20 Things to Know About ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’

     September 25, 2015


Collider was recently invited to Sony Pictures Animation to screen Hotel Transylvania 2, the follow-up to their 2012 hit film, Hotel Transylvania, and to chat with the creative team responsible for bringing the new animated monster comedy adventure to life. Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed to allow human guests, but Drac (Adam Sandler) worries when his adorable half-human grandson, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), still hasn’t shown his fangs and his grumpy, old-school dad, Vlad (Mel Brooks), pays an unexpected visit. The film also stars Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, and Fran Drescher.

In a series of roundtable interviews, director Genndy Tartakovsky, producer Michelle Murdocca, production designer Michael Kurinsky, VFX supervisor Karl Herbst, senior animation supervisor Alan Hawkins, voice actress Melissa Sturm, and foley artists Robin Harlan and Sarah Jacobs spoke to us about their recent collaboration and how they set out to make a fresh and funny sequel that stands on its own but still holds onto the emotional core of the first film. To learn more about what it took to put this animated film together, here’s a list of 20 things to know about Hotel Transylvania 2.

Check it all out in the interview below. Be aware there may be a few spoilers:

hotel-transylvania-2-poster1. One of film’s themes is about acceptance and embracing your differences in a changing world, and the word ‘normal’ is used a lot when it comes to Dennis’ upbringing.

GENNDY TARTAKOVSKY: We started with the idea that when people are parents, they both want their kid to be the best of them and sometimes that is in conflict with what others want. We apply that to monsters vs. humans, and Mavis accepting humans, and Dracula wanting his monsterness to last forever. He wants his grandson, Dennis, to be a monster. It started to come together like that pretty much right away. We played around with different themes of acceptance and how the world is changing and there’s a little bit of all that in there. If Dennis didn’t get his fangs, I think Drac would still love him and accept him as part of his family.

MICHELLE MURDOCCA: It’s to show that ‘normal’ thinks they’re normal, but they’re actually worse than everybody else. We tried to just make fun of it. Grandma Linda (Megan Mullally) is always giving little jabs not meaning for them to be jabs, because she’s so unaware. We just hope that everybody else around them is and kind of makes up for it. 

TARTAKOVSKY: I think the characters are representing all those people. It’s a delicate thing, but it’s a silly movie. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. When you’re making big commentary like that, we always try to be careful and to walk the line so we’re not preachy. We’re trying to make fun of it rather than preach hard about it.

2. There are unique challenges to working with a team of animators and having a definite, clear visual aesthetic for your film is essential to getting the film where you want it to be.

TARTAKOVSKY: The animation is probably the easiest for me. It’s the story that’s probably the most challenging. Especially doing a sequel, there’s so much pressure to not mess it up and make it worse than the first one by changing the tone or changing who your characters are. You want to stay consistent and grow to the next level. That’s on everyone’s minds right at the get-go. For the animation, the biggest challenge is to continue what we did in the first one, and then hopefully try to push some things further. This time we had some of the original animators back, which was great, and they were really good, and then a lot of new ones. Because of the speed we were going, we had over a hundred animators. It’s a personal choice, a personal style, and luckily the way the process is set up, I get to draw. I’m from a drawing background, so that’s how I direct, through drawings for pretty much almost anything.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

3. The latest technology was used to make the sequel crisper and cleaner compared to the original film. One of the biggest innovations that Sony Pictures Imageworks introduced was the motion blur system called Genndy Blur to accommodate the vision and style of its director.

TARTAKOVSKY: All the updated systems are faster and stronger. The motion blur is designed for live action, and the way we do animation is so quick that it ruined our quick animation. So, they designed a system called Genndy Blur based on TD principles. The other thing that we keep trying to advance and make better is the cloth dynamics, the way clothes work. Again, it’s based on real world physics, but our characters don’t move that way so the cloth has a really hard time catching up with it. There were some slight innovations in that, but we still have a long way to go. Everything else is just the newer things but nothing newly designed specifically for this.

4. When it comes to the refinement process, Sony Pictures has its own brain trust system to help ensure they’re delivering the best film possible.

