Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"9" DVD and Blu-Ray Available Now

You can now purchase the post-apocalyptic animated thriller 9 on DVD and Blu-ray. Click the previous links to buy the film at Amazon.com.

According to DVDTalk.com, DVD extras include:

Feature-length commentary track with director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin, and editor Nick Kenway.

U-Control PIP:
This picture-in-picture interactive feature takes recorded footage, some mentioned below in the special features and others recorded/taken at the same time, and pairs them within a green box at the lower-right portion of the screen. Interviews with Shane Acker, Tim Burton, Elijah Wood, Pamela Pettler, and others elucidate the process, while a sizable chunk of the dialogue recording footage mixes within raw concepts and behind-the-scenes footage.

9 -- The Long and Short of It (16:28, HD):
This feature discusses Shane Acker's process of assembling the short, and how it's adapted to the big screen. Discussion pops up about Acker's process of building the film as his college thesis, along with how earning an Oscar changed his life. It then shifts over into how the short film fell over into Tim Burton's hands as a producer. Then, Acker and screenwriter Pamela Pettler (Corpse Bride) guide us through the process of bridging that gap between his short to the feature length, as well as whether they wanted to include dialog or not in telling the story. Interview time crops up with Acker, Burton, Pettler, as well as with Elijah Wood and other members of the cast, taken from both original interviews and archive footage.

On Tour with Shane Acker (5:36, HD):
Shane Acker takes us through the Starz Animation workhouse for the construction of 9, illustrating each depart in great detail. He talks about editorials, the art department, modeling, animation, layout, effects work in "the dungeon", and lighting. Hearing discussion about the film itself is great, but the behind-the-scenes shots of the computer imaging and the concept sketches are the real draws to this featurette.

The Look of 9 (13:12, HD):

Composing the visual look for 9 falls into focus here, as Shane Acker and others discuss the time placement of the story. They discuss the "caution tale" elements of the film, as well as the Industrial Revolution look about the picture that slaps it in the middle between World War I and II. It also discusses the low-angle construction of the film, and how it allows for a lot of great up-glancing shots. They also discuss the beauty used behind the rust, garbage, and industrial grunge appeal to the film, and how the feel of the film reflects on its influences.

Acting Out (4:54, HD):
To round out the featurettes, this piece covers how the animators become actors themselves as they construct the burlap dolls in the film. It discusses how they have mirrors at their desk to see facial expressions, and the dual uses behind having the recorded dialogue footage of the actors for both lip sync and emotion purposes.

9 -- The Original Short (10:33, Letterbox 4x3 HD):
As a very special treat, Universal have also included Shane Acker's original short on the disc -- with a commentary featuring Shane Acker and animator Joe Ksander. The commentary is very dense, as they discuss the differences between the two features -- where elements of the short went into the feature, the dynamics between the two puppets, the lack of dialogue, etc. -- and the entire "guerilla" feel to the camera movement. What's a shame is that it's a letterbox HD version of the short; and, since it's in 1080p, most Blu-ray players and internal zoom televisions can't zoom in on it. Still, the simple inclusion of the piece itself is absolutely wonderful.

Also included on this disc are five Deleted Scenes (7:24, 16x9 SD), available in striking storyboard illustrations. This Blu-ray Disc has also been activated in order to hop onto Universal's online framework, as well as containing pocketBLU interactivity. However, the online functions weren't active yet as of this testing. It's also been incorporated with Chapter / Bookmarking of "favorite scenes", like all of Universal's other discs, and activated with D-BOX motion control.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New "Wonderland" Promo Art

This cut-out can be seen in some movie theaters today.

Click the image below for a high resolution version:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wasikowska on "Wonderland"

Mia Wasikowska, the star of Alice in Wonderland, discussed her experiences working on the phantasmagorical film with the Los Angeles Times.

How did shooting the film feel to the 20-year-old actress? "Isolating," she said, considering that 90% of the shooting was in front of a green screen. Instead of conversing with a caterpillar or Chesire Cat, Wasikowska had to interact with a bit of sticky tape, a tennis ball, or, at best, a cardboard cutout of the said character.

"I was basically planted in this sea of green," the Australian actress said. "I really had to use my imagination."

