Delgo?

delgofeature.jpg

Coraline, Wall • E, Kung Fu Panda… 2008 has many exciting animated features scheduled for release. But is anyone anxious to see this?

I admire the fact that this is an independent production — something I frequently champion on this blog — created by a group of dedicated animators out of Atlanta, with an all-star voice cast and an ambitious trailer. But the character designs are, to me, unappealing and the character animation lacks the sophistication the big studios (Pixar, Blue Sky, etc.) have long perfected.

The film is apparently in post production and the producers are seeking a theatrical distributor. My guess is it’ll go straight to video.


  • http://stupidmahan.livejournal.com/ Sasha

    Meh, I’d go see it. It might be really bad, but I’d feel better trying it out just because it’s an independent production and it’s not another freakin movie about talking animals.

    It has my interest more than Wall E.

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C. Edwards

    They closed down a post house called MacQuarium to start production on it, I don’t understand why they didn’t work on some shorts first, jumping from :45 commercials to a full length feature seems a little too ambitious. There was an article about it in one of the Atlanta papers back in… 2003 maybe, it seemed like they thought if they threw enough money at the effects and the casting, they had a surefire hit.

    It’s essentially ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with lizard-humans. I’ll pass.

  • http://deneroff.com/blog/ Harvey Deneroff

    I did a story for Animatoon, the Korean magazine, on the film in late 2004. At the time, they were claiming to be near completion. I assume they finished it soon after, but since they couldn’t get a distributor, it was decided to basically redo much of the film. The staff, when I visited the studio, included several refugees from the Veggie Tales studio, as well as graduates of such Southern animation schools as Ringling and the Savannah College of Art and Design (including one of my students).

  • http://spritzer93436.tripod.com/ Art Binninger

    I picked up the Looney Tunes Volume 5 set over the weekend and have been devouring it ever since. Meanwhile, I keep looking across the table at the stack DVDs for the 2007 Academy Award nominees and not thrilled about rewatching any of them. Unfortunately, Delgo looks like more of the same. I wish that the independents of today would take the initiative that the Warners crew did long ago and deflate the overblown cliches that overtaken the big studio films. And they shouldn’t ape Avery, Jones, Clampett or Freleng in doing so.

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank

    jerry, i thought you were the voice of reason around here. i agree that the designs arent the best in the world and the character animation has a few bland spots, but the fact that “delgo” even exists at all is a feat. i forgot it even existed until this post. how long has this been in production…5 years? maybe 8?

    you’ve got to look at this for what it is. they likely do not have the resources that pixar or blue sky has. its an independantly produced feature length film completed outside of the typical studio system. not many people can claim to have done the same.

    now, weather or not its any good remains to be seen and it most likely will go straight to video, but i’m wishing fathom the best. i like success stories.

  • HULK

    Looks like a 3D revamp of “Rock and Rule”

  • Taber

    If it were this or Shrek the Third, I’d watch this.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    For an independent production, running on spotty and minimal financing (a few millions?) it’s basically a miracle.

    We’ve all seen things made for 20x the budget that aren’t any more entertaining.

    I hope all the animators’ and artists’ paychecks clear and no one loses their shirt on it.

  • Altred Ego

    Why is it independent animation always seems to come from people who combine ideas we’ve seen repeatedly by the studios with the most amount of money (LOTR-Narnia-WoW-Potter-Fantasy stuff) with the most unappealing design theories?

    Another fantasy movie? Really. Unless they’ve been working on this for the last 10 years, this was a bad call.

    Also, isn’t the point of independent animation that it is somehow more personal to the filmmakers and not just another studio-cash-grab?

    Congrats to the filmmakers and best of luck.
    I won’t watch it, but if Alvin and the Chipmunks can make money then anything really is possible.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    This film has been in production for years. Many people who are now at Disney, Blue Sky, Pixar, etc were on this film early in their careers. It will be interesting to see it when it finally comes out. I’m wondering what they were able to keep from the early time on the film, what had to be updated, and how the whole thing plays as a film continuity wise.