TARTAKOVSKY: We have a lot of producers. We have the studio producers and then we have Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel as producers. We have a lot of hands in the pot making sure everything is going in the right direction. Sometimes that’s a positive. Sometimes that’s a negative. Creating films is a personal thing. It’s very subjective. We might think something is funny, and then they might think something is not funny. It’s a collaboration and that’s our system here. Obviously, Adam has a lot of power and say, and the studio respects him a lot.

MURDOCCA: We do a lot of screenings as well. We did a screening last December and it was a pretty big studio-wide screening. It’s was not just internal SPA but it was also Sony Pictures Entertainment so everybody came. We definitely get a lot of notes. I would say from December until now, the movie changed pretty significantly.

TARTAKOVSKY: For example, the involvement of Vlad and finding the right space for him. There used to be some much, much bigger sequences where you felt like the movie kind of stopped, so those were condensed a lot.

MURDOCCA: The intro of the movie was pretty long and it was a couple of sequences wrapped into one. We had to do a lot of cherry picking out of there and seeing what was the best thing and how can we most efficiently get to the fun of the movie. Now that we’ve told the backstory and they’re married and they have a baby, let’s get to where we’re going in this movie. We have a series of screenings like that where Pixar has their brain trust and we definitely have our screenings. Then, we take what we can out of that and try to implement the changes that we think are the best. Some of those scenes definitely will be on the DVD.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

5. The voice acting process, getting the voices to fit the characters, and coordinating the actors’ busy schedules can be challenging, even when you have amazing talent.

TARTAKOVSKY: With the voices, luckily, everybody is amazing. We’re got the top comedians in the industry. Recording it is easy because they really record themselves in a way. The amazing thing that they do is they’ll say a line and we’re all in the booth and nobody laughs. They can be outside of themselves listening in. They’ll say it a second time and a third time and you can hear them tweaking the timing and inflections. Then, all of a sudden, they’ll say it and the whole room laughs. It’s almost like they’re working on their stand-up bit right in front of us. It’s amazing to watch because they are truly funny people and that’s the magic of them. We always try to get everybody in the room because you do feel that great dynamic and chemistry. On the first movie, in the first few recording sessions, we were able to get five or six people together, but on this one the stars just didn’t line up.

MURDOCCA: Adam Sandler came by during one of Mel Brook’s sessions and they did a little back and forth. That was pretty cool. But it’s definitely challenging with people’s shooting schedules. 

6. Tartakovsky and Murdocca revealed their favorite characters of the film and how some of Mel Brooks’ recording sessions may end up on the DVD.

TARTAKOVSKY: I’ve always liked Dracula because Dracula is a dad and I’ve got three kids, so there’s a lot of accessible things that we relate to as parents. Plus, it’s Dracula. He’s the most powerful. I always lean towards him.

MURDOCCA: I love Dracula, but I do love Vlad because it’s Mel Brooks. It was just hard not to fall into that Mel Brooks trap. He’s awesome and it was amazing to work with him. We do put some of the recording sessions with him on the DVD. 


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

7. Character humor is very important and you have to strike the right balance without crossing the line or being too vulgar. 

TARTAKOVSKY: There’s a lot of vulgarity that ends up on the cutting room floor and we try to balance that, like the Blob peeing had a lot of back and forth and people were afraid of it.

MURDOCCA: There were a lot of conversations about that.

TARTAKOVSKY: But you know that kids are going to laugh at fart jokes and bodily functions. That’s easy, but at the same time, you don’t want to have a movie full of fart jokes. You want to try to find what’s the least amount that we can get away with without it all of a sudden being vulgar.

MURDOCCA: The real jokes are much funnier than that. 

TARTAKOVSKY: You want character humor as much as you can.

8. There are two sequences in the film that Tartakovsky found especially difficult.

TARTAKOVSKY: The beginning was conceptually the most difficult, just getting that to feel right. Cutting-room wise, the fight was probably a bit difficult. As fight sequences go, they get really big. Then they get too small. You’re trying to find that perfect blend where people aren’t too tired of it. I believe that with the visuals, you can go a bit longer and people enjoy the energy of it. Making all that work was challenging.

