Netflix Unveils First Footage of First Animated Feature 'Klaus' at Annecy

KLAUS Still 1 - Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman)  -Netflix  Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Netflix

The film used 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Breaking Bad' as influences in creating a new animation technique.

Netflix on Wednesday unveiled footage from its first animated feature, the upcoming Christmas tale Klaus, during a Work in Progress session at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France.

The pic's director, Despicable Me co-creator Sergio Pablos, was on hand to present the first scenes from the new film. Norm Macdonald has been added to the previously announced voice cast of the Santa origin tale, which features Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack and J.K. Simmons and is set to drop this Christmas.

Pablos showed nine key scenes and several sketches to audiences in Annecy. The scenes show a young man sent to a snowy Scandinavian town to open a post office. Production designer Szymon Aleksander Biernacki called it “a corrupted version of an Icelandic village on steroids.” The postman soon sees a way out of the village by hustling letters from children schoolyard-pusher-style and goes on to inadvertently create a mythology along the way.

The Madrid-based team developed a new 2D drawing and layering process to create the moody look of the film — and Pablos said he drew inspiration from some unexpected sources, including Apocalypse Now and Breaking Bad for key scenes.

Pablos said he bristled against the ubiquity of 3D in animation and set out to revive the hand-drawn medium. “The goal is not to bring 2D back but to bring it forward,” he said of developing the new layering technique. The process retains the “little imperfections that give it charm.”

Biernacki said that the technique was created because “3D looks washed out, and something is lost through machinery. We wanted to avoid that.” The team explained the process in depth, which involves layering several differently colored cells.

The streamer is planning an Oscar-qualifying run for Klaus, which is its first feature since it launched the division last year.