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Will there be a new DVD release holding this 3-D version somewhere down the line?
There are no plans right now. The technology hasn't quite caught up to where the theatrical technology is.
Are there plans to revisit any other Disney films in Disney Digital 3-D?
We've talked about a couple of them. I think the idea is we're actually making some now that will be in Disney Digital 3-D. Meet the Robinsons is the next film we're working on. So it's a pretty grueling process and we want to make sure that the movies we're doing are appropriate for it. But, no we haven't really decided on any for the future now.
What is the process like to convert a standard movie to this new 3-D format?
Well, it's a first. This is the first movie that's ever been turned from a flat film into a 3-D movie. In doing that, we worked with these great, amazing guys at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) who came up with a digital way to be able to do this, which is an industry first.
The process itself is: you take the original movie and scan it into a computer and clean it up. And that becomes the left eye in a stereo version of the movie, the left eye and the right eye meet. If you want to see the original movie, you just look at it in your left eye and that's what the original movie was. Then comes the tough part. They create a proxy version of the movie in 3-D. In other words, if you have a shot of Jack Skellington and Sally, they'll build a 3-D digital model of those characters and they project the original movie on those models just like you would with a projector on a mannequin. And then move the digital camera over three inches to the right and re-photograph that again. So, in a funny way, it works like that Madame Leota effect in The Haunted Mansion, where you're projecting a film onto a three-dimensional mannequin and you're just doing that in a digital world. So, that way, you can move the camera over to the right, you can re-photograph it, they have a lot of technical magic in the filling in the blanks and things. And that creates the right eye version of the movie. And it's put together along with the high frame rate of digital cinema. You get this beautiful, flicker-less, stable image that becomes the 3-D version of it.
So this is a lot more advanced than 3-D movies of the past?
Yeah. Well, you used to wear red and blue anaglyph glasses. It quite often used dual projectors so you'd have these two projectors cranking away like thrashing machines behind you. This is completely silent. It is the two -- left and right eye versions -- that are baked together into a digital file that can be projected simultaneously onto a silver screen. And then you wear these lightweight glasses that decode that as it comes back to your eyes and splits it off into your left and right eye versions. It's a pretty transparent process to the audience. They don't have to see all the work that goes into it. It's a pretty effortless, pleasant thing to watch this kind of 3-D, as opposed to a 1950s 3-D movie.
Many of the things you've done are callbacks to the time of Walt Disney, from producing cartoon shorts to bigger-than-a-movie events like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King to putting films back in theaters like this. Do your view your career as being a part of tradition set forth by Walt?
I was a big fan, obviously, growing up and all my life. If I had to talk about anybody that was a role model in my life, he certainly would be one. I think the biggest thing that I loved about Walt Disney's life was that he had this great sense of showmanship. It was primarily about the movie and the storytelling, but it was also about the event of the movie and about giving the audience something they couldn't normally get. And that was one reason I just gravitated towards Nightmare Before Christmas because it's a great event. It's a great chance to take a movie that people love and have them re-appreciate it and have a chance to re-view it now in 3-D. So, yeah, I'm a big Disney fan and always have been.
A lot of people are wondering, just what is the state of animation today? For a while, it looked like everyone had made the leap to all-CGI and this year has seen an influx of these types of movies, with dwindling box office returns and cooler responses from critics and audiences. What is your insider's take on the subject?
Well, it's a great question. I think the movie business is a little bit like the fashion business. So things go into style, things go out of style. Sounds like "Project Runway." Certainly, digital movies have been the style for the last ten years and are still fantastic. You see it, just this weekend, with Open Season, you know it's fun, the audience goes to enjoy them. But there's little indicators that show that there's going to be a lot of movement in that over the coming years. For example, last year, the Academy nominated three movies, none of which were digital movies, for the Best (Animated) Picture category. And you see people like Henry Selick making a stop-motion picture again. I think over time -- first of all, it's a spectacular time to be in the animation industry. Every studio is in the business. But I also think you'll see different techniques resurface again. I think Nightmare is part of that. I think people really appreciate puppet animation in its own way, as they do digital animation and hand-drawn animation, or clay animation like the Wallace & Gromit movie. I love Nick Park and his work. And I feel like that thing that can happen to animation and, I think it will, is to see this broad horizons of style and techniques from good filmmakers. The truth is that the technique doesn't matter as long as your director and your film are interesting and transport the audience. Yes, fashions will come and go. But they'll still go to the movies to see good animation.
So you'd definitely say that there's a market for all these different types of animation out there?
Is there more traditional animation in the works for Disney?
Yeah, we haven't announced anything yet. We're certainly working on it. We would love to work on hand-drawn animation again. Absolutely.
Anything you can tell us about The Little Matchgirl, the new animated short you produced which appears on the new Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD?
Yeah, thanks for asking me. It's a short that's been in the works for a long time. It was originally intended to be part of a third Fantasia movie, which was going to have a world music theme. So it's set in Russia and has an Alexander Borodin piece for the music. I'm glad we got to keep the original ending intact, even though it's controversial because at different times, there was a lot of pressure to change it to a happy ending.
The Little Matchgirl is on The Little Mermaid's DVD, One By One has turned up on The Lion King II's DVD. Are there any plans for Lorenzo to come to DVD, either on its own or on another film's DVD?
