The promo, which was created to illustrate the Skylanders' back-story, can be seen as a 90-second spot on TV and online. The full two-minute piece will be shown in theaters as a stereoscopic 3D trailer before the recent Puss In Boots 3D motion picture.
Agency 72andSunny turned to PandaPanther, giving the directors a chance to showcase their creativity and skills. They quickly scaled up, assembling an all-star team of 40-plus artists to work over a three-month period. Everything, from the overall flow, to the choreography of the battle scenes, to how the two characters were sitting in the opening scene, was the product of the close collaboration between the studio, the agency, and the client, Activision.
"We had to make sure this made sense to people—that they understood what was happening, who the bad guy was, and what the conflict was," said Garin of the final animation. "72andSunny has always been consistent in making sure that their animation pieces make sense and flow right. Activision, for their part, does a lot of this sort of character animation, so they are looking at what we give them with far more scrutiny than most big companies would."
In addition to the story, PandaPanther had to adapt the on-screen look and feel of the characters—which initially were more suitable for the game consoles on which they had lived—to the more personal world of cinema. "When we started the project, the characters were in a very videogame-like state," noted Garin. "Our largest initial task was polishing the characters so that they fit into the more epic, cinematic world that we were creating, which was more realistic, with more details."
The Skylander project follows work that PandaPanther had previously done with 72andSunny for Zune.
"We have a great relationship with 72andSunny and are excited to partner again with them on Skylanders Spyro's Adventure," noted Nishimura. "We had an awesome relationship with the agency throughout. Whenever they suggested a change or anything else, it really did make things better.
The project again validates the special dynamic shared by Garin and Nishimura. "Naomi and I can be looking at the same thing on the same screen, but we'll be seeing totally different things," stated Garin. "I notice more of the animation details: the motion, the pacing, the editing, while Naomi makes sure that the textures, balance, colors--all the little details of the overall look and finish--are in line. While we cross -check each other a lot, at this point we know what the other is good at and trust the other to work unhindered."
Given the success of this massive project, PandaPanther has ambitious plans for the future. "Now that we've expanded and adapted our pipeline, I'm hoping that we can do more long-format projects," noted Nishimura. "We could see expanding further for series work or even features. This was an awesome experience and we'd love to repeat it."