Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sept 2021

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24 cgw j u ly • a u g u s t • s e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 1 3D with a Twist P erhaps it is ironic that complex 3D technology was used to create The Mitchells vs. The Machines, an animated feature about a Luddite father who utilizes his low-tech natural skills to save his family and the world from a robot apocalypse. Aer all, it took a great deal of R&D to achieve the film's "imperfect" 2D hand-drawn aesthetic using a state-of-the- art CGI pipeline. The Mitchells, developed by Sony Pictures Animation (SPA), is directed and written by Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe, two friends from their days at CalArts. The action-comedy is streaming on Netflix. The adventure begins when quirky daugh- ter Katie is accepted into film school and is eager to follow her dream and bond with others who "get her," unlike her family, par- ticularly her nature-loving dad. On the day she is about to head to the airport, her dad surprises her with the news that instead, the entire family is driving her to college across the country as a bonding experience. She is not happy about this at all. Ugh, what could be worse? Finding themselves in the middle of a robot uprising, that's what. And it's up to them to save humanity. "Our main focus was trying to create great memorable characters that the audi- ence really loved and cared about — every- thing we did was in service of that," says Rianda. "I think that's why the elemental themes resonate: kids wanting indepen- dence, parents wanting to keep their family together, and then appreciating how much your parents have done for you, and how, as a parent, you have to let your kids be their own person." While there is commonality in the theme, the film's aesthetic is quite unique. Those behind the animation were responsible for the atypical look of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which combined CGI with traditional hand-drawn comic-book tech- niques. In fact, the group at Sony Pictures Imageworks took many of the tools they had used for Spider-Verse and bent them to deliver a look that was unique and special. Oscar-winning producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, also from SPA's Spider-Verse (as well as The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and others), signed on for The Mitchells. "Their success with Spider-Verse, which was such an experimental movie, gave us a lot of cover to make our movie more wild and idiosyncratic than I think it could have been if they weren't around," says Rianda. "Generally, there's an impulse to shave off all the weird edges of any story, particularly in a big studio. But when they came on board, they encouraged us to chase our wildest impulses and iterate every scene until we got it just right. They helped us sharpen the comedy, strengthen the relationships, and Dual Approach THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES COMBINES DIFFERENT ANIMATION STYLES BY KAREN MOLTENBREY The Mitchells vs. The Machines is full of humorous moments. Daughter Katie is an artist and oen draws on the film screen. Images ©2021 SPAI

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