We've talked about Lorenzo. It was from that same project, the Fantasia film. I don't know off the top of my head, but I'm sure it will resurface. There's been times when we've talked about getting a compilation of Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated shorts and maybe including Lorenzo on it. But it certainly did really well in that period of time. It's almost to the point now where we if we start putting all those shorts together, we might have another Fantasia, if we kept going a few more years. I'm sure we'll see Lorenzo at some point.
While I'm asking about DVDs, how about a new version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The opportunity for a 10th Anniversary seems to have passed, but do you hope to revisit it in the future?
We haven't talked about it or had any plans. There are always some classic movies coming through like Peter Pan for next year which we're restoring and working on now. But I'm sure we'll come back to those films as time goes by. It's interesting as we get the benefit of time on a movie like Hunchback. One of the things I'm most proud of is that we really took a lot of risks on it and we really stretched out creatively, artistically, and in storytelling. Musically, I think it's one of Alan Menken's best scores. So, although there's nothing being planned right now, it's the kind of movie that I think would make a great expansive disc in the future.
This is sort of like asking to pick a favorite kid, but of all your movies, is there one that you're proudest of?
Well, I think the one that comes to mind is Beauty and the Beast. That's not to say the others aren't unique and special. But Beauty and the Beast had the perfect storm of people and time and audience that made for that movie. We certainly stood on the shoulders of movies like Little Mermaid and Roger Rabbit, the movies that came before it. Also Howard Ashman's amazing score, and lyrics and great story contributions. It was everything: the animators, the story, the reaction from the audience, getting an Academy Award nomination. All those things made it a unique, once in a lifetime movie. So that's the one that comes to mind most.
If you can share, what are you currently working on now?
I'm working on a bunch of stuff, to be honest. I've worked most successfully the last three months on Nightmare and finishing that off. The other projects are yet to be announced and still in development. So I can't talk about them just yet.
Are there any more shorts that were being developed for the Fantasia sequel that we're going to get to see?
There were three or four of them and I think we've kind of run the course on all of them and produced them. Although, I'm happy to say we're in a shorts program now and we are doing shorts again.
Will these be 2-D animation or 3-D?
Both. I think we're really inspired by some of the shorts that we've done, some that Pixar has done. It's a way for us to stay connected to the animation community, because these shorts go to Hanoi or Hiroshima. It's a chance for us to co-mingle with other people and say "Yeah, we're in animation because it makes money, but we're really in animation because we love it." And so it's a wonderful way for us to express that and let some of our filmmakers have a chance to do a movie that doesn't take 4 or 5 years. Maybe it just takes nine months to a year. And it gives them a creative outlet too.
That's very exciting news. I've always been a fan of the shorts format.
Yeah, we certainly support it and the Academy supports it and really wants to make sure that short films don't go away.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk.
You're very welcome. It's a pleasure.
You can check out The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D in select theaters beginning October 20th.
The film will be preceded by a 3-D showing of Pixar's 1989 short Knick Knack.
|The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, The Art, The Vision hardcover book by Frank Thompson (2006 reissue)
The Nightmare Before Christmas figurine set
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge PlayStation 2 video game
The Nightmare Before Christmas manga
|The Nightmare Before Christmas:
2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
available October 24, 2006
features the entire original score
plus Danny Elfman's song demos
and brand new covers by Marilyn Manson,
Fiona Apple, Fall Out Boy, She Wants
Revenge, and Panic! At The Disco; 3-D cover
|The Nightmare Before Christmas:
Special Edition DVD
Out of print / DVD Review
1.66:1 widescreen, DD/DTS 5.1
audio commentary, making-of documentary,
deleted scenes, trailers and art galleries,
Tim Burton shorts Vincent and Frankenweenie
|The Nightmare Before Christmas piano/vocal book
10" Jack Skellington doll figure
The Nightmare Before Christmas desk lamp
More Nightmare Before Christmas Toys
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D - Trailer
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D - Official Website
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D - MySpace Page
Related DVD and Blu-ray Reviews:
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Collector's Edition • Waking Sleeping Beauty
"The Little Matchgirl" on The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition
"One By One" on The Lion King II: Simba's Pride - Special Edition
"Mickey's Christmas Carol" on Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two • Classic Holiday Stories
Pete's Dragon: Gold Collection • The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition
The Black Cauldron: Gold Collection • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series
Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition • The Lion King: Platinum Edition
The Hunchback of Notre Dame • Fantasia 2000 (w/Fantasia)
The Emperor's New Groove: New Groove Edition • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Collector's Edition
The Haunted Mansion • Bambi: Diamond Edition • Dumbo: Big Top Edition
"Knick Knack" on Finding Nemo: Collector's Edition
James and the Giant Peach: Special Edition
December 2005: Leonard Maltin, host of the Walt Disney Treasures
September 2005: Ilene Woods, voice of Cinderella, and producer Don Hahn
May 2005: Irene Bedard, voice of Pocahontas • February 2005: Don Dunagan, voice of Bambi
Interview conducted October 2, 2006. Published October 11, 2006.
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All non-original images copyright Disney. "Nightmare" font courtesy of The Tim Burton Collective.
of UltimateDisney.com's interview with Don Hahn
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