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September/October 2019

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ANIMATION 10 POST SEPT/OCT 2019 They're (still) creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They're altogether ooky, The Addams Family. any grew up singing this earworm jingle, the theme song from The Addams Family television show, which aired from 1964–1966, in black and white, no less. Transcending various types of media, this gruesomely-fictional family first made its introduction as a cartoon from artist Charles Addams in The New Yorker. Following the live-action television series, The Addams Family continued its presence (in live-action and 2D animated form) across television and film; the franchise even spurred two musicals and a video game. Its latest incarnation? A 3D comput- er-generated feature film from MGM. "CGI gives us the chance to take these really awesome single-panel vignettes and turn them into whole shots and sequences, and give a fuller existence to The Addams Family that is difficult to do in a single-pan- el comic," says Laura Brousseau, head of lighting at Cinesite Animation (Vancouver), which brought this latest iteration to life on the big screen with assistance from its studio in Montreal. The film contains 1,173 shots — 989 from Cinesite Vancouver and 184 from Cinesite Montreal. Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the ghoulish animated feature hits theaters October 11th. …They really are a scream This resurrection maintains the spotlight on the main characters: an eccentric, wealthy clan of macabre characters who are unaware that others find their behavior peculiar and frightening. This includes father Gomez, mother Morticia, kids Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt, Grandma and Lurch the butler. The film has the family settling into their home in New Jersey, but they find themselves at odds with design-obsessed reality-TV host Margaux Needler, who is who is constructing a community of prefab homes she has intricately designed in the neighborhood, with the Addams house "marring" her project. To make mat- ters worse, Margaux's daughter, Parker, has become friends with Wednesday. "There's the main family that everyone knows, and then there's even a couple of surprises in there that some may not even know are part of the original cast of char- acters," Brousseau says. "And all over the house there's a lot of paintings and homage to Chas Addams' original work." The design of the main characters is inspired by the original comics, and every- thing else in the film is based on those same shapes and designs — from the new characters to pieces of furniture and peculiar objects. Neil Eskuri, visual effects supervisor, estimates there are about two dozen extended family characters who appear at the very beginning of the film during Morticia and Gomez's wedding, as well as at the end of the film. The lead characters differ greatly in size (from the severed hand Thing to the towering butler Lurch), each with varying skin tones and needs, resulting in lighting challenges that reflect their individual personalities. This presented unique issues for the animators, as well — whether that involved hair, costume, animation, lighting or shading. Three family members in par- ticular stood out: Morticia, Margaux and Cousin Itt. Wife Morticia is very tall and thin, with a somewhat skeletal structure to her face. "She is very slender, with this beauty and elegance. We always wanted her to look beautiful, but also had to make sure her incisive yet subtle personality was reflected," says Brousseau. To this end, the group used a film noir-esque range of techniques to light her. "We used a very soft eye light, combined with her red lips and sleek, shiny, black hair." And while taking well-known char- acters from single-frame drawings in a comic panel and then building a whole personality and style to their movement and performance is always difficult, it was made even more so when it came to this character. For instance, Morticia wears a long, tight dress that restricts her model's leg movements. On top of that, the "moving" tentacles on the edge of her dress posed yet another obstacle for the animators. "There is very strategic placement of her in the film; she goes up and down the stairs in-camera only when it's really necessary," says Brousseau. "And you will see those tentacles sort of glide and move with her and mimic her general way of walking." Also, Morticia and Wednesday have dis- tinct personalities whereby they don't often SNAP! BY KAREN MOLTENBREY M CINESITE ANIMATION RESURRECTS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN A NEW MEDIUM: CGI The main characters are designed to reflect the original comics.

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