Writer-Director-Executive Producer Craig McCracken is the very definition of "hands on." Demonstrating the same commitment and dedication he brings to the TV series, McCracken is involved in The Powerpuff Girls Movie every step of the way: writing, storyboarding, directing the actors, working with the computer graphics artists and the art director on the visual aspects of the film, scoring and editing - everything it takes to put the picture together.
"I have my hands in every single aspect of this production," he notes. "This is my baby and I care about it. I've had it for ten years and it's got to be just right - I've got this vision and I want to see it come true."
The Powerpuff filmmakers and crew faced a huge task when they took on a full-length animated feature. As on the television show, all of the animation and backgrounds on the film were hand-drawn and painted, but this time around the filmmakers were able to employ digital filmmaking techniques that give them more control over the shots and a greater possible range of motion.
"There's a lot more work put into this movie," McCracken explains. "For the TV show, we do a blueprint - we do a storyboard, all the designs, and the timing for the episode and then it's sent overseas, where the whole thing is animated. It's then sent back on film, and that's that. But with the movie, my crew and myself have really been able to get into almost every single drawing and fix it so it looks perfect. And then all of that animation that's done overseas is sent back to L.A., where we meticulously put every single shot together digitally in the computer. This way, we're able to manipulate every frame and get everything perfect."
All of the various design elements that are used to achieve the distinctive Powerpuff Girls look aren't supposed to stand out to the viewer, but in the process of animation, there are a staggering amount of details that must come together to result in such a seamless design scheme. Art director Mike Moon was faced with the task of coordinating the work of the different departments.
"For instance, we have a full-time vehicle designer," Moon explains, "and I work with him on all of the various vehicles that are going to populate Townsville. We have an effects designer that I work with to create a look to all of the different effects, we have several color stylists, several background painters, several layout artists, and we try and keep all those elements in sync and everyone focused and working in the same universe. We have to make sure that there's a similar design thread that's running through the whole show and that the entire movie has a design continuity that accentuates the story and creates a great piece of cinema."
"It wasn't that difficult to make the transition to film because the Powerpuff Girls television show already has a lot of cinematic elements in it," says McCracken. "When we make the TV show, we look at them as mini films. The show is really condensed, it always keeps moving and it's got an energy level to it because of the time limitation, so my first concern was, are we going to lose that pacing going into a long form? But as it turned out, the movie still moves at the same pace that the show does. It still has that distinctive feeling to it."
McCracken is happy to have been able to make the movie that he'd envisioned, without having to make compromises in the process that would lessen the artistry of the film. "At heart, this isn't an animation film that's made by a studio, per se, or made by executive interference. It's made by a group of artists who really, really, really love animation and have wanted to do this their whole lives. We finally got an opportunity to do what we've done on television, but on a much bigger, grander scale, and really push ourselves creatively. We've dedicated ourselves to creating the best work that we possibly can."