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The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:06 pm
by TheButcher
Dread Central Exclusive:
Tim Burton Working on a Nightmare Before Christmas Sequel

Uncle Creepy wrote:Now here's some really cool news sent in to us by a very reliable source on the East Coast! While Tim Burton is busy toiling away on the highly anticipated Dark Shadows adaptation right now, he also has his sights set on a sequel to his much beloved The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The news comes to us from a recent interview with Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens (who worked with Burton on Pee-wee's Big Adventure) in promotion of his live Broadway show, which closes January 2nd but is being taped for HBO. When asked if he would like to work with Burton again, Reubens replied that he'd like to, but Burton has so many projects happening right now, including Dark Shadows, it's not likely. He went on to mention a few more, but the big reveal came when Reubens mentioned that Burton is also planning a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Talk about a late holiday gift, huh? Look for more on the return of Jack Skellington and company soon!

Re: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:13 pm
by TheButcher
From Newsarama 08-19-2008:
Animated Shorts: Henry Sellick, 1 - Nightmare and More

Steve Fritz wrote:As any horror fan knows, it’s just damn difficult to keep the undead down. If you don’t, ask Henry Sellick.

For those who don’t know, Sellick is one of the top stop-motion animation directors in the world, having comfortably settled in a position somewhere between golden age masters like Ray Harryhausen, George Pal and Art Clokey and modern day masters like Jan Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay and Aardman Studios. It doesn’t take long to see he loves working in the genre that’s truly the oldest form of animation either.

“[As a kid I was inspired by] The early Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts in particular,” Sellick reminisced over a telephone conference this weekend. “I also love the Seventh Voyage, the best cyclops that will ever be done. There was just this wonderful sense that Harryhausen's monsters were real, despite the sort of lurching quality they had, they had an undeniable reality to them.

“I love all sorts of animation, probably the most beautiful would be the traditional hand drawn animation that Disney is known for. Stopmotion has a certain grittiness and is filled with imperfections, and yet their is an undeniable truth, that what you see really exits, even it if is posed by hand, 24 times a second. This truth is what I find most attractive about stop motion animation.”

Yet his first work experience would be in traditional animation. In 1980 he was part of the legendary animation team who created Disney’s The Fox and the Hound. This team also included Brad Bird, Don Bluth, John Lassiter and a number of others who would become movers and shakers in the cartoon universe.

There was another guy over there in the Magic Kingdom who Sellick also hung out with. His name was Tim Burton. Like Sellick, Burton was a stop motion fan. More important, Burton had convinced Disney to finance two shorts using the process, Frankenweenie and Vincent. Burton got the initial idea to also do Nightmare Before Christmas there. Sellick remembers it well.

“’Vincent’ was Tim's first stop motion film that he made with Rick Heinrichs,” Sellick recalled. “It had a striking look, bold design and was basically part of Tim's growth as an artist, which influence the look of Nightmare Before Christmas.

“I was working with Tim at Disney in the early 1980s when he first conceived the poem and idea of Jack Skellingon taking over Christmas,” said Sellick. Sculptor Rick Heinrichs took the original characters designed by Tim: Jack, Zero and Sandy Claws and created beautiful maquettes that showed what they'd be like as stop motion characters. It was originally pitched to Disney as a TV special but was rejected. I had moved to Northern California where I worked as storyboard artist and a stop motion filmmaker with short films, TV commercials and MTV. While Tim went on to achieve great success in live action.”

In fact, Burton was mega-hot. His first features films, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman, had both made tons of money. Batman II and Edward Scissorhands were in the wings. That didn’t mean cinching the Nightmare deal was a fait accompli.

“There was resistance to doing it all at first,” says Sellick. “When Tim first pitched it to Disney in the early 1980s there was resistance to the project in any medium. But 10 years later when the film was made there was never an issue about it being stop motion. It was simply a case of that is how Tim conceived it.”

Apparently, both Burton and Heinrichs hadn’t forgotten their old buddy Sellick either, who was making waves with his short “Slow Bob In The Lower Dimensions.”

