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Comparison: Shrek -vs- Monsters Inc.


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#1 of 18 JosephMoore

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Posted October 17 2002 - 10:15 AM

Dreamworks/PDI's "Shrek" and Disney/Pixar's "Monsters Inc." compared and contrasted.
Joseph Moore

While feature length, 3D CG animated movies are a relatively new art form, they are based on technology that is decades old and film conventions that span a century. So in many ways, the two most ambitious examples of the genre can be expected to be fairly mature offerings in an ever-evolving industry. Despite the fact that both of these films inhabit the same "family/animated" niche, they are two very different experiences. Comparing the philosophy, process and end-result of these two movies, and their respective DVD releases, is an insightful exercise. (Note: A reasonable argument could be mounted that "Final Fantasy" is truer to being the state-of-the-art than either of these two films. For the purposes of this exercise, though, I felt it would be more apropos to compare two films with as much in common as possible. "Final Fantasy" is a singularly unique offering.)

If you happen to have read my last comparison of Star Wars Episode II against The Fellowship of the Ring you will notice that the format of this critique will differ slightly. This is due to the different processes involved in the actual movie making, as well as it is to my familiarity with the process. It also bears noting that I do have past and current associates at both Pixar and the Mouse House, so I'm going to be extra careful to not let that bias my opinion, but it is inevitable that my knowledge of their processes won't seep into my review.


DISTRIBUTION ARRANGEMENT
Both films were incubated in a similar business environment where a much larger, established studio provides the marketing and distribution muscle while allowing a dedicated computer animation house to sweat the details of making the actual product. The relationship between Dreamworks and PDI is such that Dreamworks has much more involvement and control over PDI than Disney does over Pixar. Pixar is a proven entity that has had the luxury of choosing to continue its relationship with the Mouse. PDI is much more beholden to Dreamworks and Jeffrey K's direction (he's a bit of a micro-manager.)

STUDIO ENVIRONMENT
PDI is, at its roots, a special effects house. As a result, it's culture leans heavily towards the geeks (tech.) A strong influx of talented story and design folk have been added to the mix, but the company's old personality will probably always linger. Pixar, which also began as a technology company, has always strived to create an environment that nurtured the fruits (artists.) One look at their new facilities (which you can get on the DVD) showcases this fact.

STUDIO TECHNOLOGY
The choice of tools used to craft a CG movie lends as much to the final result as does any other decision. PIxar's "pipeline" is pretty much built around it's very own technology, especially it's rendering engine, Renderman and its concept of "shaders." To be sure, Pixar makes use of plenty of off-the-shelf solutions, but their proprietary tools are the most important in yielding the creamy smooth "Pixar look." PDI, conversely, uses an off-the-shelf tool as a foundation as often as is possible. They're constantly building their own plug-ins and dedicated tools to push the envelope, but because their toolbox is similar to that which many CG houses use, their isn't a really distinctive PDI look, at least not one enforced by technology.

STORY
Both films are built atop interesting story ideas that attempt to take an existing convention and present it in an unexpected way. Shrek fractures fairy tale conventions while Monsters portrays the job of scaring kids from a work-a-day Joe's perspective. Both films rely on basic "buddy movie" conventions (Shrek + Donkey, Sulley + Mike) but that's where the similarity in story ends. Shrek is strongly influenced by the styles of it two lead voice talents - Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy, hence its love story is wrapped in irreverence and flatulence jokes. Monsters' story is a more tender approach.

It has been said repeatedly that Shrek is more appealing to adults than Monsters, and that Monsters is geared for a very young audience at the expense of grown-up content. I have to counter that prevailing viewpoint. Just because Donkey says "damn" and cracks are made about the size of Lord Farquad's package doesn't make Shrek more "grown-up" than Monsters. Monsters is littered with both dialogue and visual treats that go over the head of young kids, they just aren't as potentially offensive. I'm not saying one approach is superior to the other, the styles are just "different." That difference shouldn't be mistaken for age appropriateness, though.

