Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sept 2021

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28 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 I n 2002, DreamWorks artists and animators were intent on capturing the dramatic look and spirit of the American Old West for its feature film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, about a wild mustang in this vivid, colorful land. At this time, many studios, DreamWorks included, were embracing the new medium of CGI, but the moviemakers opted instead on a hybrid approach, using a combination of 3D CGI and hand-drawn 2D images to achieve the desired results. Then, starting in May 2017, DreamWorks Animation Television began releasing a computer-animated multi-series on Netflix called Spirit Riding Free, inspired by that film. Like its predecessor, it contains a unique graphical look, with painterly backgrounds. Now, DreamWorks Animation has trotted out Spirit Untamed, a reimagined cinematic version based on the Riding Free series, as a young girl named Lucky moves to the Old West with her aunt, who hopes to tame Lucky's rebellious streak. There, the young girl meets a kindred spirit, a wild mustang named Spirit, which shares her indepen- dent nature. When an evil horse wrangler captures Spirit and his herd with the intent to auction them off to a life of captivity and hard labor, Lucky and her friends set out on a wild adventure to rescue and reunite these amazing animals. Untamed is directed by Elaine Bogan and co-directed by Ennio Torresan Jr., and is based on the screenplay by Aury Wallington. It is the next chapter in the franchise, and, like Riding Free, is written by Wallington. Taking the animation reins for the period-set Un- tamed was London-based Jellyfish Pictures, an animation and VFX studio, with which DreamWorks worked on the holiday special How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming. Equestrian Lessons Horses are said to be one of the most difficult animals to draw and animate, so Bogan (an experienced rider) and Torresan took the DreamWorks crew on a field trip to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center so the team could familiarize themselves with how horses move, their demeanor, and their body language. The Jellyfish animation team likewise visited a local riding school and were able to take photographic reference and study their mechanics as needed. Bogan also sent them information concerning not just the movement of the horses, but the relationship between horse and rider. Untamed comprises just under 1,300 shots, all but 25 of which were animated by Jellyfish. "It was an ambitious endeavor, especially with the timescale we had, both for DreamWorks to develop the film and for us to do the animation," says Luke Dodd, di- rector of VFX and animation at Jellyfish and executive producer at Jellyfish on the film. What's more, this was Jellyfish's first feature film — the studio had been focused on episodic work, having launched Jellyfish Animation in 2014. Jellyfish was further challenged by COVID restrictions, having started the work in Au- gust 2019, just before the pandemic began to spread. When work restrictions began in early 2020, the facility — which had mi- grated to a fully virtual studio in 2017 — was able to move 150 to 200 artists to a remote workflow in less than two weeks, enabling New Again ARTISTS RESURRECT THE THEATRICAL LOOK OF SPIRIT FOR A NEW GENERATION OF THEATER-GOERS BY KAREN MOLTENBREY The horse-rider relationship was considered when animating the characters. Images ©2021 DreamWorks Animation LLC.

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