While Alice is 7 years old in Lewis Carroll's original stories, the character is a young woman at the age of 19 in Burton's upcoming film. “She’s grown up a lot and is somewhat a different person, and she’s kind of going back to her roots and discovering herself," said Wasikowska.

The actress also talked about her co-star, Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter.

“I think he’s so brave and smart with his choices. He can play a crazy character but still give it a core humanity which I think people can identify with,” Wasikowska said.

But as insane as he may be, Wasikowska assured that Alice and the Hatter are allies (and, evidently, are much in the spirit of Tim Burton's other outsider characters). "They"re on the same side," Wasikowska said. "They have an understanding about each other. They both feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship."

Depp tends to prepare for his roles by drawing his characters, and sought the wild orange hair as an allusion to the mercury poisoning (many hatter used mercury to cure felt). Depp previously said, "I think he was poisoned, very, very poisoned, and it was coming out through his hair, through his fingernails and eyes."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wallpapers from "Wonderland"

Four new Alice in Wonderland wallpapers have appeared online, featuring the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, and the Chesire Cat. Click the images below for the high resolution versions:

New Caterpillar Image

A new image of the Caterpillar has made an appearance on Facebook:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Johnny Depp as Batman?

There have been a few rumors floating around on the Internet regarding Johnny Depp playing the Riddler in Christopher Nolan's Batman universe -- but Depp almost played the Dark Knight himself for Batman Forever. The actor was recently interviewed by Robert Genola of ComicBookMovie.com:

Q: Are rumors true that you are playing The Riddler in the third Batman movie?

Johnny Depp:
No, that was just one of those things that is speculated on the internet and what not. But I was fortunately considered to play Batman in "Batman Forever".

Q: Were you not interested?

Johnny Depp:
Not at all, I was very interested. What happened was Tim (Burton) was producing it and he was trying to talk Joel Schumacher (the Director) and the movie bosses to give me a shot at the role but it just never really worked out.

What if you were offered to play The Riddler in Batman 3?

Johnny Depp:
I would not be quick to say no, yeah. I would certainly not turn it down right away, but I'm not sure I could do it justice. Especially after how well Heath did as The Joker, I think my playing Riddler would be a step back for the films. But hey, never say never.

Watch Tim Burton on "The Charlie Rose Show"

In case you missed it, here is the superb interview with Tim Burton on The Charlie Rose Show, which premiered on Thursday, November 26th, 2009. This is most of the episode. It begins with the three curators from the Museum of Modern Art discussing Burton's art, then goes to the man of the hour himself. Rose describes Burton as the "perfect guest", as they enthusiastically talk about a plethora of topics including his most personal films, being a parent, children's artwork, his creative process, and much more:

A Little More on "Dark Shadows"

Producer Graham King spoke with Shock Till You Drop's Perri Nemiroff on the current status of Dark Shadows and a bit of its development:

Can you talk a little about Dark Shadows?

King: [Laughs] I said to someone last week in L.A., I said, "You know, I think, you know the script's being rewritten – I know that the studios are hoping to move it next fall," suddenly it's on the internet everywhere I said the movie's going next October. Waiting for a script. I know Johnny wants to do it and Tim wants to do it and just has to get the script.

How'd you get introduced to the idea in the first place? Will you maintain the show's original tone in the film?

King: Through Johnny's company [Infinitum Nihil]. You know, I have a deal with Johnny's company and Johnny was really interested in it and we have a great great relationship. I didn't know of Dark Shadows. We didn't have it in the U.K., so I went out and got a bunch of DVDs. I started watching this thing and I said, yeah, I'd love to be involved. I'd love to come in and produce that. To answer your question, I think we have to wait to see.

There are over 1,200 episodes. Will you include a little of as many as possible or make an origin story?

I'll know as soon as I get the script.

So you're not dictating how this will come together?

John August is writing it. Yeah, again, this is me and more notes and I think when Johnny and Tim – I've never made a movie with Johnny and Tim - but when they make a movie, they've got it down pretty much what they want and you don't really get involved in that process.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DeVito: Being the Penguin "Fun"

MTV News got a hold of Danny DeVito at the MoMA retrospective of Tim Burton's art in New York. DeVito enthusiastically reminisced about his role as the twisted Penguin in Burton's Batman Returns:

"I loved being with [Burton] on the set. We love hanging out," DeVito told MTV News during the red carpet opening of the exhibit. "I love to watch where he's going, what he's trying, all the different things he does."

