Making Jimmy Neutron

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Olive the Other Reindeer. (Click image for larger view.)
DMN: What kinds of advancements do you think could be made now that could enhance 3D further?

Davis: Well, 3D in and of itself can look really really different than what it has been looking like. In other words, the look that Pixar has, which is similar to the look that we’ve got, compared to ways that it can go. We’ve got a couple of other projects -- like Olive the Other Reindeer, that was using the exact same tools we did Jimmy with. But it looks totally different, and it’s just an example of how you’re open to a lot of different styles. That’s something I want to explore, so we don’t just do one style over and over again.

DMN: You don’t want people to become jaded with 3D, thinking they’ve seen that before.

Jimmy Neutron, Rocket Boy. (Click image for larger view.)
Davis: Yeah. It is really fun, because, like the difference for example between Olive and Jimmy is that with Olive, we had to go to great pains to make it look illustrated. It became about cheating the characters to make them always look flat, illustrating them in a dimensional world that also looks kind of illustrated.You can’t take advantage of things like the shading and stuff you get normally with 3D because it sort of interferes with that illustrated look. So, sometimes we were really fighting the program on that project. And sometimes we would yearn, “Wouldn’t it be cool to shade it?” You miss some of those attributes. But it really is cool because you can get such a different variety from tools that really people are just scratching the surface of. I’ve seen shorts that really tend to push it. But in terms of feature length projects, yeah, there’s really not a whole lot.

DMN: There’s awesome variety in shorts these days. Hopefully that will migrate to feature length projects more and more.

Davis: Yes, and it’s really about creating a style that can hold up that long. That’s the thing. One of my fears if it’s an hour long is if it’s too simple, is it going to hold up, is it not complex enough if it were that for an hour?

The Yokian king. (Click image for larger view.)
DMN: What version of LightWave did you use, and did you have to upgrade midway through the project?

Davis: Yes, we switched. We were really in a bad place at the beginning because everything we had was beta. We had our new operating system, Windows 2000, using beta, and all our programs were in beta. LightWave was a beta version of 6.0 we were using, messiah had just come out and was a brand new version of that, and we were trying to get everybody to talk to each other, because, you know, we had problems with things and everybody was pointing at everybody else. But after three or four months of really just biting our nails, we managed to exorcise all the demons and get the programs all working together in concert and LightWave continued to make progress with newer versions and we would very carefully integrate them to make sure nothing else was going to screw up. You know, you have little things. We’d have a phone call to NewTek and they’d be real helpful work it out. And then ultimately, we said, enough’s enough, we’ve got everything we need, we’re not going to incorporate anything new from this point on because there’s always the potential for problems.

DMN: You had to close the project to new versions.

Davis: Yes, it had to be something that was going to make our lives incredibly easier for us to warrant incorporating it at that late time into production. Which we did do on a couple of occasions.

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