Chinese animators take baby steps toward a global audience

Updated: 2013-05-21 14:10

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Only the paranoid can survive.

This is the rule that the production team of the 3-D animation film Kunta sticks to throughout the three years of preparation.

As one of the keynote works released during the 9th China International Cartoon & Animation Festival held in Hangzhou at the end of April, Kunta is the first in China's animation history to make its debut at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, the world's first animation festival.

Attracting an investment of more than 100 million yuan ($16 million), Kunta is the first Chinese 3-D animation movie to combine miniature landscape stereo shooting and computer graphics techniques.

It will come to the big screen this summer, and Zhang Xiaohua, spokesman, says the team aspires to "surprise the audience" with its work.

The team thinks that Chinese animators have a long way to go before they can catch up with international industry leaders. But they say it is wise to start with an international perspective now.

"If the work cannot penetrate the rest of the globe, the Chinese characteristics in our works will have no means to be appreciated or understood by other people. Then all the efforts are futile," Zhang says.

Therefore, Zhang explains, animations have to be produced in a language and technique that can be understood all over the world.

The Chinese animators have worked hard to get the engine moving. In 2012, 31 animations were shown on the big screens, making a total of 1.3 billion yuan in box office sales.

According to China Market Intelligence Center, the Chinese animation market reached a total volume of 32.1 billion yuan last year, up 24.9 percent year-on-year.

But still, there are few household-known animation works in China. The reason, as Martin Baynton, co-owner and executive producer of the New Zealand visual effects and animation company Pukeko Pictures, points out, is that "everybody is working too fast".

"It should take a year to write a script. But people here try to write a script in one week. Once you develop that script, you give it to the designers for months to get the characters truly reflecting the script," he says.

"Some of the production scales I have seen here in China don't allow any proper development process. They want to race in animation. But you can't. You have to discover the world with passion and it just takes time.

"Good work can be fast. Great work takes time," he adds.

Chinese animators take baby steps toward a global audience

Chinese animators take baby steps toward a global audience

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