Sunday, September 25, 2011

Early Yzma

The animated movie "The Emperor's New Groove" used to have a different title.
The original version was called "Kingdom in the Sun".
I was thrilled at that time to get the assignment of designing and animating the female villain in the film, Yzma.
And I loved her main motivation in the story. Yzma was extremely vain, she wanted her youth back under any circumstance. So she made a deal with a dark spirit who had been locked up inside a mountain. If she could set him free, he in return would give her back her youth. 
What a simple and wonderful premise.

The one and only Eartha Kitt agreed to do the voice of Yzma.
I was in animation heaven !!
Just closing my eyes I could see and imagine the character. A sultry, seductive and power hungry diva. These early sketches suggest that kind of a direction for her personality, and I enjoyed exploring this type of Yzma very much.
I remember buying a few fashion magazines to get inspired by some of those super model poses. For life drawing class we hired a skinny model, but instead of drawing the life poses, I translated what I saw into Yzma.
You see some of those sketches at the bottom of this post. 

Then things changed. The overall story treatment wasn't working as far as the studio was concerned. Everything was put on hold, and a brand new story line was developed. Eventually I moved over to the production of "Lilo and Stitch".
In "The Emperor's New Groove" Yzma became more of a comic villain, my friend Dale Baer took over the character, and he did a great job! 
















34 comments:

  1. That first version of the movie sounds really cool. I was expecting to not like the movie when I saw trailers and read the plot.
    Thankfully, they did a really good job with it and Eartha Kitt was an inspired choice for Yzma.

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  2. Ohhh these drawings are horrendously beautiful. I really like that movie, to me it's Disney's funniest for sure.

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  3. Andreas, I heard that Izma wanted to steal the sun. Is it true?

    I like colors on these sketches. Good choice!

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  4. amazing sketches Andreas! So full of life!

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  5. Great to see your version- any chance we can see some of the test animation you did on her?

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  6. Beautiful work, Andreas. Thanks for sharing this early peek at your development of Yzma. Though I really enjoyed the final film, I’d liked to have seen ‘Kingdom of the Sun’ if it had worked out.

    Thought I'd ask:
    By any chance will you be at the CTN Expo this year? Not an animator myself, but part of me often wishes I had gone that route :)

    @Nagy Peter: thanks for posting those!

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  7. Mr. Deja, was your Yzma design the same as appeared in the final film? When Dale Baer took over, did he alter anything?

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  8. I love the design you created for her; the exact kind of evil diva villian that I love! She looks almost like she could be the evil sister of Jafar. Wonderful work.

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  9. I remember when you showed me a couple of your pencil tests for Yzma. I was floored. I think those were some of the best stuff I'd seen you do and it's a shame the story didn't work out so everyone could see that great animation.
    If you still have them you should post them.

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  10. These early sketches of Yzma look very similar to the Yzma in the movie. Did Dale Baer just kind of start off where you left off on her design, or was she pretty much designed by that point?

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  11. The design of her sitting has so much personality & humor built into it! Great work! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Even though The Emperor's New Groove, the final version of it anyway, ranks among my LEAST favorite Disney movies (no offense to anyone), I was always curious to learn more about the original treatment of the film. These sketches are lovely!

    Yzma was probably the only character in the final movie I liked, really.

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  13. Andreas, I can only imagine the level of disappointment and frustration you must have felt once the project was revised and changed! It must be quite crushing to work so hard on a character, only to have it scrapped. Although Dael Baer did a great job with Yzma, your designs are fantastic! :)

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  14. Andreas, do you have any animation tests or footage from "Kingdom of the Sun" you could share with us here?

    Btw, I found a scene from the documentary "The Sweatbox" that features a work-in-progress version of "Snuff Out the Light"

    Here's the link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr6MlW5rNYo

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  15. Great Youtube Clip indeed. She looked fabulous Andreas!

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  16. These sketches are really interesting! Even though the archetype seems similar to Cruella deVil, when I look at the drawing more closely there's a really distinctive difference too. Cruella seems to be more interested in her luxury around her whereas this Yzma seems to really think she's still hot stuff. Yzma also seems to have a little bit more of a harpy look to her, like she's not afraid to do her own dirty work.

    I am sorry that we never got Kingdom of the Sun though Emperor's New Groove was relatively successful in it's own right and was something really different than the Disney classic. Whether it was worth losing Kingdom of the Sun for, I don't know, I won't have any idea unless I get to see The Sweatbox, and those odds aren't good. The clip sotiris2006 posted was very impressive! (sotiris2006 - Thank you very much for sharing that!) Do you know if that was looked at for Friends on the Other Side?

    On a last note I really like how you handled her butt in the life drawing Yzma's (is that a weird thing to say?) It's just really interesting how you got it full and angular at the same time. I also really like the heavy eyelashes from the near back view.

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  17. Julie,
    no, Friends on the Other Side happened completely independently.
    I have to tell you, Sting's song "Snuff out the Light"
    was absolutely incredible, especially with Eartha singing it!

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  18. wow ! awesome work Andreas! do you have test animation link for this?

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  19. Mia,
    yes, I will be at CTN Expo in Nov. I'll give a talk and do a bunch of other things.

    Julian and Stuart,
    Dale altered the design a little to make it his own.

    Steve G.,
    I need to dig up those pencil tests. I might still have them on 3/4 inch tape.

    Ashish,
    Sotoris2006 a few comments up found this link to some cut footage:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr6MlW5rNYo

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  20. Ah, Andreas, thank you so much for the inspiration, as always your drawings, poses animations are perfect. Thank you for the link, the recording session with Eartha Kitt, this had me pumped up for the rest of the day.

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  21. thnx Andreas for the link! "to take a revenge on the sun" .. ah, the animation there .. superb ... i m studying this again and again ... thnx again!!

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  22. thank you so much for sharing all of these treasures with us! It's amazing and inspiring! I can only hope one day I will become a fraction of all of these greats including you :)

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  23. Ashish,
    thanks. That scene is mine, actually.(Thank goodness) ;)

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  24. I always thought Yzma had a bit of Chuck Jones' "Grinch" in her face and cartoon anatomy. I may be wrong, but I see it in some of your sketches as well.

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  25. THANKS FOR THE INFO!! Snuff out the light is an amazing song! It's a pitty it was cut from the movie. The movie is ok, i love it, and i know your are being polite when you say things changed... yes they changed, but it was not a good change. thanks again for sharing!!

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  26. It's such a shame we lost Kingdom in the Sun.
    Though I did like The Emperor's New Groove, What it was meant to be just tops the final movie. The real shame is we lost your marvelous Yzma, and her beautiful song. Seems like she'd be so great.

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  27. RE: Jantze Studios' comment about the Grinch's resemblance to Yzma - that's exactly why I found this conversation. I Googled "Yzma Grinch" because I'm watching it right now (Emperor's New Groove) and am struck again by the resemblance. Any explanation - I'm curious...?

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  28. Yzma's inspiration was in Yma Sumac?

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  29. Yzma from Kingdom of the Sun has a similarity to Jafar from 1992's Aladdin and Mother Gothel from Disney's 2010 Rapunzel film, Tangled.

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  30. While you may have lost doing Yzma for this film, you made up for it by doing Lilo who, I must say, is one of the most realistic animated children I have ever seen, even more so then Riley from Inside Out

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  31. It's interesting to see these early designs. But however it got there, I'm so glad The Emperor's New Groove turned out the way it did. It's literally my favourite Disney movie of all time and Yzma is definitely my favourite character.

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