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    I first learned of this title back in sometime 2005 when, I presume, it was in production then. Of course, I haven’t heard much since…

    The largest problem I’ve seen creep up on some animators and artists in the CG film era is the fact that female characters of alien races look pretty bad.

  • http://youtube.com/profile?user=siskavard Corey

    Looks cool to me! I agree about the character designs though.

    Do you see how easily they could have justified using mo-cap, but they didn’t! Kudos to them for that. I’d rather see characters animated than mocapped.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Looks average yeah, but why should we discourage it from being as successful as it can be? it MIGHT have a really good story. I just think it suffers from “oh God, another-half-hearted-CG-movie” syndrome.

    Then again, you can’t judge a film until you actually SEE it.

  • John

    “it’s not another freakin movie about talking animals”

    Talking lizards don’t count as animals?

  • Matt Sullivan

    My only gripe is that the textures look awful. Just…average, and unrealistic….too “computer generated”…Same goes for the landscapes.

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Niffiwan

    I love imaginative fantasy worlds, so this looks interesting to me. Both the character designs and the animation seem fine. Not Pixar-quality of course, but much better than something like “Hoodwinked”, which did get a theatrical release and quite a successful one at that (and you folks can shoot me, but I actually liked “Hoodwinked”… you don’t always need the most accomplished animation to make a good film).

    I couldn’t care less about the big-name actors one way or the other (all that matters is that they do a good job in the film), but I’m looking to this a lot more than… oh let’s say “Horton Hears a Who”.

  • http://www.joestrike.com Joe Strike

    Ohmigod – anthropomorphic birds and reptiles! It – it’s FURRY! Kill it! Kill it now!!

  • http://ryanmcculloch.com Ryan McCulloch

    The landscape design is really beautiful, but the dialogue seems a bit stale. It’s too bad cheap CGI can’t look good, the way cheap 2D or stop-motion can (when done well of course).

  • http://billfieldtrip.blogspot.com/ Bill Field

    No Penguins? I’m sold- it’s at least more original than 90% of the features out there. It reminds me of “Wizards”, believe it or not. I really like the characters, well designed, and from what little I’ve seen, well acted. The scope seems wide, the different beings and species are well executed… weird, I figured I’d agree with you, Jerry– but it actually looks kinda…cool.

  • Half

    They’re not animals?

  • Gobo

    Movies like “Doogal” and “Arthur & the Minimoys” are proof that an all-star cast is meaningless.

    Do I remember Delgo as being in development for ten years?

  • Jim Engel

    I couldn’t get past that initial artwork to even WATCH the trailer.
    That said, I find SHREK every bit as off-putting.

  • Jenny

    that looks bland and I know it’s been in production since.. 2001 maybe?

  • http://makinita.deviantart.com/ Makinita

    MMMMMMBLEHHHHH!!!!……& meh …

  • Christopher Olson

    Sascha: I don’t know how this could capture anyone’s interest more than Wall-E. It has robots! And spaceships! At least that tin can has more character animation and emotion in his synthesized voice than Delgo.

  • Floyd Norman

    Enough, already!

    Bring back moving drawings.

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Niffiwan

    I had a slightly negative reaction upon first seeing some of those faces myself, and the only thing that I could explain it with is that I just didn’t like the noses.

    In any case, I still want to see the film.

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Niffiwan

    Ok, if I can’t talk about anything like that, I’d really rather you just delete my whole comment rather than filter out its meaning. What you’ve done now is left it up to other people to make the unfortunate connection that I already know is there, and that I consciously try to fix.

    However, you’re probably right; there’s just no place for public self-doubt and self-criticism in this society. Please delete this comment and the one before it.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    I can understand sometimes when a studio uses celebrities to voice characters. Particularly if that celebrity has a really distinct voice (robin williams, gilbert gottfried, wallace shawn, etc)….but Val Kilmer? I mean, Kilmer is a good actor (usually) but he doesnt have a distinct voice at all.

    Noone watching this will perk up and squeal “oh lahd, that’s val kilmer!”

