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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

High-Tech Animation Scores at the Box Office

Aired June 24, 2001 - 07:24   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: High-tech fantasy movies are gobbling up millions of dollars at the box office. Computer generations are becoming state-of-the-art. So what happened to the old tradition of drawing those animations by hand?

CNN's Paul Vercammen takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE")

VOICE OF MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: We've got to rescue the princess. We've got to save Atlantis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Disney's "Atlantis."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SHREK")

VOICE OF EDDIE MURPHY, ACTOR: You definitely need some Tic-Tacs or something because your breath stinks!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: DreamWorks super-hit "Shrek."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN")

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: The dream is always the same thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Sony's photo-realistic "Final Fantasy."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "OSMOSIS JOE")

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The body is in perfect shape.

MOLLY SHANNON, ACTRESS: What a zit -- I mean, what is it? What do you want?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Warner Brother hybrid "Osmosis Jones." Animated films in ever-morphing forms will take shape in movie theaters all summer long. The success of "Shrek" and other entries in the 3-D virtual world has some critics wondering if traditional 2-D animation eventually will be erased.

ANNE THOMPSON, "PREMIER" MAGAZINE: I think their cycle is on business. And 2-D animation is coming to an end in terms of what was the height of Disney storytelling.

VERCAMMEN: But now, even Disney's hand-drawn looking films like "Atlantis" are enhanced with digital effects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TOY STORY")

VOICE OF TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Woody saves the day again!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Disney also made computer-generated blockbusters "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" with Pixar. And the companies collaborated on "Monsters, Inc.," due out later this year.

Rival DreamWorks' animation assault is spearheaded by Jeffrey Katzenberg. The one time Disney kingpin helped forge DreamWorks success alliance with the Pacific Data Images, PDI, on both "Shrek" and "Ants."

"Shrek" created lifelike emotions and expressions through computer recreations of actual facial muscles.

ANDREW ADAMSON, CO-DIRECTOR, "SHREK": This is state-of-the-art for right now. And as Jeffrey Lake's put it, it's probably state-of- the-art for the next two-and-a half minutes until the next film comes out that's state-of -the-art.

VERCAMMEN: But 85-year-old Jules Engel, contributor to classics from "Fantasia" to "Bambi," argues true animated art should not be discolored by too many digital effects.

JULES ENGEL, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS: If you take national painters of Degas or Picasso or any other of these people, you're looking at art. And this, to a degree, could disappear in animation if everything goes on the computer.

VERCAMMEN: The founding director of the California Institute of The Arts, a long-time animator spawning ground, says studios scouring this campus for talent still look for superb drawing skills.

ENGEL: Generally, you do -- you still have to do a storyboard. And the storyboard is all drawing -- is what you see behind me, really. That you do first.

VERCAMMEN: Such talent may wind up at the cineplex in all manner of animation, 2-D, 3-D, mixes. As for the hottest style, moviegoers will draw the ultimate conclusion.

Paul Vercammen, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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