9. Production Designer Michael Kurinsky is the lead artist who oversees all aspects of everything that needs to be designed for a film. That means characters, environments, all props, and eventually designing the color and lighting that help take us through the story and making sure that it’s appropriate for every story moment. He walked us through some of the key elements of designing the sequel and the distinctions he made between the monster world and the human world.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

MICHAEL KURINSKY: In this case, I didn’t have to design a movie literally from the ground up. We already had a first movie that I inherited. It felt like inheriting this really cool toy that I got to play with and do whatever I wanted to with it as long as it adhered to certain rules. I didn’t want to break anything that was already set up in the first movie style-wise, but I wanted to try and find ways to take what was old and make it feel fresh and new. So, pushing ideas of color and lighting in the monster world was where I thought I could take this model that already existed, that we already had from the first movie, and try some different lighting scenarios with it. This seems pretty straightforward for what we’ve seen in the first movie, but then we had some new things happen in our hotel. We have a child born and this is Dennis. Dennis is half human and half vampire, and his room reflected that. It’s the barebones of monster, with rock walls and beams and everything, but populated by very human and common things that we would see. So, this is a nice split and a new design of helping support who that character is. 

There is environment that you saw in the first movie like the Ballroom where the table flying around sequence took place. We lit it almost in white light so that just the colors of the ballroom were the colors of that sequence. But, in this, we decided, just like any hotel would do to a ballroom on a wedding day, they transform in one night a ballroom into this magical place. Of course, it’s Drac’s hotel and it’s his daughter that he obsesses over. He’s going to really transform this ballroom into something special. We were able to put different drapery in it and light it in a way like you’ve never seen it before in this Mavis Magenta, the color that I associate with Mavis, and to make it really magical and special for her big day. 

Other locations where again I had rules from the first movie that I could play off of and then create some of my own include the Vampire Camp. Because it exists in the monster world, some of the rules of that world are verticality and things being really tall. We decided to surround it by these really tall mountains. We also had our tall tower and everything in there. Lighting-wise, I tried to play with the same ideas of lighting and saturated color. But, it was something new to try that not everything had to have a 100 percent Gothic, Transylvania look to it. When Genndy and I talked about it, he was like, “Let’s make it Gothic Meets Log Cabin Woodsy,” which is exactly what we did. We made this hybrid, but by putting the right kind of lighting in it, you still associate it with the monster world, as opposed to the human world. 


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Basically, since we see a lot more of it than we did in the first movie, we go back to where Johnny grew up at his parents’ house. I wanted to do a contrast between the two worlds. The easiest way to do that is to go with the rules of the monster world are tall and vertical with bright, saturated colors with light sources that come from unusual angles. What’s the opposite of that? It’s horizontal. It’s drab. It’s evenly lit. We wanted to really play that idea for the story points that the human world isn’t all that interesting, but of course, Mavis finds it really cool. For Johnny’s parents’ house, we went very basic. The way we lit it was so even it actually took any of the color we had earlier and washed it out even more. It’s very different from the monster world. Inside our mini-mart and also in the airport, we washed it out with that fluorescent light just to make things feel really bland. 

10. Easter eggs are another fun part of designing a movie because the filmmakers get to put in things that only they know.

KURINSKY: In this one, we had an information board where we had to design everything on it because people are going to pause it and look at what is written there if it’s in a shot. So, in this case, I got to do fun things like on the Team Mouse sign-up sheet, this is my entire visual development crew along with my daughter, one of my cats and my wife. Because the camp is now so kid friendly, we have a flower identification day chart and I had just gotten a new cat that I named Daisy. So that’s why that’s there. You get to do fun stuff. The other one that I really like is the amount of hits on the video, 1,282,001. January 28, 2001 is my daughter’s birthday. So, you get to do little things. I know it. She knows it. We hand all this stuff over to Karl Herbst after we design it and he makes it happen. 

11. Visual effects supervisor Karl Herbst was the CG supervisor on the first film. He was one of the people that transitioned coming over to the sequel. He works with the creative team in the beginning and tries to figure out how they’re going to build everything and execute it. Karl walked us through the development of some of the film’s major sequences.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

KARL HERBST: One of the big things we work on is color script. About half-way through the movie, most of my day turns into working on lighting. The monster world is definitely very colorful. We’ve seen it before at night. There’s a lot of cool colors. But Mike definitely brought another palette to it. We treated the film much more like we shot it rather than a very flat movie. We use a lot of lens effects throughout the film. Lots of time Mike would do a color key and then Genndy would go over a shot in the film, and I’d research what that shot was and how he did it. 

