Mind Your Business: Animating A Tooth Fairy
Larry the Cable Guy has always been an animated character, now more than ever. I produced an animated version of Larry for his latest movie Tooth Fairy 2.
Remember The Rock as the Tooth Fairy? Drop that large chest down a foot and add a huge helping of blue collar humor and you’ve got the new Tooth Fairy.
This project became one of my favorites to work on. The director Alex Zamm is really creative and great to work with, the crew all got along and we had a lot of fun during production.
In addition to producing the 2D character animation in the movie, I also drew all the live-action storyboards and animatics. In fact, I started as the story artist and landed the animation producing gig near the end of production.
Before I came on, Alex had worked with a great cartoonist/designer PJ Tamayo to design the look of the animated sequence Alex wanted in the movie.
“This portion of the script gives us the entire mythology of Tooth Fairy’s universe” says Zamm. “It was originally written as a live-action talking head sequence but it had too much exposition. I thought it would be funny if we did this sequence like an old educational film and Larry had to sit there and watch an educational film about how to be a Tooth Fairy. Then we realized Larry had this pamphlet. Why not make it a pamphlet so when you open it each picture inside becomes like frames of a storyboard which turns into animated sequences, with the starting key frame being each illustration.”
Originally Alex had planned to shoot some of the Tooth Fairy backstory on a greenscreen, and we did board and did shoot some of the elements. But he felt the live action element didn’t move the story along fast enough.
We then planned a 1 minute animated sequence which would be comped onto a pamphlet that Larry is holding. We had the cover image and each picture on the inside animate in time to the Tooth Fairy narrator, voiced by Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina in the Austin Powers movies). The animation was designed into 6 pieces. There are two short animations of the Tooth Fairy character on the front of the pamphlet which comes to life. The inside of the folding pamphlet has 4 images. Each image comes to life as the camera moves from one frame to the next.
PJ had done some illustrative boards based on an earlier version of the script. I worked with Alex to refine the sequence, re-ordered the info and the did a full storyboard and animatic using much of PJs art and designs and flushed out the sequence, adding as many visual gags as we could without taking away from the scene.
Alex and I worked on the sequence for a while, getting the timing just right. We added gags and deleted gags, moved elements in the script, etc. I did the scratch track (and I sound SO MUCH like a tooth fairy) and added all the camera moves and moving elements directly in the animatic using Storyboard Pro.
I also like to add some sound effects into my animatics. Sometimes a sound effect really helps sell the gag. When I was boarding this, I would hear a buzzer or a giant clanging sound and it was funny to me. So I would add those sounds so it would be funny for everyone else. Those sounds, or ones very close, made it into the final mix of the movie, too.