Animation World recently sat down with Cinesite’s VFX supervisor Chris Kazmier and Animation Supervisor Ryan Yee to talk about The Star, a new film collaboration between Cinesite and Sony Pictures Animation.
From the article:
The film, produced in association with Walden Media, is a retelling of the nativity story from the point of view of some of the animals that were present at the first Christmas, including a donkey named Bo who yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill, a sheep named Ruth who has lost her flock and a smart-aleck dove named Dave, as well as three wisecracking camels, some vicious dogs and other stable animals.
At the peak of production, Cinesite had more than 300 artists and production crew along with roughly 100 support staff working on the project, primarily based in Montreal, with teams in London and Vancouver, working closely with Sony Pictures Animation in Los Angeles.
Yee oversaw roughly 75 animators and 17 tech animators in the animation department. He explained that they had to ramp staff quickly for the project and “from an animation supervisor’s standpoint, it was a real challenge to train the team and get them up to speed at the same time we were developing these characters and exploring them with work-in-progress rigs, as we worked through all the technical challenges. Thankfully, all these moving parts came together in the end.”
“We brought in a lot of artists with varying degrees of experience with other studios and [on films with] budgets ranging from $100 million to $7 million and that allowed us a lot of flexibility, technically and artistically, to come up with solutions to produce a project like this on time and on budget with a strict deadline, because of the holiday release date.”
Yee explained that in the early stages they communicated with the director via cineSync sessions, as he was always on the move, directing voice recordings in New York, and coordinating with SPA in L.A. But sometimes, when there was a very specific performance he was going for, he would record himself acting a portion out of the scene on his iPhone and then send these videos a point of reference for the animators. “These are kind of the creative solutions and work-arounds that we had to do in order to best tell the story that he wanted to tell, in lieu of him being always physically available in the studio,” said Yee.
The rest of the article is available at https://www.awn.com/animationworld/cinesite-delivers-christmas-story-star-sony-pictures-animation