  • http://www.rodtramonte.com RodTramonte

    Not only those character designs look ugly as hell, but also this movie´s plotline reminds me of a mix between Eragon and Back to Gaya (a German CGI movie which probably no one has ever heard of).

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com Vince Musacchia

    Gerry Anderson’s string puppets had more life to them. Not a bit of soft focus in the whole trailer. Everything is sharp and stiff, like a bad video game. Instead of direct to video this should go straight to the landfill.

    How can people spend years of their lives on this type of garbage?

  • Andrew

    This has been in the works for YEARS! They posted a production blog of it around the time I first knew what a blog was! The long schedule really makes me curious about this film.

  • http://dtoons-pro.com Alex Dudley

    Remember when this movie was slated to be released several years ago?
    Pepperidge Farm remembers.
    I wasn’t looking that forward that film back then. The jokes weren’t that funny, and the plot’s not that great either.
    All of a sudden I miss 2D animated movies a little bit more.

  • Altred Ego

    One last point:

    I don’t think budget has much to do with the biggest concerns people are expressing about this film. Most of the issues with design and story are 2-D problems! More work spent creating a more original story with more time spent crafting original designs would make a HUGE difference.

    If you don’t have tons of money, why would you try to recreate LOTR battle scenes and imagery? If you don’t have money to create lush and detailed organic textures, why would you set the film in a world that is mostly organic? If you don’t have tons of money for marketing and advertising, why wouldn’t you try to create a story so interesting and unique that word of mouth will help keep the project alive?

    This is like making Eragon on a shoe-string. Even with millions of dollars they couldn’t turn it into a film that anyone cared about.

    There are strengths and weaknesses to every project. Studios have big budgets which means they have a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of masters to satisfy, which means they must try to be all things to all people which generally ends up creating mediocre, uber-commercial and entirely disposable cinema. If you do something on a small budget, you have less mouths to feed / masters to obey but more pressure on the project to be successful just to keep from bankruptcy.
    Driving creators to make more ‘commercial’ properties.

    Solving this balance is tricky…I do not think this movie has done it.

    If this is what the independents are doing, and this is what the big studios in America are doing, then where is this Renaissance of the Art form going to come from. I suppose everyone is satisfied watching Pixar movies made for eight-year olds. (“But adults can enjoy them!” is the cry I hear most often, but an adult could enjoy Dora the Explorer, but don’t try to convince me that it’s Shakespeare).

    Oh and someone mentioned “Rock and Rule”, this is not even in R&R’s league. R/R was an original concept, combined with some very advanced visuals for the time. It’s failures are a combination of being Canadian and not going the obvious route of making it the R-rated film that it wanted to be.

    AE.

  • doug holverson

    Whoa, flying rocks and reptiles! Sort of a ’70s Prog and Fandom thing meets ’00s CGI.

    ‘Cept the CGI looks synthetic and kinda ’90s….

  • Steve Gattuso

    Well, I’m more interested in it than I am the next Veggietales movie.

    Then again, I’m more interested in a revival of “Paddy the Pelican” than the next Veggietales movie…

  • Baron Lego

    I really wish that more people in the animation industry would brush up on the particulars of the “Uncanny Valley” theory so as to avoid creepy designs like the ones in this film.

    Beyond that, the trailer didn’t really garner much of a response from me other than a resounding “meh.” The movie seems to be a whole lot of “been there, done that”, all cobbled together and packaged in an uninteresting fantasy setting.

  • ZigZag

    I’m quite mixed on this film. I celebrate their entrepreneurial and artistic endeavours, as well as their desire to make something completely their own. On the other hand, I’m a tad concerned by the design and storytelling, as I do agree that it could be improved (with a special thumbs-up to Altered Ego’s comments).

    However, I’m more concerned with an over-arching trend in animation that I believe is contributing to it’s downfall as an industry, and is driving many qualified people out of it. I’m speaking of the sensibility that is heard in the original post on CB, but is far more prevalent in the comments – a sense of disdain, superiority and overall lack of support.