"Talking about 'Batman Returns,' he's got me in this armadillo suit and I'm in a place that's so freezing — the stage was so cold — I was the only one comfortable," he laughed. "Everyone's walking around in scarves and hats ... I'm in pounds of latex or whatever the hell it was."

"I had a great time with him," said DeVito.

An Interview with Tim Burton

An interview with Tim Burton from Wired, in which the filmmaker discusses the new generation of 3D cinema, original ideas vs. remakes, his creative process in creating characters, and anthropomorphic objects, among other topics:

Wired: How did you find a life’s worth of work to give to the MoMA?

Tim Burton: I’m not a very organized person. Luckily I had a bunch of stuff that had just been moved to England from a warehouse in America. I don’t really go through things very much, so it was interesting for me to go back through it all.

It was an interesting process. It helps ground you and gets you to remember what interested you to begin with. It’s you, but a different you. You can look at yourself objectively.

Not many directors have retrospectives of their artwork and illustrations. How did having a fine arts background influence your directorial visions?

Burton: The films I grew up loving were very visual. They were the kinds of things that get etched in your memory. To me, film is a very visual thing, so I’m very grateful for my animation background. It’s kind of everything. It’s art, it’s design, it’s film. At that time all I wanted to be was an animator, but through the backdoor you learn how to do everything else. When you make an animated film you have to act it out, design the layouts, shoot it, and edit it. It was a great overall experience.

Wired: What’s your creative process? Do you find yourself doodling and suddenly you’ve got a character for a movie?

Burton: The whole sketching and drawing process to me is the equivalent to how some people write notes. I’ve never really felt like a writer. It was always a visual thing for me. With Jack Skellington, for example, that was just a doodle I kept drawing over and over and over for no apparent reason.

Things can grow from an image that keeps coming up, like the Scissorhands image. They just come as ideas or thoughts, and sometimes they go on to something.

Edward Scissorhands came from a feeling that became a sketch of different forms over the years. It was an idea from when I was a teenager, so it had been in my mind for a long time.

Wired: A lot of your films are original ideas, but you have dabbled with remakes, such as Planet of the Apes and now Alice. Is it easier to get support from Hollywood to remake a film than to start something from scratch?

Burton: There’s a trend right now, where every TV show is remade, and there’s a certain idea of safety in certain properties. At the same time, they can be equally as dangerous. Something like Alice in Wonderland, with the opportunity to do it in 3-D and to experiment, it actually feels like a completely new property.

Wired: Is it more intimidating to take a story people are familiar with and make it your own?

Burton: The reason Alice in Wonderland isn’t as daunting as past productions is that every version I ever saw of Alice in Wonderland was of a girl walking around passively with a bunch of weird characters. It never really had any feeling or grounding to it. It felt like a new challenge to me. There isn’t a great version that I have to live up to.

Wired: Did you feel like Alice was the perfect story for you to debut a live-action movie in 3-D?

Burton: The element that intrigued me was Alice in Wonderland in 3-D. Nightmare Before Christmas was converted to 3-D, and it was really good. I was really amazed. It showed me that this was exactly the way Nightmare was meant to be seen. Now, 3-D just seems to really lend itself to the Alice story. The thing about Alice for me was not so much the literalness of the story, but the trippy nature of it and still trying to make that compelling.

Wired: How hard is it to continue working in more traditional special effects, like stop motion animation, when the rest of Hollywood is drinking the CG Kool-Aid?

Burton: I think stop motion has proven itself as a valuable art form, as has animation. A few years ago it was a dead medium, and while there’s still a lot of uncertainty, there’s enough diversity now. If people like the movie, it doesn’t matter what medium it’s in. It’s actually better now than it was a few years ago, when CG was really kicking in.

Wired: You love stop motion. What’s your fear of CG?

Burton: Take Nightmare Before Christmas, for example. I was offered to do it in drawing animation and I held out for stop motion, because that was the right medium for that project. It’s up to each project and what you’re technically trying to achieve that decides what medium should be used, whether it’s stop motion, animation, or CG.

From Pee-wee’s Big Adventure to Beetlejuice, furniture, inanimate objects tend to come to life in your films. Do you anthropomorphize objects on a daily basis?

