ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.12 - MARCH 2000
El Dorado: The Old World Meets the New in "Tradigital" Animation
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If Tulio and Miguel were the first to be cast in a scene, who was the last? "If Altivo [the war horse] is in the scene, normally, he would be the last character you cast to because you want him to do a beat and react. You want him to delay his reaction so he listens to the lines and then reacts. You have to time each one and choreograph it. So, it's like a dance in that they all really react together. That's why five-character scenes are very costly because you can't cast them altogether usually. It's not the right way to do it anyway. You don't get that good a performance. Just like any good actors, they [animated characters] have to play and feed off the other performers."
The musical score on El Dorado is strictly high-powered, reuniting the Oscar-winning team from The Lion King, songwriters Elton John and Tim Rice, and composer Hans Zimmer who collaborated with John Powell on the music. Don Paul had nothing but praise for Zimmer. "Hans Zimmer's great. In my opinion, the Elton [John] songs were very pop. But by the time Hans got finished scoring, there was all this great sort of ethnic instrumental. He just brought a whole warmth to it that was not really your normal Elton song. It was out of his genre. It was into a whole different flavor for the film." More than likely this score will generate some Oscar and Grammy nominations of its own.
Ultimately, box office receipts will determine how much gold there is along The Road to El Dorado. If the film turns out to be as successful as it looks, no doubt it will launch a new era in feature animation. But whether or not DreamWorks' "tradigital" animation platform becomes the quintessential standard for the industry depends on how much freedom other studios are willing to give their artists. Despite the great cast, colorful characters and wonderful soundtrack, the key ingredient to El Dorado's success would have to be the freedom DreamWorks has provided animators to explore wider creative possibilities.
Like the people of El Dorado celebrating the coming of the new Gods, DreamWorks is hoping to have reason to celebrate real soon! TM & © 2000 DreamWorks LLC.
Ten Cool Facts About The Road To El Dorado
1. Character models for the three main characters were sculpted in clay, then lit and photographed to help effects artists understand how light was cast on the characters. Then an additional ten character models were used in constructing crowd sequences.
2. A scene in the "Ceynote Tribute" sequence has 2,013 3D characters in the crowd. A total of 156 3D characters were created for the film, by varying the hair, skin tone and clothing of the thirteen original models.
3. More than 485 artists from more than 30 different countries devoted some four and a half years to the making of The Road to El Dorado.
4. The first sequence of the film, "Creation" which tells the story of how the legendary city of El Dorado came to life, is a computer-generated sequence and was animated at DreamWorks' Pacific Data Images (PDI) in Palo Alto, California.
5. The "Crashing the Gate" sequence has seventy 3D shots, which took six artists a year to complete.
6. The film The River Wild was used as reference by layout and effects artists to approximate the speed the gondola might travel as it crashed through the entrance gate to the city of El Dorado.
7. A team of layout artists built a model out of Lego's before designing the alley set in the "Bull Chase" sequence.
8. The layout department used Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo as a reference for designing the cinematics of a scene where Miguel and Tulio are looking down into a ceynote well.
9. Approximately 3 million sheets of paper were used throughout the course of the production, along with more than 8 million paper reinforcements.
10. Approximately 87,957 pencils and 37,806 erasers were used during the production.
J. Paul Peszko is a freelance writer and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He writes feature articles, interviews and reviews for regional publications. He currently has two scripts under option and is working on a feature comedy, in addition to just completing his first novel. When he isn't writing, he teaches communications courses.
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