Last month we were invited to visit the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale. Daytripping Dad, Mike, as always with Hollywood events, covered the visit for us. His coverage is as follows:
The beautiful DreamWorks campus is amazing. You can really tell it was designed to focus on the creativity and productivity of it’s staff and if you’ve seen their animation you can see how it pays off. This is the studio that brought you Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon! They have now thoughtfully taken the beloved Jay Ward cartoon Peabody’s Improbable History and updated it for modern audience without taking away from what made the characters entertaining and endearing in eye poppy 3D!
Our day started by screening the 3D movie right there in one of DreamWorks’s cozy screening rooms. Our 3D glasses were shaped just like those worn by Mr. Peabody. This should also be the case when you take your kiddos to see in theaters on March 7th. Look for our review tomorrow on the blog. After we watched the fun film, our large group of bloggers was split into two and we were all taken into breakout sessions with artists directly involved in the production. The picture above is the Art Director for the film giving us a storyboard run down of a hilarious scene from the movie. Storyboards and animation are synonymous and have been used ever since the technique was pioneered with Walt Disney.
Another session included a look into the special effects. Peabody and Sherman travel through time with their special WABAC time machine. The amount of effort that was put into the space travel sequences is mind blowing. It took hundreds of man hours and months of work to create these moments that last just a minute on screen. It was made clear to us that just because these are computer animated films, they are not any less difficult or time consuming than their hand-drawn 2D counterparts.
Later we were able to have a nice lunch and were joined at the tables by many of those same people involved in making the film. I intentionally put myself at the same table as the director, Rob Minkoff. I was like a giddy schoolboy chatting with the man. I mean, this was the director of The Lion King, the biggest grossing animated move EVER. I was able to get some inside dirt on how difficult it was to get this picture made. The project had been attempted in the 90s but then interest waned. Then the problem became acquiring the rights to the characters. Tiffany Ward, the daughter of the creator, Jay Ward, had recently spent a lot of time and legal expense to bring the rights to all her father’s characters under one roof. Once that happened, it opened the possibility to bring Peabody and Sherman to the big screen. Minkoff is very passionate about his film, as you would expect him to be. He was very interested in the father/son relationship between the two characters.
Following lunch we were able to have a Q & A with the actors in the film, Ariel Winter and Max Charles. She plays the character of Penny, who at first appears to be a bully to Sherman but those differences are quickly resolved as their adventures get underway.
Winter was asked what she thought about the bullying aspect of her character. She answered, “I think that when [Penny] gets threatened by Sherman a little bit because he comes in and kind of takes her place, I think she just acts out to take what she feels is hers back. I don’t find Penny to be a bully in a sense. Because in the end, Penny really realizes some things about herself and we see that she has a huge heart and she really ends up caring for Sherman and Mr. Peabody.” Winter and Charles recorded their parts separately. They both wished that they could have worked together more frequently, but the animation process is unique for performers. Charles is now ten years old and first began recording his parts when he was barely eight. This film can be enjoyed by the parents just as much as children and that’s not something that can be said for many animated films these days.
Connect with Mr. Peabody Online!
Visit the official website
Like Mr. Peabody & Sherman on Facebook
Follow @DWAnimation on Twitter #MrPeabody
Disclosure: The trip was courtesy of DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox for purposes of reviewing the film.