Genndy Tartakovsky Genndy Tartakovsky
AnimatorsCGIFeature FilmIdeas/Commentary

Genndy Tartakovsky Talks “Hotel Transylvania”

Genndy Tartakovsky on making Hotel Transylvania:

“I took all the aesthetics I like from 2-D and applied them here. I don’t want to do animation to mimic reality. I want to push reality. You want to have your own identity. You don’t want to have an expression that Pixar has. That was super important to me. In 2-D, the way you draw defines you, but in CG the computer takes away your identity. I wanted to make sure the movie had my point of view.”

There’s more surprisingly frank commentary from Genndy in this LA Times piece.

  • I agree with Tartakovsky’s vision at 100%. At the same time I think it’s a little sad that a guy like him can’t just do the movie he wants. Don’t get me wrong. The movie seems to be really funny and the animation/designs look very appealing. But wouldn’t it be great if he had done it in 2d? It’s really sad that audiences and studios are so hipped with the CGI that they can’t let a genius like Tartakovsky do his thing. Just look at that doodle in the picture. I think this would probably have a more prominent Chuck Jones vibe in his visual style if it were done in 2D.

    Anyway, it’s great to read him being sincere about the process and not trying to mask the reality and I think it’s great news that one of the other movies is his own story and the Popeye one will be as “unrealistic” as possible.

    • Remember, part of his deal with Sony includes an original project. So, I believe the third film he’s going to do for them is going to be 100% his idea. Although, whether or not he’ll be allowed to do it in 2D is not known… but we can all hope. Feature-quality full-length Tartakovsky animation? I’m drooling…

    • CG Animator

      Why not do it in CG? Even after all the advancements in CG tech, people are still whining about how “CG will never look as good as hand-drawn” (even though they’re two totally different mediums… go figure)… so maybe Genndy can change that and finally shut the CG critics up.

      The CG medium isn’t going to advance if nobody pushes it.

      • Mike

        ….but what’s the point of working so hard to make CG with hand-drawn flourishes, as Genndy prefers, when you could just make it, y’know, hand-drawn? Movies like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs suggest to me that just about any type of movement or flourish achievable in 2D can also be done in CG with enough effort, so it really boils down to a preferred style. And if you make a CG film that is stylized to seem hand-drawn, well, the lay-person is just going to assume that it is. So why should you do it in CG if that’s not your preference?

      • Personally I’m more of a 2D rather than a 3D guy, at least for animated comedies (or cartoons), though I admit I like stop motion (real 3D) over CGI 3D. At the same I’m not a huge purist about hand-drawing and I’m not against computers. I couldn’t care less if a computer is used if the result is simmilar to the traditional thing. For example I think the most recent Powerpuff Girls special was done in flash or something like that but it still looked pretty much the same as the old series, so I was perfectly fine with it.

        My problem with CG so far is that, the way it’s used, I still fail to see why it could be better than 2D animation for this kind of thing. I guess Cloudy was kind of interesting in its look, it kinda looked like a mixture of The Muppets and a cartoony cartoon. And maaaybe there were some scenes in which the 3D added something. And yet, I still think I would have enjoyed it a little more in 2D.

        I think GG is great for something like Rango, in which they use semi-realistic caricatures, or for special effects or motion captured characters in life action movies. But if you want to do Bugs Bunny or Popeye or Spongebob I still think that 2D is the better (and easiest) option. And since Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy are cartoony cartoons they would probably have looked better that way too. I don’t need to see the texture of Dracula’s castle, I’d much enjoy an stylized design in the Tartakovsky or Maurice Noble fashion.

        I guess Cloudy had a point for textures, though, since it was a movie about raining food, but still.

      • James

        The thing is, Tartkovsky really, really wants to do a “Samurai Jack” movie, as stated in the article, which he has yet to have gotten backing on in the past 6 or so years of pitching. Recent interviews show he still wants to get it done someday.

        The issue with that, though, is that “Samurai Jack” is a pretty strictly 2-D sort of project and Tartkovsky wants to do it hand-drawn. On one such interview, he speculated that 2-D feature animation was in “hibernation” and will be viable again in future years.

