Here Comes China in the Animation Field
And now, as Monty Python would say, time for something completely different.
Those who read my blog regularly know that I have written a few times about the fact that the Chinese government has been somewhat offended that their own indigenous animation artists cannot come up with anything as good as the "Kung Fu Panda" series of films. It's understandable, considering how well Hollywood is at genre films like that, and naturally the Chinese have their national pride somewhat at stake as well. It must be kind of irritating to the Chinese to think that foreigners can tell their own folklore better than they can themselves.
Well, the Chinese are taking steps to try to get into the animation field. Gary Wang of the Chinese start-up production company Light Chaser Animation Studio has created a short film, "Little Yeyos," which is not bad - watch it above. "Little Yeyos" is kind of a test run for this new player in animation, Light Chaser Animation Studio. “Little Yeyos” means “Little Night Wanderers,” and the short three-minute 3D film tells the simple story of seven chubby and baby-faced fairies roughhousing over a light-reflecting lapel pin.
"Little Yeyos" is a huge hit in China, getting some astronomical number of hits, 30 million or something crazy like that. It hasn't gotten very many here.
|Gary Wang of Light Chaser|
Wang is not an animator by trade. He is a Chinese video game developer who sold his first company, Tudou.com, for over a billion dollars, so he has lots of cash to play with. Chinese animation is weak, to put it kindly, but China is such a huge market that they can put out really lame animated series and make $100 million without really trying (which was the case with the animation series "Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf"). As you can guess from that title, the animation is simple and aimed at children, while adults still go to the higher quality American animation.
|Zhou Yu, co-founder of Light Chaser|
The key idea is that Wang, along with Zhou Yu who worked with Wang at the Tudou website and produced the "Little Yeyos" short, is ramping up the entire industry in China. Wang is spending ten times as much on his first feature animated film that what was spent on each of the "Goat" films. He is a major league player and knows the ropes, having spent some time in Hollywood. When you can afford to hire an 80-person team from scratch and get the latest software and top talent, you are off to a good start. Wang has hired some Hollywood veterans to get things moving. Colin Brady, who worked on "Toy Story 2," and Han Lei, a lighting guy at DreamWorks, are providing the experience. Supposedly, Wang will have pumped about $40 million into the venture by the time he pushes out his first film in a few years, which is an enormous sum for the fledgling Chinese animation field.
We can expect to see more interesting animation come out of China. This short, "Little Yeyos," is just an appetizer.