Burton: Well, I’m lying in bed here with my coffee pot… That’s where you need free time to space out. People don’t do that enough in life. Those are the moments where a tree turns into a little character.

Wired: Are you excited about the retrospective?

Burton: It’s such a strange and surreal event to me. I haven’t quite grasped it. I might as well put my dirty laundry basket in there as well.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

"The Art of Tim Burton" Now Available

The Art of Tim Burton is now available to purchase directly from SteelesPublishing.com -- and ONLY from SteelesPublishing.com in the U.S. This book is not available in bookstores, Amazon.com, or any other online shops.

Quantities of this lavish, comprehensive book are limited. So order it soon!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Frankenweenie" Character and Plot Details Revealed

Casting has begun on the new stop-motion animated version of Frankenweenie. Right now, Disney is looking for voices for characters between the ages of eight and eleven years old. Bloody-Disgusting.com has provided some information from an official fax. There are a few minor SPOILERS, but it gives you a good idea of how the new film will differ from Burton's original 1984 short:

[EDGAR] A Caucasian Male 8-11 years old. Edgar is a needy little kid who wants desperately to be accepted by the cool kids in his class. Naturally a little nerdy, he gravitates to Victor and basically annoys him until he agrees to let him be his lab partner. He is more than a little gullible and is easily tricked into giving away Victor’s precious secret and unwittingly starting the whole mess with the other monsters.

[TOSHIAKI] A Japanese Male 8-11 years old. Toshiaki is the natural leader of the cool kids in Victor’s class. He is a good athlete, and an avid little league baseball player but Toshiaki has a mischievous side. He is the one that ultimately manipulates E into giving up the secret of Sparky and it is his idea to turn the other animals into monsters. He is Japanese and his monster creation is a little Godzilla lizard.

[BOB] A Caucasian Male 8-11 years old. Bob is the dumb, jockey kid. He has more brawn than brains. He follows Toshiaki and Nassor around even when it means that he has to be the one to test the home made jet pack that Toshiaki has created.

[NASSOR] A Middle-Eastern Male 8-11 years old. Nassor is the star of the little league team and just goes along with Toshiak’s plan. He is a bit more serious than the others but still doesn’t see the impending chaos when he chooses to bring his hamster mummy back to life.

[WEIRD GIRL] A Caucasian Female 8-11 years old. She has a very dark and ominous take on even the most mundane occurrences and jumps at the chance to bring some dead animals back to life.

[ELSA] A Caucasian Female 8-11 years old. Elsa is a sweet girl who likes to follow the rules and not cause too much trouble. A bit of a “goody two shoes,” she is not afraid to speak up and even corrects the teacher when he makes a mistake. She is excited about the festivities planned for the town’s Dutch Day parade and even has a solo dance number in the show.

A shooting date has not been announced yet. John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) will be writing the screenplay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Burton on "Charlie Rose Show" Thursday

Tim Burton will be on the acclaimed PBS program The Charlie Rose Show tomorrow, Thursday, November 26th, 2009.

From the official Charlie Rose Show website: "Acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose engages America's best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers in one-on-one interviews and roundtable discussions."

The show airs at 11:00 PM in most U.S. cities:

WNET New York 11 pm / 1:30 pm rebroadcast
WETA Washington DC 11 pm
WHUT Washington DC 11 pm
WGBH Boston 11 pm
KCET Los Angeles 11:30 pm
KQED San Francisco Midnight
WYCC Chicago 11 pm / 5 pm rebroadcast
PBA Atlanta 12:30 am / Noon rebroadcast

MoMA Exhibition Coming to Canada in Nov. 2010

Good news for Tim Burton fans in Canada: Forbes has stated that the Tim Burton MoMA exhibition will be coming to the Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Canada, from November 22nd, 2010 to April 27th, 2011.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

High-Res "Alice" Banner

Here's a nice, official, high-resolution banner composed of the three Alice in Wonderland posters which were recently released.

Colleen Atwood on Burton, "Alice": "It's Going to Be Amazing"

Renowned award-winning costume designer and frequent Burton collaborator Colleen Atwood sat down for an interview with MovieLine.com, and discussed how she met Tim Burton, how new technology has affected her method of designing costumes for Alice in Wonderland, what we can expect from Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland, and much more:

You’ve worked with Johnny Depp many times now.

