Ottawa 98 Opening Night
Gala Screening: ANTZ
Tuesday, September 29, 8pm (National Arts Centre)
There are many professions that encourage individuality
and personal expression, being an ant isn't one of them. Luckily for the
creators of Antz, the first full-length feature to be co-produced
by Pacific Data Images and DreamWorks, animation is one such profession
where personal expression and teamwork coincide and it becomes possible
to create an inventive and entertaining feature while pushing the technical
limits of the medium.
Antz, written by Paul & Chris Weis relates the tale of an insect,
"Z-4195" whose personal struggle with the day-to-day drudgery
of a world populated by drones and dullards forces him to become a reluctant
leader of a colony-wide revolt against conformity. "Z" (voice
by Woody Allen), is a hyper, slightly over-talkative misfit worker who
sets his sights a little too high when he falls in love with the beautiful
"Princess Bala" (Sharon Stone), the spoiled daughter of the Queen
ant who can't be bothered with an ordinary colony drone. But "Z"
is no run-of-the-anthill worker when a twist of fate turns him into a hero.
If Woody Allen and Sharon Stone aren't names that will impress you, check
out the other star-studded voice talents: Sylvester Stallone, Anne Bancroft,
Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Jennifer Lopez, Chistopher Walken, Jane Curtain,
Dan Aykroyd, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky and Grant Shaud.
Antz has more than star power to offer. The film is as technically
ambitious as it is entertaining, featuring a complicated "march to
battle" scene using a combination of crowd animation techniques to
create millions of ants. The PDI team has also developed remarkable facial
animation using a complete set of muscles that create natural expressions
on the faces of the computer-generated characters and the most realistic
water simulation made to date.
Of the 230 employees at PDI, 190 are said to have been diligently working
on the production of this feature, including Senior Visual Effects Supervisor
Richard Chuang and the accomplished directors Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson.
Johnson and Darnell should be familiar names to audiences of the Ottawa
International Animation Festival. Darnell, who returned to PDI for Antz
after a brief absence to work on the DreamWorks feature, The Prince of
Egypt, was awarded the 1996 Special Jury Prize in recognition of his in-house
short film, Gas Planet. Johnson was co-winner of the 1996 Grand Prize at
the Ottawa Festival for his animation direction on The Simpsons Halloween
Special, "Homer3" where he led the group in transforming the
2D Homer into a 3D world.