Animation Director Hal Hickel Talks ILM and Rango
DS: Was there ever a point in the production where you either went to bed one night or you woke up one morning thinking, “Wow! What did we get ourselves into here?” And conversely was there a point in the production where you said to yourself, “Okay, this is going to be good film?”
HH: Yeah. There was a lot of fear going into. You know it sounds cliché, but it’s true that if you are not frightened going into a project it may not be worth doing. I mean, we were as inspired by our fear as anything else, but we were all afraid going into the film on a lot of levels. But there was a point, I really don’t know how far into it, maybe six months after we started building assets and a few months after we were in shot production, when we had two minutes of footage that we assembled into a reel for Gore to show some of the guys at Paramount. When we saw that footage cut together with some music, fully rendered, that’s when we all started to breathe a little easier. You knew this was really cool looking, it’s going to work.
One thing that was unusual about this film was that the story reels created by Gore’s story team at his Blind Wink offices in LA didn’t change remarkably once we got into shot production. There was no re-writing of the third act or whole scenes being taken out or replaced or added. The structure stayed remarkably the same, which is great for us because it allowed us to really focus on just doing our best work and not worrying about reworking things. We loved what we were seeing in the story reels. We felt great about that. We just worried about our part of it, where the animated performance is really going to come to life and flush it out. Is the shot going to be rendered in a way that looked as gorgeous as Crash McCreery’s production artwork?
Once we had that two minute reel of footage, we were all breathing a little easier, because clearly the animation was working. It was bringing new ideas in a new level to the humor and the dialogue, the renderings were looking gorgeous. Yeah, that was the point where we thought, “Okay, let’s get the movie done now, we can stop being afraid and we can just enjoy the ride and do the hard work.”
Dan Sarto is publisher of AWN.com.