Saturday, May 30, 2009

Down - and UP

Found this video when I went to IMDB to look for the links in the discussion below.

Click on this link to see the animated short film Headwinds. It will be well worth two minutes of your day. Gravity wins in this film, which features many of the classic bits of bogus physics common to cartoons where a character falls off of a cliff, but an accurate treatment of many others.

(Some minor spoilers follow.)

As for Up ... we had a blast from beginning (including the trailers and a great Pixar short called Partly Cloudy that takes the stork creation myth one step further) to end. Only disappointment is they cut the credits short to clear the theater for the next crowd, but the dog jokes more than made up for that. (All I could think of at a few points in the movie was Chad's promo movie with his discussion of a Schroedinger's Treat experiment.)

Some nice technical work in this film. "Partly Cloudy" must have been used to do development work on clouds and cloth (cloth got a specific mention in the credits), and there was some really nice work with fabrics in our hero's tweed jacket and a montage near the start where changing styles of ties was used to symbolize the passage of many decades. There was also a breathtaking shot of water flowing in a stream, looking down from above. If you don't follow animation, water and fire have always offered some of the greatest challenges. I think they have completely mastered flowing water, just as they did with the rough chop on the ocean as The Incredibles flew to the island.

One subtle detail was the homage to Miyazaki, a good friend of Pixar's founder: One characteristic of films by Hayao Miyazaki is the use of flight in some form or another. If you have ever seen Porco Rosso, the appearance of an airship in this film was no surprise. And was the rotating weather vane an homage to the Disney classic, Mary Poppins, as these two firms join forces? Could be.

The only blatant continuity error I noticed was that the kid did not seem to be on the porch while the house was flying through the sky, and we saw under the house as it lifted off. However, there was a subfloor under the porch - so he could have been in that crawl space IF there had been an opening for him to use to get in and out.

Saw it in Digital 3D, which we HIGHLY recommend. Wouldn't see it any other way. This is the first time we have seen Disney's 3D, and we were very impressed. Heck, we were impressed with the Disney movie logo! It may seem odd, but the most striking aspect of the 3D depth to me was during the camping scene at night. The stars in the sky looked really far away. The depth was natural, not contrived. In fact, unlike the trailer for the 3D kids film about raining meatballs, there were only one or two instances where they pulled the usual 3D stunts of the past.

And we know about 3D stunts, having sat through Jaws 3-D mainly because we had been in a crowd scene in the movie while on our honeymoon trip to Orlando. We sure hope Toy Story 3D doesn't die a deserved death like that movie did! (The 3D trailer for it is pretty well done, but about all it tells you is that they are making the movie and have a release date for it in June 2010.)

Where does Headwinds fall down, physically?

The treatment of air drag during free fall is really good, and I'm not complaining about the great cartoon moment at about 0:57 where he claws at the air, suddenly falling out of his shoes when he realizes he is in trouble. No, the real problem is that the rock is much denser than he is, so it would have passed him on the way down - long before he pulled his parachute. His terminal velocity is much MUCH less than that of the rock ledge that he knocked loose.

No comments: