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Animation and Anime

A pair of spys catch that Gaiman/Selick presentation of footage and animation tests from CORALINE!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I was in the room when Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick announced a surprise presentation of their adaptation of Gaiman's own CORALINE to happen that night at 7pm, but I had already booked some interviews for then, so I couldn't make it. Luckily a few readers did. Here's what they thought!!!

Hi Quint! I'm just getting into reading AICN, but I'm loving your coverage and reviews and...yeah. I don't know how much help I'll be in telling you about Coraline, since I'm not a film buff and I wasn't taking notes and...I haven't even read the book yet. (I'll be working on that though!) I was only at the Rogue/Focus Studios panel since I wanted to be close for Pixar, so the Gaiman and Selick appearance was a definite surprise. It sounded interesting, so I made a note to myself to get tickets for it after the Pixar panel. When my friends and I showed up for the screening at Horton Plaza, we were given 3-D glasses and checked for cameras. I think the theater was about 3/4s full, but I can't be sure since we were sitting near the front. Neil and Henry were then introduced and took director's chairs at the front of the theater. I don't quite remember what they talked about for the preview, but Henry said that they were smack in the middle of production, and had about 20 minutes of the film finished. When he started to write it, he didn't plan for it to be stop-motion animated, but eventually, as he wrote, it was clear that the film would work better in stop-motion. They then showed us some animation tests for the main characters - some of which were wire-frame skeletons, some of which were lip sync, and some of which were movement (walks, runs, etc). I'm not up to speed with what's happening in stop-motion animation now, but it looked AMAZING, even with the line in the faces that Henry had warned us about. (They split the faces in half horizontally so the mouths and eyebrows could be separated.) The characters moved like they were actually alive and human. From what I saw, the stop-motion animators on Coraline have the same dedication to their craft as the animators at Pixar. The attention to movement was THAT detailed. The audience laughed at Miss Spink's ginormous bosom - there was a rod holding up her torso during the movement tests. Miss Forcible's bouncing "jowls" were also a source of great amusement. (Henry divulged that the cheeks consisted of silicone that they could squish pretty readily.) As for the voice actors, Henry said that Miss Forcible (Dawn French) and Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) had actually been offered opposite roles, and as they were reading, Henry thought that they were better suited for the other's part. We were then treated to about 10 minutes of 3-D footage from Coraline. We were told that the 3-D would be evident from the first frame, but would really be utilized in the magical world. The clip wasn't competely finished, so the lines in the faces were still present and the mouse still had a rod holding it up for a few frames when it jumped. But it was a real treat. Coraline is unpacking some snowglobes in her family's new house (oh, the snow had yet to be added to the snowglobes as well), and sees a painting of a sad little boy looking at his fallen ice cream cone. She puts her button-eyed doll down and when she looks back, the doll is gone. She sees it peeking out from behind a bookcase, and pushes the bookcase aside. Upon doing so, she discovers a tiny child-sized door covered over by wallpaper. Coraline calls out to her mother about the secret door, but her mother is obviously uninterested (typing away in the kitchen and ignoring Coraline). Finally, Coraline fusses so much that her mother relents and opens a drawer full of keys to find the one that opens the tiny door. She finds it pretty readily - it's an old-style brass key with a button shaped into the handle. After cutting the seams in the wallpaper, Coraline's mother unlocks the door and opens it to reveal...a brick wall. Needless to say Coraline is disappointed, and her mother goes back to typing in the kitchen, neglecting to lock the door. That night, however, a tiny mouse appears (personally, I thought it was a kangaroo rat but I digress), awakens Coraline and she follows it down the stairs into the living room. There is a long shot of Coraline's button-eyed doll, which is definitely foreshadowing of what the magical world is or where it originates. (Sez me, who hasn't read the book yet..) The door is still open, and the mouse disappears into it. Curious, Coraline opens the door all the way and instead of a brick wall, sees a long tunnel that looks like it's made of paper. This is where the 3-D REALLY kicks in. I really felt like I could crawl in the tunnel with her. She climbs through, and opens up the door on the other side. It seems to be her house, but it's different. The same painting with the boy is there, but he's happy since his ice cream cone is still intact. The living room is also bigger and brighter. She walks into her kitchen, and her mother is there, but again, she's different. "Oh, there you are, Coraline! You're just in time for dinner!" Her mother turns and Coraline is shocked when she sees that her mother has black buttons for eyes. Fade out. After this screening and a few questions, we were told to look under our seats for a star. Those people with stars would get a free Coraline poster and have it signed by both Henry and Neil. My friend got a star, and my other friend started to look for stars under the empty seats so we could all stay and get a poster signed, LOL. He achieved this and all three of us got a very nice poster - it was on heavy paper and very good printing. I had been aware about Coraline's production, but this screening makes me super-excited about the movie. My friends were completely clueless (one of them even leaned over to ask which one was Neil and which one was Henry..) and they were totally stoked about it afterwards. It looks gorgeous, it really does. One last thing. Henry always had trouble with his mike, even when he switched mikes with Neil, so he joked that "It's in Neil's contract that his mike is always more powerful than mine." It seemed like it was actually true - Henry's mike was always going in and out. If you use this, you can call me sugarfiend. :)