      • Roberto – the only way you can make whatever movie you want is to make it yourself.
        There is no other way.

      • Elliot, I’m just a modest cartoonist that draws comic strips and short gags in his spare time, and sometimes gets paid for some of them. I didn’t work hard enough to become an animated director.

        But if I eventually worked hard enough and had the chance to direct a feature it’s doubtful that I could do it just the way I liked it. There would probably be a lot of commercial imperatives. That’s what I’m talking about. It even happens to geniuses like Tartakovsky that already worked hard and have shown their talents repeatedly.

        I love Tartakovsky’s work, so he could probably make the movie I want or something close to it, and he certainly has a zillion more abilities than me to do it.

        My point is making it in CG or having famous people like Adam Sandler for the voices doesn’t look like things he has chosen but more like things he HAS to do, because the market asks for this.

        I’m not saying he can’t still do a very good job with what he’s got, and I’m certainly looking forward to it. But how come is he ‘allowed’ to use 2D animation and not celebrity voices in his tv shows but suddenly he has to ‘adapt’ himself to the usual trends when he directs his first animated feature?

      • Because movies are a very different beast than television.
        Movies tend to have a bigger budget and therefore bigger stakes.

        Not even the mighty Stephen Spielberg can make whatever he wants to make, I’m sure.

    • Toonio

      Well I guess Rango was pretty edgy CGI. Something that Pixar hasn’t achieved yet ILM used their renderer. Go figure.

    • Paul M

      I would mortgage my soul if it helped get Genndy his Samurai Jack movie.

  • Toonio

    Based on what he said, I guess ReelFX would have been a better fit for his vision. Sony has a left brain approach to animation that hasn’t taken off despite all the exposure.

    Anyways, best wishes to him so we might have the chance to see a reboot or the next Dexter’s Laboratory, Power Puff Girls (although one can’t improve perfect) or Samurai Jack.

  • I really really really want this film to be a hit. Genndy directing more films is a very good thing.

  • Ryoku75

    I’m confident that CGI itself could be used to create vastly stylistic animation with just a dab of realism, even the animation could be either realistic or “cartoony” with enough work, anything but the usual “shapeless and floaty” stuff.

    The thing is, studios are too nervous to take a chance with stylistic CGI animation. With the bonkers amount of cash that goes into these films they feel that its safer to stick to psuedo CGI or Pixar-ish stuff.

    It is safer yes, but I know that people want something a bit different. It’d be nice if people could start distinguishing CGI animation studios instead of assuming that they’re Pixar.

    • Mike

      I agree. CG animation has come a long way in technological development but is still lacking in stylistic experimentation when it comes to the major studios. Why stick to just one look? Safe, yes, but it’s ultimately an ordinary thing, and animation should never be ordinary.

      To paraphrase Monty Python, “now it’s time for something completely different.” And Genndy is probably the man to make it happen.

      • Sarah J

        I think what it will take for things to change, is if one movie that took a chance really succeeds. CGI animation probably wouldn’t have kicked off the way it did if it didn’t have Pixar behind it. If The Little Mermaid didn’t do as well as it did, we probably would’ve have seen that influx of animated musicals in the 1990’s.

  • Sony Animation made an excellent move putting Tartakovsky’s at the helm of this movie. The fact that they’re allowing him to direct 2 more films (one of which is an original idea) is all the better. It should also be noted that the article says the CG Popeye movie will be “as artful and unrealistic as possible.”

    All of a sudden I’m glad Tartakovsky left Cartoon Network. He’s off to greater things.

  • Hope Tartakovsky make a popeye thats worth the name :)

  • daniel

    .. I definately agree with Tartakovsky except…. how is Transylvania any different looking then Pixar? or Dreamworks? They all still look like moving maquettes of drawings, but they all are rendered and lit the exact same way.. The skin, eyes, teeth…etc all the same to the audience!