“I got a call from Rick and he said there was something important we must talk about in person. He flew to San Francisco and said Tim is making Nightmare Before Christmas and wants you to direct it. I met with Tim and Danny Elfman and my small crew that I had been working with immediately became supervisors on a feature film.”

The film would then take the next three years of Sellick’s life. Part of the process was finding enough animators familiar with stop motion. In an interview conducted a year ago, part of this problem was solved through hiring people who worked for Art and Joe Clokey, the creators of the last Gumby series.

“Directing stop motion animation is actually a sort of combination of directing live action and 'regular' animation,” says Sellick. “We have real sets, real lights, real cameras. There is a costume department, a hair department and our puppets are the actors. Like regular animation it is a divide and conquer. It is all divided up into manageable pieces, edited in storyboards before the movie is made and then shot a frame a time like traditional animation.

“There was a Gumby revival by Art Clokey in the 80s and a new TV series that followed, which attracted a lot of young stop motion animators to California. Many of the animators for Nightmare Before Christmas came from that group...because the Gumby project had been over for almost three years so we did not 'take' anyone. We [also] hired several ILM veterans to work on the original film however.

“We don't think we actually achieved a very fluid motion. It was basically made the same way the original King Kong was made or any of Ray Harryhausen's creatures. Virtually all animation is labor intensive, since it was what I do it did not seem any harder than others. The small army topped out at under 200 people. Because the range of talents and abilities, there was always something amazing and wonderful to see virtually every day, so that the long journey of production was re-inspired regularly. We used Disney's fledgling effects unit in Burbank and they created the very simple snow that falls at the end of the film. Other than that it was all pretty much done by hand in house.”

Not that there weren’t other challenges, either.

“While virtually every bit of the stop motion animation was challenging, there were several particularly difficult scenes to pull off,” Sellick recalled. “One began where Jack is shot out of the sky with his Skellington Reindeer flying over head and being shot down and lands in the arms of the angel statue in a graveyard and goes on to sing a song there while the camera continuously circles him. The opening song of the film ‘This is Halloween’ was monstrously challenging as it introduced all the Halloween Town monsters to the audience. We were [also] desperate to flesh out the town, after you go through the mummy and vampires etc it gets slim. We used everything we came up with.”

One character in particular, Oogie Boogie, was not only a villain in the film, but a monster to animate.

“Oogie started out as the size of a pillowcase and not that scary or evil or important,” said Sellick, “but as the story developed I felt the need to grow him in both his scale and his role. Ultimately Danny Eflman's ‘Oogie Boogie’ song is what truly defined his character as the villain and Jack's role was fully defined as a misguided hero. [Still], he was a huge puppet, very difficult to muscle around it was almost as if he was trying to push back while you were animating him.”

Sellick also recalls that Disney itself was generally highly cooperative on the project. He recalled the Mouse Works had only one truly objectionable note, for the man with the Tear Away Face, which they thought was too terrifying for kids. Burton also only made some minor modifications.

“Working with Tim was great, he came up with a brilliant idea, designed the main characters, fleshed out the story, got Danny Elfman to write a bunch of great songs,” said Sellick. “He got the project on its feet and then stood back and watched us fly with it. Tim, who made two live-action features in LA while we were in San Francisco making Nightmare, was kept in the loop throughout the process, reviewing storyboards and animation. When we completed the film Tim came in with his editor Chris to pace up the film and make a particular story adjust to make Lock, Shock, and Barrel just a touch nicer.”

Then it was time for release. Mind you, Disney was on one of the hottest streaks in the history of the studio. It had already set box office records with its release of Aladdin, who’s opening weekend brought in $19 million. In 1993, that was not chump change by anyone’s standards. Powered by the voice work of Robin Williams, it would eventually bring in $500 million internationally. Word on the street that their next traditional animated project, 1994’s The Lion King could potentially be bigger (which it eventually was at $783 million). Yet inbetween was this very, very, exceedingly strange movie about monsters delivering shrunken heads during Christmas. To top it, Disney didn’t even brand the film as one of its own. They shipped it over to their more adult Touchstone subsidiary.

Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas actually didn’t do bad for its full wide screen debut. It brought in $8 million. From there though it only went on to do a lifetime box office of $73 million, not even 15% of what Aladdin grossed, and Nightmare was the Christmas release to boot.

“Nightmare was just too different from what Disney was having success with,” Sellick opined, “although I don't think Walt Disney himself would have had a problem with it being labeled a Disney film. Just check out some of the sequences from Fantasia, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Ward Kimball's goons and monsters in Sleeping Beauty and you'll see Nightmare and it's characters were carrying on in the same tradition. While it took sometime, about seven years ago when the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was transformed into a Nightmare extravaganza, we then felt we were truly loved by the Disney label.”

But as said before, it’s truly hard to keep the undead down. One could say that after it’s inauspicious start, Nightmare developed a life of its own.

“At this point, 15 years later after the original release, I've grown used to seeing Jack and Sallie turn up all over the place,” says Sellick. “This did not happen right away it has taken years for our initial cult audience to grow into a pop culture phenomenon. Just this past Halloween, we had some girls show up at the house in NBChristmas costumes and my wife and I pointed out one of the original Jack Skellington and the Skellington Reindeer which was in our office. It blew their minds and they screamed with joy, taking their handfuls of candy and went away just full of life.”

Re: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:13 pm
by TheButcher
From Newsarama 08-21-2008:
Animated Shorts: Henry Selick, 2 - Coraline
Steve Fritz wrote:One thing that will be different about Coraline is the technology involved. Called ‘stereoscopic’ it will use a new shooting system that will greatly enhance the three-dimensional aspects of stop-motion animation.

“Shooting stereoscopically just gives you more of what is there,” says Selick, “just a little more sense of the reality of this medium, it does not live in the computer nor is it a series of drawings, it's an actual real set and puppets. Mainly it is the ability to capture images in a computer while you shoot. When we did Nightmare we could capture 2 images total. Now you can shoot the whole scene and play it back while you animate. This assists the animator but actually slows down the process because they keep checking it every time they shoot a new frame. Computers have slowed down what is already a time consuming process.”

This discussion about technology then moved things back to putting out Nightmare on Blu-Ray. Selick acknowledged the precautions he and Burton took when shooting the original are really going to pay off with this new release.

“The fact is the film was originally shot in 35mm film,” he said, “each image is pristine with no blur, so the source material is already high def, more so than a standard film. So the mastering is less of a challenge. Some of the details that may become apparent in Blu-ray are that we tried to add texture to all the characters and backgrounds as if they were an engraving. For example you'll see that Jack's stripes on his suit are hand drawn, and the hills behind also have hand made textures built into them. Additional details would be things like the leaves that Sallie is stuffed with, the bugs inside Oogie Boogie. Look into the shadow areas, there are hidden details there that have never shown up on previous DVD but will show up on the Blu-ray.”

Which in turn led back to the enduring appeal of the movie and the stop motion process.

“It is simply the fact that what were shooting really exits,” said Selick. “So you get immediate feedback and can make adjustments accordingly. I'd actually done stop motion prior to working on The Fox and the Hound, including some life size figures for an independent film of mine. While I enjoyed 2d animation while working at Disney, stop motion had a more visceral charge to it and was therefore where I was always going to end up.”

Besides, Selick admits there’s more than a bit of him in the movie itself.

“The character I'm closest to is Jack Skellington,” he said, “because as a director you often have to act out various characters for your animators, since I resemble Jack Skellington more than the other characters, I think more of my gestures got into Jack.”

As for his future? It sounds like Selick is going to be busy for some time to come.

“Sure I'd love to do a short film for Caroline Thompson's company,” he said. “She did a great job shaping the film's story from Danny's songs. There have been discussions over the years about a possible sequel [to Nightmare]. When those discussions came up about 7 years ago it was unsettling that it was suggested this time it would have to be done in CG. I'm glad that did not happen. As far as coming up ideas for a sequel, you have to admit there are a lot of other great holidays for Jack Skellington to take over.”

That would be cause for celebrating, wouldn’t it? Personally, wouldn’t you love to see what Jack would do to the Easter Bunny.

Re: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:25 pm
by TheButcher

Re: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:26 pm
by TheButcher