|Netflix has always been a little hit and miss with their productions, but in “Klaus,” the consensus skews on the positive / Photo by: Stock Catalog via Flickr|
Netflix has always been a little hit and miss with their productions, but in “Klaus,” the consensus skews on the positive, owing to the fact that Spanish animator Sergio Pablos committed to touching base with his traditional training in animation.
Not that there's anything wrong with the newer, shinier productions in the last decade, but for Pablos, in his “Klaus” project, his vision was to use state-of-the-art 2D animation technology giving the animated film “a bright, crisp, and modern feel.” Funny and engaging, the story is carried not only by the stellar animation but also the amazing voice performances of Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons and Rashida Jones who brought “warmth and depth to a set of characters mired in centuries-old conflict that has all but eliminated even a hint of happiness from the lives of their neighbors.”
The performance of the actors may have ensured that the story is filled with just the right amount of emotion, but in this article, the animation that went into it will be the topic.
Getting Off the Ground
Though “Klaus” is being lauded and praised now, Pablos told Animation World Network, an animation news website, that the first challenge that the animating team had had to deal with was how to get the project off the ground. According to Pablos, the story had actually been waiting for its day in the Sun for 15 years. So having it finally shown had been a great pleasure for him and his team.
“We’ve been trying to make a film for 15 years in my company and we’ve failed in different ways…Sometimes a film would end up going elsewhere or it wouldn’t even get made. Meanwhile, we’re taking service work to try and support our effort. So it’s been a long road,” Pablos shared.
When he did finally find a way to launch the movie, Pablos said the goal had been to both create something as close to the perfect Christmas movie and something worthy of the traditional 2D magic.
To achieve this, Pablos knew he had to manage expectations on how people will feel about the movie, but that he would still do his best to make sure everyone would be pleased with the results. So far, every effort they had put into making the film has paid off and Pablos said he could not be anymore happier with the results.
Back to Basics
Over at Polygon, a gaming website in partnership with Vox Media, Pablos also talked about traditional animation, specifically on why he decided to go with the traditional 2D rather than the industry-preferred CGI animation. Having worked with both types of animation, Pablos was then able to say that his true love was and has always been hand-drawn animation.
When asked why he came back to 2D work on Klaus even after already working on CGI, his response had simply been that he never actually thought he’d left 2D behind.
“I think I just was looking for a chance to find the right film and the right support to make it. I do believe there are projects that lend themselves more to certain meetings. So whenever I have an idea, I would develop it into at least a storyline. And then I’ll say, okay, what’s the best medium for this? And the answer oftentimes is CGI. But then sometimes the answer is actually no, you know what? This would be better made in live-action. So that goes into that drawer of things I’ll never do!”
When he did finally get around to doing “Klaus,” however, he simply knew that 2D was the perfect medium for the story, in all its secular whimsy. Pablos admitted that there was quite a bit of managing risks in this decision, too, understanding that the trend in animation right now really has shifted more to the CGI field rather than the 2D, but he also said that “we like the idea of taking the risk every now and then.”
|Over at Polygon, a gaming website in partnership with Vox Media, Pablos also talked about traditional animation, specifically on why he decided to go with the traditional 2D rather than the industry-preferred CGI animation / Photo by: Hitherehowisitgoing via Wikimedia Commons|
Instant Christmas Classic
Pablos said the goal was to reach the closest they could to a bona fide Christmas story, so how exactly did they do?
In a review by Dave Trumbore of entertainment website Collider, the effort clearly paid off. Remaking another origin story of Santa Claus is not an easy task. Even if it may seem that way, it’s usually too tired of a story to tell. At some point, people just shed the need to believe in Santa in their adulthood, owing to the fact that, yes, he really is just a fictional character.
But the fact that Pablos was able to create a story about the “non-religious origins of the gift-giving traditions of Christmas and the bigger-than-life-character of Santa Claus” is a testament to his understanding of film and storytelling.
|Pablos said the goal was to reach the closest they could to a bona fide Christmas story / Photo by: François Rejeté via Wikimedia Commons|
Described in Collider: “We follow not Klaus (Simmons) but Jesper (Schwartzman), a character who’s pretty tough to relate to and even tougher to like. That’s by design. Jesper has quite a bit in common with other beloved cinematic characters like Kuzco from “The Emperor’s New Groove” or the title character from “Billy Madison.” It’s that classic “spoiled rich kid, whom you hate at first, learns through hardships to be a decent person that you eventually respect and like” motif. Add in a dash of holiday spice and you can pretty much figure out how ‘Klaus’ plays out.”
So now we have an alternative to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”