    • Well, it’s not extremely different and that’s again the problem he’s pointing about CG (or , I may repeat, CG the way it’s used now) . You can’t see the line. And maybe some of the characters doesn’t look too different to Pixar (the girl, for example).

      But it certainly uses cartoony and extreme poses that Pixar wouldn’t use- and Dreamworks would use very rarely- like the Count making a scary face during the song to her daughter.

      • Chris P

        CG doesnt measure up because you cant see the line? the line is an abstraction specific to 2d- I fail to see how that raises one over the other.
        I very much look forward to seeing Tartakovsky’s influence over the CG medium.

    • moose

      I think the stylization lies more in the actual movement of the characters than the character designs. I would agree that the character designs aren’t very out-there but the animation itself does in fact look different. It looks a lot more 2-d cartoonish, and additionally it doesn’t look like it was rendered to hell and back. I say you re-watch the trailers and really focus on seeing how the characters move and pose.

  • I really like this little quote, and very much agree with him. I more I see about this movie, the more I want to see it and like it.

  • JM

    effin Gospell!!

  • Anyone know if Tartakovsky is a Popeye fan (i. e. fan of the fantastic Segar strip and/or the wonderful Fleischer cartoons)? I’m really curious as to what he might do with Popeye.

    • barney miller

      Yes, Genndy is a big fan of Segar’s Popeye:)

  • Laura H

    I am a CG supporter and am very excited to see how he pushes the animation envelope in this film. CG is still a new art and I believe it will take time to really develop. Right now, major studios are playing it safe, but I think it is unfair to infer that its not artistic and not as good as traditional animation. CG has brought a renaissance in animation (Along with other factors, of course); never has there been more studios or more artists creating the work. It’s sad CG doesn’t get the love it deserves by many in the industry. With each new film, different advancements come about. And if you are complaining about the lack of experimentation, there are very exciting things happening internationally with that, just look for it.

  • tredlow

    You know, there are plenty of times when I’d be looking at a CG animated film or TV show and thought “This would have been better hand-drawn.” But I’ve never looked at a hand-drawn film or TV show and thought “This would have been better in CG.”

    Now, I’m not saying that CG is better than hand-drawn, because there are things that CG can accomplish that hand-drawn can’t. I think it simply boils down to the fact that every animation, one way or the other, begins with 2D drawings, and the success or failure depends on how much of the original vision is saved or lost in the transition to 3D. Judging from the trailers, Hotel Transylvania did pretty well in this, which is why I don’t mind at all that it’s made with CG.

  • Mister Twister

    You tell them, Genndy!

  • Despite, I think he did a terrific job. I felt he kept the personality and that is really hard. I think THe Incredibles proved it is how you rig those faces to express.

  • Adele

    I was 14 when Toy Story came out and to this day, it is the only CGI animated film I like…everything after that was the same. They all look the same, animate the same…whether its a Pixar, Sony, Disney etc, none of them hold the same weight as when I see traditional animation in a film. Story saves most of the films.

    It was a blast to see Emperor’s New Groove, Road to Eldorado and Spongebob The Movie, you get a real feel of the animator and the life they have given the characters…and none 3D glasses required!

    I hope that he gets to make his 2D feature film, because that is the type of animated film that gets me to the cinema…even stop motion has more texture and soul than CGI.

    Im very interested to watch this film and see if his influences come through on screen…because before I read about that it he was involved, I would have never have guessed he had anything to do with it. :(

  • Mack the Quack

    Met Genndy in person at SIGGRAPH. Talked pretty much the same thing as this article. He was kind of a grump, though. I wanted to talk to him more but he seemed to be sick of his fans. :(

  • Crystal

    A lot of people are saying “This is good news for Genndy because it’s a MOVIE” as if movies are better than television. It bugs me because Samurai Jack and Sym-Bionic Titan were bringing something NEW to American television animation whereas Hotel Transylvania just looks like more of the same . . . I felt like the only person who was doing that kind of stuff besides Genndy is Greg Weisman but I’m tired of DC/Marvel superheroes.

    Plus, Genndy’s works having celebrities instead of voice actors is also a major letdown.