Feature
All the Moos That's Fit to Print
Barnyard director Steve Oedekerk. Photo by Jacqueline Bohnert
Bob Miller · December 28, 2006 | In a year where twenty animated features were going to be released, what can a studio do to make its film stand out from the competition? In the case of Barnyard, schedule a press junket—while the film is in production!

On the evening of February 1, I received an e-mail from Sarah Baisley, editor of Animation World Magazine. She had just received word that Paramount, Barnyard's distributor, was going to have a press junket and she needed someone to cover the film. When? The next day! It would be one of two press groups that would travel by bus from Paramount's studio in Hollywood directly to Omation, the studio making Barnyard. Fortunately I was available on short notice. Intrigued about covering the film while it was in production, I agreed to do it. I sent a confirmation e-mail to Paramount's publicist, Soni Ede, and my adventure began.

I was part of Group #1, the "Technical Press." This included reporters from Daily Variety and Starlog, and all the way from England, a reporter for Starburst. We would depart for Omation at around 9:30 a.m. Group #2, the "General Entertainment Press," would leave the lot at 11:30.

Barnyard
Directed by Steve Oedekerk
Animation production by Omation
Distributed by Paramount Home Video, 2006
89 minutes

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Read more about Barnyard
The Group #1 journalists congregated around the bus starting at 9:00 a.m. Soni Edi met us and served coffee and tea while we waited. Since it was going to be a two-hour trip to San Clemente, it was prudent to visit a water closet, which fortunately was available in the guard shack.

During the trip we were briefed on our itinerary. I had a pleasant chat with our charming host, who had publicized Star Trek during its production. Being a Trek fan myself, that became a topic that served as an ice breaker.

Omation is located in a two-story building in the hills of San Clemente. Upon our arrival, we were told not to take photos inside the building—at least, not until the end of the tour. Audio recordings were, of course, allowed. An Omation representative and executive producer Aaron Parry took us from department to department, where each supervisor would relate their contribution to the production process.

Parry enthused, "It's been a great challenge for this picture to achieve the scope that Steve [Oedekirk, the creator/writer/director] wanted, to really have a feature that is competing with the other CG features that are being produced, in not only a very short amount of time, but, be the first startup studio, and come up with tools that can meet and exceed what's available in the industry."

"Our biggest challenge has been the 'pipeline'," said CG supervisor Graham Clark. "It's kind of like an assembly line at a car plant. You pass it along from one person to another. He packages it and sends it to the next artist in a way that allows him to look [at it] artistically."

"A typical shot in the pipeline moves about six months to get all the way through," Parry told us. "[The party scenes] were a little bit longer, given the scope of them. Six to eight months."

For Barnyard, a major part of the "pipeline" was located in a large, downstairs room—the stage for motion capture, which would be utilized for the party scenes.

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