What's that you say, that you wanted to be a cartoonist when you were growing up? That you used to sit in the back of the classroom and doodle all period, dreaming of becoming the next Chuck Jones or Tex Avery? That you still think about sending a sketch into that ad in TV Guide, the one for the company that says they can make you the next Walt Disney overnight? Join the club, pal. We've all been there. But some people actually get to live this dream - and then they work exceptionally long, hard hours. They may never have dreamed about this downside as kids, but the Dreamworks animators who work on films like Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas still wouldn't trade places with anyone.
"I was one of the first people on Sinbad, " remembers Craig Ring, the Digital Supervisor on the film. "I've been working on it now for over four years. It seems like I've been working on those big questions - the ocean and ship development and the various storyboards and how we could do it all at the right price - forever."
With the well-known Arabian sailor at it’s center (as voiced by Brad Pitt), Sinbad follows one of the adventurer’s lesser known voyages. At the outset Sinbad is charged with stealing the Book of Peace when the crime was truly committed by Eris (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), the goddess of Chaos. In an attempt to prove his innocence and save his best friend Proteus the Shapeshifter from certain death, Sinbad heads off to find Eris. In the process he comes across horrific monsters including a giant scorpion, a serpent and the Roc, a 40-foot-tall bird comprised of ice and snow. Stowed away on his ship the entire time is his girlfriend Proteus (with Catherine Zeta-Jones providing the voice) who makes sure Sinbad completes his mission.
On a recent visit to the animation studio, Ring typified the talented Sinbad workers who were promoting the film - pale, looking like he needed a good nap, yet still overflowing with pride for a movie that had taken nearly half a decade of his life away. "About a third of the character animation in this film is 3D," he beamed, "and that's a lot more than in any other film like this. We took all we learned on our three previous traditionally animated/3D hybrid films and decided this one was going to take it to another level."
Rudolphe Guenoden, the feature animator in charge of Sinbad's friend Proteus, seems like a rookie compared to Ring. "I was on the film for three and a half years," he smiles. But he's as much of a seasoned pro as anybody.