Christmas has come early for old-school fans of traditional 2D animation. Sergio Pablos‘ Klaus holds the distinction of being Netflix’s first animated feature but it will be doing more than simply offering a twist on the origin story of the old Saint Nicholas. Pablos wants to bring back the age of traditional animation, when CG-animation wasn’t the norm. In a new Klaus featurette released by Netflix, Pablos explains how he married the traditional animation process with CG innovations to create a truly unique-looking film.
“In a world where CGI hadn’t been invented, where would traditional animation be today?” Pablos asks in the Klaus featurette spotlighting the film’s distinctive animation style. That’s the style that the director wants to achieve with Klaus, his animated Christmas movie that tells a gritty origin of Santa Claus (J.K. Simmons). Klaus certainly looks unlike most CG-animated movies today, which generally stick by wide, round character designs, soft edges, and big eyes that was established by Pixar and DreamWorks in the early 2000s. But Klaus has a crooked, spindly art style that more resembles Disney’s comic book-inspired Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which seems to be what Pablos is aiming for.
“The aesthetic is something that a few years ago would have been considered impossible,” Pablos said. “We are picking up traditional animation where it was left off, which was sometime in the ’90s. I thought, ‘What can we do to the traditional animation pipeline where you can tell that characters look like stickers put on painted backgrounds?’ We didn’t want it to look like that.”
Directed by Pablos from his original story and a script he co-wrote with Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, Klaus stars Jason Schwartzman, JK Simmons, Rashida Jones, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack.
Here is the synopsis for Klaus:
When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva (Rashida Jones), and discovers Klaus (Oscar® winner J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care. An animated holiday comedy directed by Despicable Me co-creator Sergio Pablos, KLAUS co-stars Joan Cusack, Will Sasso and Norm Macdonald.
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