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Antz, created by Dreamworks in 1998, was one of the first CGI films to attempt to model real facial animation. The film?s story centres around Z, an ant with ambitions, who feels out of place, and insignificant in his colony?s millions-strong society. Z is a lowly worker ant, who spends his days carting dirt around. His life changes dramatically when he convinces his soldier-ant friend Weaver to switch places with him for a day. From that point on, events spiral rapidly out of control, from Z being a war hero, to a wanted criminal on the run, right through to his challenging the accepted social order of the whole colony ? and winning.

Whilst the storyline of Antz is itself, a non-stop comic riot, and very poignant tale, the film really shines through in its use of animation. It perhaps looks a bit dated in comparison to films released some eight years after it, but this was a groundbreaker, that set the stage for all the rest.

Faces in Antz are unique in that they were the first to utilise actual muscle control to drive the faces ? tweak the muscles and they tweak the actual features, allowing realistic face movement. However, Antz took an approach no other CGI since has had to do. In order to get the correct movements for the ant faces, with the understanding of muscle workings at the time, the characters? facial muscles were actually attached outside their faces, and had to be masked out in the end result sequences. For example, the muscles to raise the eyebrows, actually extend in arcs way above the top of the ant heads, as this was the only way the teams found in time for production, to create the required movements.

Needless to say, things have progressed a long way from there, yet Antz still stands out as a great example of producing superior results using totally unorthodox methods.

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes

 

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