SCREENPLAY/STORYBOARDS
The screenplay of an animated film doesn't play the same role as it does in a live action movie. The process of taking the script to storyboard form is where the movie really gets worked out. And worked, and worked, and worked. Because animation takes so long and involves so many people there is no point in animating something only to have an editor cut it later for pacing or continuity reasons. While in general this refining process separates the chaff from the wheat, there is a danger of over analyzing every shot to the point that spontaneity is lost. Sometimes very minor issues get blown out of proportion and important points are lost to the myopia that storyboard reviews induce. Anyone who's worked under Jeffrey Katzenburg can attest to that! Thankfully, he seems to have stayed more hands-off on Shrek than he was with certain Disney releases. Pixar's mantra of "story, story, story" largely serves Monsters well, but some hilarious stuff never made it past the storyboard stage. Both DVD sets offer a glimpse at their respective film's storyboarding process, but Monster's disc does so in greater detail and volume.

PACING/EDITING
Animated films of this type don't rely on editing like a feature film does. By the time animation begins the bulk of editing has already been done. The digital "cutting room floor" stays pretty clean. Some editing once the whole work can be seen at once is inevitable, though, but neither film suffers from an obvious. Both films are well paced, but Shrek is definitely the zippier of the two. It has very few down moments and spends very little time in exposition. Monsters is a slower paced film, and it requires quite a bit more exposition to communicate its supporting concepts. The folks at Pixar do an admirable job of making a lot of this background info feel like actual plot progression, though.

CASTING/VOCAL PERFORMANCES
Casting the voices for a big-budget animated feature is tricky business. A convention has been established which states that an animated movie needs big name stars to draw audiences, but it also must be ensured that those stars are able to inhabit very different looking screen personas. Often times the vocal performances of the actors will strongly influence the work of the animators, and particularly with talent that is good at improvisation, will cause whole scenes to be reworked.

Shrek casts Mike Meyers as the lead, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona and John Lithgow as Lord Farquad. Each actor suits their character well, but Lithgow and Diaz don't really match the energy that Meyers and Murphy exude. There's no real "chemistry" between Meyers and Murphy, but their performances are certainly compatible. Supporting vocalizations are competent, largely going unnoticed. I did enjoy some of the sillier supporting players, though, such as the voice of the gingerbread man.

Monsters casts John Goodman as Sulley, Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski, Jennifer Tilly as Celia, James Coburn as Mr. Waternoose and Steve Buscemi as Randall. Again, each actor is able to comfortably "wear" their on-screen counterpart. Goodman and Crystal really play off of each other enhancing both performances. Coburn's portrayal of Waternoose added a whole new dimension to the character that the director never imagined. Monsters supporting cast turns in some memorable vocal performances. Both Roz and George are voiced by Pixar employees, which makes their presence all the more fun. Monsters is unique in that a main character, Boo, is voiced by editing together the babbling of a Pixar employee's kid!

SCORE/SONGS
Shrek's servicable score is pretty much overshadowed by the prominent inclusion of popular songs by Smashmouth. These pop tunes work well in Shrek, which is very anachronistic anyhow. Eddie Murphy's performance of "I'm a Believer" at the end of the film is the perfect end cap.

Monsters score, by Academy Award winner Randy Newman, is more prominent. Because he also composed the songs, the two blend together seamlessly to support the visuals and enhance the mood. By way of comparison, I don't think that Monsters score is as good as his work for the Toy Stories, but it's better than Bug's Life.

SOUND DESIGN
Again, Shrek's sound design gets the job done, but it's nothing to write home (or a review) about. Foley's are well done, if innocuous. Gary Rydsrom's work on Monsters is, on the otherhand, quite notable. Every touch and flourish adds a level of personality to the animation that is unmistakable.

ART DIRECTION/DESIGN
The style of a live action movie is grounded somewhat in reality. Every decision to deviate from that norm is costly and will potentially look "fake." Animated films, and particularly CG films, have virtually no limitations placed on their look. A certain expectation as to how computer animation should look has evolved, but it still leaves plenty of room for expression.

The general design philosophy of Shrek is to pack an incredible amount of detail into a diverse and expansive environment. Stylistically, super-realism seems to be the target. Not realism in the sense of a live-action film, but hyper-realism similar to that envisioned by certain fine artists ... to go beyond what a real camera can resolve. Shrek succeeds in doing just that.

Monsters looks very similar to other Pixar releases. Certainly, Renderman is a large factor as to why, but so are other conscious decisions. Pixar has a trademark look that they intend to build-on, but not supplant. That overall look is very toy-like. Monsters builds on that look by filtering everything through a 60's design sensibility. None of the production would be mistaken for being "real-world" real, but within the Monsters world, it all has a consistent, pleasant look.

CHARACTER DESIGN
Besides envisioning the general look of an animated film, each character has to be built from the ethers into a living, breathing personality. Not only does the the character have to look appealing, but it also has to be functionally animate. Because a CG character is "virtually" constructed like a mechanical puppet, its design has to be able to accommodate the wide range of poses an animator will put it through without visually "breaking."

Shrek's character design is uneven. Almost every character, (particularly Shrek himself) taken as an individual, looks good. But as whole there is a lack of visual cohesion. The dragon looks very "cartoony," Fiona looks like an accurate human, and Lord F. is somewhere in between. Some of the supporting cast of "humans" are really weak looking.

Monsters features a very strong set of character designs. Many of the "extras" are clearly built from left over parts, but the main cast manages to be both diverse and consistent in design. The weakest of the important characters has to be Boo, herself. Convincing human beings are not Pixar's strong suit.

Both DVD's feature galleries showing the progression of the characters from concept to execution.

SET/PROP DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Every single blade of grass in a CG movie has to be built. Computer programs can simulate a lot of different materials, but ultimately much of what is in a scene must be designed and built by "hand." Every virtual set must be blocked out and dressed.

Shrek features vast locales that are dressed with impossibly detailed props. Certain elements, like the field of sunflowers are created algorithmically, but many, many more were consciously built and placed. Some of the textures, like that of Lord F's armor, are so good that a normal person wouldn't give them a second thought, (the ultimate complement) but anyone in the know will marvel at them.

Monsters is a more spartan production. Locations are limited, and even then a lot of set pieces and props are recycled. Still, there are a lot of wonderful examples of everyday items that have been "monsterized." The DVD set does feature interesting "fly-bys" of the movie's locations.

CHARACTER ANIMATION
The animators are truly the "actors" of these films. The vocals are important, to be sure, but the animators make or break the performance. Because great animating comes from an innate talent, not a teachable skill, these guys are the superstars of animation.

PDI's animators continue to get better and better at character animation. With each successful release PDI will be able to attract better talent, but right now they are clearly not yet able to perform at the levels of Disney and Pixar animators. I can't say this for sure, but some of Shrek's animation looks like it began life as motion capture data. That would certainly explain performances that are technically smooth, but ultimately a bit lacking in life.

Monsters features character animators at the top of their game. They've been strongly influenced by Disney's "pose-to-pose" style of animation. Performances are so "animated" and infused with personality that one can almost follow the story without the dialogue.

EFFECTS ANIMATION
If it ain't a character, then its an effect. Whether its an in-your-face fireball, or the subtlest kick of dust, an effects animator or technician labored over it.

Shrek positively shines in this regard. The fluid dynamics work used in several different ways in different scenes (including the dragon's fire-breath) is top notch. The movement of cloth is also well realized. The myriad of subtle effects that you don't even notice flesh out Shrek's fantasy world to a degree that would have been inconceivable just months ago.

(Let me go off on a tangent for a moment. Anyone familiar with Japanese anime probably has noticed how an effect like an explosion will be animated with the utmost of care, while the facial movement of a main character looks like it was done by a robot on Prozac. Its part of the style that you just accept, but it also seems that it is very hard to put together a team that cares equally about character and effects animation. I'm not trying to suggest that PDI's character animation is an afterthought like it is in Anime ... they obviously work very hard on it ... but I couldn't resist pointing out the parallel.)

Monsters' effects animation is also well done, but other than Sulley's fur (which was done programmatically, not artistically) it's not as front and center as it is in Shrek. The shot where Sulley wrecks his toboggan and the snow flocks to his fur (also a mathematic effect,) and the shot where a door falls and splinters (this one animated by hand) are both very well done.

Both DVD's do a good job with extras in explaining how they advanced effects animation.

CAMERA/LIGHTING
These are two completely different things in computer animation, done at completely different stages of the pipeline. I'm covering them together, though, because they have a similar impact on the final product, and they are very connected in traditional filmmaking.

Both films attempt to keep camera work to a minimum which is wise because one of the telltale signs of bad computer animation is a camera that zooms around impossibly until the viewer is either distracted or suffering from motion sickness.

Shrek sticks pretty strictly to using camera work that would be possible with a "real" camera. This decision serves the film well. That's not to say that PDI doesn't exaggerate certain shots beyond what would be practical in reality, but in general you'll never comment "Wow, look at that camera move." Lighting is equally traditional. PDI decided to approximate set lighting instead of "real" lighting, resulting in a look more "natural" than natural light would have.

Monsters' camera work is equally tame, but there doesn't appear to be any particular limiters on how they decided to move the rig other than "this looks good." Lighting is used to good dramatic effect and fits in well with the whole look.

DVD VIDEO
Both of these films go straight from a digital "master" to MPEG2 encoding and compression. There's very little opportunity to mess-up such a transfer short of using too low of a bitrate (which, thankfully, neither of these discs does.) Both presentations are pristine, saturated and mercifully lacking in garish edge-enhancement (un-sharp masking.) This is just opinion and conjecture, but I feel that Disney's encoding process is just a wee bit better, but I can't really quantify how. I'd also have to say that the Ultimate Toy Story collection is ever so slightly better resolved than Monsters, probably becuse of a higher bitrate. (If you have occasion to have to watch Monsters Inc. on a 4:3 aspect ratio display it is nice to know that Pixar re-framed the entire movie and re-shot (rendered) scenes as necessary. So while the 4:3 cut isn't the original presentation it isn't really pan and scan, either. I don't know if the same was done for Shrek, though, because I didn't look at either 4:3 version.)

DVD AUDIO
Again, both films feature great audio tracks. Both use every channel, both keep dialogue front and center, both envelop the listener in a convincing, directional sound field. The edge definitely goes to Monsters' mix, even though Shrek has a DTS track and Monsters does not. Monsters' Dolby EX mix manages to both give your subwoofer a thorough thrashing and to resolve the most tender moments in Boo's bedroom.

DVD EXTRAS
Both sets feature two disc. Both offer insightful commentaries and repurposed documentaries. Both have plentiful galleries and both feature clever menu animations. (You'll either love or hate the Donkey "pick me" menus ... I think it is hilarious.) Shrek really goes over the top with a multitude of original material (games, sing-alongs, etc.) that feature not only feature quality animation but in many instances, the original voice talent as well.

PACKAGING/PRICING
Both sets use standard packaging and are offered at normal DVD prices.


#2 of 18 Brian Glaeske

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Posted October 17 2002 - 11:53 AM

Very well written article.

I think that Pixar's "look" of their films is an intentional artistic effect and that they could be photo-realistic if they needed to be.

By riding the edge of being photo-realistic, they don't get into "style" troubles as you conjecture that PDI did in Shrek.

Again great analysis.

Brian

#3 of 18 Mark_Wilson

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Posted October 17 2002 - 12:09 PM

wow, very impressive. Thanks!

#4 of 18 Brent Hutto

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Posted October 17 2002 - 12:50 PM

Maybe this is an uninformed comment to make, but...

It seemed to me that the characters in Shrek moved in a jerky way that was much less realistic than the near photo-realism of the textures and shading. I'm talking about movements like walking or especially turning their torso or shoulders. It's too jerky, almost like they need more inertia to be represented in those rotational movements. I don't mean to make this sound like is obvious or distracting, it's pretty subtle but it is there. And it's definitely more true in turning than in straight walking forward. A typical moment would be any time Princess Fiona is walking away and turns to speak over her shoulder. The turning is jerkier than the walking.

Come to think of it, the character of Princess Fiona was where I noticed this the most in Shrek. I wonder if that's because she's the most lifelike figure so I noticed "unnaturalness" in her movement more than I would in an Ogre. Hmmm.

The Toy Story characters had a little of the same effect but since they're supposed to be smallish toys it doesn't look unrealistic. In Monsters, Inc. that effect was not noticable to me, at least in the main characters. The most noticable motion flaw in Monsters, Inc. was the times that Sully was running and his feet seemed to skim along the ground too fast rather than landing solidly and then being picked up again, you can only cover up so much of this by footstep foley pounding in the subwoofer. The Shrek character in that movie also had the same little slide-bounce kind of running motion at times.

One other thing that comes to mind. Sully, with all that fur moving (by algorithm, according to Joseph) can probably get by with walking unsmoothly better than Shrek could. The bounce of all that fur adds so much bump, bump, bump in time with his steps that even if the walking wasn't perfect the fur will still be cueing your eye into thinking that gravity is working with the proper acceleration.

#5 of 18 Terrell

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Posted October 17 2002 - 01:48 PM

I'll chime in with a few thoughts.

DVD - Both DVDs are stellar. I believe Monsters Inc. has the edge in transfer and audio. But Shrek is very good too. Extras again are plenty, with good insight into the filmmaking process for both releases. But again, I'd have to go with Monsters Inc. So Pixar's DVD is the winner. But that's not to take away from the great Shrek DVD which is one of the better ones to come along.

Winner - Monsters Inc.

Animation - I'm torn over this. Both are very different in style, yet extremely effective and beautiful in their own right. I can't seem to choose between the two, so I'll call it a draw. Both did some amazing things.

Winner - Draw

Story - There's is absolutely no doubt in my opinion that Monsters Inc. has a much better story. I felt the story aspect of Shrek was weak in comparison. Monsters Inc. was also the much more original of the two stories. Shrek had some good laughs, but I kept feeling Jeffrey Katzenberg was taking shots at his former company, Disney. One last thing about Shrek. Am I the only one that was annoyed by certain sequences where Eddie Murphy just wouldn't shut the hell up? They seem to let him ramble on and on and on. I like Shrek, but I love Monsters Inc.

Winner - Monsters Inc.

Score - Need I even comment on this. Of course Monsters Inc. wins this without even so much as a whimper. I do agree with Joseph that Eddie Murphy's end song is a great ending, and well done by Murphy.

Winner - Monsters Inc.

Cast - Okay, here's where it gets tricky. I thought Myers was an excellent choice to play Shrek. Likewise Eddie Murphy's voice was a nice fit for Donkey. But I didn't feel Cameron's voice meshed with her character. Maybe it's just me. John Lithgow was another excellent choice to play Farquad.

Monsters Inc. had a great cast. I can't imagine anyone other than John Goodman and Billy Crystal playing Sully and Mike. Jennifer Tilly was also a perfect fit for Celia, as was James Coburn and Steve Buscemi for Waternoose and Randall.

Winner - Monsters Inc.(by a hair)

When it comes down to it, I enjoy Monsters Inc. more than I do Shrek. Better story and slightly better cast are the main reasons. Every other aspect of these two great DVDs are pretty much equal.

Overall winner - Monsters Inc.

#6 of 18 StuartK

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Posted October 17 2002 - 02:51 PM

The thing I think that really pushes Monsters Inc. over Shrek is the attention to character. Technical details are nice but true success lies in story and characters.

Monsters is a true ensemble piece, with all characters adding to the flavor of the piece and helping to move the story along. No one seems like a throwaway player. No one exists just to be a joke in-and-of themselves. Pixar loves all of them, from Sully to Mike to Celia to Roz to Abominable to George to the new trainees. The great thing about Pixar films are that they are really a throwback to the great ensemble comedies of the 30's and 40's. Even the smallest characters are given room to bloom and grow. Watch "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and players like Thomas Mitchell or William Demarest or Charles Lane are given living breathing characters whose lives could go on beyond the action of the screen. Along the same lines, watch Toy Story 2, and with only a few minutes of time on screen, you have an attachment to Wheezy.

