Tao is described as a female-driven sci fi adventure story that is set in China. The plot is being kept under wraps.
She won an Australian Academy Award for her animated short film Forget Me Not in 2012.
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that Emily Dean, a vet of such animated pics as The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and The Lego Batman Movie, is set to make her feature directorial debut on Sony Pictures Animation's Tao. The project is in early development with Tonya Kong attached to write.
The Chinese-Australian animation writer/director previously worked in the Story Department at Warner Bros. under Phil Lord and Christopher Miller serving as their Story Artist on The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Movie 2, and The Lego Pirate Movie. Dean studied at CalArts before starting her career in Pixar's story department.
Kong is repped by Verve, 3 Arts and Jackoway Tyerman. Dean is repped by Verve, Brillstein and Morris Yorn.
“Hair Love is a wonderful father-daughter story and we are proud to nurture talented young filmmakers like Matthew who are breaking new ground,” the exec added. “In the past year, it has been very clear that audiences have been yearning to see fresh stories that are universal and culturally authentic,” says SPA President Kristine Belson of the Cherry written and co-helmed pic focusing on an African-American dad being put in charge of doing his little girl’s hair for the first time.
EXCLUSIVE: With directing gigs on Big 4 shows like Whiskey Cavalier and The Red Line, Matthew A. Cherry has a pretty full dance card this year, but the BlacKkKlansman executive producer is heading into some new territory also.
Produced by Toliver, Cherry, Stacey Newton and Monica A. Young, Hair Love also sees Frank Abney and Peter Ramsey, who served as a director on SPA’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as EPs.
“It was important to get this story out there and we are so grateful to Sony Pictures Animation for their generous support in helping us make that happen,” Cherry himself noted of the deal and roll-out plan. “They have championed it from its early stages and we cannot wait to share the project with the world.”
Animation, to be precise.
Matthew A. Cherry is repped by ICM Partners and Blue Key Management.” />
As well as hitting the big screen later this year, the thoughtful Hair Love will also see life as book to be published by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House on May 14.
Coming off a record breaking Kickstarter campaign two years ago to raise funds for Hair Love, Cherry has now partnered with Sony Pictures Animation on the short film, I’ve learned.
Co-directed by Cherry and Everett Downing, Hair Love raised $300,000 on Kickstarter back in 2017. That’s the most any short film, animated or not, has ever achieved on the funding platform.
“I have never been more thrilled than to work on a project so special and so personal,” stated Karen Toliver, SPA’s SVP of Creative Development. “It really is what makes Sony Animation such a creative place.”
The film's three directors (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman) and animators have credited the producer team of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord for pushing the project as an opportunity to reinvent the way animated films look by setting aside contemporary conventions of CG animation and starting from scratch with a new process that put a higher value on incorporating hand-drawn art and its textures into the finished product.
Also submitted by Sony: Ink-line software that allows an artist to draw on the character surface in a way that is liberated from the underlying geometry and more akin to illustration techniques. The hand-drawn lines of the character faces are converted to geometry and then rigged for animation control.
Sony officials declined to comment on the application or its contents.
The movie also picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best animated feature film. The New York Film Critics Circle named Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as 2018's best animated film.
As a result, Spider-Verse is a state-of-the-art film with retro accents such as Ben-Day dots, thought balloons, panels, written sound effects and even the illusion of alignment flaws in color separation (which are as familiar to readers of four-color comics as the popping of vinyl records is to old-school music fans.)
A summary of the Sony patent application's claims:
Still, the production was intensely meticulous and required years to complete. For most animated projects today a week's worth of labor is required to animate every four seconds of screen action. The film's shot count is also two- to three-times the number found in other animated releases. On Spider-Verse it was a week of work for every single second.
Also noted: artist-friendly lighting tools that interactively light-up large sections of buildings while maintaining crisp, hard shadows.” /> The application also cited "stylized abstractions of reality" constructed with shading tools that create the illusion of depth on a flat surface, the emulation of interior volumes of buildings and illustrated graphic reflections.
The filing cites a half-dozen specific components of the process. With the application for patent protections, Sony claims the innovations of the film go beyond stylistic originality or envelope-pushing success and qualify as a distinctly new invention.
Sony Pictures Imageworks, working closely with Sony Pictures Animation, created a new visual language and rebuilt the animation and lighting pipeline by starting from scratch. The hand-drawn aspirations of Spider-Verse required a reinvention of the standard animation pipeline to even be possible.
The film has been winning strong reviews for its distinctive visual achievements, which evoke the storytelling in vintage Marvel Comics by incorporating hallmarks of the publishing medium in a manner that recalls Pop Art icon Roy Lichtenstein's 1960s effort to import them to gallery canvases. Deadline has learned that Sony has applied for patent protection for the animation process and technologies used to produce Spider-Verse, the Columbia Pictures release that reaches theaters Thursday.
EXCLUSIVE: Film critics have hailed the animation in Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as unique, innovative and undeniably inventive. Now the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will judge whether they agree with those reviews.
Unique rendering and compositing technologies that can artistically modify the smooth shading of a surface via "stylized quantization." Those technologies can add specific patterned-controls over the break-up of light hitting skin and also integrate half-tone dots and hatched lines (called “Screentones”).
“We had this mandate to basically challenge how animated movies are made and what they can be, from top to bottom,” Rothman recently told Deadline. “There were large periods of time where we wondered if it would even work.”
Now the U.S Patents and Trademark Office will determine if the film's innovative effort qualifies as an verifiably inventive one. Animation requires patience, which is a good thing. The patent review process can take three to five years in some cases.
Every single frame of the 116-minute film has a computer-generated image as its foundation that was followed by an overlay of hand-drawn art. The result makes each frame unique with illustrative emphasis and imperfections that collectively infuse the film with a far different energy than the digitally clean and perfectly precise CG animation that has become the standard language of most recent animation blockbusters.
The extrapolated lines streamline the process and give animators an advantage for the fine-tuning the lines. The patent filing also includes the machine-learning component of the Spider-Verse animation process, which streamlines the process as an automated function that predicts the position of lines on the next frame.