Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia

December 24, 2008 at 10:04 am (Animation Review, Opinion) (, )

On December 19, 2008, I went to the Red Carpet Premiere of Dayo. I was so looking forward to watching this movie. And my overall impression is, it’s good. People should go watch it. It’s enjoyable, it has endearing characters, and the music is absolutely beautiful. Is it world class quality? Well, the movie’s not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. Definitely, we’re getting there. Dayo’s almost there.

And so here are my observations:

REASONS TO WATCH THE FILM

Characters
Forget watching it just because it’s the first fully digital Filipino animation. This movie is enjoyable and should be watched with the purpose of being entertained. Bubuy, the 11-year old hero of the film, is the type of character that worms his way quite close to your heart. One of the best things about this film, in my opinion, is its characters. They are well-developed and well-thought of. They have quirks. And when you watch them, you get the feeling that when they were being created, the writers weren’t just making them for the sake of producing a Filipino animated film.

//*Start Spoiler Alert!//

Story
Another good point about this movie is you see things that can intrigue you. You see a girl in the photograph. But Bubuy claims she wasn’t his mother. And they left it at that. Intrigue! In another part, Lola claims Lolo was very fast when he was young. Just like a horse. Hm hm! What does that mean? Makes one think Lolo has tikbalang blood. Intrigue! Because of these, one would see that the story is bigger than the movie. This is a good thing, because one must remember, the film is merely a medium. What you’re telling is the story.

//*End Spoiler Alert//

The Music
The one thing I would give an A+ to Dayo for, is the music. “Lipad” is a beautiful song, and Leah Salonga is a wonderful singer. Plus, the score was great! And the timing of the music, and the choice of the music, and the feel of the music, they all just clicked with Dayo. Really wonderful. Really beautiful. Definitely their strongest point.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Compositing
One of the things in the movie that is a little weak is their compositing. They haven’t quite nailed the art of combining 3D, 2D and pictures seamlessly just yet. Great compositing means it becomes difficult to tell which is 3D, 2D or picture; or at least it is combined in such a way that it blends well with one another. Though the lighting and the camera angles are okay, the difference between the three forms is still quite big. But hey, not even Disney got it perfect the first time they combined 3d and 2d. Nothing to be discouraged about, but something to look into for improvement.

Consistency of Intricacy
Like I said in an earlier post, Dayo’s backgrounds are sometimes more intricate than the foreground. Yes, in animation, definitely the foreground is supposed to be simpler than the background. But not to the point where it would look like the background team put more effort in their work than the foreground team. If you want the background realistic, then your foreground has to be quite realistic, too. Maybe not as many levels of shading, but more creases maybe, and a little more detail.  You want a more comical look to your characters, lessen the detail on the backgrounds just a tad. What happened with Dayo is many of their backgrounds look like something out of a Hayao Miyazaki film, then their foreground looks like it was taken from a Tender Juicy hotdog ad. And the backgrounds themselves are of different level of detail, too. The school is a lot less detailed than Elementalia.

Cut Scenes and Animation
I’m going to have to watch the movie again to give my full comments on this, but the cuts change so fast, it’s a little distracting. And while the animation is okay, it’s still not very consistent. You could still clearly see parts with smooth animation, and parts that are a little choppy.

ALL IN ALL

All in all, I would recommend watching the movie. The things I talked about above in “Room for Improvement” are exactly that. Just things to improve upon. Not things that would condemn Dayo as a flop. Like I said, Dayo is fun, it has a nice story, and it has great music. Congratulations to everyone who was part of the production of the film! I enjoyed it.

ON A SIDE NOTE

During the ending credits, when I saw how many different studios from all over the country helped in coming up with Dayo, it reminded me of the first animated short we did in college. It was an 11-minute animation where we pitted our teachers against each other, Celebrity Death Match-style. The animation itself wasn’t great, but we had an interesting story going. And it was probably the only group project where everyone really participated. There were challenges along the way, definitely. We even forgot to include the sound when we were rendering the movie on the day of the presentation (and we didn’t have time to re-render it). But after everything, once we finally presented the movie, the sense of fulfillment was so great we felt it was all worth it, and that the short was a masterpiece.

To the people responsible for Dayo: well done!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Preview: Dayo

October 5, 2008 at 6:09 am (Animation Review) (, )

Dayo © Cutting Edge Production 2008

Dayo © Cutting Edge Production 2008

 On Ocotber 4, 2008, Cutting Edge Production gave a group of bloggers a tour of their facility in Makati, and gave them a sneak (and very bitin) preview of their upcoming animated movie, Dayo.

I must admit, when I saw Dayo the first time during a forum at Mag:Net Cafe earlier this year, I wasn’t that impressed. My first impression was, “Hey, they look like the drawings on our text books!” But after I saw clips of the movie recently, I must say my opinion of the animation changed (the main character still looks like the drawings on the text books, though. But then, I guess it isn’t so bad).

