With its ambitious sweep and epic story of love, passion, and heartbreak set in the jazz worlds of Cuba, New York, Paris and Las Vegas across several decades, “the big challenge was finding the right technique to tell the story, as well as nailing the film’s style and all the details,” says co-producer Michael Rose. “Spanish designer Javier Mariscal, who directed with Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”) and Tono Errando, has a very distinct style, so we worked hard at translating (his style) into animation. We had a very complex script, with all of these dance sequences and club scenes, and we spent time testing different animation techniques.”

Ultimately, they decided to go “the expensive route,” using classic hand-drawn 2D animation. “There are cheaper ways of making animated films, but you simply don’t get the quality of look and character acting we all wanted, and CG wasn’t appropriate for the subject matter,” Rose says.

It then took the team more than six months to find the right animators who could “find the poetry” in individual cels. “All the design and development and original artwork was done at Mariscal Estudio in Barcelona,” he says, “and then some of the animation was farmed out to various studios around the world — but it was all controlled out of Barcelona.”

The film, with a budget of $13 million, took seven years from start to finish to complete, with physical production taking more than 2 1/2 years. “We’ve already discussed other ideas, using the same techniques,” Rose says.

Animated pics boost property values
Whether working on a shoestring hand-drawn project or pushing the limits of computer-generated technology, this year’s offerings overcame major challenges in bringing their animated visions to screen. Here’s how:
‘Arthur Christmas’ | ‘Chico and Rita’ | ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ | ‘Rango’ | ‘Wrinkles’ | ‘Rio’