Great write-up, sugarfiend. I envy you that crazy-awesome poster. Those two men are genius' and this sounds great. Here's another look at this night, from a spy named "Ender."

Dear Quint, I was able to get a look at the Coraline footage on Saturday evening. While at the theatre Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick came out to introduce the footage. Selick stressed the point that this footage was unfinished and that the crew was still filming. He also said that we would see several of the metal objects they use to keep a character upright and that we should just ignore them. The fact that some of the shots shown were going to be storyboards rather than actual animation was another thing that Selick mentioned Two clips were shown, one was about 5 to 8 minutes long of test footage. The test footage showed several characters including Coraline, her real mother and father, an old woman whose face was so fat it giggled, and a woman whose chest was beyond E cup and had toothpicks for legs. They also showed a dog run around and it reminded me of one of the dogs from the original 101 Dalmatians movie. There was also a quick test clip with Coraline looking at a cat (who Selick later mentioned would be voiced by Keith David if I’m not mistaken) that didn’t seem to move. Then came the really interesting clip. When we got there each of us was handed a pair of 3D glasses and although the test footage wasn’t 3D the next clip was. The clip lasted about 10 minutes long but I have to confess that I can’t be sure, as I was completely involved in what I was watching. The 3D effect was fantastic, I have never really cared for 3D but here it was done very well. What was shown was the beginning of the movie. It was mostly interaction between Coraline and her real mother. Her mother was a real bitch and didn’t want to be bothered by what Coraline had found, which was the door in the wall. Coraline was able to convince her mother to open it and found bricks on the other side. However, later that night Coraline sees a mouse in her room and follows it to where the door is, which is already open and has no bricks but a passageway beyond it. Coraline crawled through the passageway into her apartment. Coraline’s mother called for her, very sweetly, to come get one of the three meals of the day. Coraline found her mother and begin talking to her until her mother turned around and she stopped mid-sentence. The camera zoomed in on her mother’s face, which gave it a horror film vibe, and she had buttons for eyes. That was the end. As for the animation? Well, it was quite impressive, there was this one shot where Coraline looked under her bed for something and although she only had shoulder-length hair it fell pretty close to the ground. It looked like one of those shots that took a very long time to get right and was very difficult to get done correctly. After they showed the footage one in the crowd asked about that shot in particular and Selick responded that it took a while. I was very impressed with what was shown at the screening and wished that we could have seen the rest of the film. That will have to wait till next year though. If you use this you can call me Ender.

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to write this up. Wish I could have been there!!!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:38 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules


  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:38 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules


  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:38 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules


  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:39 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules

    The Gold, The Silver, and The Bronze!

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 2:54 a.m. CST

    Of being gay. Congrats.

    by Bilblow

    Of being gay. Congrats.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 3 a.m. CST

    Coraline Footage Here

    by LittleDudes looks pretty rad, completely different from how I imagined it (real) but has the same mood. Gaiman is definitely the IT guy right now.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:02 a.m. CST


    by LittleDudes


  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5:53 a.m. CST

    Loved the book

    by Jakes Nel

    Great choice in getting Selick to do it. Gaiman has a lot going on in Hollywood these days; hope it works out for him. Sure hasn't done Alan Moore any good.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 9:07 a.m. CST

    What kind of moron

    by ErnieAnderson

    writes LOL in a review?<p> Textspeak is for retards.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 9:18 a.m. CST

    This was animated in my Town

    by DOGSOUP

    Portland Lurves the Neil! Just ask Powells.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Quint, you know the plural of "spy" is "spies," right?

    by SpyGuy

    Don't be afraid to use that there edjuhmuhcation.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 9:57 a.m. CST

    Now, if only they'd do Sandman the anime

    by SpookyOtaku

    Gaiman's star is definitely on the rise in Hollywood...his cult status as a novelist and comics creator will grow as well...can't wait for this, Stardust, Beowulf and the directed by him Death: the High Cost of Living...but what really needs to be done is an animated series of the Sandman done in different styles for different storylines...get Amano, Satoshi Kon, Hideo Anno, Miyazaki, Oshii and a few others together to do a series of anime, how fü©☆ing fantastic would that be?

