A man & his elephant

Tue, 03/18/2008 - 4:08pm
By: Michael Boylan

McIntosh High grad has creative relationship with movie hit ‘Horton’

When it comes to working on a hit movie, there are big projects and then there are really big projects. For David Torres, a former Peachtree City resident and a graduate of the class of 1995 at McIntosh High School, it doesn’t get much bigger than creating an animated elephant voiced by Jim Carrey in the current no. 1 movie in America.

Horton hears a who

Torres has worked his way up the ladder at Blue Sky Studios, working as an animator or lead animator on all of the studio’s films. Most recently he served as the lead animator for the character of Horton, Dr. Seuss’s irrepressible elephant.

Torres’ parents, Carlos and Mercedes, still live in Peachtree City.

As lead animator, Torres was responsible for shepherding the character through the entire animation process and helping the directors achieve their dreams. It was a long process, starting as far back as late 2005, while “Ice Age: The Meltdown” was wrapping up.

“The animating process for ‘Horton’ only lasted eight months,” said Torres, adding that it was a fast-paced production environment. “Typically, there is a core group of 40 animators working on a film and this one had 70.”

Torres and his pachyderm pal got close while the film was being made, and the animator excitedly talked about the differences with this character and others in this film.

“The style is more cartoony and Horton is more expressive than some of the characters I have worked on in the past,” Torres said.

Horton also is unique in that he can walk on all fours in some scenes and on two feet in others, using his other feet as gesticulating arms.

One would think that having Jim Carrey give voice to Horton would make the character even more expressive, but Torres said a lot of the character design was done before they even knew Carrey was coming on board.

Typically, the animators will film themselves acting out the scenes featuring their characters, so much so that Torres thinks they could almost produce a version of the film featuring the animators acting it out.

“I think an animator always tends to put a little of themselves into the character,” Torres said, adding that many of his colleagues pointed out times where Horton used his hands in conversations just like his animator does.

Without any hesitation, Torres stated that this film was his favorite to work on. Not only did he enjoy working on a film with such a cartoon style, but he loved being involved with the world of Dr. Seuss.

The director and art director visited the Seuss estate and got to see all of his works of art. They also worked closely with Audrey Geisel, Seuss’ widow and a producer on the film. The result is a well-reviewed, hit movie that has stayed true to the author’s vision of his characters.

“We were always trying to ‘seussify’ our shots a bit,” Torres said, explaining that they saw how Seuss would arrange characters on the printed pages and would try to do the same thing in the film version.

Torres added that the film had a lot of emotional impact on him, despite the number of times he had screened it.

“I found myself getting teary-eyed at the premiere, even though I knew what was coming,” Torres said.

Proving that there is no rest for the weary, Torres and his colleagues have already moved on to “Ice Age 3” and the beginning of another project that he could not divulge anything about just yet.

However, the eyes of everyone at Blue Sky were on the reviews that started pouring in over the weekend and also how the audience was responding to the film.

It looks like they have a Horton-sized hit on their hands and now they might be wondering how to turn “Horton Hatches the Egg” into a feature film as well.

login to post comments