Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Ryan Kwanten, and Jim Sturgess Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Press ConferenceZack, was it an extra challenge to get the 3D perfect and what do you think that adds to the storytelling of the film?
Zack Snyder: "First of all, I’d say the guys at Animal Logic have done – Grant [Freckelton] and I were saying it’s everyone’s first 3D movie but I think everyone endeavoring from the beginning to say, 'We’ve seen the other 3D movies and they’re awesome…ish.' We were talking about how there are rules. They say you can only make a 3D movie certain ways and you can only make certain shots. I felt like what we did is we really made this 3D movie in a cinematic way. We tried not to change the language of the movie for the 3D, but we tried to get the 3D to enhance the language of the movie. The 3D isn’t used in a gimmicky way but it does deepen the world."
"I really believe that, especially in a fantasy film which this is, it really is a fantasy film. I was looking on the internet and it’s listed under sci-fi which is kind of cool. I liked that it was in a sci-fi category as well. But then it’s a real fantasy film so you really are going on an adventure to another world literally. We were saying we used all this landscape of Australia to create the world, but in a lot of ways when you make an animated movie you get nothing for free. You’ve got to endeavor then to include anything that you see is an effort and a choice. There’s no, 'Oh, we got lucky with those clouds.' But you want that feeling, right? And so I think that the cool thing about the 3D in this case was that it makes the world more immersive. It helps support the fantasy aspect of the film in the sense that you don’t have to work to believe in the world as much maybe if the 3D is working correctly."
Deborah Snyder: "And also I think because we had these birds in flight and we could really use that, whether they were flying towards you or away from you, and create [something in 3D]. I think it’s a very deep movie in terms of 3D – more that there are times where it pokes forward, but a lot of times we’ve used it to be deep so we can see them flying through the frame. I felt like it was a very natural use of it. But I also have to say that the 2D version of the film is also worth seeing because with 3D, because of the glasses, everything is slightly darker and a little bit muddier and I feel like it’s a different experience to watch the 2D. But it’s also a really awesome experience because you get more of the detail of the feathers and you just see a little bit more. You see a little bit more depth in the colors. It’s different, but it’s also pretty cool too."
Zack, do you have something against good old American actors?
Zack Snyder: "What I will say is that I was blessed with an embarrassment of riches and talent in the cast that I have, though in the past I have worked with American actors and I find them incredibly awesome and very talented. In the case of this film, because I was interested in this fantasy world, if you will, I think the accents and the abilities of these actors have come together to create this perfect storm of support for the fantasy world that we’ve all endeavored to create. That is not by design, the lack of American actors, it just happened to work out that way."
Jim, what animation did you watch when you were growing up? What do you see as the differences in animation between what you used to watch and this film?
Jim Sturgess: "Just like any kid, I guess, I’d always wanted to be the voice of a cartoon character. It just seemed like a really cool thing to do. There’s been loads of animation films and I was in love with a film called Watership Down, which was a huge part of my life as a kid when I grew up. As a kid, it’s mainly cartoons, animation and things like that which you watch and, as you get older, the animation has just been getting more and more exciting and more possibilities are going to come in with that. I’d nearly had the chance to do a few animated characters, so when this came up it was just ticking every single box that I’d ever dreamed about. The story was just epic in every way and then they sent me this book of how the animation was going to look and the characters’ back stories and different designs for the claws and the weaponry and the shields and the masks. I was completely taken in by this whole world that they had already created before I’d even gotten anywhere near being involved. And it’s fun just to hear your voice in this beautifully designed character and it’s your voice."
"It was such an exciting film to watch. I saw it for the first time last night and it’s different than watching a film that you’re in and acting in. It’s this whole fantasy world. It’s a real buzz and a real thrill knowing that’s your voice behind that little owl’s face."
Ryan, were you inspired by any cartoons growing up?
Ryan Kwanten: "I was very much living among three boys and we were kicked out of the house pretty much at any moment that we had. I think mum just thought it was easier for us to be dealt with outside of the house than inside the house. So we were then forced to use our imaginations and play outside, so we must have come up with 20, 30 different games using our imagination, just taking over our backyard, the neighborhood, anything. Our neighbors were well and truly versed in our mad ways. We’d be flying through Mars starting at the hedges and all sorts of things, so it was pretty much just games within my head. I wasn’t really much of a TV animation junkie growing up."
Zack, what was the most difficult scene on the technical side and also on the artistic side?
ZS: The first shot - and the third shot was also hard [referring to the leaves and all of the rooms inside the tree]. What’s interesting also about when you make an animated movie is you don’t realize…What I didn’t realize was that these assets actually get built like a real set in some ways. I’d say, 'Oh we should make that bigger,' and they’d be like, 'We already built it. It’s only that big.' And I’d say, 'Really? That’s crazy! It’s not real.' And they’re like, 'No, no, it is real. It’s done.'"
"In some ways, every now and then you’d get a wake-up call that’s kind of like making a real movie as far as, 'We’ve only budgeted this much for that set. We’ve built it and it’s this big and it cost this much to make that big and if you want to make it bigger, it’s going to cost more money and we’ll have to get more pixels from the pixel store.' I don’t know where they get them."
Deborah Snyder: "And there can only be so many owls in this scene."
Zack Snyder: "Yeah, it'd just be like extras and they’d be like, 'No, no…' Grant joked one time, we were talking about doing a shot, and out the window of the hollow you could see… He goes, 'We’ll just put a green screen back there and then we can add a different background later.' And I was thinking it was crazy. Retime is when it goes from normal speed to slow motion. And it was a problem if I suddenly said, 'Oh this shot should be in slow motion.' They’d be like. 'Ahhhhh!'"
Deborah Snyder: "Also, how about the feathers? It’s one thing that you take for granted, but when the owls touch each other, there’s this scene with Soren and Eglantine and he leans down and actually all the feathers kind of..."
Zack Snyder: "Their heads knock together."
Deborah Snyder: "They knock together and that was such a difficult [scene]. It’s something that most people won’t even notice, but it was something that was such a difficult thing to do."
Zack Snyder: [Laughing] "We could have a man on Mars or…"