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WILL VINTON STUDIOS BRINGS MATTEL'S(R) BARBIE(R) DOLL TO LIFE FOR FIRST TIME EVER IN 'DANCE! WORKOUT WITH BARBIE'

 WILL VINTON STUDIOS BRINGS MATTEL'S(R) BARBIE(R) DOLL TO LIFE
 FOR FIRST TIME EVER IN 'DANCE! WORKOUT WITH BARBIE'
 PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Will Vinton Studios, creators of the Claymation(R) California Raisins(TM) announced today it has brought Mattel's Barbie doll to life in a way she's never been before. Barbie makes her first moves in "Dance! Workout with Barbie," a new entertainment video which will be distributed by Buena Vista Home Video on April 10.
 For Mattel, teaming with the masters of dimensional animation at Will Vinton Studios was a perfect partnership. "Barbie is the most popular doll in the world," explained Meryl Friedman, vice president, Barbie consumer products. "It made sense for us to approach the best dimensional animators in the world to work on this project."
 In the video, Barbie helps a live-action aerobic instructor teach a group of young girls popular street, jam and aerobic dance steps and routines to a background of contemporary music. The tape opens with an animated Barbie in her dressing room getting ready to meet the class. Later, she joins the children in their routine.
 Barbie isn't the only superstar who's turned to the Vinton Studios for a breath of life. The Vinton crew, who have won nearly every animation award possible, including Emmys and an Oscar, have animated Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Bruce Willis, Cybil Shepherd, Mark Twain and John Wayne, to name a few.
 But Barbie wasn't just another superstar. She was special, according to David Altschul, president of Will Vinton Studios. The closer a figure becomes to a human, the harder it is to animate, said Altschul. "The audience has a clear picture in its mind of what human movement and expression look like, so anything that isn't just right stands out. Barbie is a little girl's best friend, so when she moves, she has to be perfect."
 Working with a non-clay medium had some advantages to Will Vinton Studios, which first captured attention with a trademarked clay animation technique known as Claymation. "We are known internationally for bringing characters to life through their Claymation performances, but we've been creating stop-motion dimensional animation with non-clay mediums such as latex, wood and metal for quite some time," Altschul said. "Clay in some ways is the hardest because every time you touch it, you leave marks on the surface, so you have to resculpt it. Working with an actual Barbie doll gave us the opportunity to really finesse the animation performance."
 Will Vinton Studios' co-director and animator of the Barbie sequences, Teresa Drilling, agrees with Altschul. "It was a nice change of pace to work with a non-clay character. I didn't have to worry about leaving finger marks or dents. On the other hand, there were additional problems to overcome in costume styling. We had to do a lot of nipping and tucking so that the costumes were consistent with the movement," she recalled.
 To both Drilling and fellow animator, Kyle Bell, it was especially challenging to figure out how to move Barbie like a human being and still maintain the integrity of the Mattel product. Shifts in balance and weight had to be animated in a way that looked very natural. "For example, every time we moved a leg, even if it was ever so slightly, we had to move everything else on the doll to compensate. That's one of the challenges of animating a full-figure character realistically," Drilling explained.
 In order to begin the process, a ball and socket skeleton was created which fit inside the Barbie doll and duplicated human movements without changing body proportions. To produce realistic motion, the Vinton animators made minute adjustments to Barbie's position 24 times for each second of film.
 Drilling pored over the live action aerobics to analyze the motion and choreography. Then the studio videotaped human dancers to use as references for Barbie's natural movement. Drilling herself ended up playing Barbie in the reference footage shot in Barbie's dressing room. "I was essentially pantomiming to Barbie's previously recorded voice. The trick was using gestures that seemed natural and meshed with the dialogue. I taped my hands to avoid using them expressively because Barbie's fingers do not separate. I had to concentrate much more on larger body action."
 Barbie's body movements weren't the only challenge for the animators. Finding the right hairstyle wasn't easy either. "She has a lot of hair, and the hairdo had to be designed so that it could be animated," Drilling explained. After trying several styles, the staff hit on the idea of making four braids with wires in them so they would stay in place when Barbie moved.
 The best part of the production, according to Altschul, was watching the Mattel representatives when they viewed the animation for the first time. "As much fun as we were having on the project, we had not idea how impressive it was going to be to the people who had been living with Barbie for 33 years."
 -O- 2/10/92
 /CONTACT: Sandi Serling of Will Vinton Studios, 503-225-1130/ CO: Will Vinton Studios ST: Oregon IN: ENT SU:


RR-JH -- SEFNS1 -- 8084 02/10/92 07:34 EST
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Date:Feb 10, 1992
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