Thursday 9 May 2013

Blue Sky Studios: A Retrospective

Blue Sky Studios have come a long way from their humble beginning - when they were just a one-room office with three computers and a coffee machine. Owned by Twentieth Century Fox, the American CGI-animation studio has worked on a number of high profile films, primarily those that integrate live-action with computer-generated animation. May sees the release of EPIC, their latest offering - a colourful and exciting journey which takes us down to the forest floor, and features voices from stars such as Amanda Siegfried, Chris O'Dowd, Christoph Waltz, Pitbull, and Beyonce Knowles. To mark the release, here's a retrospective of Blue Skies' best animations to date in their short but highly colourful existence.

Bunny (1998)
Bunny, Blue Sky's first short film was a surreal, offbeat tale about a cranky elderly bunny rabbit that is disturbed when a pesky moth flies into her kitchen. The short was created whilst the team were working on special effects for massive titles such as Joe's Apartment (1996), A Simple Wish (1997), Alien Resurrection (1997) and Fight Club (1999), but their hard work - done with no financial gain in mind - paid off massively. The short was technically ground-breaking, and transformed the studio from a service company to a feature animation studio. Bunny's unique visual style and heartfelt story helped the film win the 1998 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Blue Sky was officially on the map in a major way!

Ice Age (2002)

Ice Age (2002) is the prehistoric tale of three unlikely friends: an obnoxious sloth named Sid, a lone mammoth named Manny and Diego and a ferocious sabre-toothed tiger with a conscience, who band together across treacherously cold terrain to bring a human baby back to his tribe. The producers had originally planned it as a classically animated dramatic family film, but with recent technological advances, they decided to take a risk and make a fully 3D animated feature.  The risk paid off. Ice Age broke the record for a March opening - and has since spawned three massively successful sequels.

Robots (2005)

Based in an anthropomorphic robot world, a young idealistic robot travels to the big city to pursue his dream of becoming an inventor. Whilst there, he finds himself opposing the sinister new management of his company, who have made a cold-hearted decision to stop making spare parts, instead sending old robots to the ‘chop shop' to be shredded and destroyed. It features the voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey and Robin Williams.

Horton Hears Who! (2008)

The film is the first adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work which is fully animated using CGI technology. The story is about Horton the Elephant who discovers a speck, which harbours the microscopic city of Whoville. Horton makes it his mission to protect Whoville, especially from the evil kangaroo and his neighbours who fail to believe it exists, as they cannot see it. Horton stands by his motto that: A person is a person, no matter how small” and saves the city from destruction.

Rio (2011)

The title refers to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, where the film is set. It tells the story of Blu, a male blue macaw who lives in Minnesota with his owner, Linda who rescued him when he was small. Highly domesticated and unable to fly, Blu is the laughing stock of the Candian geese that come by Linda's bookstore. He is taken to Rio de Janeiro to mate with a free spirited female blue macaw, Jewel but then drama strikes when they are captured and kidnapped by smugglers. A dramatic escape ensues, with escapades involving the Rio Carnival and an impressive mid-air feat through which Blu really proves himself and finds true love along the way.

Epic (2013)

Epic is an upcoming 3D computer animated fantasy-adventure drama based on William Joyce's children book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. It is a battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and evil and tells the story of a teenage girl who finds herself in a secret world. Once there, she must help a team of fun and whimsical characters to save their world and in the process save the real world as well.

Epic hits UK cinemas May 22, 2013

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