Development of Chinese animated films starts from good story content

Xu Fei China Plus Published: 2017-04-21 08:50:12
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A film promotion in Beijing on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 for the upcoming release of a new 3D animated Chinese film TOFU is centered around a round-shaped fat bean character, and the film is scheduled for release in July. [Photo: China Plus]

A film promotion in Beijing on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 for the upcoming release of a new 3D animated Chinese film TOFU is centered around a round-shaped fat bean character, and the film is scheduled for release in July. [Photo: China Plus]

Chinese animated films have been capturing a larger share of the domestic market in recent years.

Industry insiders say a surge of Chinese investment in the domestic animation market is key to its success.

TOFU is an upcoming 3D cartoon film based on a Chinese legend concerning the origin of Tofu or bean curd.

Director Zou Yi is a cartoon fanatic who is enthusiastic about bringing traditional Chinese stories onto the big screen.

"Chinese cartoon films have observed a glorious history, with The Monkey King and Prince Nezha's Triumph against Dragon King, which are recognized as classic animated films worldwide. With a high level of artistic attainment, the Chinese cartoons are, however, insufficiently developed in terms of technical capabilities, commercial consideration and the way of telling a story. So we need to make further progress in these areas."

One common aim in producing an animated film is amusing the audience.

TOFU, scheduled for release on July 7th, has a round-shaped fat bean as its main character to generate fun.

But this character also poses challenges in using technical means to vividly show its expression, action and other body languages.

Guo Lei is the visual director of From Monkey King: Hero Is Back. He is also the visual director for TOFU. He thinks animation technology holds importance, but comes after good story content.

"Before the 1980s, the Beijing film studio had produced hand-drawn animations. In my eyes, the internationally-advanced software is no different from a painting brush. Above all, a touching story is essential in Chinese cartoon films. Cartoon technology comes in second place."

Although there aren't yet any domestic Chinese companies capable of producing a global animation hit, there are more and more films capturing larger shares of the domestic market.

Home-grown blockbusters like Monkey King: Hero is Back and Monster Hunt encouraged a number of insiders of the Chinese cartoon industry to become more confident about producing Chinese animation.

Meng Zhihui, an action director for TOFU, is one of them.

"I don't think China's disadvantage in cartoon filming technologies really drags down the local industry. As Chinese cartoon-makers, I feel we're morally responsible for carrying forward and promoting the most valuable part of China's history and culture, which I believe is the key to improve the quality of Chinese cartoons."

Earlier, Wu Jianrong, president of Zhejiang Zhongnan Cartoon company, expressed a similar opinion, saying that the core of the industry is cultural creations and also a good story script is the root of animation.

The Chinese government has long been subsidizing and investing in the animation industry, and this has made China one of the largest producers of animation in the world.

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