David Feiss Talks Making 2-D Short Cartoons At Sony Pictures Animation

Features
by Ju-osh M.
January 31, 2014 9:02 PM
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With the DVD and Blu-ray for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 now in stores, the question on most fans' minds is: What are the EXTRAS?!

While I sincerely apologize for reading your minds (a total invasion of privacy, I know), I've got GREAT news for you. In addition to the obligatory filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, multiple making-of featurettes and pop song music video, there are FOUR NEW MINI-MOVIES directed by Cow and Chicken creator David Feiss!

The four shorts are: 
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear - Flint's mischievous gummi bear grows to 50 feet. It's up to Steve to transform him back.
  • Steve’s First Bath - Flint's date with Sam is a disaster because of Steve's mischievous ways.
  • Super Manny - Manny, a self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades, must use every skill in his arsenal to save an adorable kitty.
  • Earl Scouts - Two of the Foodimals join Earl’s scouting program. Chaos ensues.

Sounds pretty cool, eh? Well, it's about to get better. First, let's take a look at a clip from Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear: 


Next, to help promote these new shorts David Feiss has agreed to answer a few quick questions regarding their production. (A minor invasion of privacy? Perhaps.)

Ju-osh M.: Hi, David. Would you tell us how you first got involved with the Cloudy crew, and what led to you expanding the universe through the four mini-movies?


David Feiss: I got a call from Sony back in October 2012 offering me a story position on the feature. After about three weeks, I was offered to direct a series of Cloudy shorts that the studio wanted to accompany the DVD release of the movie. It was an awesome opportunity - they were open to my story ideas, as well as my take on the characters and the world.


Ju-osh: While the Cloudy films were both done as 3D, CG affairs, you chose to go the opposite route with the shorts, making them 2D and hand drawn. What inspired this drastic (and delightful!) redesign?


Feiss: Well, mostly it was an economic decision! CGI is expensive, and the shorts' budget didn't allow for Imageworks to do the roughly 20 minutes of animation needed for the 4 shorts. I love 2D, so this wasn't a big problem in my estimation. The studio did have concerns about the audience not understanding that these new 2D characters were the same as the CGI feature, so that was the main reason that 3 of the shorts have CGI bookends. I liked the fact that there were limits on the CGI, making it creatively fun to work that into the story of the shorts.


Ju-osh: I love the look of the shorts. The colors are crazy, the characters are cartoony, and the backgrounds are incredibly stylized. Besides yourself, who else do we have to thank for these va-va-voom visuals?


Feiss: I think that the first film's coda was well received, with graphic interpretations of the CGI characters and world, and the studio wanted to go with something close to that with the shorts. I found a talented young art director, Joey Chou, who was able to expand on the background and color style set up by the coda. Craig Kellman's awesome stylings definitely influenced the direction I took the characters.


Ju-osh: Seeing as how this interview is for Animation Scoop, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask: What animation method(s) were used to create the shorts?


Feiss: The 2D was done in flash and after effects, expertly animated by 6 Point Harness here in town. They actually were able to blow up panels from my storyboards, and directly use the poses as extremes, very much like in classic 2D animation.


Ju-osh: We just got four shorts from you. You'd think this would be enough to sate any animation fan, yet all it did was whet my appetite for more. So if you don't mind me asking, what's next for David Feiss?


Feiss: Thanks. I'm hoping to develop an idea of my own here at Sony. I have various stories that I am toying with.


Ju-osh: Fantastic. I'll be keeping an eye out for them!

Crave MORE technical tid-bits? Here's how Brendan Burch from 6 Point Harness described the animation process on the shorts:

"We animated the shorts in Flash, using a hybrid method of symbol-based and traditional animation that was all hand drawn directly on Cintiq tablets. We used After Effects to for final compositing, which included adding rich, painted textures to all the characters. We even innovated some new methods to give simple Flash gradients a rough, splotchy painted look that we're all pretty excited about."

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and as an HD and digital download (iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Google Play, PSN, Vudu).

David Feiss
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