I have … Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow … Let’s see … Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland

It must be a treat to design for an actor who can disappear so seamlessly inside his characters.

He really is a chameleon, and he takes on the character in the clothes. They don’t ever look like costumes on him; they look real, and that really helps my job.

Your partnership with Tim Burton — how did the two of you first come together?

I was recommended to him on Edward Scissorhands by a production designer — Bo Welch — who I’d work with prior to that. So I met Tim through him, and we clicked in our own way, and we’ve managed to have a long run together and still enjoy working together. I just went to Tim’s show at MoMA last night, and it was fantastic. Really amazing.

Do you conceive of the costumes together through sketches? I know he frequently begins on paper.

There’s something that he captures that is kind of the soul of the character on paper, and there’s often costume elements, but we’re not married to that at all. I mean, for sure on Edward Scissorhands, because there was so much involved with that, but with the Mad Hatter, with Sweeney, with those costumes, he really doesn’t give me a drawing and say, “This is what I want.” I think it’s because he knows the other people working with him are artists, so he gets very excited and enthusiastic when we show him what we have. He has a wonderful eye himself, and so he’ll a little magical touch to something.

How did the new 3-D technology he used in Alice in Wonderland affect your designs?

I did a lot of the computer animated costumes — I knew what the animated world was going to be, and I knew a bit about 3-D anyway, and so I sort of tried to make stuff that you could play with in 3-D. Stuff that pops in and out. We ended up physically making a lot of the other stuff and it would later end up being animated. It really helped Tim to see things as physical costumes first, and it gave the animators a lot of help as far as depth and texture and things like that. I think what we’re going to see now is the mixture of live and animated people and costumes in an animated world. It’s going to be a really amazing, fun thing for the audience.

I know he wanted to depart with the traditional narrative. How tied were you to the original illustrations, and what were you reference points for designing a new Alice in Wonderland?

It was really freeing, because there’s Lewis Caroll’s own drawings, of which there aren’t very many and they’re quite simple. As Alice went through various eras, there’s classic references for them. Because this is so different from what people are going to expect — Alice isn’t a ten-year-old girl, she’s a young woman — there’s a nod to the classical need for that. But once she goes into Wonderland, we took it to another place. The Hatter has a hat and the recognizable elements, but we explored the world of hat makers in London in the period. So we pulled from that for inspiration more than the previous illustrations, and Johnny used that for his character. They called hatters “mad hatters” because they used these toxic glues and dyes all the time, and they were actually quite mad, a lot of them. So it was quite cool to read about that business in that time, and that they were actually quite in demand and made a quite decent living at that period.

Now when you do something historically accurate and less fanciful than something like Alice in Wonderland, such as Public Enemies, how much research goes into it before you even sketch your first drawing?

In a story like Public Enemies, it’s about people who existed, so you go to that trough, using what few images of them existed. Actually when I do period work, I really like to read about the period as much as I like to look at pictures, because sometimes the written word is much better at conveying what their lives were really like and how much they had, and where their clothes came from. Because a lot of time, people dressed in their Sunday best to pose for a picture. They didn’t take snapshots until much later — there certainly wasn’t much of that going on in the 1930s.

For most of these guys, it was mugshots and prison entrance and exit clothes, but I had a lot of people do online research, and Michael Mann of course had been on the project for a long time and had very deep research and was quite specific. The production designer usually starts a show before I do and they usually have a depth of research. So it’s a combination of all that.

You have some TV credits as well, such as The Tick. Did you design The Tick’s costume?

Yeah. The pilot.

Is it true The Tick’s moving antennae cost $1 million to produce?

Not the ones I did. Maybe later when they did the series they spent more money, but I did the pilot. I remember the amount that costume cost, as a matter of fact, and the budget for that kind of TV pilot is usually much higher. I didn’t have the kind of R&D you get when they decide to really go for it.

What was the most expensive costume you’ve ever made?

I’d say probably the most expensive costumes I’ve ever made were the costumes in The Planet of the Apes, because of the research and development that went into them and the amount of layers. I got the cost per costume down, but because it involved so many processes, with sculpting, and bodysuits, and cool suits, and oversuits, and helmets, and footwear, and handwear, that had to work for action and look like monkeys, that was probably the most expensive per-unit costume ever. The period stuff I spend a lot of time on, I have good textile artists. They’re not cheap, but they’re not out of control expensive either, because you have to make it work.

