After Netflix’s first-ever original animated feature, Klaus, which was nominated for the Academy Award last year – the world-famous streaming platform aspired to even greater heights in 2020.
In April this year, Netflix released The Willoughbys, an animated movie which garnered views in 37 million households in its debut month.
The Willoughbys went with an aesthetic reminiscent Wallace and Gromit with an unconventional yet gripping storyline. The viewership definitely showed how the film played to its audience’s interests.
What happens when a couple love each other too much to spare any time for their children?
For Mr and Mrs Willoughby (Martin Short and Jane Krawoski respectively) every day is Valentine’s Day.
Unfortunately, this affection does not extend to their offspring – eldest son Tim (Will Forte), daughter Jane (Alessia Cara), and twins (Sean Cullen) Barnaby & Barnaby.
With an attitude of neglect bordering on the criminal, Mr. and Mrs Willoughby want nothing more than to be rid of their children – which begs the question of why they had children in the first place.
In order to be truly rid of their parents, the four devise a plan to send their parents off on a “deadly vacation” – in the hopes that the trip will end in their deaths, so they can officially become orphans and gain their freedom.
Here’s a sneak peek of the film if you haven’t caught it yet.
Animation style: Revealed
The Willoughbys was animated in full CG, but in a manner which attempted to pay homage to the stop-motion techniques of old.
Through clever use of animation software, the team behind The Willoughbys was able to achieve a stop-motion aesthetic by playing with frame rates; we’re talking Tim Burton “Nightmare Before Christmas” series, but without the need to bust out the film cameras.
Stylised CG & stop motion-like animation
With CG, the Canada-based Bron Animation team was able to render the textures and environments in a very tactile manner, especially when it came to the rough, yarn-like hair; ‘chalk-drawn’ rainbows; and french-fry-shaped stalks of grass.
In an interview with /Film, a film review site, Pearn talked about how he wanted the show to feel like a sitcom – so, for the miniature feeling to be possible; the camera setups in their 3D environments were reused, and no camera movement was incorporated unless it was absolutely necessary.
Interestingly enough, there also wasn’t any use of motion blur – which would have made the audience very aware that the film was done in CG. Pearn and team just resorted to removing frames. Conventionally, the computer fills in the frames between key frames; so for instance, once frames 1 & 12 are sketched out, the 10 frames in between would be generated by the computer.
This time, however, the team chose to leave half those frames unfilled, creating an animation sequence that’s rough around the edges – and intentionally so.
Evolution in animation never stops
Transformation in animation will never come to a standstill – it’ll only continue to evolve and evolve in the upcoming years.
That’s what makes so impactful in media. All you need to do is figure out the best animation medium for your message.
Will it be the delightful combination of visual effects and motion graphics? The use of augmented or virtual reality to let someone feel like they’re in a brave new world from the comfort of their homes? Well, if it just so happens that you can’t figure it out your own, an expert like an animated video creation company can step in and effortlessly present you with the solution.
So if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer variety of animation styles available, why not let us give you a hand?