Peanuts to hit theatres in 3-D this winter

Peanuts to hit theatres in 3-D this winter
The Peanuts Movie
PHOTO: 20th Century Fox

Snoopy and the Charlie Brown gang from Charles Schulz's timeless comic strip "Peanuts" are some of the most recognised characters in the world, which made it no small task to translate the four-panel strip into a feature-length 3-D movie.

After running tests with various production agencies, the Schulz family, who still own the rights to the characters, decided to give that task to Blue Sky Studios -- a small but strong US production company that created the "Ice Age" and "Rio" films.

"(The family's) mission was that they'd like to keep their father's work alive for a new generation and keep his legacy vibrant for a new generation," said director Steve Martino, who helmed the upcoming movie and visited Korea to promote the film together with lighting supervisor Sung Jee-yun.

After a general presentation at CGV Yeouido on Oct. 16, The Korea Herald sat down for separate group interviews with Martino and Sung for a peek into the production process for the film.

"The Peanuts Movie" is a celebration of 65 years for the Peanuts franchise, and director Steve Martino says that his goal was to preserve, not to change, the original work.

"I think there's something wonderful in these characters, and in what Schulz created in the comic strip. We're trying to make it a bigger event in a feature film form that a bigger audience can get to know," he told reporters.

"We didn't try to change 'Peanuts.'"

Martino said that although the story was a completely new one, he tried to capture the timeless themes from the original strip.

"We keep going back to those comic strips and we laugh and enjoy them, at least I do, because they still speak to the fundamental ideas of day-to-day living," he said in the group interview.

"Getting along with your friends, trying to succeed, the insecurities in life and wondering if you ever will (succeed)."

The film tried to retain Schulz's original words as much as possible while translating the characters into 3-D, which led to some interesting results quite different from Blue Sky Studios' other works.

"(The movie) has its own unique style in terms of camerawork, animated movement and lighting. From a stylistic perspective, it was a chance to put something out there that's different from what we see in a lot of animated films today."

When asked whether he believed young children would connect to the film despite its quiet, serene quality compared to other animated films today, he told The Korea Herald, "My hope is that they will. We made it for kids, and adults. I think (kids) will relate to it because the situations are so similar. It's going to school, hanging out with your friends, trying to achieve those things. They don't change over time."

After attending art school in Korea and studying at the Pratt Institute in New York, animator Sung Jee-yun worked with an advertising company for a few years before finding her current home at Blue Sky Studios as a lighting supervisor.

"Lighting in a 3-D film is similar to live-action films," she explained. "In a live-action movie, the lighting tells the audience where they should be looking."

"A lot of people don't understand the concept of lighting in an animated film, but it's just like in live-action films."

Sung's role as the lighting supervisor was to put the finishing touches on every scene, to provide the right colors and feel.

She said that "The Peanuts Movie" provided a different challenge from "Rio" or "Ice Age" because of its simple style.

"In those movies, the camera moved so much and the characters moved quickly, meaning that there could be some (lighting) mistakes and they would go unnoticed. The fur and feathers made it hard to see small mistakes in colour or lighting," she said.

"Snoopy has a very clean, simple style, and the smallest mistake is immediately noticeable."

During the general presentation, Sung also talked about the difficulty of choosing colors for the characters -- how to darken Snoopy's fur for the shadow without making him seem dirty, or how Woodstock's yellow could blend in, rather than pop out, with the rest of the scenery.

When asked about the philosophy behind "The Peanuts Movie," Sung said, "Our movie doesn't try to be dramatic, but represents a timeless classic. We wanted a steady film that could be enjoyed by all generations, rather than something trendy or dramatic. We worked very closely with the Schulz family, and that was what they wanted as well."

"The Peanuts Movie" is set to open in local theatres in December.

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