Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is a clear hit. Already grossing over $60 million in its first two weeks of domestic release, the film is sure to make a profit for Sony Pictures - and reassures the filmmakers at Sony Pictures Animation that they are on the right track.
That 'track' is to create fun, cartoony comedies that push the art of CG animation away from the photo realistic - not unlike what Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery were doing in competition with Disney's feature factory in the 1940s.
Sony Animation has provided us with an exclusive clip (embed below) from the animatic of Cloudy 2 which sums up their take on making feature animation - make it fantastic, keep it fascinating and don't lose the 'funny'. Below the clip is a short Q & A with Head of Story Brandon Jeffords, who shed some light on the process.
This clip was boarded by Head-of-Story Brandon Jeffords (who handled the first part, with the lead characters) and Kris Pearn (who boarded the giant sweeping camera moves through the foodimals).
I asked Jeffords about his role in the production.
Jeffords: The Head of Story usually oversees the story board artists, often times he or she acts as a liaison between the directors and the other story artists. Sometimes you have directors that don’t even draw, so you need somebody who can communicate what the director needs.
Beck: Was this film script driven or board driven?
Jeffords: We start with a script. But when it came to me there as no script for this part of the sequence.
Beck: On a story clip like this, how much time does that represent within the production?
Jeffords: This sequence spans probably a years time. We almost never storyboard something right out of the gate and it ends up in the final film. Some of these drawings were probably done in the first pass, and others were done a year, or a year and a half, later as the story evolved.
Beck: In an animatic like this why are some characters enhanced with color, while others are in simple black and white sketch?
Jeffords: For this particular scene we wanted to emphasize the wonder of the world. Adding color to the panels often helps carry your focus to certain aspects of the scene. It’s what Kris Pearn calls "the double stitch". Occasionally the directors will ask for this – and especially as this sequence this is a big turning point for the characters and the audience.
Beck: You folks at Sony are doing something the other studios aren't. You are making cartoons. Wacky, zany looking 3 dimensional versions of 2D cartoons. That’s the fun of animation – doing what live action can't.
Jeffords: I recently did a book signing (for The Art of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2) and a lot of the young animators coming out of school are excited to go work for Sony for that particular reason. Our stable of animated flicks have that quality, it's different from the other studios - we're making cartoons - and we are purposely going in that direction.