The just released DVD set of Tim Burton’s Oscar-nominated Frankenweenie should be afforded a spot in the collection of any animation fan as well as any serious student of the medium. Packaged in several different editions, including a 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy), the film and accompanying supporting materials are absolutely radiant – tremendous picture quality and high supplemental material production values make for a great viewer experience.
Watching the Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life featurette, I couldn’t help but think that in a perfect world, audiences could glimpse behind the scenes at the stop-motion process before watching the final film – the world of stop-motion puppetry at this level is truly remarkable to watch and at least for me, gives me an even greater admiration for the artistry involved in making such films. The featurette, hosted by the film’s producer, Allison Abbate, intersperses scenes from the movie with an intimate look into the detailed sets, props and animation process used in the film’s production. Key interviews explain how the film was made, how the production was broken down and how the pieces were all integrated into the finished film.
Many key aspects of the production are explained by the artists responsible for those areas of production. For example art director Alexandra Walker and lead painter Roy Bell talk about how every single item on every single set needs to be painted, by hand. At one point, Alexandra explains, “It’s the ongoing joke in the painting department when they ask me what color something should be and I say, ‘Well probably gray, because largely everything is gray.’”
There is an especially neat time-lapse sequence where you look down on the set of Victor’s house as animators dart in and out with blinding speed while they manipulate various puppets. At the same time, you’re also seeing the puppets they’re animating move across the set at what appears to be normal speed. It really demonstrates just how much time and effort it takes to produce such a small amount of animation. Animation supervisor Mark Waring shares that reality when describing the animation process. “It’s more perseverance really. Because you have to work quite hard to not get very much done at the end of the day.”
Producer Abbate also brings us a second featurette, a behind the scenes look at the Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit that is traveling around the world spotlighting sets, puppets, props and artwork from the film. This featurette also intersperses scenes from the movie with an intimate look at the artistry employed.
The full compilation also includes two shorts. The first is the new Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers, a cute piece that takes its cue from lead character Victor’s home movie making efforts within the film. Starring Victor’s dog Sparky, the short harkens back to the days when anyone with a super 8 camera was suddenly a backyard auteur.
Burton’s original Frankenweenie live action short is also included, which is certainly a treat for anyone interested in seeing one of the director’s earliest and most personal works.
The director himself captures the essence of what makes stop-motion so enjoyable when he says, “There is a beauty to stop-motion. It gives you a certain energy, to be there seeing the actual artistry right there on the set. That’s something that keeps me going and I think keeps people working on it going. All those elements make it a whole unique special thing for me.”
I couldn’t agree more. There is something almost magical about stop-motion films and this compilation brings the warmth and charm of Burton’s quirky stop-motion gem right to your doorstep.
Some of the key specs of the DVD are provided below.
4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)—Includes:
2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD) -- Includes: All 4-Disc bonus features
Feature Run Time: 87 Minutes
Ratings: U.S.: PG /Canada: PG
Bonus Features Not Rated
Aspect Ratio:Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)
DVD: Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16x9
Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0
Dolby Digital, French 7.1 DTS-HDHR, Spanish 5.1
DVD: English, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English
DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
Language Tracks: English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles