Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wired goes behind the scenes with Astro

How awesome is Wired Magazine?

You have got to check out this incredible article on Wired.com covering the upcoming Astro Boy movie by Imagi. Included are some enlightening production images of the film's process, including preliminary models and sketches.

Plus, we've got this excellent render of Astro with his arm cannons. I know a few readers are going to go crazy over this shot.


But what sticks out most to me is this quote from director David Bowers.

"The first time we met, (Nicolas) Cage went into incredible detail about the '60s version, including the very specific sound Astro's feet make when he walks," Bowers says. "So we went to the Tezuka archive and found the sound effect, and we use it a little bit in our movie as an homage."
Yeah. All of you people out there complaining about Nicolas Cage being in this movie can now go ahead and get real. Nic Cage gave us fanwank.

You can read "Astro Boy Gets the Hollywood-Blockbuster Treatment" on Wired.com or click the link below for a loosely archived version of the article and the unique pictures originally presented with it.


Astro Boy—the beloved '60s Japanese anime series—is launching on the big screen on October 23! Woo ... wait a minute. Haven't we been here before? The Technicolor hemorrhage that was Speed Racer recently taught us that anime doesn't necessarily benefit from the Hollywood-blockbuster treatment.

Astro Boy, however, promises to be different. For starters, it's not live-action; it's CG produced by Imagi Studios, Hong Kong's version of Pixar. The company's founder, Francis Kao, not only secured the movie rights but also hired the son of Astro Boy creator (and god of manga) Osamu Tezuka as a creative consultant. "I was encouraged to expand on the universe," says the flick's director, David Bowers. "But at its core the movie is still faithful to the original." Case in point: Our favorite rocket tyke sports a windbreaker and slacks (good-bye red undies and go-go boots), but his original powers (x-ray vision and turbo butt) remain unchanged.

Even Nicolas Cage, who voices scientist Dr. Tenma, was a stickler for accuracy. "The first time we met, Cage went into incredible detail about the '60s version, including the very specific sound Astro's feet make when he walks," Bowers says. "So we went to the Tezuka archive and found the sound effect, and we use it a little bit in our movie as an homage." We hear that.

Behind the Scenes Slideshow

Get ready for Astro Boy. They call him the Mickey Mouse of Japan, and this fall American audiences will get a chance to see the iconic anime character on the big screen in an English-language movie.

The film, set for an October 23 release, features a big-powered voice cast, including Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) along with Samuel L. Jackson, Charlize Theron, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Eugene Levy, and Donald Sutherland.

But make no mistake: Astro Boy himself is the star. Created by Osamu Tezuka as a manga comic book character in1951, the boy robot hooked more fans when he starred in a 1963 TV series. Inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2004 and immortalized on Japanese postage stamps, Astro Boy, complete with a high-crested haircut, jet-powered boots, and mighty cannon arms, commands center stage in director David Bowers' adaptation.

Here's a look at Astro Boy in the making.

Production designers developed the film's look by borrowing from architect Isamu Noguchi. His abstract works inspired the filmmakers to use simple shapes that they then brought to life through advanced computer lighting, texturing, and modeling techniques.



This pencil sketch captures the essence of Astro Boy as imagined by director David Bowers, who made Hugh Jackman's animated rat movie Flushed Away.




Renderings were produced by Hong Kong-based animation outfit Imagi Studios. Founder Francis Kao said, "We worked very closely with Tezuka Productions and with the creator’s son, Macoto Tezka, to ensure we got everything right.”







Cartoon characters with saucer-shaped eyes didn't start with anime. In the course of prepping the film, Bowers learned that Tezuka was influenced by Disney's Pinocchio character.

The sickly green background is no surprise: Astro Boy inhabits a world in which pollution has ruined Earth's atmosphere.



Animators for Astro Boy drew inspiration from 19th-century woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai, whose landscapes eliminated visual clutter in favor of a stripped-down image.

2 comments:

MangaBottle said...

Yeah, Nic's a nerdy fanboy -- big freakin' deal 9_9 As long as the movie's good, I don't care whether he's in it or not

Andrew said...

I like knowing that Cage took it seriously. I can relate to his passion for the character and it's nice that he was involved in the process.