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Planet 51's Postproduction Workflow

Mar 11, 2010 12:00 PM


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The animated movie Planet 51 was produced using several Avid systems including Media Composer, Media Composer Mojo DX, a Unity storage system, and Pro Tools LE.

The animated movie Planet 51 was produced using several Avid systems including Media Composer, Media Composer Mojo DX, a Unity storage system, and Pro Tools LE.

Spain had an otherworldly success on its hands this year with Planet 51, the country's leading box office hit. Produced by IIion Animation Studios, HandMade Films, and Antena 3, the film generated $40 million in its first week of release in the United States, Spain, and Canada. Based on these worldwide figures, Planet 51 topped Spain's international hit list, outdistancing Alejandro Amenabar's Agora and Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces.

Ironic space invader

The story centers on American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker, who lands on Planet 51 to find a peaceful 1950s-style world. Baker, ironically, is the invader from outer space.

"After exploring a long list of different ideas, we came up with Planet 51: alien beings, little green men with antennae on top of their heads, living in fear of human invasion. It was the classic tale of an alien invasion, but seen from a completely different angle," says Jorge Blanco, Planet 51 director.

Joe Stillman (Shrek) wrote the script and there were numerous stars to tell the tale. Dwayne Johnson and Jessica Biel provided lead voices while Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese round out the movie's A-list cast.

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Behind-the-scenes support

Beyond the world-class stars, the postproduction workflow played an equally important role in the picture's creation. Ilion Animation Studios was tasked with the enormous challenge of building a top-tier animated film from a creative, technological, and human standpoint. Planet 51 featured video and audio solutions from Avid, including four Media Composer systems, one Media Composer Mojo DX system, one Unity shared-storage system, and one Digidesign Pro Tools LE system.

Planet 51 Co-director Javier Abad says, "Conscious of the huge challenge facing us with Planet 51's character animation, we decided we would put together our own computer animation tools and software."

With a potpourri of comedy, caricature, and underlying sensitivity, the creators of Planet 51 needed to create a mesh of laugh-out-loud and sensitive, heart-warming scenes. These included an alien in a toupee driving a Cadillac shaped like a flying saucer and a young female character's realization that the virtue and bravery tucked away in her heart had been there all along, just waiting to be discovered.

Ignacio Perez Dolset, CEO of Ilion Animation Studios, says, "From the start, we began looking for a fresh and original storyline that was highly differentiated from other movies."

The postproduction setup ensured a seamless, collaborative workflow that encompassed a number of creative contributors and duplicate installations in two countries. This enabled the editorial team to maintain extremely high standards of animation quality within the constraints of tight production deadlines.

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