    I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that one of the reasons that we’re all in love with this industry is that a large part of each of us is still very much in touch with their childhood (and therefore, can’t be mature and respectful when giving a review); or, if it is simply due to the tendency of mobs who descend upon those who attempt something, but appear to fail.

    I was struck by Jerry’s original post in that I appreciated how he both acknowledged the fact that he should be celebrating any honest attempt (call ‘Delgo’ what you want, but you can tell it was made with a ton more honesty than all Dreamworks animation-by-the-numbers pix put together), but he still felt compelled to trash it in the end without having seen it. I guess I was just hoping that the film was presented it while withholding total judgement, and celebrating the effort. After all, what if your nephew was the director or supervising character designer of the film?

    Our industry just seems plagued with a growing virus of negativity, which makes most productions simply no fun to work on. I know and agree that a large part of it is due to execs who don’t care about animation, and are simply using it to get to their “real” production studio, but no one can deny that there is a huge air of disgust and arrogance on the part of many artists in the trenches (earned or otherwise). We should never forget that it wasn’t just our ability to draw that got us here, but also the encouragement and positive feedback we received from those who mattered to us that made us different from those who say “I can’t even draw a stick figure.”

    Therefore, it’s our duty to look at every film that clearly comes from somewhere special in someone and remember what we felt when we showed our first lame “hero-modelled-directly-on-skywalker-frodo-and-he’s-going-to-save-the-universe” to someone who had the ability and rightness of position to crush us, but didn’t. In the end, I think we should all pat this solid, but ultimately JV effort from Fathom on the back and say, “keep up the passion and hustle, guys…and just…push yourselves more, k? We’re all looking forward to yer next endeavour.”

    After all, who of us doesn’t wish they had their very own feature animated film releasing this year? We all do, but who of us really thinks we can manage an entire crew and make “Iron Giant”?

    ~Your grand vizier.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    ZigZag – You wrote that I was “compelled to trash it in the end without having seen it.”

    I never “trashed” Delgo. It’s true that, based on the trailer, I’m left with little desire to see it. But I simply stated my opinion: the character designs are unappealing and the character animation is far behind the current industry standard. However, I’ve been enjoying reading the opposing opinions.

    And Frank, you say about me “I thought you were the voice of reason around here.” Does being the “voice of reason” mean I should never state a negative opinion? I’m extremely open minded towards all forms of animation, cartoon styles and subject matter – as I think you already know. Could you cut me a little slack?

  • ZigZag

    Jerry, you’re right. Trashed is too harsh a term. I should have chosen my words better. You clearly didn’t come down as hard as that sounds. My apologies. Keep up the good work.

  • http://escapistcartoons.blogspot.com Behonkiss

    Alex Dudley, the film being 2D has very little to do with its problems. While the CG isn’t too good, I’m willing to bet that a 2D film from these guys would look pretty average as well, not to mention that the designs and story would still suck.

  • unfathomable

    Ah what the heck. If this does well for Fathom, maybe they can put out something more ‘them’. Finding funding must have meant a lot of give & take over the years – this probably isn’t exactly what they had in mind all those years ago…

    (I really hope the Orangina spot plays in front of this if they get theatrical distribution…)

  • http://www.electronghosthouse.com/ Paul K.

    Though I’d rather sift through the story to evaluate Delgo completely, I am quite repulsed by the character designs– which is really unfortunate since a majority of box-office success depends on the marketed appearance. Every non-fantasy, anti-Furry, average person who despises sci-fi-medieval fairs will be instantly repelled as I was. Most of the character animation in the trailer are generic reactions and common shticks (which is tolerable to a certain extent)– but c’mon, why the horrid design?

    After all these years in production it’s kind of sad. Hopefully I’m wrong– I’m sure Fathom will make better choices with their next.

  • http://www.cupojo.net Jo

    Its great to talk about giving the independents a chance, and not trashing a film before you see it, but you really should call a spade a spade.

