Comic Strip to Feature Film: Behind ‘The Peanuts Movie’

by | 29 October 2015 | Animation, Conferences, Film, Production

A team of over 500 people at Blue Sky Studios tirelessly worked to bring the classic Charles M. Schulz comic strip to life in its new, feature-length film: “The Peanuts Movie.”

The day they made the big announcement that we were doing the project, we were really excited and really, really nervous. Really, really, really, really nervous…

What follows is a series of key takeaways from the Blue Sky team’s SIGGRAPH 2015 Production Session for anyone tackling a similarly big project or property.

1. Family is Important

Look at your team as your family and try your best to consider any outside client or influence as family, too. You all have the same goal: To make the best end product possible.

2. Honor the Work

Blue Sky looked at the Peanuts crew as “cartoon archaeologists” aiming to preserve and bring to life something as accurately as possible and honor all past work while also bringing the comic into the future. Though most projects do not start out with as much history, this idea can be applied to the origin of any project.

3. Take Breaks

In discussing the smallest decisions, the Blue Sky team would constantly pause debates in order to come back to problems, such as how to add emotion to the Peanuts characters’ expressions while still keeping some of the 2D essence in its new 3D world. The solution: Take a step back, clear your head, then come back to the problem. Only then will you find the answer.

4. Show and Tell

Do you know your idea can work in the project “universe” but have trouble conveying it with words? Do the extra work in order to show off an idea to your team. A picture is worth 1,000 words and trying something out is sometimes the only way you can prove your point. (And, if your environment allows, enlist the help of colleagues to prepare your example.)

5. Change Your Environment

If taking breaks and running tests are not working for you, go on a field trip as a way to find inspiration. During ideation on this project, the Blue Sky team made many trips to Santa Rosa, CA, to immerse themselves in the world of “Sparky” by working alongside the staff at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center and the team at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.

Catch “The Peanuts Movie” in theaters starting November 6!

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