This time Arc Prods. takes on the Hoodwinked sequel.
Has it really been five years since Hoodwinked was released? Well, we were promised a sequel, and even though it's been sitting on a shelf for a year, today The Weinstein Co. finally offers Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil in 3-D (marking the feature directorial debut of Mike Disa). Red is voiced by Hayden Panettiere instead of Anne Hathaway, and Jim Belushi is also MIA, but Granny (Glenn Close), Wolf (Patrick Warburton), Twitchy (Cory Edwards) and the rest of the gang is back, and joined by a cast of new characters, including Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) and Verushka the Witch (Joan Cusack). The animation was done by Arc Prods. (formerly Starz Animation Toronto) and we spoke with Matthew Teevan, head of production, and Paul Kohout, animation supervisor, about the experience.
Bill Desowitz: When did you work on Hoodwinked Too!?
Matthew Teevan: We finished more than two years ago. We worked for 15 months from beginning to end, with about 22 or 23 animators. Kanbar fed the story reel to us and we started with act one. They were still doing story while we were still building assets and starting animation.
MT: Yes, this overlapped with those shows.
BD: What do you recall about the experience?
MT: We have a pretty solid infrastructure here, and we managed everything pretty discreetly. There was the Hoodwinked crew and the crews for the other shows. We didn't make any pipeline changes for the show itself. Again, part of the reason we were able to do the show is that we've put together a number of TV and features through. We had animators we knew could do it and we could light the stuff. It was more just leveraging all the stuff that already existed. The big city scenes and forest scene had to be figured out how to be rendered. How do you make it look like 5,000 trees without building them all. Things like that had to be figured out just to make it feasible. I think some of the biggest accomplishments aren't necessarily the showiest.
Paul Kohout: Physically that city scene had to be pared back. We were working on a system where we had city blocks built and we'd bring in which blocks we needed with as little geometry as we could get away with. I think originally it had been modeled as one set, which was virtually unusable and unrenderable, so we spent a lot of time mapping that city out and breaking it apart. I think we were down to individual storefronts at one point so we could dress the city streets differently when they needed to be. A LEGO system, basically, would be one way to describe it.
BD: What were some of the biggest challenges?
PK: We definitely tried to amp up the quality while staying in tune with the original. Overall, though, it went pretty quickly. In a sequel you get a pretty good idea of the characters so there wasn't too much time that needed to be devoted to development.
MT: The characters are established and they're on a mission [to find Hansel and Gretel and rescue Granny from her arch-rival, Verushka].
PK: The characters are now part of this crime fighting organization so we have a little bit more to work with in that sense. We're allowed to go a little deeper with these characters.
BD: You created all new assets?
PK: Yes, along with new animation rigs, but they were almost a carbon copy of the original ones. I don't know that we ever saw the original animation rigs. But we used our proprietary rigs that were able to do pretty much anything.
BD: You use Maya?
MT: Yes, we use Maya and more proprietary stuff for our pose panels, and we render in mental ray, composite in Fusion; and Photoshop is always used for matte paintings. We have a proprietary tracking system that we use for managing this stuff called Starfish. For effects, we used Houdini for some of the explosions and Maya.
BD: There's definitely a lot more action.
MT: Yes, it was very big in scope, and they wanted to parody Michael Bay. So there's lots of action and explosions and set pieces that differentiate it from the first one.
PK: We had a trailer explosion, which is the Die Hard 2 parody. That was a long, planned out sequence. There's a chase through a bunch of windmills and we definitely had some challenges there. I think we ended up doing something along the lines of a conveyor belt -- akin to a rolling ball -- with windmills placed on it and recycling it throughout the shot. So we had to stage a very large set in a small space.
BD: What was it like working with director Mike Disa?
MT: It was interesting because they were based in LA for most of it and maybe came up here three times. It was all done remotely. It actually went a lot better than I was expecting because of the time difference.
PK: Mike is a 2D guy and wanted to get a little more squashy-and-stretchy. I specifically remember spending a lot of time on Hansel and Gretel's faces because they were brand new characters, and we had more of an opportunity to play with the 2D feel. A lot of the texture work, too, was made more uniform across the characters than on the first show.
BD: Did you work on the 3-D?
MT: That was done somewhere else. It was definitely discussed early on, but was a budgetary thing. Mike was keen on it. But it never manifested itself while we were working on it.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.