Now that the ‘Ice Age’ is over, they can relax

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Now that the ‘Ice Age’ is over, they can relax

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Last week American viewers flocked to the computer-animated film sequel “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” but two of the film’s animators chose to lounge around in Seoul, enjoying a long vacation watching the movie climb to the top of the box-office ranks.
The movie, directed by Carlos Saldanha, earned $70.5 million last week, at the top of the new releases. The only animated movie to have made more money in its first week was the 3-D animation film “Shrek 2” with $108 million.
“Honestly, we didn’t know the film would be this successful,” said Lee Mun-seong, 33, one of the Korean staff members at Blue Sky Studios, the animation company that created the Ice Age 2. “I guess our work paid off.”
Sitting next to him was Sung Ji-yeon, 29, the other Korean staff member at Blue Sky.
The two animators received a month-long vacation after working long hours making the film. The sequel deals with the mysteriously rising of the Earth’s temperature, which spells trouble for Diego the tiger, Manny the mammoth and Sid the sloth (voiced respectively by Denis Leary, Ray Romano and John Leguizamo). The herd sets off on another journey, this time in search of a boat that will save them from the flood.
Mr. Lee’s 3-D techniques made these characters seem like real animals, while Ms. Sung, the technical director, made the backdrop of this film as dynamic as possible, with seemingly everything on the ground threatening to break apart or melt away.
The two joined Blue Sky Studios in 2003.
Ms. Sung studied computer design at Pratt Institute, a school of art and design in New York, and worked at an advertising company before joining the Academy Award-winning computer animation studio. Her first job there was helping to make “Robots,” Blue Sky Studios’ 2005 computer-generated animated feature.
Mr. Lee lives in Korea. He studied philosophy at Sogang University in Seoul but quit the course to study animation in San Francisco. “More than 10 animation films featuring animals are expected to run in U.S. theaters this year,” he said. “All our staff worked over 80 hours a week for nine straight months for this.”
Critics say “Ice Age 2” demonstrates a technical quality that was lacking in the original “Ice Age” movie in 2002 and “Robots.” Fur and metal textures, for example, were depicted more realistically in the new movie.
“I still get dizzy thinking about fur,” said Ms. Sung, shaking her head. “We spent hours elaborating how the hair should look when it’s moving in the breeze or how it should look different when it’s wet.”
“When we started considering the color, the texture and the direction of the how each piece of fur should look, it took 17 hours on the computer to create a scene that would appear for only 1 second on screen,” she said.
The two are understandably proud of their work. Mr. Lee said his team did its best to breath life into the wisecracking characters.
“I didn’t want the characters to look like the kind of nice little animals Disney would make,” he said. “We prefer the little rogue-like Warner Brothers cartoon characters such as the Road Runner.”
“Ice Age: The Meltdown” will start showing in Korea next Thursday.


by Jung Hyung-mo, Lee Min-a

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