In the Wedding Dance sequence, what we really wanted to do was dirty up the lens, treat it with a very shallow depth of field for this very magical moment and use all of those elements to vignette the shot so that you really play with the characters in this very intimate setting. Along the way, the monster world gets pretty colorful. Outdoors at night, there’s lots of cools and lots of warms and we’re always playing that contrast. Then, you get to the human world, it’s definitely flat and very fluorescent when we’re inside the mini-mart. It’s also very cool and saturated at night, especially when you get to the Vampire Camp. 

The Pack sequence, the moment when Mavis is deciding they’ll leave and go to California, is one of our moodier sequences where it’s the first time we see it rain at the hotel. We treated this as a naturally lit day where we turned off all the interior lights. There’s only light coming through the windows. We give her a lot of mood because she’s pouring over what to do. We’re a bit more drab with the color. We actually had to develop elements through our effects team that’s going to be the rain that’s seen on the floor as she’s walking through. On a rainy day, you get that flickering inside your room from the light going through with all the rain. We always like to add dust motes to environments like this just to make it feel a little bit more real, a little bit more tactile. 

The Party sequence is really colorful and it plays up in particular moments with very strong lighting along the way. Then, at the end, the Battle sequence is unique in that it shows off a very graphic style that we didn’t have through all the rest of the film. It’s driven by a few things. We really wanted to show off the performances of the characters, especially when we get into the Fight sequence. Our environment is actually really complicated. As we put our characters in there, we obviously need to simplify. We always use what we would have used on set. They would have fogged it out to try to simplify it and push everything back, and that’s what we did here. We fogged it out, made it very colorful still, but we tried to simplify all those leaves, all the trunks, to make them into silhouette shapes so that the characters really pop forward and it shows off the performances of what Alan (Hawkins) and his team did. In some cases, we had to reduce. Sometimes we had to actually take certain limbs off trees so that we could get the silhouette that we wanted. But most of it was about how to fog it and how to really stack that fog far enough back between value and color to get the depth that we wanted. The great thing in that sequence, if you look at a single frame in 2D, it looks and feels flat. I mean, there’s depth to it, but it feels flat. In 3D, the environment pops back out again because you actually get to see that we built the whole set. It’s not just a matte painting that’s on a card in the background. 


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

12. Senior animation supervisor Alan Hawkins works with the character animation department, which means the faces and the bodies underneath the clothes. He explained what it’s like animating in Tartakovsky’s “Pushed” Style.

ALAN HAWKINS: We do some clothing posing, but then there’s an extra layer of simulation that happens that we don’t do afterwards. I’ll show you a moment in the life of an animator. [He displays on screen a first pass version that an animator is showing to Genndy from the Battle sequence.] The pose that we’re going to focus on is just the fast little yell at the beginning that the mummy does and getting that pose right. Ganndy reviews the shot. We have dailies where he does drawovers directly onto a Cintiq, and those drawings are basically the bible for us. We have to match that. The animators are in the room and also in Vancouver via a video call. That’s why the drawings are so important, because sometimes it’s hard to communicate, especially with abstract things. So, the drawings are clear for us. 

We also have a way to watch the drawing it created again, which is pretty cool, because seeing the drawing is one thing, but seeing it redrawn over and over gives us an even better sense of it so we can recreate each pose that way. [He displays on screen an animator who’s partway through that process.] We can bring that drawing right into the scene and basically match it one to one, which is really important. On the first film, we couldn’t do that. We had to look from one side of the monitor to the other. It got close, but it never really had that same essence to it.

In a time lapse of the drawing before and after, you can see how three hours got condensed down to about one minute with that one pose. Here’s the animator hitting all these shapes in the computer. We start with using major controllers which move big parts of the character around, but at a certain point, our rigs aren’t able to go any further, and we have to start becoming modelers, and it’s more about sculpting the shape with putty rather than moving a puppet around. That’s pretty particular to working with Genndy. With a lot of CG films, the idea is to stay on model and be consistent, but Genndy likes to change things all over the place, which is where all the fun is. We need to be ready for everything and that sculpting technique is the only way we can do that. 

