Monday, December 22, 2008

Waltz With Bashir - I got some Academy Award screeners, Part Four...

And just when I thought the river o' screeners had dried up, 'Waltz With Bashir' (movie website) shows up in the mail from Sony Pictures Classics.

Here's a synopsis from the site:

One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life.

Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images …
I enjoyed some of the 'Production Notes' on the website, sounded like a Herculean effort on a small team's part:

4. After the final version of the video film was decided upon, Ari, together with animation director Yoni Goodman, broke down the video film into a basic storyboard. This process took another four months. After the storyboard phase, the pioneer animation team was established and included six animators who began the animatic stage, or as it is known in the USA, the video board – the most basic illustrations of the future film in the most basic motion.

5. The animatic stage took another six months and was followed by another round of screenings. This time on a big screen. The central objective of this round of screenings was to make changes to the largest extent possible at the animatic stage in order to avoid corrections at the final animation phase, which is several times more costly.

6. After final approval of the animatic, the art team began sketching the film based on the reference of the final video copy and the storyboard. In total, four illustrators drew close to two thousand individual illustrations and 80% of the illustrations were drawn by the film’s super designer David Polonsky.

7. At the same time, the animation team, comprised of 10 animators, began animating the illustrations. If at the beginning the production forecast was that the team would complete 6 minutes of screen time per month, the intricate and Sisyphean technique developed by animation director Yoni Goodman caused the production to be 50% arrears as opposed to the plan and the progress rate was 4 minutes per month.

8. The average progress rate of an animator on the film “Waltz with Bashir” was 37 frames per 9 hour work day, which are a second and a half. When an animator finishes such a work day, he returns home and does not have the mental stamina even to watch a pathetic football game on TV.

9. The animation work in the case of Waltz with Bashir became especially complex due to the man who developed it: Animation director Yoni Goodman. They say he developed it according to his abilities, which are absolutely phenomenal and do not represent human beings what so ever, which means it took an animator on the film one month to establish a normal work pace.

10. Yoni Goodman not only possesses phenomenal skills, he is considered the “eutopic man” by the team. He is extraordinarily talented and was born with an incorrigible optimism. He is also a “deadline freak” who can exist for days and nights on end on an excellent diet of coffee, cookies and the lowest form of junk food. He is also a great admirer of the Rambo films, especially Rambo 3, which serves as tremendous artistic inspiration for his animating skills.

11. Illustrator and artistic director David Polonsky drew 1720 illustrations for three whole years all by himself, and these comprise 80% of the film’s illustrations. At the onset of production, David was an introverted fellow, who drew two drawings a day and did everything he could to justify his reputation as a talented artist and Russian immigrant who is ill at ease in Israeli society. After three years, we found this same David performing at exclusive karaoke events and dubbing with a powerful and loud voice the main character of Bridget Folman’s next animated production “Atomic Family”.
I'll watch this over the break, it's definitely not a mainstream affair.

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