Animation directors create dreams one frame at a time. In the middle of heated competition in the global animation industry, trying to use years of art design experience to make an animation film is a meaningful thing. I was faced with all kinds of limitations in production resources while under the pressure of recouping investment. The biggest difference between making animations and liveaction films is that the actors are not real. How does a director make actors who are not real interpret your story? Fortunately, hundreds of episodes of Pleasant Goat & Big Big Wolf had already been shown on television, with clearly established characters. During the creative process, you can imagine discussing with these virtual actors, on whether they can exaggerate a certain qualities of the characters. I was working with colleagues from Hong Kong and China. It was a challenge working with personnel with different cultural backgrounds. You must first realize the work culture of China before you can figure out how to squeeze in your ideas. Needless misunderstandings were also caused by cultural differences. What touched me the most was the warm-blooded persistence of all those involved in the production, working together for a breakthrough in the practiced mode of making animation features. Not only was a box-office record for Chinese animation created, a national animation brand name supported by box-office performance was realized. This is what I’m happiest about. It illustrates that long years of experience in Hong Kong film can nurture real film professionals.
And they can contribute to the improvement of Chinese animation films.
Born in Hong Kong in 1966, James Choo Sung-pong joined the film industry in 1993. He had worked on over 50 Hong Kong films in various capacities as art director, computer image design and visual effects director, including Full Alert (1997), A True Mob Story (1998), The Tricky Master (1999), The Duel (2000), Running Out of Time 2 (2001), Naked Weapon (2002), Infernal Affairs (2002), Heroic Duo (2003), New Police Story (2004), Rob B-Hood (2006) and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010). Directors he had worked with include Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark, Johnnie To, Wong Jing, Ching Siutong, Bennie Chan and Corey Yuen. For Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, he won the Best Art Direction prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
Choo also served as production designer for two Englishlanguage films, Ultra Violet and DOA: Dead or Alive, both released in 2006.
In 2008, Choo adapted the popular Chinese animation television series Pleasant Goat & Big Big Wolf into a film of the same English title (2009), which was shown during China’s all-important Chinese New Year slot. The film, with a modest budget of under 6 million RMB, became a huge hit that took in nearly one hundred million RMB. He went on to direct a sequel, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf 2 (2010), which, with a budget of 1.4 million RMB, earned 128 million RMB.
Choo also applied his design experience towards the business world, working on the design of technology products, offices, malls, theme parks, animation characters and animation figurines. In 2008, he worked on the design of Noah’s Ark Hong Kong, an amusement park promoted as a major tourist attraction. The next year, he worked on the design of a major mall in Panyu in Guangdong, China.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf 2|
||Pleasant Goat & Big Big Wolf|