Converting a beloved and iconic comic strip into a 3D animated feature is a considerable task – Blue Sky Studio opens up and shares some of their processes in bringing Peanuts to the Big Screen.

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‘When in doubt, go back to the strip.’ That was The Peanuts Movie director Steve Martino’s mantra during production on Blue Sky Studio’s newest CG animated film, according to animation supervisor Scott Carroll, who fxguide spoke to recently at the VIEW Conference in Italy.

The strip Martino is referring to is, of course, Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic starring Charlie Brown, Snoopy and a host of familiar neighborhood characters. Blue Sky was determined to stay faithful to the 2D world of Peanuts despite the 3D world in which the film would exist. That meant coming up with a wave of artistic and technical solutions to still ensure the studio would always be going ‘back to the strip’.

So what were those 2D aspects of the comic strip (and several television specials) that Blue Sky wanted to preserve and how did studio tackle them in 3D?

While researching 50 years of Peanuts strips, Blue Sky quickly realized that Schultz (nicknamed ‘Sparky’) drew his characters from only limited camera angles and in proportions that worked for the particular frame they were in. But translating a Sparky-drawn character directly to 3D would immediately cause strange in-betweens and interpolations and cause the characters to go off-model. So Blue Sky had to work out 3D ways to echo the 2D drawings. The solution was effectively to retain thse front-on and profile views and occasionally sculpt and animate specifically to the camera.

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