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How to make a blockbuster on a budget like Despicable Me

07.15.2010

I read the Wall Street Journal because I'm super classy like that, and today I happened upon this article about the economics of making a cheap blockbuster, inspired by the recent success of DESPICABLE ME. It’s a very interesting read, and it shows how Universal did it by cost-cutting, but retaining quality.

There are a few tips to keep costs down, among them, no fur. It sounds silly, but it’s serious business.

Working fast helps as well. The company produced "Despicable Me" in just three years—as opposed to the typical five to seven years many animated features take. And the company structured the film to save on costs from the start, re-using elements from scenes and eliminating details like animal fur that are costly to render in computer graphics but often an audience can't see on screen.

According to people close to the film, animators cut out visual details in scenes that weren't central to the movie to save money, reserving details for sets that were used repeatedly. In one scene when the characters are driving, the animators rendered almost no details for the background since the four characters are shown in close-up, taking up most of the frame. Illumination also used matte paintings for backgrounds more frequently than the pricier computer-generated geometry.

The animators also worked less hours a week to save costs, and network synergy allowed the movie to be advertised across NBC stations for a cheaper price.

I think you can tell in the end that it’s a bit lesser quality animation than DRAGON or TOY STORY or SHREK, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing when it’s stylized like it was in this film. The main issue is the content and script, and I don’t think anyone would argue that the original TOY STORY is an inferior film because it was released in the early days of CGI.

I highly recommend you check out the full piece here if you have a moment. Much thanks to my mom for sending me this. Hah, yup, she does that. No chain e-mails here.

Extra Tidbit: IT'S SO FLU...ehh you know it by now.
Source: WSJ

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