Inside the VFX behind Netflix’s ‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’

Review Ethan / 2022-10-13 19:26:30

Jingle Jangle was Netflix’s huge new family Christmas adventure for 2020 and featured a huge array of VFX and we managed to speak to several of the team behind the movie’s VFX and asking them some questions. Here’s what we found out.

Jingle Jangle, the new Netflix holiday movie, stars Forest Whitaker and Keegan–Michael Key.

Brad Parker, Overall VFX Supervisor Q: Do you have to take a different approach to Christmas titles than other titles spread throughout the year? What is the best way to capture Christmas' essence in CG

When designing CGI to be used in Christmas films, it is important that you capture the wonder and joy of holidays. My VFX team would examine every element of visuals to determine if it resonated with us on an emotional level. The holiday spirit was important to us so we were constantly looking for authentic animated characters. Everything we made was stylized and heightened to fit the theme, tone and music of Jingle Jangle.

Q: Which Netflix shows have you been enjoying recently? Any VFX heavy shows/movies you’d enjoyed?

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga! Although there are not many VFXs, this watch is a fantastic one.

Carlos Monzon, VFX Supervisor, Framestore

Q: Could you please talk me through the CG elements in this movie, which we may not consider CGI?

People might not have noticed that in some of the flying scenes of Journey and Jeronicus, we had to replace a portion of the actors’ bodies.  We had to replace 50% of the actors' bodies with CGI.  We were able to achieve their final result.

Q: Which Netflix shows have you been enjoying recently? Any VFX heavy shows/movies you’d enjoyed?

I just started watching season two of The Umbrella Academy and I can say it’s one of my favorite shows on Netflix at the moment.  I love the characters and the story.  Fantastic VFX!

Eric Guaglione, Animation Supervisor, Framestore

Q: Buddy is an adorable character that we were instantly connected to – how do you bring a character like this to life?

The key was to embody a child-like essence inside Buddy’s mechanical being. Because Buddy was conceived by the young character Jessica, as a playmate, it was essential that we treat Buddy with the natural qualities of a child. We first studied plenty of references (mostly of our crew’s children!) and settled on a gentle behaviour that often mimicked Journey’s own movements. By creating performances that imbued innocence and curiosity, and sometimes clumsiness, Buddy became naturally appealing. It sure helped that Buddy’s design included a large head and eyes!

While it was difficult to achieve the subtleties we’re accustomed to seeing on a human face, we utilised Buddy’s mechanical parts to create a simple, but expressive face. In the end, we hope the audience connects with sweet Buddy.

Q: And finally, we always ask what you’ve been watching recently on Netflix? Any VFX heavy shows/movies you’d enjoyed?

Glen Keane's Over the Moon was just shown to me. Glen Keane and I worked together at Disney Animation Studios many years ago. I was interested to watch his first directorial effort. The film was beautiful – very well crafted. Their team created an original, beautiful film.

Storybook Creative, Ian Spendloff

Q: The stop-motion sections in the film are full CG. This is something that most people will be amazed at. This is possible. It is easier to create another kind of animation.

Ha, we’re all happy that people have bought into the ‘realness’ of the sequences, and that it seems to have fooled some people. It was not intended to feel CG and be grounded in the world of the other films. We were keen on authenticity and tangibility, so we approached the project as though Jeronicus Jangle had created this entire world.

jingle jangle stop motion segments

JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (2020) Don Juan Diego (Voiced by Ricky Martin).

While we thought about stop motion techniques, that wasn’t actually how we went about animating our scenes. We made every movement for building or prop, as if it were a film toy. The characters behaved like intricate automatons. The whole process is shown before your eyes, a intricate clockwork dollhouse complete with its tiny wooden cast. This was a fun challenge, and we set ourselves many rules in achieving a level of believability, but I’m most pleased with how our artists and animators really make you emphasise and feel for these tiny dolls and how it progresses the story.

Q: And finally, we always ask what you’ve been watching recently on Netflix? Any VFX heavy shows/movies you’d enjoyed?

There's no time to watch TV. Despite the fact that I have been able to keep my head above water with The Good Place and Community, Netflix has kept me sane throughout this year. Get the Community movie on Netflix already!

Framestore is grateful for the time they spent answering these questions. You can also find some of their work in other Netflix Originals. More recently they provided VFX work on Netflix’s The Crown but have also worked on other titles like Project Power (we interviewed them for that) plus they’re involved in the upcoming movie with George Clooney, The Midnight Sky.

Netflix is now streaming Jingle Jangle: The Christmas Journey.


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