Adding adventure to Disney toon

Animation Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Being fans of Japanese anime, and of the Indiana Jones films, animation directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise were dead-set on using these influences to buck the trend at Disney Feature Animation.

“Fewer songs, more explosions,” is what Trousdale says they were shooting for to keep Disney’s latest animated pic, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” from being “just another great musical.”

“We were excited about the prospect of making something different,” adds Wise. After doing “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “It was a good time to turn left at the castle, and make an Adventureland movie.”

With their previous projects adaptations of well-known classic tales, the co-directors found the legend of “Atlantis” they wanted to tell fell “somewhere between the science and the speculation,” Trousdale says.

The free range allowed them create a bold new aquatic world, but the directors stuck to established techniques.

” ‘Atlantis’ is more of a hybrid film in that it’s the most extensive mixture of traditional 2D animation and 3D computer graphics we’ve ever worked with,” Trousdale says.

“It’s like a series of small steps now that add up to a lot,” Wise says. “We are basically using the same stuff they were using on ‘Tarzan,’ but improving it just a little.”

The duo claim there aren’t many differences between directing animation and live-action.

“It’s all storytelling, and trying to engage the audience, but it just takes a lot longer,” Wise says.

“It’s also a lot less wear and tear on the stuntmen,” Trousdale jokes. “We hardly have anyone break limbs on our films.

“We come up with the same choices live-action directors do, like the weather and the lighting, but it’s easier for us because if we want to redesign something, it doesn’t take a work crew two weeks for it to happen; we just erase it and do it over.”