I had nothing to do with the making of Tangled, but it’s a great Disney film which blew me away, and I always like “making of” breakdowns. So I took a look at this, and felt it did such a good job of showing how a successful final result comes from a steady progression of improvements. Whether you’re making a fully animated film or a live action sequence, the best results come from a back-and-forth iterative process of test images to build up the final product.
In today’s “faster/cheaper” production mentality there is often significant pressure to reduce iterations and the time spent making a shot – if you watch through this sequence and imagine cutting out a lot of the improvements you see which are made over time you can get a feel for how the extra time and effort makes all of the difference. The flip side of this, of course, is that without good artistry and good direction all the time in the world won’t make a difference.
Too many great ideas are killed by a rush to minimize costs and get stuff out fast. This may make profits for those who deal with high-volume-low-quality kinds of projects, but I note that the giants with some of the most incredible work (and full coffers) tend to follow a mentality where extra time, effort and resources are spent to make a final product which is clearly of superior quality.
In the end, quality pays, and its the result of investing in talent, tools, and organization.
In this sequence we see a lot of things being done right…
- Time taken for previsualization.
- Tools available to allow communication via painting on frames, showing thought and investment in pipeline.
- An area set aside for the artist to make reference, showing insight into artistry and the willingness to spend money to enable it.
- Many iterations, showing time was spent to get the shot right, and the production was organized with regular milestones in place (and time set aside to achieve them).
The final result, a great film which not only was a creative success but one which did well financially ($590 mil box office revenue and a new and lasting Disney heroine providing decades of continuing income.)