The aliens are back! The fuzzy, unpredictable CG-animated characters of Eric Armstrong’s Oscar-winning 2003 short are back for a new holiday romp titled The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas. Directed by Cody Cameron and produced by Kirk Bodyfelt, the four-minute short will premiere in select theaters this Wednesday, showing in tandem with with TriStar Pictures’ new live-action comedy, Daddy Day Camp.
Cameron, a story artist on Surf’s Up and Sony Pictures Animation’s 2009 movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, tells Animation Magazine Online that originally, the project was planned as a 12-minute short. When he was brought on board to direct the short in February, his main challenge was to rework the story to fit the new length.
Penned by Cameron, David Feiss and Jurgen Gross, The ChubbChubbs Save Christmas finds the hungry, lovable little aliens and their buddy, Meeper, on a quest to find a new home, after they’re kicked off their planet. When the motley crew ends up on the North Pole, Santa Claus offers them a job to deliver toys for the holidays, which has disastrous results.
Working within a 14-week production time frame, Cameron and his team used Maya tools to recreate the colorful world of the friendly aliens. ‘It’s been four years since the original short, so I do think it actually looks better,’ says the director. ‘We have a few more locations, and the scope is a bit larger. We got to take the characters off one planet, then have them visit the North Pole and then to different residential homes.’
Cameron says he believes that the original characters were very appealing and it was fun to work out a new adventure for them. ‘I also liked working on a short production schedule as opposed to a feature,’ he adds. ‘I was lucky to be given free rein on the project, and I think I was able to get my own personal stamp on it.’ Another big draw was working with actors, especially Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) who voices Santa in the short. Incidentally, Cameron has some major voice credits on his resume as well: he’s the man behind the voice of Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs throughout the entire Shrek trilogy, as well as Willie the Lemur in Madagscar. He also served as writer and story editor on the three Shrek movies and was a story artist on Shark Tale, Madagascar and Chicken Run prior to joining Sony Pictures Animation in 2004.
As far as influences and inspirations, Cameron says although he didn’t go back and watch any of the classic animated holiday specials, he had certain titles already floating around in his head. ‘I’ve been working in animation for a while and there are certain animated experiences that are firmly in my brain’classics such as Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ The 36-year-old director also sites classic Disney titles such as Band Concert (1935), Mickey’s Trailer (1938) and Dave Smith’s more recent Bozzlebags’ Zip (which ran as part of Disney Channel’s Shorty McShorts’ Shorts) as some of his favorites of all time.
If you’d like to see the new ChubbChubbs short, but don’t want to sit through Daddy Day Camp, don’t worry! All you have to do is wait a couple of months. The Chubbchubbs Save Christmas will also be included on the upcoming Surf’s Up DVD, Blu-ray and PSP release (out on Oct. 9), along with Sony Pictures Imageworks’ original short, The Chubbchubbs.