Rubbery = Funny

When I saw Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, and also Madagascar 3, I noticed significant advances in how soft and flexible characters had become. They flop and wiggle and swish and squash all over the place. Sid the Sloth was always the most flexible of the characters, and in this film, his grandmother, shaky with age, added in lots of saggy skin jiggling. During one of the Scrat cutaways, he’s deep undersea and gets squeezed by the pressure into the most remarkably skinny and floppy condition ever. The rigs must have some interesting capabilities, but I’m sure some of the effect comes from various simulations added on top. It’s fantastic work.

In Ice Age 4, the pirates who harass the heroes were also quite loose in their movement. The badger could turn himself into a flag, the rabbit was quicksilver fast, the sea elephant was a blob of jelly, and they are led by this ape:

The ape, voiced by Peter Dinklage, had a very mobile face with big lips that could take on extreme shapes. His body could also twist quite beyond what a muscular ape should be able to do. And it bothered me. While I appreciated the effect in most of the other characters, in him I didn’t like it. And I figure it’s because he’s the villain. The title of this post is “Rubbery = funny.” Therefore, the rubbery motion was working at funny, while his lines were working at evil. The animation was working against him. His character isn’t meant to be funny, like the chimps in Madagascar 3.

Consider Diego, the sabertooth. He’s not rubbery, he’s strong and solid, and was originally part of the pack of bad guys. In the trio of stars, he’s the straight man. He’s not supposed to be that funny. It’s good to have that contrast in characters and motion.

So the opposite would be generally true as well: Rigid = scary. Some examples of that.

Rigidity could possibly be funny, but in general, life is soft and flexible.

4 thoughts on “Rubbery = Funny”

    • The post was inspired by the impressive advances in animation rigs and effects. But the paragraphs about the bad guys is intended to say that if rubbery = funny, then making your villains rubbery/funny makes them less scary. Maybe they didn’t want them to be scary.


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