Barbie, Ballerina

Barbie In The Nutcracker (site down as I write this because they use Microsoft SQL Server, “error ‘80040e31′, [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver]Timeout expired, //global.asa, line 172″) is a new, direct-to-video movie for kids by Mattel and Mainframe Entertainment (the folks that brought us the really cool CG-animated series ReBoot).

Leaving aside issues about concerns about the Barbie brand itself, the movie works well. Probably only for CG nuts or pre-teen girls (I am the former, and a father of the latter), but the presentation of the story is decent, the CG animation is good, the music is well done, etc.

I was most impressed with the motion capture of real New York City Ballet dancers; it enlivened the CG puppets beautifully. I liked most of the camera work (although I think they muddied up some of the dance scenes more than they should have with too much fancy stuff; they should have featured the dancing more prominently) and the lighting; probably the thing that needed more work was the texture mapping, something that Pixar and PDI/Dreamworks have down really well. To be fair, it’s hard and time-consuming to do well, and the film is still good the way it is.