Shrek, on the other hand, is basically a four character show. Any other bit characters could be tossed away, and little to none of the flavor of the film would be lost. Sure, I love the Gingerbread man, but after his torture scene, he is forgotten. As is Robin Hood. Or any of the fairytale creatures. Pixar would never treat its characters with such a lack of respect.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Shrek. But, if its any kind of sign, after having the Shrek DVD for almost a year now, I've seen the film twice. In the past month, I've watched Monsters Inc. ten times. Shrek is wearing thin already. Monsters Inc. gets progressively better with each viewing.

#7 of 18 Richard Kim

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Posted October 17 2002 - 03:45 PM

Excellent article, John! One thing, though...

Quote:
John Dykstra's work on Monsters is, on the otherhand, quite notable.

Gary Rydstrom did the sound design on Monsters Inc, as well as the other Pixar films.

#8 of 18 MikeEckman

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Posted October 17 2002 - 05:14 PM

Wow, what a great article. I saved this one for my own personal archives.

Although its really hard to pinpoint what makes either movie better than another, i really agree with almost everything said here.

I enjoyed Shrek and Monsters Inc both quite a bit, but if I had to choose, I would pick Monsters Inc to be my favorite of the two as well. The biggest things I did not like about Shrek was the potty humor. I realize this came as a result of the humor of Meyers and Murphy and although nothing is truly offensive in the movie, if I had small children, I would feel alot more comfortable with them watching Monsters Inc than Shrek. Dialouge like referring to the donkey as an "ass" just serves no purpose other than to lower the intellectual matureness of the film.

On top of that, the A/V presentation on Monsters Inc makes it my reference DVD right now. I will await Star Wars Episode 2 and see if that can overthrow it, but as it stands I use Monsters Inc to demo my system and end up watching the whole movie each time! Posted Image
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#9 of 18 oscar_merkx

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Posted October 17 2002 - 07:28 PM

wow another great editorial imo. I was not going to buy Monsters INC, now I just might pick this up

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#10 of 18 JosephMoore

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Posted October 18 2002 - 10:17 AM

Richard,
You are, of course, correct -- John Dykstra is the famous visual effects guy.

Brent,
The problems with Shrek's animation that you noticed are probably attributed to a lack of what animators call "follow-through," and "squash and stretch." Basically, an animator has to exagerate just to make a motion feel natural. To make it look exagerated, he has to really go over the top.

The fact that Fiona seems to "float" is one of the cues that leads me to believe that her performance has at least a little mo-cap to it.

As for Sulley's floating, that can be attributed to the fact that the surface he's usually against is hard, and therefore has no visual "give" when his feet hit. There's no mud or grass to displace. He probably should have been "squashed" a bit more on the down beat to emphasize the connection.


#11 of 18 Stephen_L

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Posted October 18 2002 - 11:11 AM

Thanks for the comprehensive reviews. I'm enormously fond of both films, but I must also give a slight edge to Monster's Inc. My primary reason is that Shrek relied heavily on topical humor and plot elements (the contemporary music, riffs on Disney) that while highly effective now, are going to date the picture quickly. Monster's Inc will be just as charming and humorous in twenty years whereas Shrek will seem dated.
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#12 of 18 Thi Them

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Posted October 18 2002 - 11:46 AM

Great article, Joseph. I'd like to see you write one about Final Fantasy alone.

~T

#13 of 18 Brent Hutto

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Posted October 18 2002 - 12:50 PM

As for Sulley's floating, that can be attributed to the fact that the surface he's usually against is hard, and therefore has no visual "give" when his feet hit. There's no mud or grass to displace. He probably should have been "squashed" a bit more on the down beat to emphasize the connection.


It was definitely on hard surfaces that Sully seemed to float a bit. And come to think of it, when Shrek grabbed the princess and the donkey and was high-tailing it away from the dragon he had the same sort of skidding motion on the hard castle floor.

We just got through watching a Simpsons episode (Bart Gets Hit By A Car) and to be sitting here nitpicking these Pixar and Dreamworks wonder-works feels a little like discussing angels on the head of a pin in comparison. But I still enjoy The Simpsons with their ugly blurry yellow smudges for skin...