Dayo is a story about Bubuy, an 11-year old human, and Anna, a 14-year old vegetarian manananggal, in their quest to save Bubuy’s grandparents from mythological creatures in the world of Elementalia.

Now, the movie isn’t out yet, so my impressions here now might still change when I see the actual movie in December. But below are some of my observations and reactions to the movie trailer and clips I’ve seen so far.

STORY
According to Dayo’s director, Robert Quilao, it all boils down to the story. I agree to some extent. First time I heard about Dayo’s story, I thought, “it’s not bad.” It’s not too complicated, which is good since they’re targeting children, but it’s probably not fantastic, either. But then, when I read the synopsis recently, it got a bit more interesting. Bubuy’s grandparents claimed Bubuy’s parents died in a transportation accident. Hoho! Secrets. (although, transportation accident? Isn’t that like one of the oldest excuse for death in the book?) Then we’ll find out Bubuy is half-enkanto or something. Hehe. The folks at Cutting Edge said they’re planning a trilogy for Dayo. I think the story will be interesting for its intended audience. I have a feeling we won’t be disappointed.

CHARACTERS
Now, here is where I’m impressed. If you’ve read my review on Urduja, one of my main problems with the film was that the charcters, especially the main characters, didn’t have character! But in Dayo, the characters had quirks and interesting tidbits to them. Take Bubuy, for example. Ok, he’s a kid who’s being bullied at school. He lives with his grandparents, and he dreams of flying. Normal. But then listen to him talk. He’s innocent and tactless at the same time! Character! What about Anna? Aswang. Rebellious teenager, but not obnoxious. And a vegetarian! Don’t get me started on the tikbalang, Narsi. Vain narcissistic tikbalang voiced by Michael V. Need I go on?

Now, I know it’s all about the story for me, too, in the past. But after a while, I noticed that more than the story, people tend to fall in love more with the characters! If you’ve got endearing characters, interesting quirky characters, they tend to worm their way into your heart and stick there longer than just the story. I’m not saying the story’s not important. Oh, no, with no good story to play in, your characters are useless. Anyway, in terms of characters, I think Dayo got it. Good job, guys!

ANIMATION
When I toured the Cutting Edge Studio last October 4, and I saw their backgrounds, I was struck speechless. I mean, the detail of the pictures were like Hayao Miyazaki’s or some other big shot animation studio’s! They were great! They were beautiful! They were flawless!

And then I saw the characters. Simple, but good design. They thought about it well, especially the second set of wings of the aswang. The colors were very Filipino, more on the brown shade. Simple and clean three-level shading.

Then you combine the two.

Warning! The foreground is not consistent with the background. The background is very detailed but the foreground is too simple. Now, if I had the skill to make backgrounds like they did, I naturally would like to show that off, too. But if I don’t have the patience to match those beautiful backgrounds with foregrounds that would do them justice, I think it would be better not to make the backgrounds that detailed.

The key to a good scene is consistency. I’ve been taught that again and again when I used to study in Japan. Draw everything in low-detail, they told us. Then in increments, increase the detail of the entire scene. That way, if you run out of time, when you submit your work, everything is consistent and your work will not look unfinished.

That’s the thing. If the quality of your background and your foreground are not consistent with each other, it might look unfinished. Like you spent so much time with the background that you didn’t have enough time to make the foreground as good as your background. Yes, I may not realize how difficult it is to animate a movie like this. And yes, you have to make the foreground a bit simpler so that it doesn’t get eaten up by the background. But in my opinion, just my opinion, a little more detail (like t-shirt prints, clothes design, hairstyle, or even a few accessories that go beyond just plain gold rings) would go a long way. Just my opinion.

MUSIC
Exectutive Producer of Dayo, Jessie Lasaten, showed us some clips of Dayo with music. Beautiful. And their choice of artists for the soundtrack: Lea Salonga, Joey Ayala, etc, is really good. And with an orchestra to play the score, I think this is going to be great!

DUBBING
Overall, the dubbing is alright… except for the children. Bubuy, particularly. There are scenes when he gets a little too shouty. The older characters are great, though.

OVERALL
All in all, though, I think Dayo is a great piece of work, and deserves all the support we can give. Dayo will be out in theaters in December 2008 under Cutting Edge Production. Watch out for it. I know I will. 🙂

Permalink 8 Comments

Urduja

September 29, 2008 at 11:00 am (Animation Review) (, , )

When my sister asked me to go and watch the movie Urduja with her this morning, I wasn’t too hot on going. But as this was the first Filipino animated movie to come out since Ibong Adarna, and I wanted to know how we were doing now, I decided to go. I do tend to be biased at times, especially when it comes to comics and animation. But before the movie, I told myself I would give Urduja a try. I would not pre-judge the movie (as I was already starting to do when I watched the trailer).

