A HAPPY FEAT
By RENEE FORD
GRAFTON raised animator Brett Feeney and a team of over 350 people can finally sit back and enjoy the results of over four years of painstaking work making Happy Feet.
The animated feature film by renowned Australian director George Miller is one of string of blockbusters that the self-taught animator has worked on in the past decade including Moulin Rouge and The Matrix Reloaded.
Happy Feet tells the story of an Emperor Penguin Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) who feels out of place in Antarctica because he can't sing. But he can dance.
Frowned upon by his parents (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman) Mumble is cast out of his community by Noah the Elder (Hugo Weaving) where he meets the Adelie Amigos led by Ramon (Robin Williams), and his adventure begins.
The film is taking America by storm, making more than $100 million in the past fortnight and opens to the public in Australia today.
The 39-year-old animator recently returned to Australia for the blue carpet premiere at Sydney's Fox studios earlier this month where he said it was given much praise.
The project is the biggest yet for Mr Feeney and a team of people from Sydney-based digital production company Animal Logic.
"It's pretty amazing, looking at where I come from that I have ended up doing this. It's something I never expected ? to be doing what I love," he said.
As digital supervisor, he worked with all departments to help shape the pipe and solve problems at any turn with the goal of making George Miller's visions come to life.
"My role in the production process was to design the pipeline and processes for making Happy Feet," he said.
Some of the original look and story ideas came to George after watching the Richard Attenborough series Life in The Freezer, so it was only natural for him to send Mr Feeney on a three month research mission to Antarctica.
"It was my first time to Antarctica and first time seeing snow," he said.
"We came back with over 70,000 images."
He said that keeping the level of realism was the most challenging part of the production of Happy Feet, and making kilometres of ice with individual features.
He hopes that the acclaim will assist Animal Logic to get to produce its own animated features.
For now, Mr Feeney has returned to Grafton to visit family for Christmas who are understandably very proud of his success.
"It's a bit of a shock, with my mother and her friends telling me how excited they are, some of them knew me when I was little," he said.