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11 a.m. CST

    Hopefully Better Than MIRRORMASK and NEVERWHERE

    by LaserPants

    Both of which were excellent reads, but TERRIBLE views. MIRRORMASK was excrutiating, and NEVERWHERE was embarrasing. Still, I reckon somebody, somewhere, will get one of Gaiman's books right.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Spooky why limit it so much?

    by half vader

    What about different storylines done in completely different styles, if it was animation (and what about puppetry for that matter?). Yes I see why from your name but geez, why so myopic? Animé, Stop-motion, CG, 2d American style, pixelation, shadow puppets, bunraku, whatever. Now that would be fantastic. <p> Or even animation but done in the styles of some of the distinctive artists that worked on the COMIC ITSELF (and yes G-novels too, like Amano)?!

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:18 a.m. CST

    How can they retouch 3D?

    by half vader

    I mean, isn't that the whole problem, that you can't do frame retouches in photoshop or whatever 2d paint/rig removal software because the 2 images won't line up properly when projected (they had lots of problems with the Terminator 3d film because of that, although it was a long time ago). <p> All I can think is that they're doing it like the Nightmare (yes irony I know due to Selick) 3D where they have the original stuff shot flat, fix it up, then model simple 3d versions of everything and project it back onto itself like a digital matte painting/anamorphosis. It worked great with Nightmare (fuckloads better than Supes returns halfarsed Imax viewmaster retrofit) anyway. Lotta work though. <p> Any übergeeks out there that can enlghten me? I knew I shoulda gone this year instead of last year!

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 11:57 a.m. CST

    Mirrormask / Stardust

    by MacTard420

    Is not that bad. It is a kids movie on an extremely small budget. I found it charming, although I've never read the book so I can't compare. I just finished reading Stardust and am really looking forward to the movie now.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 12:50 p.m. CST

    half vader

    by SpookyOtaku

    I suggested animation and later got specific to anime and certain creators, why? Because this is how the comic was was drawn by different comics artists in different comics styles...anime seemed an obvious means of replicating the series in another medium...and Gaiman has worked in that medium before and has ties to at least two of the creators listed (Miyazaki and Amano), not trying to be narrow minded, just thinking outloud about something tha i would love to see. For the record, puppets, CGI etc. would be great, but they would not be very indicative of the series that inspired them...the Sandman was drawn...not photographed (yeah, yeah Mckean did some great stuff with photography on the covers)not rendered not modeled so you can see why I did not suggest these routes...all would be fine just not what I would prefer.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Retouching 3D

    by Cy Sperling

    Retouching 3D is only slightly more complex than retouching 2D. 3D projection is simply alternating 2D images for each eye. When painting out a rig, you simply paint it ouch in each eye. A separate pass of each scene is shot without characters in them. All that needs to be done is line the backgrounds up and erase the rig. Repeat the process for each eye. Paint is more tricky, since you need to add duplicate info to both eyes- but there is software that allows paint effects to be applied identically but with an equal offset to each eye.

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 1:19 p.m. CST

    More Gaiman

    by Captain Tightpants

    If Neil is indeed becoming the new IT guy, can we PLEASE get American Gods or Good Omens onto the screen!? Maybe even a Sandman HBO Animated Series ala Spawn? A guy can dream...

  • Aug. 1, 2007, 5 p.m. CST


    by Sith Witch

    Did anyone catch any of the They Might Be Giants music composed for this score? And if so, how was it?

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 2:24 a.m. CST

    Cool thanks Spooky

    by half vader

    I take your point and that's cool - I guess though if you're talking about the look of the comics (and I confess I think McKean's influence is much much stronger than you do and surely Amano counts even less if we're being quantitative), then maybe my suggestion of animation in the styles of the comic artists is valid considering the overwhelming majority were westerners with western styles. This IS Morpheus we're talking about after all, western/eastern counterparts notwithstanding. <p> But yeah as for thinking aloud great idea (didn't actually mean to come off harsh before) and yeah the idea of an anthology thing (narrated/bookended by the crow?) is entirely appropriate. <p> As for McKean, yeah the first few covers were mostly illustrated but 'great stuff with photography' might be doing him a disservice. There were puppets, drawings, sculpture, collage, montage, paint, found objects, bones, photography and all massaged digitally in the end. He even used old photocopies for cryin' out loud! I think because mcKean's stuff is so seamless and natural people don't realise exactly WHAT he's done. WHich is probably the way it should be as the final image is what counts. I guess I prefer this sort of stuff the way you prefer the animé, which is all cool and groovy. <p> I was SO dissapointed with Mirrormask though. I was hoping for the second coming but... The most surprising thing to me though was that it was mostly Gaiman who stuffed up! O.K. McKean was on his first feature, under heavy constraints blah blah blah and did make some big mistakes in terms of contrast and mood (and even music), but it's not like Gaiman doesn't know about pacing and structure for Pete's sake (Pete being the audience in this case). Ah well. Give 'em another shot though. Not bad for 4 million. <p> I almost cried recently when I lost the first 16 issues of Sandman. My stupid fucking builder put particle board under the flooring and when the shower next door started leaking the water was soaked up, travelled along to my room, through the cupboard floor, and then the packing boxes and comics just sucked them up like a fucking sponge. All first printings of course. Not a huge comic collector but geez. The first I noticed was I guess weeks later when a stain appeared in the carpet leading me to open the doors. I couldn't even open them for ages as I just knew it'd be the Sandman and Hellblazer stuff. Couldn't even tell what was box and what was comic book in the end. At least my Signed Gaiman/McKean "Hold me" Hellblazer survived. Sorry. Had to share that.

