Unrolling the Masterful Sushi Scene in 'Isle of Dogs'
Most everyone who visits StopMotionPlanet will have seen the brilliant Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson’s ninth feature and second stop motion film. And every one of us gasped during the stunningly executed sushi-preparation scene. If you need a refresher, watch the first video in this post to see the scene .
The first question everyone wants to ask an animator … “How long did that take?” Well, as Isle of Dogs Head Puppet Master Andy Gent puts it in this next video after describing the insane amount of effort that went into the film, "seven months later we end up with one minute of animation." This is good viewing as the arduous process of building the intricate figures required, the pre-production modeling and testing and of course, the intense animating process is broken down beautifully by Gent:
When people realize that sometimes the entire stop motion process can take seven months to yield one minute of film, they always want to praise an animator’s patience. In her outstanding Q&A on Letterboxd.com with Tristan Oliver, Gemma Gracewood asked the cinematographer behind Isle of Dogs (and Fantastic Mr. Fox) , “What type of personality do you think you need to work in stop motion? There’s a stereotype that you must have to be very patient, but the reality is quite different?”
Oliver’s reply: “I think the idea of ‘patience’ is… I don’t even know where that comes from. That is what we call one of the ‘top five questions.’ That, along with ‘tell us what is one of the most difficult things you had to do on the film’ and ‘what is Wes Anderson like?’.
“I don’t know what anyone’s being patient about, really. Where’s the patience? An animator is animating. He (or she) is working as fast as he possibly can, doing a very complicated performance through the medium of a puppet. So he is undergoing a degree of concentration it would be impossible to imagine and around him sets are being built, painted, lit, set up.
“In all respects it is exactly like a live action department—it’s very busy, there is no downtime. So this concept of patience is entirely erroneous. What you actually need is stamina. Not patience. Because this is five or six days a week, 60-hour weeks for two years. And it’s intensely busy. Because of the length of time it takes to shoot, we’re in a rolling process of pre-production even when we’re in production. People are constantly losing their temper and constantly screaming and running out of the studio. To think there’s some kind of monkish, trappist environment… [shakes head].”
So stamina, focus and thin skin may be even more valuable that patience when it comes to finding success in stop motion.
Finally, if seven months yielded one minute for the sushi scene then the result of the three weeks Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) of Parks and Recreation spent on his stop motion debut, Requiem for a Tuesday, seems about right.
“Oh my god. That's the whole thing.”