Siggraph 2012: 'Hotel Transylvania' Previewed by Director Genndy Tartakovsky

The Sony Pictures Animation comedy opens Sept. 28.

“I felt like I got dropped into a war zone,” admitted Genndy Tartakovsky about when he was first brought on to direct Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, which opens Sept. 28. Clips and work-in-progress from the film highlighted a panel, held Tuesday at CG conference Siggraph.

TV animation veteran Tartakovsky -- who has three Emmys under his belt for his work on Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: Clone Wars and Samurai Jack -- joined the production roughly 18 months ago to make what will be his feature directorial debut. He and his team came together to reimagine and complete the film on an unusually tight schedule.

“This had to be done in less than a year ... we had to get up to speed quickly," said VFX supervisor Daniel Kramer.

Development on Hotel Transylvania actually started in 2006. Since then, there has been a series of script, cast and crew changes. Those who have been attached to direct include Jill Culton and the team of Anthony Stacchi and David Feiss. Tartakovsky admitted that when he came on board, “everyone [involved in the production] had their own version of the movie [in mind]. It’s not that it was wrong, it was just different.”

It was a monster story—but a comedy. In the film, Dracula is an overprotective dad who is trying to keep his daughter safe as she celebrates her birthday and becomes an adult. Dracula is voiced by Adam Sandler, and his daughter by Selena Gomez.

Tartakovsky said that when he got involved, the production already had “good solid animation, but I wanted more energy."

The director pushed for a sort of Tex Avery style of snappy animation. A key challenge, Tartakovsky explained, was “how do you take the organic-ness [of 2D] that really has no rules into the computer that really has rules. I wanted it to be exaggerated.”

“I wanted funny movement and also funny drawing,” explained the director, who also did a script rewrite. “We really focused a lot on the expressions.”

During the Siggraph presentation, Tartakovsky, Kramer, and animation supervisor James Crossley offered a look at the characters in various stages of development, and how they pushed the animation to get the final look. Even Dracula himself got a makeover.

The filmmakers also describes how they overcame the challenges of creating texture, cloth, hair and proper motion blur in a computer animated movie, while keeping the velocity of the snappy animation.

On the state of animation, Tartakovsky said: “Right now the marketplace demands CG. I wouldn’t make a big budget 2D feature, I think it is risky. … But never say never. I think 2D is in hibernation.”

During the session, Tratakovsky also revealed that fans might again see Samurai Jack. “We are trying to find a way to make it happen. It’s on my plan, I just don’t know when.”