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MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

Well, At Least It Was A Non-Stop Flight
The process for developing a great comedy action sequence doesn't happen overnight—it is an add-to and take-away process that can last months…swapping around cinematography, various lines of dialogue and other variables. But no matter how many filmmaker hours are spent trying to fashion a great sequence, that wished-for magic will never materialize unless the idea that originated it all is a good one…like a plane piloted by penguins that remains briefly aloft, only to plummet to the African continent in short order.

Tom McGrath tells, "One night, I just had this brain fever, so I roughly boarded up this idea on how this plane crash sequence could play out. It was really broad strokes. But all the time that we were developing it, we kept going back to those boards.” Eric Darnell adds, "It's a testament to Tom's talent that the sequence ended up pretty much exactly the way that he boarded it that night.”

That group process Mireille Soria referred to as "the Knights of the Roundtable, when everyone gathered together to get and give input…from the very beginning, that is how we went about solving any problems that came up.”

Filmmakers weren't too proud to use any tool or suggestion when it came time to create or improve on the already created—the crash sequence being a sterling example. They utilized Navarro's technique of plotting through camera by strapping animators and layout artists in an upside-down couch and filming them with a shaking camera, looking at possible angles and movements. Visual effects added realism through details such as blowing curtains, wind whipping through the manes and pieces of the plane being peeled away, like a space capsule on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The ultimate goal was to tweak this plane wreck of comedic proportions up to a level 10: the plane gathers velocity as it spins out of control, a plume of smoke emitted in a perfect corkscrew; the camera shakes as it captures the various reactions of the passengers; flames are visible through the windows as the aircraft barrels through the sky; the light inside the plane rolls around as the fuselage itself rolls toward the earth. Darnell observes, "You feel like you've been in this plane crash with these guys. And yet it's also entertaining and funny, because it's driven by the characters, along with these great, solid comedic action concepts that were part of the genesis of the idea in Tom‘s thumbnail sketches.”

Scott Peterson sums up, "So in any shot in the plane crash sequence, we could have anywhere from 15 to 30 effects elements. We might spend about six weeks working on one shot, which could be only a couple of seconds long. At the risk of understating the obvious, plane crash shots are very involved.”

For the filmmakers who committed several years of their lives to completing "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” each had his/her own goals to achieve within the film, yet all were devoted to the tale of the zoosters' continued attempts to get back to their Central Park home.

Mark Swift feels, "Each character grows in this film. For Alex, it's about finding out how he can be himself as a lion in Africa. For the other characters, it's their storylines as they meet their own kind. Marty, for the first time, is getting to run with a herd, something he's always dreamed about…but how does that really sit with him once he meets all the zebras? For Gloria, it's time to start a relationship, maybe a love interest, so this is her first time actually meeting male hippos. And Melman‘s story really is one of discovery—that he's actually in love with Gloria and has been all along.”

Mireille Soria somewhat personally reflects, "They'll always be New Yorkers. They are New Yorkers at heart. It's where they're from. It's where they will ultimately get back to. T

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