- Here’s a piece I posted in Feb. 2007. I think it worth revisiting:
- We have two dvds that feature films adapted from Hans Christian Andersen tales. These films include: The Red Shoes, The Little Match Girl, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Nightingale. In making the extra material for the dvds, including a couple of documentaries, we’ve had to prep a lot of artwork and images from the films.
I found when scanning in Jabberwocky for this “Splog” that the images came alive in the digital format. It’s much more striking than the original films. That’s also true of the artwork we’re scanning from some of these films.
Nightingale was adapted from the Andersen tale, but we made a decision, early on, to base the story in feudal Japan rather than China. This allowed me to cast one of my favorite actors, Mako, as the Narrator and Emperor.
It also enabled us to adapt the beautiful art of Japan to the animation.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
The backgrounds were done by Masako Kanayama from layouts prepared by Rodolfo Damaggio and Sue Perotto. They were done in delicate watercolors with a limited palette. The characters were inked with sepia colored brush markers so that there was a dramatic thick/thin line. To expedite the production, I animated with the marker. It allowed more control in my scenes and saved the inking stage.
The following setups give an indication of the work.
This opening pan set the mood of Feudal Japan with gold paint flattening out in the filmed version. Here it looks gold as it should, rather than the brownish tint in the film. The actual Bg is quite long.
Not once did we consider looking at anime for the style. We studied the great artists of Japan of the period and looked at actual photographic reference. It never pays to study animated films for influence in preparing an animated flim. Take the inspiration from artists and real life.
The Emperor’s court took some concern. It gave us the opportunity of showing off some of our research about interiors and allowed us to show off many of our principal characters in the opening setpiece.
In the original there were really only two primary characters: the Emperor and the Nightingale. Since the Nightingale couldn’t talk, Maxine Fisher, who adapted the story, introduced the young girl who knows the Nightingale from the forest. She’s the intermediary between the bird and humans. She also sings all the key songs. June Angela, a fabulous actress and a wonderful soprano played the part.
The Emperor had to develop into a very sympathetic character over the course of the film. In Andersen’s story he learns a lesson from the Nightingale. The mechanized bird cannot live up to the real songbird. We also gave the Emperor nightmares that developed out of the Emperor’s spirituality; this was a small nod to Andersen’s outspoken Christian commentaries throughout all of his stories. We allowed the Emperor to have his own gods.