SpornFilms 24 Feb 2007 09:27 am


- Lately we’ve been preparing documentaries/extras about our Hans Christian Andersen films which will finally be released in dvd come June. These include: The Red Shoes, The Little Match Girl, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Nightingale. In making this extra material for the dvds we’ve had to prep a lot of artwork and images from the films.

Yesterday, 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.

She knows the whereabouts of the Nightingale and can take the Emperor’s consort to her.

She can also console the Nightingale when she’s hurt by the Emperor.

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.

6 Responses to “Nightingales”

  1. on 24 Feb 2007 at 10:44 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    These images are gorgeous and very different from your other work (also gorgeous but in different ways). I would never have guessed that this came from your studio.

  2. on 24 Feb 2007 at 11:43 am 2.Michael said …

    Thanks, Mark. It’s just one of those I always chalked up to being underrated. I think it’s a gorgous and subtle film we did. Caleb Sampson wrote a beautiful score for it as well. It aired on PBS’s Long Ago & Far Away series. Mayabe the dvd will give it some attention.

  3. on 24 Feb 2007 at 7:05 pm 3.Mac Cauley said …

    Beautiful artwork! I really want to watch this one.

  4. on 26 Feb 2007 at 2:54 pm 4.Julie said …

    So lush and elegant. Just beautiful.

  5. on 12 May 2007 at 3:42 am 5.Natalia said …

    Beautiful images! I love that style so delicate and same time strong
    Michael I was enjoying working for you and I`m enjoying your art

  6. on 03 Sep 2013 at 12:26 am 6.Ms. Moua said …

    I first saw the Nightingale along with my family when I was around 8-9 years old. My mother found the video in our local library and we all loved it. The images and music were beautiful and it holds a very special place in my heart.

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