MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED
Reinventing The Circus, Zooster Style
What do you do when the star of your show suddenly loses confidence in his
abilities? You start losing yours. At least that's what happened to the
performers of Circus Zaragoza after Vitaly's bravery took a backseat. A
disastrous performance in Rome convinces Alex that the circus troupe is need of
an intervention - and reinvention - if they are to have any real chance of
getting back home to New York.
And reinvent it they do. Though the filmmakers found enjoyment in creating
scenarios that had the Zoosters interacting with the human world, Darnell says,
"There's plenty of humor in the idea of an all-animal circus, which is what Alex
has in mind."
Ben Stiller puts it this way: "The circus animals stopped taking risks. Alex has
this brainstorm that the way to reinvent the show - to differentiate it from all
others - is to reignite the performers' zeal, which they've lost. He tells them,
'We don't need humans because we've got passion,' then he uses his imagination
and experience to pull it off."
The filmmakers pulled out all the stops when they created the movie's new and
improved "Good Circus" sequence - in which all the animals' hard work blossoms
in front of an appreciative London audience - showing off the filmmakers'
creativity and the power of 3D to spectacular effect. They weren't bound by any
conventions of what a circus should look like. In fact, they intentionally
created the impossible.
Conrad Vernon recalls that "As research, we went to see Cirque du Soleil's
'Iris,' which was amazing. We took pieces of our circus that we really like and
asked ourselves, how do we update this? How do we do something circuses have
never done, while using animation in a unique way? That was tough, because
Cirque du Soleil can do so much. You know, I saw a girl laying down on her
chest, running around her own head - stuff that's a cartoon, basically. We had
to say, 'okay, we need to one-up them.' That's when we came up with the idea of
being a little more abstract with everything, having cross dissolves and slow
motion and fades and doing things that are literally impossible to do right in
front of your eyes."
Set to singer Katy Perry's jubilant "Fireworks," the conceptual scene
showcases the circus animals and Zoosters in kaleidoscope fashion, spinning,
leaping and flying through the air with joyful abandon.
Eric Darnell says, "The wonderful thing about the circus is you're not
grounded. You've got a whole three-dimensional space to move in. In the
computer, you don't have to bring in a crane or a dolly or a helicopter. You can
just move that camera wherever you need to in order to get the shot you need, so
the circus became this wonderful canvas to create this eye-popping 3D. It fits
in with that whole conceit."
Vernon continues, "Eric, Tom, and I sat down with production designer Kendal
Cronkhite and art director Shannon Jeffries to talk concepts that we really
liked, such as what if Gloria and Melman are on a tightrope? Maybe they're on a
musical staff. That's why we have five strings in the scene and maybe they're
dancing up and down those five strings like staircases. Kendal took the concepts
we talked about back to the team, pitched them out, and their visual brains just
took 'em and ran with 'em. They came back with some art and we added more ideas
to that. It was less about a specific design rulebook that we played by and more
about how we could conceptually come up with something that would be visually
stunning. After that, we let the people who came up with the design put it in
the world for us. And that's what they did."
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