#14 of 18 Gabe Oppenheim

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Posted October 19 2002 - 05:31 AM

Quote:
Convincing human beings are not Pixar's strong suit.


I beg to differ. Al in TS2 is probably the best example thus far of realistic texturing (etc.) on a human character. The design of the character is obviously stylized, but, when I first saw the sequence in which he was asleep on the couch, I honestly thought that Pixar had used a blend of live-action (the face didn't look unlike Wayne Knight) and CGI, and was a bit disappointed. When I realized that the face was, in fact CGI, I was completely amazed.

Otherwise, I don't think that any of the Pixar films have required realistic humans as of yet, but I think that they do stylized humans better than anyone. Even Geri is a pretty amazing character in terms of both model and animation.

#15 of 18 Leo Kerr

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Posted October 19 2002 - 06:32 AM

This may not be the right place to say it, but I have something of a problem with Monster's Inc.

Or, rather, Pixar.

First, a caveot. Shrek, when I saw it in the theater, did not impress me with its story: it was, I thought and as someone pointed out above, largely a jab at "how many times can we jump on the Mouse?" It does have some story content of its own, but often times it was over-rulled by the Mouse 'references.'

On to Pixar. I can only compare with two other Pixar films (bringing it to a total of three,) so I do not know how true this is, but...

Pixar only has one story.

)()()()()(POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW)()()()()()()()()(()(

Consider, if you will... Toy Story. Much of the film is a build-up to the final chase: Buzz and the cowboy come together, have the terriffic chase after the moving van, and finally get 'home' - if the back of a moving van can be considered home. Here, the chase actually has the makings of beginning when Buzz gets pushed out the window (or whatever happened - it's been a while.)

Toy Story II has another long build-up, leading finally to a tremendous chase through the airport baggage mashing gallery, tarmac, and finally after the airplane itself. Friends-helping-friends is yet another major role here, but this time, it is Cowgirl Jane coming to the rescue. The chase actually begins with the cowboy falling into the discount bin.

Monsters Inc. culminates with the return of the green ball in time for... yet another chase! The door-chase is, in essence, a scaled-up airport baggage masher. But the real chase began... probably in Harry Housemanns'.

It'd be nice to see Pixar... branch out?

Leo Kerr
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#16 of 18 Stephen_L

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Posted October 19 2002 - 08:47 AM

Leo, you are not being quite fair, accusing Pixar of having only one story. While it is true that Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Monster's Inc have chases in them, they are hardly the only element of the story. Toy Story shows Buzz coping with the reality that he is only a toy and not the space hero he believes he is (and discovering that being a 'just a toy' is okay). Toy Story 2 is even more complex with Woody contemplating his own mortality, not just in the tearing of his arm, but 'toy death', being forgotten by the child you love. Monster's Inc was a comedy where are heroes face the dual dilemma of coping with a 'toxic' child and unraveling a conspiracy at Monster's Inc. I suspect that chases are included in these series because they are cinematically fun (Much the same reason that action pictures usually include them) and enable the computer animators to show off their 3D world.

Oh and finally, I don't recall "A Bug's Life" having a chase as a prominent feature though its been a while since I saw it.
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#17 of 18 Todd Terwilliger

Todd Terwilliger

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Posted October 19 2002 - 09:14 AM

On the voice acting, I have to give the nod to Monster's Inc. because while I enjoyed Mike Myers as Shrek, I never forgot that it was Mike Myers (perhaps because he's done that voice many times in different movies) while in Monsters, I completely forgot the actors behind the voices, so well meshed were they in the characterisations on screen.
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#18 of 18 LukeB

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Posted October 19 2002 - 09:39 AM

Stephen, I agree with you completely. While the films may have the chase sequences in common, that's about all they have in common story-wise. And that is really an element of the film, which brings it to its conclusion and wraps things up. I personally like the three suspenseful sequences in question, but to generalize Pixar like that is wrong. That's like saying all Pixar films are the exact same because they have Randy Newman scores.

And, in terms of Shrek and Monsters, Inc., I find MI to be better as a movie, as a DVD, and in terms of animation.





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