Much like any other nerd out there, I've recently seen the second to last Harry Potter movie. I'm not about to say it was the most amazing piece of theatrical genius out there, but I will say it was mighty entertaining. What I WILL say is that within the movie was an animated three minute section, called "The Three Brothers". It was gorgeous and so well directed that I had to do a bit of research. Directed by Ben Hibon and created by Framestore, we learn of the story of the Three Brothers and their encounter with Death.
Sorry about the youtube poor quality clip.
Sequence supervisor at Framestore Dale Newton tells us,
"We tried a few things to get a gritty and hand-made feel. The inspiration was the way Lotte Reiniger had the childlike-ness for her animation, but we didn't necessarily want it to look like a stop-motion piece of animation. Because of the camera moves, we couldn't always split things down on twos. So we couldn't rely on any sort of technological roughing of the edges. The one thing we were keenly aware of at all times was the silhouettes which enabled us to play on a certain theatricality. The hands do so much of the talking - Death's hands for example are almost as expressive as his face is.
When we designed the characters, we tried to purposely design puppets. So we didn't give the characters, for instance, whites in their eyes. You didn't want to read them through, say, traditional blend shapes on their heads. It all had to be told throughout their entire pose. We were very conscious that the attitude of the characters at that point had to be read through their entire pose. This forced us into thinking theatrically, and we should feel like we're watching a very clever puppet show, not a traditional character-animated movie."
It's totally stunning, and in case you haven't seen "The Adventures of Prince Achmed", by Lotte Reiniger... YOU MUST. It is the oldest surviving animated feature film (two earlier ones were made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani, but they are considered lost), and it featured a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets (though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action). The original prints featured color tinting. The story is based on the elements taken from the collection 1001 Arabian Nights, specifically The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou featured in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. With the assistance of Aladdin, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, and a magic horse, the title character reclaims the magic lamp and conquers the African sorcerer. The culminating scene in the film is the battle between die Hexe (the witch) and die africanische Zauberer (the African sorcerer), in which those characters undergo fabulous transformations. All is well in the end: Aladdin marries Dinarsade (Achmed's sister and daughter of the Caliph); Achmed marries Pari Banu; the African sorcerer is defeated; and the foursome return to the Caliph's kingdom.
And last but not least, just a moment of extreme praise for YellowShed, the duo of Todd Hemker's and Soyeon Kim's work. I think it's on the same level of kickassitude that the previous clips have had.
GODS! All of them Gods for me to worship!