With the coming of affordable computers and powerful softwares, production of animation or cartoons has remained almost the same. Images are still hand-drawn although on digital tablets instead of on paper. Movements are created by a sequence of images in digital slides instead of cardboard storyboard. Unlike in the old technique where synchronizing the sound with the visuals is a job for magicians, animation software tools make it easy for animators to adjust everything, from sound, visuals and even color, tint and hue.
With the television yet to be invented in the 1920s, the first cartoons were shown in the theaters. Called cartoon shorts – with a running time of 5 to 10 minutes – animated films were used as fillers for feature films. And after getting popular, especially among the kids, cartoons became a staple in local channels when television arrived. And here in the Philippines, there is no doubt that Popeye was the most popular cartoon character in the pre-internet age.
The very first cartoon character to gain public acclaim was Felix The Cat in 1922. Released by Sullivan Studio of Pat Sullivan, Otto Messmer was credited as the animator of Felix during the silent film era. After the success in cartoon shorts, Felix appeared in comic strips.
In the modern times, full length cartoons come in the form of 2-D and 3-D animation. The 2-D (two-dimensional is a flat drawing) while the 3-D (three-dimensional) is a caricature drawn in full figure profile.
Lion King is a good example of a full length cartoon feature film that competed with the traditional feature movies. As in the cartoons genre of the olden times, Disney Films is still the one ahead in producing full length feature animation.
In the local movies, the first animated full length feature film was Ibong Adarna. It is the story of a legendary bird that makes stones out of scheming warriors. Derived from the Filipino folklore, the script was written by Gerry Garcia which he himself directed. Jolina Magdangal did the bird’s voice. Others in the cast of voice-over talents were Marvin Agustin, Martin Nievera and Regine Velasquez.
Despite the unique and novel approach, Ibong Adarna failed to attract the curiosity of the movie-going public. Sad to say, the producers, FLT Films and Guiding Light Productions, were not able to recover their investment.
Creating a full length animation is much more difficult than making a movie with people in the cast. The series of drawings in a single scene of 5 seconds would require a hundred images. In this regard, an animation movie becomes more expensive and more time-consuming.
Considered the second full length animated film, Urduja is about a warrior-princess in Pangasinan. The legend says that Urduja fell in love with an unworthy foreigner who happens to be a Chinese pirate. Aside from being historical, Urduja is also a cultural movie showing the idiosyncracies of the Filipino royalty.
From the concept to the drawing, it took 13 years for APT Entertainment of Tony Tuviera (producer of Eat Bulaga) to finish Urduja. Countless of artists in Palawan worked on the images required by the sequences in the script written by Reggie Entienza. The effort was in collaboration of APT with Seventoon and Imaginary Friends Production.
For the audio part, Regine Velasquez was the voice behind the character of Urduja. Others artists who lent their voices were Cesar Montano for Lim Hang, the Chinese Pirate, Eddie Garcia for Lakanpati, the tribal leader and father of Urduja, Jay Manalo for Simakwel, the jilted suitor of Urduja, Johnny Delgado, Ruby Rodriguez, Epi Quizon, Michael V, Allan K and BJ Forbes.
As in the case of Ibong Adarna in 1997, Urduja in 2008 had a blown-up budget. Unfortunately, in spite of Eat Bulaga’s help in the promotion, Urduja had the same fate as that of Ibong Adarna in the box office.
For the MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival) this year, an animation movie is one of the entries. DAYO sa Daigdig ng Elementalia is a story of a human taking a tour of an enchanted place. Voiced by Nash Aguas, Buboy is an 11-year old boy with big dreams. In search of his missing grandparents, Buboy meets Anna, a teen-aged manananggal who accompanies him in the land of Elementalia.
Dayo was 2 years in the making, much shorter than the working period of Urduja, where actual production started in October, 2007. For the story conference alone, it took them 3 days and they needed 4 months for the script to be finished.
Having 300 artists to do the drawings using Toon Boon software on a Macintosh, Dayo definitely relied on computers. With the so-called paperless technology, the drawings were done on a pc tablet. There’s a set of artist to do the basic drawing, another set for the coloring and another for the movements.
Dayo is actually a combination of 2-Dimension and 3-Dimension animation. Characters were drawn in flat 2-D while the background was done in full 3-D. The hybrid style produces a panorama of mixed real environs and surreal personages.
As an added attraction of the animated MMFF entry, Lea Salonga sings the theme song Lipad with the accompaniment of the 35-piece Filharmonika orchestra which was conducted by her brother Gerard. Dayo is directed by Robert Quilao from the script of Temi Abad and Eric Cabahug.
Other voice talents were Katrina Legaspi for the Manananggal, Johnny Delgado, Peque Gallaga, Michael V for the Tikbalang, Pokwang, Nova Villa for the grandmother, Noel Trinidad for the grandfather and Laurice Guillen.
Produced by Cutting Edge of Jesse Lasaten, the budget is more than 1 million dollars. Jesse, who is CEO of Cutting Edge is also the Executive Producer and Musical Scorer of Dayo.
Not to be left behind, Philippine television is coming out with a local anime series. Super Inggo at ang Super Tropa is the first local anime to be produced by ABS-CBN. With 85 people in the Animation Department, the target is to produce episodes good for 26 weeks (or 2 seasons).
Being a Pinoy Anime, Super Inggo is patterned after the Japanese anime except that the story, background and environment are purely Pinoy. Children viewers are expected to react positively because they could surely relate to what’s happening in the story.
Voicing Budong and Super Inggo is Makisig Morales, the original actor in the non-anime series. Maya is voiced by Kathryn Maya and Jairus Aquino gives life to Jomar. Expected to lend their voices for the series are Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Angel Locsin and other ABS-CBN stars.
Due to very high production cost, they plan to sell the series abroad. Aside from this, they also anticipate to earn from the marketing of merchandise like toys and other things for children. Definitely, Super Inggo would be a big seller to the kids.
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