What if Pixar Made the Next Fantastia?

The other day, I had a bit of a back and forth conversation on Twitter with Mr Sam Levine about Fantasia, in which he mentioned pitching a sequence featuring Gustav Holst’s suite “The Planets”. Afterwards it got me thinking about the whole concept of Fantasia and why it remains so popular even after all these years.

My personal opinion is that it epitomises the best of animation as an expressive artform. Now I don’t meant to say it has the best animation, that’s a statement that requires some serious research and evidence to back up, which I don’t have the time for today. What I mean is that the music forms the basis on which the animation is based, not the other way around, which is the way most films are scored these days. The result is a wonderfully complex series of sequences in which the animator is allowed a fair amount of creative license that is used to great effect. Does dialogue distract from the animation? Watch any animated show/film/etc with the sound off. Do you pay more attention to the character’s movements? I bet you do.

With the thought of seeing the film for the first time in a few years (since it’s coming out on DVD) as well as seeing Fantasia 2000 for the first time, it got me thinking: What if Pixar made the next Fantasia?

We all know that Pixar makes good movies (I know it too, in difference to my recent comments over on Cartoon Brew) and while their writing team has been given a ton of credit for their slate of films, the animation crew seems to be in their shadow to a certain extent. A film like Fantasia would be a wonderful opportunity to give them a chance to flex their creative muscles.

In comparison, Disney was at a similar stage when he made the original. Here he was, an established animation studio that had won critical and commercial success who was looking for a vehicle to showcase the latest in technology, which at the time included stereo sound and technicolour (yes, that had been around for almost a decade but I dare you to name more than a few, colour, World War II films).

Does Pixar need a film to showcase all their creative skills? No, not really, they already do that in almost every film they release. Would I still like to see them do it? Absolutely! CGI is in desperate need of something to show of the animation itself and not just the design or the backgrounds.

The realities of the movie business today mean that a Pixar Fantastia is unlikely to happen, which is a wee bit of a shame really, since the original is still immensely popular. I would not, however, rule it out altogether.

2 Comments on “What if Pixar Made the Next Fantastia?

  1. Since you brought up computer animated films which are intended to work from an animation perspective, I’d like to first give my spin on that. First of all, I don’t believe that the term CGI is a very good descriptive term. Where’s the distinction between 3D and 2D computer animation? CGI stands for computer generated imagery, and I think that in creative respects, it can function as a bit of a loaded term, especially if we narrow the scope to animation. The whole idea of ‘CGI’ seems to be a sort of loaded term the way we currently think of it. The term’s connotation seems to have jumped from “Look at our visual experiments that couldn’t be created without a computer” to “3D modeled computer animation with an underlying, loosely adhered to dogma of realism taken from live action special effects.”
    I think that quite a few things need to happen and I’ll describe a couple here:
    1. There needs to be a more organized conception of what 2D computer animation is and should be, and its dual identity of a medium and continuation of other formats.
    2. There needs to be an understanding that 3D computer animation has many little explored avenues. Computer models rigged and animated through forward and inverse kinematics is not the only possible option for character animation, for example. If you’re not aiming for photo-realism, there’s plenty of other options being explored. Rhonda lets you draw out wireframe models(which could be given skins later and done in replacement frames), and SANDDE is just straight 3D computer drawing.

    I don’t know which HTML tags work here, but here’s links to show you what SANDDE and Rhonda are. The idea is to show different ways of working, not just to show they exist, but to get a wider grasp of what they mean.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTKSBzg67xs Rhonda
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaJUJGpmJGI SANDDE

    That’s where I start to dispute the term CGI. With tools like these, working on the computer is more of a simulated virtual space where the aesthetic decisions are largely done by hand. That’s a different objection, that the term doesn’t apply there.
    And there’s even more to talk about than that, like computers as a tool for collage animation and whether computer generations done without hand frame by frame adjustment, Karl Sims’ Virtual Creatures project for example, count as animation.

    So basically, I have two problems. The first is that CGI is becoming too much of a pigeonholed term that describes a limited area of computer animation, mistaking a medium for a style. The second is that many works of computer animation don’t fit the bill very well and are glossed over.

    Most of these tools are not ready for use, but it’s important to know the possibilities. It seems that computer animation is becoming more of a sandbox tool and that we need to adjust and rethink our old conceptions of it where necessary.

    Here’s a computer animated short that’s made to look like chinese ink painting in 3D.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKFKxfL7tV4

    I hope that was somewhat coherent. I know that I’ve opened a huge can of worms.

  2. I believe I’ve read that there are rumors going around that at D23, a new Fantasia was being considered/developed. I really want to see Disney re release Fantasia and/or Fantasia 2000 in 3D as a double feature.

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