    This production is a gem of professional incompetence. The studio dove head first into a project that was far too ambitious in scope, and squandered their funding on big-name actors. The production line makes no sense- (in 2005, they were *still* reworking the story even after the voices had long been recorded). They save money by hiring recent grads, and I was warned by many folks in Atlanta to not even sniff around for work at that studio after I graduated.

    So yes, when the day comes that Delgo finally gets released, go see it before you trash it. But if you’re defending it in the name of artistic merit, remember that Delgo is not the treasured pet project of a some brilliant independent artist, like “The Thief and the Cobbler”. Its a small company hoping for a “Happily Never After” or a “Hoodwinked”- something to show the kiddies and make money. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as a goal, but Fathom keeps tripping up and people assume that its due to unfair outside forces bent on keeping the indies down. The truth is they’re tripping over their own shoelaces, wasting money, wasting time, and its silly to apologize for their incompetence.

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Niffiwan

    “Trashing”=”My guess is it’ll go straight to video.”

    Maybe it wasn’t meant like that, but it could be interpreted as a dismissive “soundbite” comment.

  • C. Edwards

    To add to Jo’s comments, not only did they hire students right out of school, I was told (while working in Atlanta) they had no desire to hire from the pool of existing animators in the city. And the article I mentioned before stated that all the funding came from one source (the son of some wealthy guy, or something). So I doubt there was very little compromise in the production as Unfathomable suggested.

  • unfathomable

    Well, now that’s a different story altogether, C. Edwards and Jo. Thanks for the local flavour. No accounting for taste in the end…if that’s the sitch, then um, yeah.

    Who’s up for a double-bill of ‘Delco’ and this gem? Fronted by the Orangina spot?! Or even followed by ‘Fritz the Cat’ as a midnight screamer?

    You reading this Jerry? Rent a drive-in, I tells ya. The Grindhouse is coming to Toontown…it’s only a matter of time…hand out shrooms with the popcorn and you’re in business…

  • http://mustec.bgsu.edu/~virgil vm

    let’s not forget the success of some cheap productions like…. hoodwinked. the story, the cinematography, both are more important than the look and the animation.

    that being said, I don’t expect much from delgo myself, cuz I’ve seen the trailer. but who knows?

  • No1Monkey

    I saw this trailer over 8 years ago when they did not have the Star VO’s. They had been working on it a couple of years at that point. Also a lack of money was never the problem.

    For an “independent” ( by this i mean they are not associated with a major studio ) they were pretty well funded.

    How do I know all of this… I used to work there. If it was on DVD the only thing I would use it for is to prop up a lop sided table I have.

  • Michael

    I saw Delgo at the Red Stick International Animation Festival on April 17. I really did not know what to expect. I simple reaction at the end was to turn to my wife and say, “This is one of the best movies I have ever seen.” My entire family was taken away with not only the animation quality but the story.

    It was approximately 2 hours long. After the screening, the creators mentioned that they are considering trimming the 15 minute prologue, however, the consensus expressed by the audience was to keep it.

    The story flows without any slow parts. I’m a give me the important parts/facts and leave out the filler person, and I can say there was no filler. The movie takes 2 hours because the creators take the time to properly tell a well developed, original story. It was so refreshing considering the sorry state of the crap that comes out of Hollywood these days.

    The animation felt like something out of Pixar. The stunning colors and details were simply amazing.

  • David

    All I can say is DECEMBER 12 2008 nationwide release from a small studio in Atlanta. Give it a chance and support the small studio trying to do big things!
    Enjoy it and have fun with it, don’t trash it before you’ve even seen the movie.

  • Sarah Reed

    Yeah, don’t trash something you haven’t seen yet! My kids and I are definitely going to see it cause we saw the trailer a few weeks ago. The messages it shows is a great change to these animation movies with sexual innuendos. Definitely a movie I’d be happy to have my kids see.

  • Yvette Roy

    I agree! As a parent, I’d love to support this movie because of the important messages it shows. Kind of like the Romeo and Juliet of this generation, but with less teen angst.