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CHICKEN LITTLE

Disney's First CG Feature
Development handled this portion. We had classes and labs in Burbank and Glendale that ran almost 24 hours a day. People could come in and use the machines whenever they wanted, and we literally offered classes every day for 18 months. It was a massive undertaking; more training than we've ever done at this Studio. The amazing thing was that we had almost a 100% success rate. This has turned out to be the best team I've ever worked with. "I remember how terrified I was when I made the switch from 2D, and was able to leverage off my own experiences in helping the others to adapt,” adds Butler. "We structured a program that really helped these guys maintain their craft, so even though they were working with a mouse and a keyboard instead of a pencil, they were still able to draw upon their existing knowledge of animation, and performance. We also worked hard to develop tools that allowed traditional animators to capitalize on their skills and talents.”

Jason Ryan, a veteran CG animator and the supervising animator for the character of Chicken Little, notes, "This has been the most fun film I've ever worked on because we got to do a lot of 2D tricks of the trade; things like squash and stretch, smear frames (a fake blur that would occur between two frames in a scene with fast action), really snappy timing and a lot of great character acting. There's also some nice subtle performances too. I think this is a real breakthrough film for Disney and for the industry because our characters aren't just puppets anymore. They have a real sense of believability. We're starting to get the quality of hand drawing into CG, and the potential is limitless.

"Animating Chicken Little was a blast,” he adds. "I love doing the kind of cartoony zippy action. He so small that you can imagine that he could actually move that fast. One minute he's here and the next minute he's over there. Zach Braff's voice was a great inspiration to us. He talks very fast and very clear. It's very unusual to get that kind of comic timing. He does nuances in his voice with little stutters and stumbles. It just lends so much to the animation. You could listen to the actual track and just imagine the scene.”

Braff observes, "My character is the ultimate underdog. He's just tiny, and really driven, and nothing ever goes right for him. Everyone can relate to being the underdog, and feeling like everyone's against you. He's just trying to prove himself. I think a lot of kids especially will know that feeling of being an outcast.

"One of the things that's really fun about the movie is that it's about this little guy saving the world,” adds the actor. "He's this little outcast who no one really believed could do anything, and who everyone thinks is crazy. There's also a sweet message about being able to talk openly with your parents. Chicken Little and his father are having this awkward communication where they're not really speaking honestly with each other. When he finally tells his dad how he's really feeling, that's a big turning point in the movie.

"I've always been a big Garry Marshall fan and it was great to work with him on this film,” says Braff. "We both went to Northwestern University and we both had films that we'd directed coming out around the same time that we were recording together. He's a wonderful person, hilariously funny, and he improvises all over the place. We actually had a few sessions together and the chemistry was really good.”

Braff concludes, "My only complaint about the film is that they made me sing badly. I can actually sing a little bit, and now everyone's going to think I can't sing at all. Seriously, I loved the film. It's such an exciting adventure, and once it starts, it just keeps driving and driving until the end. You know

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