13. In the Camp scene, the animators drew on earlier horror films for inspiration and lighting references including Universal’s Frankenstein and Friday the 13th.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

HERBST: I know they looked at Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Even though those are black and white, there is a quality of lighting that goes back to the German Expressionist type of staging and lighting that they used in the first movie. Those are those rules that again I didn’t want to break from the first movies. I just wanted to find new ways to play with them in my new toy that I got to play with. So yes, we did look at those. I looked at those two years ago when I first came on as the production designer. I looked at those references that they looked at on the first movie. I didn’t think about Friday the 13th, but yes, the misty lake in the background is iconic. We put that low laying mist on the lake and it helped. We wanted a lot of atmosphere. There are tons of trees back there, and we wanted to feel them but not see every pine needle. 

14. Production Designer Michael Kurinsky drew on his familiarity with Yosemite Valley to create the environment for the Vampire Camp.

KURINSKY: There was no actual description of what the environment where the camp was. What I like to do is give myself a backstory to help fill in those holes that I don’t know because it helps support a story. I thought of Yosemite and went, “When you’re down there, it’s like those are 3,000 feet up. What if it was 30,000 feet high?” How could a camp exist for a thousand years without anybody knowing about it and it also provides constant shade over the camp at all times with these walls? It was a design thing. I like to give myself an idea. I’ve been there many times and it’s just like you have to draw on what you know and what feels right. 

15. The Vampire Camp Lodge was inspired by the Amityville Horror House.

KURINSKY: It was a combination. It’s very Gothic at the top and woodsy log cabin at the bottom, and then yes, a subliminal skeleton face in there because we knew we were really going to light it that way. It was just a design with me combining a couple of different ideas into one thing. I thought the main house would be the first statement that would define the look of the camp. Getting that right helped everything else fall into place.

16. Voice actress Melissa Sturm, who did the scratch recording for Mavis, has also read lines against Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. She gave us a tour of the recording studio, explained the recording process, and let us record our own scratch voice for a scene from Hotel Transylvania 2 which was lots of fun.


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

MELISSA STURM. This is where we record all of our scratch voices. Basically, we record the entire film with temporary voice actors. We’ll bring in people from any parts of the studio. Storyboard artists and a lot of animators come in and they all do the voices for the characters. Since animation is such a lengthy, expensive process, we really only want to animate one time. So, once the story is in a really good shape, we’ll put the film up in an animatic form with the scratch voices against it. If the executives sign off, then we start recording the voice talent, and then we’ll animate to their voices. This is what we call ADR. Later on in the process, if perhaps the director thinks he doesn’t like the performance in a line or he wants a different emotion, we’ll have the actors come in and we’ll put the picture up, and what we’ll do is we’ll re-record the actor’s voice to picture and they’ll have to sync up their voice and all of that. 

Dracula could have sounded like anything. They picked Adam Sandler, but perhaps someone with a really high pitched voice could have come in and given it a different feel. It would have been such a different movie. On the first movie, I got to read lines against him and that was a little intense, but it was so fun and he did such a great job. I’m used to him in all these comedic roles, but he had such a great emotional performance. He did a lot of improv-ing, and I think those are actually the most beautiful little nuggets that you get, because it’s total spur of the moment and it feels so natural when they’re inserted. For the most part, we stick to the script and the story has to be told in the way that it is. But, those extra little added bonuses are fun and usually they make it into the movie too. 

The whole process is so much fun. You get to come in and be silly for two hours. Usually it depends on everyone’s schedule. In the past, we’ve had them come in one at a time because it’s also hard. We don’t want to step on each other’s lines. If they’re talking over each other, they’ll get so into it that we’ll end up having to use the whole chunk instead of getting their individual lines. But, it also brings so much more energy. They feed off of each other. It’s like live action movies. We did it a couple of times where they would record in groups, but for the most part, they’re all so busy working on other projects. The scratch voices are great, but it makes such a difference when you have these real actors who are well versed in their craft come in. It’s like night and day. They bring so much to the movie.

