El Dorado: The Old World Meets the New in "Tradigital" Animation
(continued from page 4)

Adding mannerisms is the key; and subtlety the method. "Little things just to bring a little ethnicity to her," says Guenoden. "She would have this little kookiness or playfulness that would translate into a little shake of the head or the shoulders without going too far because then she would be too much like a rap music character. Just enough so she's fun and kooky but still cute in a way. Not vulgar, not too rough. That was the main focus: to keep her cute whatever she was doing. Cute in an enjoyable way, not cute in a 1940s way, not in a Snow White way."

Rodolphe Guenoden, supervising animator on Chel. TM & © 2000 DreamWorks LLC.

So where did Guenoden find these subtle movements? First, he sat down with Rosie Perez on her breaks during the recording sessions for Chel and studied her mannerisms very closely as he listened to her tell stories and engage in casual conversation. Next, every Thursday evening, he watched Friends and Frazier for more comedic gestures and timing.

So how involved does Guenoden get with his characters? "Extremely involved," he admits, "especially with a female character and being a male animator, it's like having an affair for two years. You know working all day long with the same character, drawing the same features, curves. And then even though you go back home, you're still thinking about the scene and your character." Is he sad that the affair has finally ended? "I miss her already," Guenoden confesses.

The Final Polish
With the "tradigital" platform firmly in place, El Dorado presented far less problems visually than Prince. However, from a stylistic standpoint, it demanded greater attention in another area, namely the soundtrack. Co-director Don Paul spoke about the dialogue and what was unique about it. "I think stylistically it's a bolder film, and the use of dialogue in the film is much tighter. There's more overlap to the lines. We really have much more character interaction against each other's performances. It's just a whole different mentality of telling a story."

As usual they cut the dialogue for a scene in editorial then handed it off to the animators of that scene's lead character. "If Kevin [Kline] did a line, and Kenneth [Branagh] did another line, we'd cut it where it overlapped. Then we'd issue the scene to character animation for Tulio [Kline], and they would animate Tulio. We'd look at that and approve that. Then we'd hand it off to the animator who would do the Miguel [Branagh] character and animate it to react to the animation done on Tulio. So, basically one character would lead the way. Then we'd issue it to another character after his animation was done."

All of this is standard procedure. Over a 3-year period, Kline's voice was recorded on 25 separate occasions while Branagh's voice was recorded 22 times and Rosie Perez's voice 16 times.

This shot highlights the film's excellent acting. TM & © 2000 DreamWorks LLC.

Dialogue editing continued even while they worked on the animation. The directors kept sliding lines against one another to get just the right banter for Tulio and Miguel. "We were thinking about Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey types of films and Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. There's a certain way of rhythm, of dialogue against each other. And it's not line, beat, line all the time. And there's a real nice sort of overlap, and we wanted to create a little energy between these characters especially Miguel and Tulio. If you play back a lot of their sequences, you'll see that they're really just like good friends. They're kind of on top of each other's lines, finishing the other one's sentence."

A rare dual recording session set the model for the dialogue. "It was inspired by a recording session that was done for the sword fight. We recorded Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline together, which is very unusual for an animated feature. You never really record character actors together, but we wanted to get the interplay. And that's really where it started. They were kind of on each other's lines, and even though that was one of the only times we brought them together, we thought, 'Oh, my God, this is great!' So even when they were recorded seperately, in editorial we would work a rhythm. And it took a number of months before we got a real good rhythm of how the film needed to play, but it was initially inspired by that first recording session."

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