Forget the movie, I want the animatics!

Just finished watching the extras on the Incredibles DVD with the missus. Wow. I always thought of storyboards as these hasty little sketches that weren’t really all that interesting in their own right. But for this cartoon, they created some darn fine animatics that are just about as exciting as anything in the finished film. In fact, because these animatics combine 2D drawings with 3D backgrounds and objects so expertly, they are a lot more interesting than the animatics for, say, the Lord of the Rings films, which tended to have rather boring and blocky 3D figures running around their 3D environments. (I had a similarly positive reaction to the considerably more stylized mix of 2D and 3D in the Hong Kong cartoon McDull, Prince de la Bun.) The fact that the Incredibles animatics are all black-and-white also lends them an extra aura of cool. I think I’d like to see the entire movie that way, at least just once.

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  • Animators … moviemakers … STORYTELLERS can learn a lot just from listening to Brad Bird talk about how The Incredible came together. I watched this stuff last night, Peter, and I was having so much fun with the extras I never got around to the movie. His descriptions of sacrificing scenes and moments that he loved–anybody who’s an artist can relate to that. But it’s great to hear how willing he was to sacrifice those things for the greater good of the movie.

    Those animatics are, indeed, awesome. I can’t believe Bird wanted to follow his original idea, and put a death on Violet’s conscience! Jeez!

    The short film and the goofy “cartoon version” of an Incredibles episode, complete with commentary by Mr. Incredible and Frozone, is priceless.

    But most intriguing is Bird’s description of his desire to emphasize how devalued parenthood really is in our society. That alternate opening scene for the movie … man! We can guess from the finished film how much he cares about family issues, but to hear him talk about it so passionately was a real thrill.

    Now, I can’t wait to go back and watch the whole movie again. If Disney makes a sequel to this without Bird and Pixar, they will truly have lost the last flicker of their soul.

  • Agreed about artists sacrificing their work, Jeff — but of course, Brad Bird knew he could always put that stuff on the DVD! (I did something similar just a couple days ago, when I took something I had had to cut out of an article of mine, and turned it into a post here.)

    I think it’s striking how “mature” Bird wanted this film to be — a la the death scene you mention, and also the assumed adultery subplot — and I think it’s interesting that, in the end, they apparently sacrificed these things more for basic storytelling reasons than out of any desire to not offend the “family audience”. Although I do take seriously the fact that the Pixar “brand” implies something to the audience that needs to be respected, I do think that Bird and team had their priorities in the right order.

    And as a writer who often has to do battle with deadlines, I loved the scene where Bird’s producer says there is no time to add a new shot, no matter how much it might help the film, because “I’m trying to get us to the finish line” — and then Bird shoots back, “I’m trying to get us to the finish line in first place!”