17. Foley artists Sarah Jacobs and Robin Harlan worked on Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 and created all the organic sound effects which humans make including their footsteps, the props, and the things they touch. The process is named after Jack Foley, an early radio performer who transitioned into creating soundtracks. Using scenes from the film, they demonstrated for us some of the cool techniques they used to bring the characters to life. 


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

SARAH JACOBS: The technology has changed so much, but our element is one of the few things that is still being done how it was done when they made movies and did radio 60 or 70 years ago. Once you record it, you can always enhance it using technology. The way we record it has certainly changed. We have many more options of tracks available to us. 

ROBIN HARLAN: When we’re working on live action, we’re given a soundtrack. When you have animation, you’re building a soundtrack, so there’s no production sound. We’re going to show you a clip of pretty much what we get as a raw picture, and then we’re going to do a performance of what we do radio style. 

JACOBS: Typically, we’re on a sound stage, a studio Foley room that has a room as a recording room. There is a booth with a mixer who records us and it’s a very controlled environment. We’re going to give you a little demonstration and play some of the voices which typically in animation get recorded first, but otherwise there’s no sound.

[They show us a clip of the film’s Tea Party scene with the characters Winnie and Dennis.]

HARLAN: Sarah and I, while we’re watching, will say, “Which character do you want to do?” “Okay, I’ll take Winnie’s feet.” 

JACOBS: “What props do we need?” “We need some tea, we need a tray.”

HARLAN: “I notice there’s a dead pigeon here, that they’re walking on wood. She’s sitting on a box. He’s doing hand pats. So is she. There’s a little movement, a body fall and hands, and there’s a little specificity to the wobble.” 

JACOBS: Now we’re going to do this all in one take and give you a little demonstration on how we would approach this. 

HARLAN: I’m going to play Winnie. She’s a dainty little werewolf who’s having a tea party in this scene. We created her little paws by taking normal work gloves and putting paperclips on the fingertips which gives her a little, dainty sound with the fingertips on the wood. 

[They deliver an impressive performance showing us how they create all the organic sounds required by the scene.]


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

JACOBS: With the technology today, you can do tracks and tracks and tracks. Let’s play this back. 

HARLAN: Now we’ll show you what the final mix of the scene is like once the music, the dialogue, the sound effects and the Foley effects are all put together and the director and the team have all decided what is the best choice for that moment.

[We watch the scene played back with all the final sound elements in place.]

18. Drac’s cape was an important element in the film’s sound design and the Foley artists collaborated to find the right props to create the sound for it using an umbrella and a piece of fabric.

JACOBS: One of the things that we wanted to do and was certainly a note from the director through our liaison, the sound designer, was that Drac’s cape was very important. It’s very slick. It’s very dramatic. When he flies and he makes big gestures, it’s a wonderful way to animate him and give him some life. Some stuff you can do on your own, but this is something we definitely worked together on. We’re going to give you a little demonstration on how he jumps over the tower to rescue his grandson. (They show us the scene and reveal how they created the flapping sound of Drac’s cape using an umbrella and a piece of fabric.) 

19. All of the monsters and humans in Hotel Transylvania 2, whether featured or background characters, had to have distinctly different footstep sounds.

HARLAN: Every film is actually problem solving. For this particular one, the sound supervisor came to us and said, “We want all of the monsters and humans to sound different. We think it’s important that there’s a differentiation.” If you’re walking down a street and you hear a high heel, it has a particular sound and it doesn’t sound like a Doc Marten or a work boot. They’re very distinct. We needed to create distinct footsteps for each character.

JACOBS: In the studio, typically we’d go through with the character, then add each layer. You have a little bit more control over the layer. When we start a project, Foley is really made up of the footsteps and the organic props. Typically we would probably do the footsteps by themselves and then the creak to add the weight. 

HARLAN: Sarah got to play Drac which is a great character. Sarah and I probably have between us 500 pairs of shoes. When we’re talking about who should do what character, we know in our heads what each sound is. There are nuances for every single shoe. Does this one creak? Does this one sound like a rich Italian loafer? There are all of these kind of musical qualities to actual shoes. Sarah’s shoes sounded best for Drac. 


