Robot 6

Point-Counterpoint | Technology and the Peanuts movie


“We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film.”

Craig Schulz, son of Charles Schulz, on the ripeness of a CGI Peanuts movie

“Yeah, the technology is right. Because pen and paper was never quite good enough.”

Russ Fischer, commenting on the story for /Film

I get what Schulz is saying. “This film” doesn’t refer to just any Peanuts movie. There have already been at least two of those in traditional, hand-drawn animation. What he’s saying is that if they’re going to try to translate the Peanuts characters to CGI, that’s not something he wanted to rush into.

But while I’m not sure that Fischer’s snark is all that fair, I’m also not exactly sure why now is suddenly the time where technology has caught up and is adequate for portraying Charlie Brown’s round head and Lucy’s lumpy hairdo as computer animation. Is Schulz suggesting that the Peanuts CGI movie needs a level of technology greater than say, Toy Story or How to Train Your Dragon?

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9 Comments

Haven’t we seen, with so many movies in recent years, that great technology does not equal a good film

The Peanuts characters have several idiosyncrasies that makes their various views inconsistent with each other, such as the placement of Charlie Brown’s ear from a side view versus a front view. Toy Story and company all had the luxury of designing their characters “in the round” from the get-go. Harmonizing the inconsistencies so that everything “looks right” is a big challenge. Maybe they figured out a way to do that.

See Google Images for “Peanuts Viewmaster reels” to get a look at the Peanuts gang as 3D characters.

Also, the older 1950s and ’60s Peanuts strips were drawn with a much tighter line quality; only about the second 25 years had Schultz’s “shaky line.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that innovation, and keeping up with evolving times, is not really a significant part of why people have found “Peanuts” endearing. Certainly not for the past three or four decades of the concept’s existence.

I suspect that given the choice, most people with any fondness for the characters would rather sit down to a sequence of two or three of the old television specials in a theater, and laugh along at the old familiar jokes, than go to a CGI Peanuts movie (probably in 3-D, naturally).

You’re giving too much credence to obvious self-justifying bullshit. The guy can’t exactly be honest and just say “While chances are 99.9% that any CGI Peanuts movie will be awful crap, it will personally make me and other rightsholders money. Therefore the project is moving ahead.”

The Looney Tunes characters have been in 3D form for years, especially in games, but it was only recently that they managed to do justice to those in 3D animation form. Maybe they’ve only recently discovered how to do that for Peanuts as well. Its not just a matter of modelling and rigging the characters, but also lighting, shading and making sure they are animated/moving correctly.

You missed the first two theatrical Peanuts movies: A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) and Snoopy Come Home (1972).

I was a kid when those came out, but I totally thought they were made-for-TV movies. Thanks, Bully! That’s my new thing I learned today.

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