Demonstrating they are smarter than the average design/production studio, yU+co crafted a glorious stereoscopic 3D main-on-end title sequence for the new Warner Bros animated film Yogi Bear. Led by Synderela Peng, Art Director on the design and Richard Taylor, VFX Director on the production, and Producer Sarah Coatts, the team created a sequence that cleverly incorporates stylistic elements of Saul Bass with the madcap nature of Hanna-Barbera's animation to create something truly its own.
"Designing in stereoscopic is very different than designing in 2D," stated Founder/Creative Director Garson Yu. "You have to offset the conversion process and bring things closer to the audience as well as further away to create that depth and dimension. You also have to give the audience enough time to enjoy the stereoscopic sensation, so you can't be too 'cutty' with scenes."
Although yU+co. is no stranger to stereoscopic 3D, having created the 2D and 3D main-on-end title sequence to Shrek Forever After and the 3D logo for 3Ality Digital, Yogi Bear offered them the chance to accomplish more both creatively and technically in the 3D world.
"The initial concept was 'Saul Bass in stereo' - a clear use of shapes and lines that Bass' classic designs are known for, but married to the playfulness of the Hanna-Barbera animation style," said Art Director Synderela Peng. "We decided to show only silhouettes of main characters because we didn't want to mimic the 3D animation style seen in the film or the original look from 1960s cartoon. We knew the silhouettes would work because the image of Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo are so iconic that people would recognize them even without seeing their faces."
Set to a rousing song by the alternative rock band Weezer, the "Yogi Bear" title sequence begins with a series of red and orange hued vertical lines as an array of fruit falls all around. Suddenly the chase is on as we see Yogi and Boo Boo silhouetted in the background driving a cart that drags a line of picnic tables filled with food, while the alarmed Ranger tries to stop them. The sequence cleverly uses food in every frame, such as cotton candy and popcorn clouds, trees with marshmallow flowers and giant turkey legs, watermelon slices, sandwiches, cherry pie and hot dogs that dot the landscape and serve as a surface for the credit typography.
Some of the noteworthy scenes in the sequence include a nod to the Super Mario Bros., as Yogi and Boo Boo escape the Ranger by jumping and climbing various food items; and a scene in which Yogi and Boo Boo ride a raft down a waterfall.
"Once we agreed on the use of the silhouette concept, the challenge became to create enough gags to carry the sequence through," said Edwin Baker, yU+co's writer/designer. "We wanted to use the food in abstract ways that helped expand the visual language. The transitions needed to be clever, surprising and fluid. With the stereoscopic we wanted to find new ways to push the food landscape and make it more fun and exciting."
Among the key creative choices yU+co made was to bring a team traditional cel animators aboard to create the silhouetted version of Yogi, Boo Boo, the ranger and a new turtle character, created using Flash. While it may seem to some unnecessary to have a cell animation team work on silhouettes, Peng noted that a lot of expression needed to be conveyed in the arm and leg movements of the main characters.
"Because you don't see any facial expressions, it was imperative that we work with character animators because we needed a clear articulation of what the characters are doing based only on arm and legs movements," Peng said. "Arms and legs had to show the emotions like joy, fear and frustration -- very subtle movements and completely different from the motion graphics."
"Thanks to the film's producer Donald De Line, we had the opportunity to work on this film which gave our design team another added dimension to use their storytelling talents," commented Yu. "As a result, we've developed a great 3D pipeline to produce stereoscopic work and our team can handle just about any kind of project that's out there."