Animation Guild

Fall 2019

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D E PA R T M E N T 39 KEYFRAME FALL 2019 39 "I've owned giant dogs my whole life and the relationship between a girl and yeti, this non-speaking character, really appealed to me," she says. She started to pull influences from her own life as she began crafting the story about a 16-year-old girl named Yi who finds a yeti in the center of a bustling Chinese metropolis. Culton also wanted Yi to be independent and not afraid to get dirty, showcase a vast journey in the narrative and take the story to a whimsical place that involved magic. It challenged her imagination and she found inspiration while hiking in the woods. "It's been a powerful journey because when you pull stories from stuff that is grounded and based on truth, I think it comes from a very sincere place," she adds. Set in China and showcasing Chinese characters, the production had a valuable partner—Pearl Studios (formerly known as Oriental DreamWorks)—to ensure the story was both authentic and honored the culture. "It was really back and forth," says Production Designer Maxwell Boas, who was enlisted to foster and execute the look of the film. "Does this exist in China? Is this accurate? Or even some of the postures the character might stand in, graphics on a t-shirt, building signs, and things like that." They dove into details: How do you pour a tea kettle? Can someone hold a pork bun in one hand and then use chopsticks in the other? Or simply noting the fact that certain signs on doors and windows are often hung upside down? The teams in both Shanghai and Glendale held bootcamp conference sessions on BlueJeans, a Skype-like software, every other day, and when the staff at DreamWorks headed home the Shanghai team was beginning their day. "We kind of did a handoff [and when] we would come in the next morning, we'd have artwork to look at from their full day," says Boas. ABOMINABLE STARTED OUT AS A BLANK SLATE—DREAMWORKS WANTED A FILM ABOUT A YETI. THE IDEA INTRIGUED JILL CULTON, THE WRITER AND DIRECTOR, BECAUSE SHE WAS INTERESTED IN EXPLORING A NONVERBAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TWO CHARACTERS. How do you ensure cultural authenticity, traverse 2,000 miles of China and make the audience believe in magic? The team behind Abominable discuss the creative evolution of a new adventure.

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