Speaking of making it work, do you watch Project Runway?

I have watched Project Runway, but I’m not a devout watcher of it. But I think it’s a great show, what I’ve seen of it, and I think Tim Gunn is a very positive, amazing guy.

I ask because they’ll often dismiss something on the show as looking “too costumey,” and I’m wondering if you take offense to that.

No, because I think the street world that it’s in is different. People like to stir up the fashion vs. costume world, and I think what they mean by “too costumey” is that it’s too much, or not real enough for everyday wear. You couldn’t say that about John Galliano’s shows, right? I mean they’re awesome and they’re total costume. It’s just a different thing. They do like to slag off costumes a bit — not on that show, but in the fashion world. I don’t know why they feel they have to compete.

Are you ever tempted to, or maybe you do, design your own clothes?

You know, it’s strange. Like, I’ve designed my Oscar dresses and my people have made them for me, but my own clothes per se that I wear? No — but I do a lot of fitting. Like I’ll buy something and completely recut it. I’m so used to thinking that my clothes are fairly neutral, it’s other people’s clothes I like to design.

Next up you’re working on yet another Johnny Depp film — The Rum Diary. What’s the look you’re going for there?

Well, it’s real. It’s a guy that goes to Puerto Rico in 1960, who’s kind of like an average guy. He shows up with very few clothes. There’s contrasts in the story, between the haves and the have-nots, the Union Carbides vs. the locals, so I pushed that side of the contrast a bit. But it’s very research-oriented and real clothes a lot.

The Making of Tim Burton's MoMA Spot

From MoMA's Inside/Out blog, written by Julia Hoffman:

To help promote MoMA’s Tim Burton retrospective, we asked Burton himself to animate the MoMA logo for a thirty-second video that would be used to promote the exhibition on television, at the Museum, and online. Tim quickly came up with a concept utilizing stop-motion animation, and he asked Allison Abbate, his producer on Corpse Bride (2005) and the upcoming full-length version of Frankenweenie, if she could help pull things together.

Tim Burton's original robot design

Abbate turned to Mackinnon & Saunders, a U.K. firm that designs and builds animation puppets, models, and maquettes and produces TV commercials and entertainment programs for children’s TV, because they had worked on past Burton projects, including Corpse Bride. Company heads Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders pick up the story: “For the promo, Tim had designed a cute and quirky little robot character whose job was to inflate four typically Burton-esque balloons spelling out the MoMA logo. The whole premise sounded very simple, until we found out the timescale. We had just three weeks to create the character, the balloons, animate them, and get the footage out to Los Angeles for post production.”

The robot model and storyboards

Mackinnon continues, “Tim was very keen for the whole piece to be rendered in stop motion. For the robot character this wasn’t so much of a problem, Joe Holman, one of our lead sculptor/designers, broke all records to get the character fully sculpted and broken down into his constituent elements, head, body, arms, legs ready for moulding.”

Sculptor/designer Jo Holman renders the Robot in modeling clay

At the same time the problems of creating the illusion of four balloons being inflated in stop motion was being addressed. “The first thing we did was buy some large foil balloons and blow them up just to see what dynamics we were dealing with. We considered creating actual rubber balloons and inflating them with helium and shooting them time lapse but in such a short time if we hadn’t got it right the first time we would miss the deadline,” says Mackinnon. The team also considered replacement animation, a technique whereby each stage of a balloon’s inflation would be rendered as a separate model. “Again time was against us and there was no way we could produce the literally dozens of stages we’d need in time.” adds Saunders, “For all these reasons we decided to go with CG for the balloons and called our friends at Flix Facilities to create a test shot of the 3-D balloons for us.”

Lead CG artist Simon Partington took up the challenge. Within a day he had a beautiful bobbing balloon for us to see. “It was gorgeous,” says Mackinnon. “A bit too gorgeous. It didn’t have that quirky stop-motion feel that Tim was looking for so we asked Simon to try again.” Sculptor/designer Noel Baker quickly produced plastercine sculpts of the balloons and painted them to match Burton’s designs. These were then photographed and shipped over to the Flix team. “We reproduced the shape of Noel’s fantastic sculpts as closely as possible in CG.” explains Partington, “We then took Tim’s actual drawings and textured them onto the balloons before adding some of the same imperfections such as fingerprint detail that Noel had deliberately left on his sculpt. This all helped to recreate the sense of realism that stop motion provides.”

