How Photo-Realism Redefined the Idea of Character Animation on Jon Favreau’s ‘The Lion King’

IndieWire | 8/7/2019 | Staff
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As a result of “The Lion King’s” innovative photo-realism, Jon Favreau intentionally put his Disney remake squarely in the crosshairs of live action and animation. Thus, while the Technicolor-owned MPC Film team stunningly upped its keyframe character work to meet the requirements of the director’s narrative nature-doc aesthetic, it had to basically rewrite the playbook for performance by dialing down facial expressions and lip syncing. To many, this seemed counter-intuitive to what we normally expect from CG-animated character performance, which relies on exaggeration or more caricatured anthropomorphic behavior to express thought and emotion.

Yet Favreau was determined to avoid conventional character performance to stay within the life-like parameters of his aesthetic. He introduced distinct yet nuanced physicality along with an ensemble of new vocal performers (led by Donald Glover, Beyoncé, and Chiwetel Ejiofor), and relied on us to fill in the blanks with the familiar story, songs, and score. Still, the instant the animals began talking and singing, the live-action spell was momentarily broken until audiences made the adjustment.

Meaning - Audience - Film - Way - Adam

“Meaning, the audience was going to relate to this film in a different way,” said Adam Valdez, MPC’s visual effects supervisor. “And you didn’t have all of the comedy turns and exaggerated action and hyper-stylized look that you can do in a cartoon. You get a strange hybrid if you dial up the emotions where you’re not sure whether you’re watching animation or live action. And it’s a film that has to work for a wider audience, so the challenge was, what were you going to put in the place of those things in terms of the overall impact of the film?”

“The Lion King”

Answer - Characteristics - Animals - Way - Species

The answer was creating individual characteristics for the animals, which had their own way of moving and behaving in keeping with their species. Yes, there was exaggeration, but it was...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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