Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blast from the Past #651: February 14, 2005: Re: treatment/design, and February 25, 2005: teaser trailer animatic comments

Subj: Re: treatment/design
Date: Monday, February 14, 2005 8:55:40 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


I look forward to the next step.

  I'm impressed by the new model -- it's getting closer to approval. I have made some comments on the image and am attaching it to this email. One of my major concerns at this point is what I refer to on the image as the "no wrists/no ankles" look. I kind of dig it, as it echoes the look of the original comic book Turtles, but I have serious concerns about how it will look when animated. And if we give the Turtles a bit more of a "ripped" muscular look (which I think we should), coming up with convincing musculature for those parts of the body might be very difficult.

  Talk to you soon.

-- Peter


Subj: teaser trailer animatic comments
Date: Friday, February 25, 2005 2:29:32 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


Got the teaser trailer animatic yesterday, and watched it five times, one after the other. Thought it was pretty darn cool. I understand that it is FAR from being finished, and that this is a really rough state and many things will be added/changed/improved. But I am going to make a few comments anyway, with the knowledge that many of the things I mention you may already be thinking about.

  1.) First -- and I say this with the caveat that this is a rough piece, and thus we have not yet seen EXACTLY how the finished Turtles will look when animated -- I think the most exciting thing for me is how neat this "new style" Turtle (the slightly more big foot/big hands, less human/more "creature"-like) looks in motion. Some of the movement across the rooftops was really cool, and I think we will be able to do some stuff with the CGI Turtles that -- while not ludicrous "Matrix" -style movements -- will show off their non-human nature and more-than-human abilities.
One of the things that surprised me was how cool and effective were  the "frog jump"-style leaping moves some of the Turtles employed. I think that was one of the more animal-like things I dug about the movements.

2.) I'm not sure if this would work, but in my head I can kind of see it being a cool way to visually "bookend" the trailer. You know how we end with a close-up of the round manhole cover with TMNT on it... my suggestion would be to start the teaser with the shot of the moon in roughly the same size on screen as we END on the manhole cover. Then, as clouds scud in front of the moon, we pull back and end up in roughly the same orientation as is in the animatic. It would be subtle, but might be a nifty way to make the whole thing connect. Actually... as I typed that last line, it occurred to me that doing so could make for a really cool video loop -- as you reach the end of the trailer on the manhole cover, you do a dissolve back into the moon... and it starts all over again.

3.) Though I like the way the Turtles start moving, I wonder if it would make more sense for them to move FORWARD after Leo's eyes open instead of having them all turn around and go backwards, when they are all standing facing the same way when we first see them. That little bit right after they turn to leave their first positions on the rooftop, and you see them leaping across some chasm, framed on left and right by buildings, is the weakest in terms of movement in the whole animatic, I think.
  Perhaps it might work better to do something similar to a camera move near the end of the trailer, where the camera moves around and to the side of Leo after he has landed in the alleyway. In this case, the camera might move around Leo a beat after his eyes open, and kind of start to come around BEHIND him as he leaps across to the next building, followed by his brothers.

  4.) My favorite shot of all comes a little more than halfway to the end,  when the camera is moving, following the boys from behind as they leap through smoke or steam -- just before leaping off the edge of the building before the clock face. Wicked!

  5.) I didn't realize it until I looked at it in extreme slow motion, but the order in which the Turtles leap and drop into the alley seems all messed up. The order as you see them leap off is Mike/Leo/Raph/Don, but when we go to the alleyway view, the order is exactly reversed!
I know that in animation you can kind of cheat timing, but I am a little concerned about the timing of the individual Turtles' landings and subsequent "show off" moves. My concern has to do with how long it takes each Turtle to land from the rooftop -- if they all dropped straight down, they would all land within a second or two of each other, not nearly spaced far apart enough to do their individual poses and weapons flourishes. Which makes me wonder if it is really necessary to show ALL of the Turtles dropping out of sight over the edge of the roof in the previous shot. Maybe all we really need to get the idea across is to show ONE of the (Don?) dropping out of sight, with the others clearly heading in that direction.

  Another possibility -- which I will admit right up front might be too much -- might be to follow Don for a brief moment as he begins his plummet into the alleyway (the camera coming up and getting a partial view into and down between the buildings) so that we can see for a split second that the walls leading down into the alleyway are not bare walls, but have pipes and ledges as well as fire escapes -- all items that the Turtles could use to bounce/swing/flip off of to slow their descent into the alleyway. Actually, to show them actually leaping into this chasm from above might be a wonderful "vertigo" moment for the audience.

6.) Though the "Mikey landing in the Dumpster" bit works well and is funny, I'm a little disappointed that we never see him again after he lands in the Dumpster. I was really hoping that he would get out of it and for a brief moment -- probably frozen in the light from the police car -- we would see all four Turtles posed as they were in the first page of the first TMNT comic book. The fans would love it! (Okay, so would I...)
At the very least, I think he should pop his head up out of the Dumpster -- and maybe Don should lightly bop him on the head with his bo staff.

  7.) I like all Leo's sword kata moves at the end EXCEPT for the one where he brings his left knee up and across his midsection -- it looks a little weird.

  8.) It might be cool to have the manhole cover be slightly ajar as we zoom up to it at the very end, then fall into place -- as if the last Turtle in had at that moment let it fall into place. Hmmm... would it be to much to have it up enough so that one of the last things you see before the camera moves into position directly above the manhole cover is a pair of white Turtle eyes peering balefully out?

  That's it for now. I do have to reiterate that I am getting excited about this teaser trailer -- it could be really great!

  -- Peter


  1. The film actually used a lot of your ideas Peter. The scene where Leo jumps off the plane and opens up a glider and then dives into the water was one of the best action scenes I've seen in animated movie. It also justifies why the animation format was chosen rather than live action.

    I too had the problem with why Casey was the only person that can see the Nightwatcher looks like a metal suit turtle while Leo couldn't figure that out. I also have a problem with the prequel comic story where Raphael got the Nightwatcher costume from an old man, the original Nightwatcher. I highly doubt that a human size costume would fit a humanoid turtle. It also raises the question that if there's an original Nightwatcher then shouldn't someone mention there used to be a Nightwatcher when they hear the name form the news? Namely Mikey who would be into that kind of things.

  2. It is neat to see the prerendered and, untextured figures. Very cool! Thanks for sharing.