable bug plague and a playful glitch named Vanellope whose role is both comic relief and the monkey on Ralph’s back. In the end Ralph learns that his seemingly annoying ability to wreck things prove to be helpful and that medals are not won, but earned.

A few side stories are put in mid-way through the film that mostly involve the hero of ‘Fix-it-Flex’, the other plots include (without giving too much away)the reaction to the games mixing and the story of Vanellope. The resolution and how these side stories tie together seem too quickly resolved, but beside the lack of heart-to-heart Felix and Ralph share, I am pretty content with how all loose ends were tided.

In terms of design, the overall animation was pretty fluid through out. The animated movement of the support characters of ‘Fix-it-Felix’ were limited which I thought was a nice touch, reflecting the limited and jagged 8bit or 16bit pixel sprite animations. However, in terms of character design, it was difficult to stylistically separate the retro game characters (like Ralph, Felix or Q*bert) from the current (Sargent Calhoun and pretty much any character that came out of ‘Sugar Rush’). Which I am sure was a conscious and mandatory style choice, since the opening scene of the Villains Support Group had a cleaned up version of M.Bison and Zangief from the popular Street Fighter game series.

Can you tell the difference?

“They cleaned me up so I would look better when I crush skulls with my thighs”

The game worlds we saw which were ‘Fix-it-Felix’, ‘Hero’s Duty’, and ‘Sugar Rush’, all seemed a bit small. The retro games I can understand to be maybe a couple of pixels(figuratively), but the newer modeled game worlds could have seemed more vast. ‘Sugar Rush’ tried to do the most justice, but if I was to tell someone after they watched the film to then draw the race track that runs through ‘Sugar Rush’ it would be a very difficult task. In terms of settings, the Game Central Station where all the video game characters commute is the most pleasing concept. Essentially Game Central Station is a surge protector where all the game cabinets of the arcade are connected. Yet within the wires and outlets the viewers find they not only supply power, but that the characters of these video games travel when the arcade is closed in the evening. Beside the viewer being able to see famous video game characters is a sort of pristine yet common setting, when we get small glimpse inside the boarding area to enter a certain game, the viewer can see graffiti hinting references to current games (“AerithLives” being the most popular scrawl).

Bound for Game Central Station

I saw Wreck-it Ralph shortly after its debuting weekend as well as after gaining #1 box office movie in America. This makes me happy. It was a sight for sore eyes to see video games such as Q*bert, Tapper, Dig-Dug even Sonic which was like seeing old friends  (Sonic would totally be the once popular guy who still tries to charm people but now it just seems forced and creepy), but I believe Pixar is speaking directly to gamers while showing the world a good film. Although anyone born after 1996 may not get most of the well placed references, there is enough comedy and action to appease a viewer who is unfamiliar and encourage curiosity.

Tapper was a game sponsored by Budweiser

“Sorry man, only root beer today”

P.S.S: Beside the main focus of video games, there was also a great emphasis on candy and sweets. When I found out the mascot of Beard Papa made an appearance I snorted in delight (embrassing…).

First Entry

Hello internet.

It has been on my mind for sometime along with getting over personal doubts and hopefully I could bring something new to the table. Based on the subject of animation (from more of an admiring stance versus professional) I am sure I won’t be attracting the attention nor fandom as some sites. Yet I do hope to express how crazily obsessed I am about animation and if I find a few followers I would totally be cool with that. 

Since the topic of animation is pretty general, I will be trying a couple of different topics/sub-category to cover a few days(or weeks). Of course my main focus will be reviewing full length animated features, but I would like to dedicate some time to retro series, shorts and the almost unavoidable anime series. It will be a trail coming up soon, but I will make sure to cover each sub-category. I am a little ambitious but i should be able to manage.ImageWave Gertie!