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

JACOBS: Obviously, on a Foley stage, we have cement surfaces, we have dirt, all these different surfaces that we can change and perform on. In the camp scene, Drac uses a very rickety ladder, and he and all of his crew are going up, determined to have his son be a bat. 

HARLAN: I got to play Frank, and because I’m not a giant monster, these are the shoes that I used for Frank. They’re these great big, oversized work boots and they have a really big sound. Then, the mixer I work with will give me even more low end. With technology and performance, you can get an even better enhanced sound. With him, because he’s so weighty and that tower is so creaky, when Frank comes on, it creates more of a strain. This is [accomplished by using] just a simple crochet mallet and a Sparkletts water bottle, but when you work it together with some nice wood, you end up getting a creaky tower. 

[She demonstrates how she performed Frank going up the ladder using those props.]

JACOBS: We’ll give you a few more examples with three more characters. There’s Murray, who is a mummy. It was a little bit of a challenge figuring out what to do with him. He has bandages filled with sand, but at the same time he has to have some weight. I used this solid sandbag, and occasionally when he’s running, a little bit of sand falls out, which in reality makes no sound if you listen to sand falling. But then we get a little creative license and this is something that we do. Murray is coming up, and then, when he gets to the top, he collapses. [She demonstrates the sound she’s created with those props.] That would be Murray. And then we have Wayne who’s the werewolf. 

HARLAN: So, same props as Winnie because they’re both werewolves. This is where performance comes into play. We saw Winnie delicately dance into her tea party, but her dad here is pretty scared to be climbing up this rickety tower. So, what you want to do is make sure you have some intrepidation in what you’re performing. He might sound something like this. [She demonstrates using the work gloves with paperclips on the fingertips.] That might be how he performs his climb up the ladder.

JACOBS: In the playback, you’ll see how what we do plays into the whole collaboration. That covers the footsteps of the hundreds of feet that we do. 

[Next they show us a freeze frame of the hotel lobby with the background characters.]


Image via Sony Pictures Animation

HARLAN: None of them are necessarily featured players, but they really contribute to making this other world that is Hotel Transylvania. For instance, this character is called One Eye and he’s got his little One Eye family.

JACOBS: He’s kind of like an octopus so he’s very squishy. A chamois is a Foley artist’s greatest friend. They have this amazing ability to sound very visceral and they retain [water], so we used chamois for his feet. They’re also great for doing gory blood and guts and that kind of stuff. It’s a wonderful prop. That is what we’d use for that.

HARLAN: Then, you’ve got your Mariachi band. Here, right now, they’re playing, but normally they’re skeletons walking through the lobby. Here’s one of the little skeleton gals up here. 

JACOBS: Every now and then, you have a skeleton passing. We actually have some little bones and we also found these pigs feet that we use for the heel/toe sound to get the element of a skeleton walking by. There are some instincts, but you also learn on every film you work on. 

20. While Hotel Transylvania 3 is a very real possibility, Tartakovsky and Murdocca are unlikely to be involved. Tartakovsky is also no longer attached to The pair are currently developing the upcoming Can You Imagine, which Tartakovky wrote and plans to direct.


Image via Sony Pictures

TARTAKOVSKY: They’re talking about Hotel Transylvania 3. But I think if I can speak for Michelle, she and I are probably out of the Hotel business for now and just trying to move on. I’m just trying to get one of my original movies going.

MURDOCCA: The studio is definitely talking about number 3 and moving forward and taking the franchise to the next level. 

TARTAKOVSKY: We’re developing Can You Imagine. We did a First Act storyboard animatic. It went over really well. You could definitely tell there’s a movie there. It’s unique in finding its voice and now we’re just doing some rewrites and working on the visuals in that stage one process that movies go through. I don’t know if the studio is on board, but I’m hoping for a 2018 release. That would be amazing. Popeye is in development at the studio. We’re not involved at all. It’s kind of heartbreaking in a way because we thought it was really great and we are proud of it and we had a great screening of the whole movie. But the studio wants to go in a different direction, so it is what it is.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is now in theaters.

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