My impression: Not bad. It’s a good try. First of all, I take my hats off to them for actually finishing to make it. It’s more than what many animation groups can say (myself and my group included). There are, of course, areas that could still be improved.

STORY
The movie has nothing to do with the story of Urduja as we’ve known her. In the folklore version of the tale, Urduja was ugly. She fell in love with a foreign scholar but, because of how she looked, she had to ask the aid of a witch to make her beautiful. There are several versions to the folklore (not surprising since it’s oral tradition) but basically that’s the story. If we take in the historical account of Urduja, she was the datumbini of their tribe. She was tough. She was “one of the boys.” Then one day, an explorer by the name of Ibn Batute came upon what we now know as Pangasinan and was fascinated with this tough woman leader who was so interested in the spices and stories he brought, and who vowed she would invade India (I think it was India). Talking about personality, Urduja was supposed to be strong. That’s what makes her Urduja! She wasn’t like that in the movie. They may as well have called her Duri and it wouldn’t have mattered.

ANIMATION
I can say it’s certainly better than Dragonlance the Animation (look it up. It was outsourced in India). You can still see which are 3D and which ones are not but their compositing is acceptable. Certainly better than many Filipino films I’ve seen. And there are scenes that really do look nice (particularly those with junks on the sea with the moon up). But their movements are still quite stiff, which really makes one wonder. They’re supposed to have done outsourcing work for the likes of Disney. I don’t know if they’re really not that good yet or they lowered the frame rate to save on frames.

And they keep cutting the point of impact! Someone throws an object, cut, next scene, the thing is already resting on the character’s head. It leaves people (well, me anyway) dissatisfied. There’s no umph! (not talking about “special something.” Talking about the expression you utter when you hit the ground) The point of impact makes that umph. It makes the viewers feel what is going on better. My sister thinks they didn’t know if they would put stars or bring up dust or what when the object makes an impact so, they probably decided not to show it na lang. I don’t know the true reason. But I think this is an important thing they should improve on in their future animated movies.

CHARACTERS
In the beginning, I kind of liked Limhang. Mahangin, a little naughty, a little witty… then he got a little too cheesy. But I guess he’s still ok. Mayumi and the animals tend to have more of a personality as compared to Urduja and Simakwel. And Urduja is supposed to be the main character. I could be wrong but they seem to have this concept that the main character has to be “safe.” Where are the quirks? They’re too predictable. Ok, so Urduja finds out Limhang is a pirate. What does she do? What every other heroine in the past does. She looks betrayed and runs away weeping. And Simakwel, he sees a competitor. What does he do? He cheats then sides with the enemy. Isn’t that so convenient?

PLOT
Aside from what I talked about in “Story” above, I think the plot is too predictable. It’s very formula. Girl is to wed guy. Girl falls in love with another guy. First guy gets jealous and teams up with the bad guys. Second guy is about to confess his true self but first guy beats him to it. Girl is devastated. Bad guy double crosses first guy. Eto lang e: What something new did the movie Urduja bring? Sometimes, we get so caught up into just being able to beat everyone else into making an animated movie that we forget to think about what sets our movie apart.

RESEMBLANCE TO DISNEY
Don’t stop me from saying this. It really does look like Disney. When the movie started and I saw the waterfall, it looked so much like Pocahontas. Besides, do our waterfalls look like that? Our waterfalls are more narrow. One side is usually covered with a rock face, quite close to the fall. Do we even have waterfalls that big in Pangasinan? And what’s with the blue necklace? And of all colors, they decided to stick to blue, which made the similarity more obvious! Limhang’s facial structure is like Shang’s. Wang reminds me of Ratcliffe. They got the talking animals from Disney, too, didn’t they? Well, I can let the square jaw and the animals pass, but the scene with the bird was soooo Tarzan! I mean, I could understand if they liked a certain aspect of Disney that they wanted to use as model. But to copy an actual scene and just change the characters in it! Come on! We can do better than that.

OTHER THINGS
Use effects sparingly. If you used a type of visual direction once (Urduja looking at her reflection and feeling sorry for herself, which is so “who is this girl I see…” by the way), I think it would be better not to use it again in the same movie (Limhang looking at his reflection and feeling sorry for himself). The text of the title could use a little work. It’s not powerful enough. Bevel and drop shadow are not the only effects you can use on a text.

And more research would be good. Both on the story of Urduja and the geography of Pangasinan.

All in all, though, I think it’s not too bad. Even if it seems like our animation industry still has so far to go, I think we’re going somewhere. Amidst the Disney of the movie, one could still see the Filipino-ness of it in characters like Mayumi and the animals. Slapstick and a bit crass but it’s there. And it’s always good to hear “Perlas ng Silangan” and to see the map of the Philippines in an animation. Wonder how Dayo would fare…

Permalink Leave a Comment