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 3:03 a.m. CST

    Thanks Cy

    by half vader

    - for the info. I can see how the clean plate bg would work for wire removal but what about moving shots and areas with alternating distances (or a round room for example) and movement in the frame through the z-axis? Thanks God there's no motion blur to worry about! I assumed there must be something now for paint but geez it sounds like rocket scientist stuff to work out (to my feeble brain)! <p> I'd also have been interested to ask if they're shooting "for" 3d in so much as altering the language of the shots so that you don't get jarring or disconcerting/disorienting shots when chopping between shallow/deep & closeups/longshots. Most films done in 3d so far (outside docos) don't really accomodate how the third dimension impacts the visual storytelling (although apparently they did start thinking about it on Robinsons - too bad the rest wasn't given enough thought though).

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 3:05 a.m. CST

    After all these years how many know SELICK directed NBX

    by half vader

    ? Still not many I reckon. <p> So, all you guys asleep up there in the northern hemisphere eh?

  • Aug. 2, 2007, 8:54 a.m. CST

    half vader 1.2

    by SpookyOtaku

    No problem brother, as for "...might be doing him a disservice", I do not mean to belittle McKean's incredible work on the covers...I actually have a first printing hardcover of "Dustcovers"...i'm something of a freak for McKean...have the massive hardbound collection of Cages, all of his work with Gaiman, Arkham Asylum, the work he did with ian Sinclair (Slow Chocolate Autopsy...etc.), hell it was probably his work more than anything else that inspired me to become somewhat adept at photomanipulation...I caught his show at Four Color images some years back...the cover to The Sound of her Wings was awe inspiring in person...huge to boot. Too bad about issues should pick up the beautiful Absolute Sandman, well worth the price (can usually be found on e-bay for around $60) and it is sure to be worth something one day (perhaps not as much as an original hardcover of Season of mists, but something none the less). I actually have all the issues and hardcovers (1st printings cuz I'm obsessed) and have thought about letting the single issues go as I do not need the series in triplicate and the hardcovers tend to be more valuable, at least to me...though my issue 8 is the misprint and I probably won't ever let that one go.

  • Aug. 3, 2007, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Spooky again

    by half vader

    Well, you know where to find me if you ever change your mind!! I seem to have pretty much exactly the same stuff as you besides that (d'oh!). I don't care too much about signed stuff (it was cool though when Gaiman signed that Hellblazer that he was really pleased as it was also one of his favourites and no-one ever asks for it), but there was a groovy Cages poster I had signed by McKean many moons ago. Gotta put that one up. Maybe next to the cross-section of Homer's brain! <p> It shits me that they've taken McKean's Kinoshow compilation of all his short films off Amazon with an explanation which says basically there's NO explanation as to why. It was supposed to hit next week or something, dagnabbit. And yeah I've used photoshop in my work since version 1 - almost 20 years ago, can you believe it?! People used to ask me where I got trained - but it was so new there was no-one TO train you back then!

  • Aug. 3, 2007, 9:39 a.m. CST

    half vader again again

    by SpookyOtaku

    If I decide to let 'em go, i'll give you first crack... "Hold Me' signed would definitely be something I'd take pride in owning...that's the one with Anthea showing Constantine a flat where a dead squatter haunts the place right? I have the limited siigned Angels & well as the regular edition...will most likely sell the signed one at some point. My son has The day i Swapped My Dad... and the Wolves in the Walls signed to him (his name is Loki) by Gaiman as well as both Varjak Paws signed by McKean, he cherishes them. I hadn't heard about the Kinoshow DVD...damn that sucks, I'll have to keep an eye and an ear out.