John Whittington maps the Burton design onto the 'M' balloon

Over the course of two days Partington and his team nailed down a technique that not only gave the light, fluffy feel of big rubber balloons but also had the slightly staccato feel of stop motion. The tests were rushed over to Burton, who was deep into post-production on Alice in Wonderland. “There was a huge sigh of relief when Tim gave the thumbs up. In all honesty I don’t know how we’d have got this done in time without the Flix team’s work,” MacKinnon smiles.

The Flix CGI team: Simon Partington, Neil Sanderson, John Whittington, and Mike Whipp

Meanwhile, head puppetmakers Caroline Wallace and Richard Pickersgill completed mold-making and cast out body parts for the robot character in fiberglass, rubber, and silicone, while at the same time constructing the intricate metal skeleton, which fits inside the puppet and enables it to hold any pose during the animation process.

Richard Pickersgill adding the finishing touches to the robot

“Typically a puppet character can take anywhere between twelve to eighteen weeks to produce,” says Pickersgill, “But Tim’s design lent itself to a very economical build and we put the puppet together in just ten days, probably something of a record!”

Pickersgill completed the final paint job a mere twenty-four hours before photography was due to begin. “As he was a bit of a beat-up looking little fellow, I decided to add streaks of rust around joints and arms. We sent pictures off to Tim and the only change he made was to remove the rust—so there was an eleventh hour (literally!) repaint.” Pickersgill chuckles, “I think the paint was possibly still tacky when we put him on the set!”

An arm is released from the mold

With the delivery deadline only four days away, lighting cameraman Martin Kelly and animator Chris Tichborne took over. “Our set was very simple,” says Kelly, “Tim wanted the robot and the balloon against a flat grey background. It was great because it further emulated the look of his original pen-and-ink drawings on a plain sheet of paper. We had three days to shoot the whole piece and my first take had to be right. I’d spent a day the previous week videoing myself performing the robot part. You feel a bit silly but Neil Sutcliffe, who edited the footage into his animatic, was very kind. He didn’t laugh too much!” Even for such a short piece, Tichborne tried to cram in as much in as he could. “Richard and Caroline had included a hinge top to the robot’s head which bobs open and closed as he walks. I also had in my mind Charlie Chaplin when the robot walked—not directly copying him but more just how he would create an idiosyncratic walk.”

DOP Martin Kelly slates a shot

CG lead Simon Partington was on set the whole time doing test composites of the balloons and the animation, just to make sure everything was lining up in terms of lighting and the timing of the dynamics. “The CG and stop-motion animation had to be delivered simultaneously; there would be no time to fix things later so we were literally doing the CG renders and the animation at the same time. Seeing it come together shot by shot was fantastic!”

Although the shoot took three long days over a weekend, the team’s experience and preparation paid off and the shoot went off without a hitch. The precious footage was beamed off via a high-speed data link for Tim Burton to oversee the final post-production in Los Angeles.

Chris Tichborne helps the robot pump it up

“Tim and the folks at MoMA seemed very pleased with the results,” says Ian Mackinnon, “It was a great little project to have been involved with and we hope the audiences at MoMA like it too!”

Final robot on set

Monday, November 23, 2009

TBC News Now on Twitter!

The #1 source for Tim Burton-related news on the World Wide Web, the Tim Burton Collective, is now on Twitter!: http://twitter.com/TimBurtonNews Subscribe to our RSS feed for updates!

We will continue to post all of our news on this blog, but you can now keep updated via Twitter!

Tim Burton MoMA Exhibition Opens!

The massive exhibition "Tim Burton" is now open to the public at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The enormous retrospective of the filmmaker's artwork and career will run until April 26th, 2010, and includes over 700 pieces.

Burton at White House

Some direct evidence of Tim Burton at the White House's annual Halloween party this year:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Burton's Book Signing at MoMA

On Wednesday, November 18th, Tim Burton stopped by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and greeted hundreds of fans. For an hour and a half, the filmmaker signed autographs in copies of MoMA's very own Tim Burton book and the newly released The Art of Tim Burton, and chatted briefly with a swarm of enthusiasts. Though a bit overwhelmed by the crowd and chaotic circumstances, Burton seemed genuinely friendly and humbled to see such a large crowd of people who connected with his films and visions so strongly.

