On September 14, a special exhibit in the Disney Animation building of DCA opened to the Public: The Art of Frankenweenie. This collection of puppets, sets, drawings and armatures from the making of the upcoming movie "Frankenweenie," offers insight into the entire process of making a stop-motion animated film.
In a special preview event, Frankenweenie Producer Allison Abbate and Executive Producer Don Hahn were on hand to show people around the exhibit.
The roots of the film actually begin back in 1984 with Tim Burton's short animated film of of the same name. A personal story to Burton, drawing on his background of Southern California suburban living, his relationship with his dog, and his fascination with horror movie iconography, he has remade it into a feature-length film--the first he has written, directed, and produced since Edward Scissorhands.
The first display, entitled "Tim Burton's Desk," shows a number of his early sketches for the 1984 film, and shows how some of them ultimately got translated into a three-dimensional puppet.
Details such as the fabric used on the figures' clothing and the minute variations on mouth position are all on display.
There are also three complete sets used during filming, along with various miniature props and pieces that are phenomenally detailed. As far as I could tell, every tiny piece of paper, whether it was a newspaper or a note tacked to the refrigerator had actual legible writing on it.
In the set depicting Victor's attic laboratory where he reanimates his late lamented canine, switches run across the front of the case that can be toggled to turn on and off various lights around the room.
Finally, in the classroom of New Holland, Victor's science teacher (suspiciously resembling Vincent Price,) Mr. Rzykruski gives Victor the idea for bringing the dead back to life with the fantastic properties of electricity.
One disappointing part of this exhibit (which has been shown at Comic-Con) is that each case has a small video display showing what appears to be documentary footage, but which has no sound coming from the speakers. I was told by a cast member that they couldn't turn the sound on loud enough to be heard over the ambient music in the main Animation Lobby, which apparently has no volume control. It would be great to be able to tell what they were saying, even if it was just in the form of video captions.
After looking around the exhibit, the producers held a small Q&A in the Animation Academy room.
Frankenweenie is a true family film, with relatable characters for children, and an abundance of old horror/film references to pique the adults.
The stop-motion process used was particularly appropriate for this story, as both involved bringing the inanimate to life.
The amount of time involved with stop-motion filming is prodigious--Abbate told us an average week might see them accomplish around eight seconds of footage.
Virtually all of the film is hand-manipulated puppetry, however some transitions and outdoor environments are computer generated.
Despite the melancholy aspects to the story, it is ultimately about the relationship of a boy and his dog, and what it means to love something that much.
After the Q&A, guests who purchased a special event package were invited to dine at a location just adjacent to Tower of Terror, and were treated to an elaborately decorated area where all the food was presented as parts of science experiments.
By far, the cutest food item was the Sparky-shaped eclairs.
While they were eating, the guests were told that, as a special surprise, they would be able to screen the entire movie later in the evening. The rest of the APs were able to watch the trailer, showing in 4D at the theater generally hosting Muppets 3D (warning: You will get wet.)
There are also seasonal foods offered with appropriate theming...
And the usual abundance of merchandise for those so inclined.
Certainly with all this work and artistry evident on display, expectations could reasonably be high for Frankenweenie--opening October 5, 2012.
The Art of Frankenweenie will be open to the public and on view in the Animation Building of DCA from September 14th to November 5th. For the first week, AP holders will have expedited entry during the first two hours after park opening.
The previous post in this blog was Disney Magic Canada Cruise - Part 2, Saint John, New Brunswick.
The next post in this blog is Disney Magic Canada Cruise - Part 3, Halifax.