Outside of Peter Pan and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, there aren’t too many stories that’ve memorably played around with the notion that shadows truly possess a mind of their own. Hoping to change that, Dreamworks Animation will unveil the inner workings of the world populated by shaded areas in its upcoming 3D toon, Me and My Shadow.
Production is already well underway on the pic, which Dreamworks has set for release in 2013. What’s really interesting about Me and My Shadow at this point in time is that the film aims to seamlessly combine CG objects and landscapes with hand-drawn animation – an art form that hasn’t been in fashion since the Dark Ages.
It became standard practice for Disney’s traditionally-animated features in the 90s/early 2000s to throw CG elements into the mix (trivia note: that practice began with the sequel The Rescuers Down Under), but the opposite has not been true for computer-animated pics released over the past decade. Variety quotes Dreamworks Animation exec Bill Damaschke as saying that, “The way ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ combined hand-drawn and live-action, ['Me and My Shadow'] does the same, but with CG and hand-drawn.”
Me and My Shadow will not be the first flick to mesh 2D/3D animated elements together, as Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda did it in one sequence, while Pixar managed that trick for the entirety of its short “Night and Day”, which showed before Toy Story 3. Crafting a full-length feature that patches CG and traditionally-animated characters, objects, and settings together will be quite the challenge, but the results could definitely be well worth the effort.
The plot of Me and My Shadow revolves around a dull-as-dishwater man named Stanley Grubb, whose shadow – the aptly named Shadow Stan – eventually decides to break the sacred rule obeyed by all inhabitants of the Shadow World (“they lead, we follow”) and takes control of Stanley himself.
Onboard to direct the pic is Mark Dindal, who was also responsible for helming the CG-animated flick Chicken Little and Disney’s 2D toon, The Emperor’s New Groove. According to Damaschke, close to half the animators that will work on Me and My Shadow have old-fashioned 2D and 3D experience – despite the fact that Dreamworks hasn’t dabbled in hand-drawn animation since Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was released back in 2002.
Me & My Shadow will be released in the sterescopic format (read: 3D format), which will provide an extra technical hurdle for Dreamworks’ animators to jump through. We’ve heard rumblings that Disney has put its 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast on hold due to problems with rendering the film’s original hand-drawn frames in the third dimension, so it’s likely that Dreamworks will have its hands full dealing with that issue as well.
Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (see above) did pretty well at the box office last winter, but not so well as to usher in a new age of traditionally-animated features. Between smaller, foreign productions like the 2009 film The Secret of Kells or this year’s buzzed-about pic, The Illusionist (as well as Disney’s new Winnie the Pooh) 2D animation has managed to stay alive as an art form and Me and My Shadow should only help in that regard.
Me and My Shadow is tentatively scheduled to arrive in theaters by March of 2013.