All images courtesy of Fuzzy Duck. All rights reserved.

Get Your Copy of "The Art of Tim Burton"!

You can now pre-order your very own copy of the lavish, comprehensive book, The Art of Tim Burton.

For those of you who may be wondering about the differences between the Standard and Deluxe editions of the books, here are the details:

The Standard edition
is $69.99. The Deluxe edition is $299.99, because it includes a hand signed inside cover, a numbered and individually signed lithograph - ready for framing, not folded, and a cloth slipcase. Other than that, the Standard and Deluxe editions are identical: both contain over 1000 illustrations and 430 pages plus foldouts, and commentaries from numerous friends and collaborators of Tim Burton. Each versions usually ship in 2 to 4 weeks.

If you happen to be in New York City, you can pick up your own copy in person at the Museum of Modern Art's book store. Otherwise, you can pre-order your copy from Steeles Publishing if you're in the United States, or from Forbidden Planet if you're in the UK or Europe.

Here are some more preview images from The Art of Tim Burton:

“Alien Fighting Men,” 1981-1983

Pen and ink, colored pencil

“The Red Queen,” 2008

Pen and ink, colored pencil

“Tim With Chinese Security,” 2006

Pen and ink, watercolor

Burton created this illustration while searching for shooting locations in China for Ripley's Believe It or Not. Burton is no longer attached to the project.

“Well Endowed,” 1980-1990

Water color, pencil

“Battle Spread,” 1980-1989

Pen and ink, watercolor

A mere fragment of the expansive fold-out spread featured in the book.

Helena Bonham Carter says: "Tim's 5-year-old son [Billy Ray Burton] and he both love to draw monsters. Sometimes it's difficult to tell who drew what. And I mean that as a compliment to both."

Burton on "Twilight", MoMA; Exhibition Preview

MTV News spoke with Tim Burton at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

In this video, Burton discusses how this massive retrospective was such a "surreal" event for him:

"It's so surreal that it's a bit of an out-of-body experience," he told MTV News at the MoMA. "So you don't actually feel like it's you; it's somebody else. But like I said, it's a cool honor. I got to see friends that I hadn't seen in many years. It's a real nice thing."

For the filmmaker, this artwork was meant to be more of a personal catharsis rather than made for public viewing. "I've been there [with therapists]. Done that," he joked. "Making movies is an expensive form of therapy, but it's better than therapy. I've had a couple of psychiatrists who were up there in that range."

Burton says he is not very good at drawing, but he likes the honest imperfections of his work. The flaws, the good things, the bad things — it's all a part of what makes it a piece of work," he explained. "I accept the flaws, as much as I may not like them. ... These things should be kept as they are. I grew up loving terrible movies, so you don't want them to change. You want them to be bad as ever."

The topic of the ever-popular Twilight series has been booming in the news. Jamie Campbell Bower, who will appear in the next installment of the saga, suggested Burton ought to direct the next movie. "He's being biased, because I worked with him on 'Sweeney Todd,' " Burton laughed. "But that's nice to hear. In case potential jobs run out, it'd be nice to know someone."

The grand retrospective "Tim Burton" will be open to the public on Sunday, November 22nd. Members of MoMA can catch a preview of it now. Here are a few samples of the vast array of movie props, paintings, personal photographs, sketches, and artifacts featured in the exhibition (all images courtesy of MTV News):

The gaping maw leading to the beginning of the gallery.

A personal letter from Tim to Johnny Depp.

A conceptual painting of Brainiac for the unrealized film Superman Lives.

Another illustration of Brainiac for Superman Lives.

A painting of the Joker from Batman, the quintessential insane menace.

The disembodied heads of Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker from Mars Attacks!

Artwork from the making of Mars Attacks!, partially inspired by classic B-grade science fiction movies and pulp comics, but very much of Burton's original imagination.

Burton's fear of clowns on a massive scale, in the form of an alien invasion.

A video from YouTube user FGuts123, featuring more previews of the exhibition and some words from Burton himself at the podium during the MoMA press preview: