Computer Graphics World

March/April 2013

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CG Animation n n n n At left, the Crood family confront unexpected internal and external fears when they follow Guy (in pants and body paint) out of their cave and into the larger world. Above, Director Chris Sanders' version of a saber-toothed tiger provides a constant threat. Croods fellow writer/director Sanders previously received two Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature for DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon (2011) and Disney's Lilo & Stitch (2003). Also, while at Disney, Sanders was a writer and story supervisor for Mulan, writer and production designer for The Lion King, writer for Aladdin, writer and visual development artist for Beauty and the Beast (Oscar nomination for Best Picture), and a character designer, storyboard artist, and visual development artist for The Rescuers Down Under. We talked with DeMicco and Sanders a few weeks before The Croods released. Why cavemen? DeMicco: We wanted to talk about the fear of change. In that day and age, what would be the biggest fear? You could expect that they would fear fire and new technology. But, the biggest fear for Grug was losing his daughter and family, and the story grew out of that. Sanders: At the beginning of the movie, Grug has one job as father of the family. There are no hospitals. No police. No neighbors. He has to rely solely on himself. So in this world, his hardest job would be keeping the family alive. His solution to that problem is to keep them inside the cave. They will stay alive if they stay inside. This movie is ultimately about hope versus risk. How long did you work on the story? DeMicco: The story originated first with John Cleese here in 2004. It was originally intended to be made in stop motion with Aardman. But Aardman went to Sony in 2005, and the movie sat around. Then Chris came over from Disney. We kept a similar theme but wrote a different story – one without the technical limitations of stop motion. This feature needed CG to tell the story. Why did you need to use CG to tell the story? DeMicco: It's a road trip movie; the world's first family road trip. So clearly one reason is the number of sets. Stop motion is slightly domestic. We wanted big, epic landscapes. A world larger than life in the 'Croodacious' period. That's something CG is perfect for. In stop motion, you have more of a village with character interaction. There aren't as many sets. And certainly not as many explosions. Why does the family leave the cave? Sanders: Eep [the daughter] sees fire- light outside at night. The biggest family rule is that they can't go out of the cave, but when she sees the equivalent of a little sun, she sneaks out and chases the firelight through the canyon. Guy, who is human being 2.0, is carrying the fire. Grug goes to look for her and the family comes outside the cave. Then, there's an earthquake. What were your design goals for the Croods' and Guy's CG models? Sanders: We built the Croods to survive believably in the world the live in. It was fun to build cavemen from scratch. As far as movies are concerned, at one end we have the cavemen in Quest for Fire who are like people, but they can't speak. At the other end are the Flintstones, who have cars, photographs, traffic signals. Our Croods are probably closer to Flintstones, but they are CG cavemen. They have beautiful shapes, but radical. Grug is like a gorilla. Gran, an alligator. Eep has a swimmer's body but her movements are based on a tiger. Guy is more like you and me; he has a different physiology. If the Croods want to keep Guy around, there's no way he can get away. They are many times stronger. There's a scene where Eep grabs Guy by the neck and picks him up with one arm. How does the relationship between the Croods and Guy drive the story? Sanders: Guy, who is a lone male, needs the Croods. And, the Croods need Guy. There's a sweet, simple romance between Eep and Guy. She's drawn to him; he represents everything she's dreamed of. He is the world's first imagination. But, fire is the more important thing. If they keep Guy around, they'll have his fire and can survive outdoors. On the downside, Guy infects the Croods with ideas of the future, tomorrow, hope, adventure. And, Grug just wants to find a cave. When they do find a cave at the end of the film, they don't fit. They've grown. Their imaginations have been sparked. So Grug has to make a big decision. He has to answer the question raised by his daughter at the beginning: What are we doing this for? When he decides, he decides in a really big way. Where do the Croods go once they leave the cave? Sanders: The interesting thing about writing this movie and what made it so difMarch/April 2013 CGW0313-Croodspfin.indd 33 33 3/14/13 12:43 PM

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