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The Toy That Saved Christmas/Commentary

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This is Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki doing a commentary on The Toy That Saved Christmas.

Transcript

Man 1: Hi there, welcome to "The Toy that Saved Christmas"! This is Phil Vischer.

Man 2: And this is Mike Nawrocki.

Vischer: Broadcasting to you live from uh, sunny Lambert, Illinois. And we're watching, uh, actully. This is, my favorite scene in the movie!

(both chuckilng, then Vischer continues)

We did, uh, these snowflakes. We did in a second version. In the original version of the show did not have the snowflakes. Uh, it has some cheaper snowflakes and we did those really nice ones, and that was really cool. So this show was produced in 1996. Uh, released for Christmas 1996, and... uhmm, what was it? Oh yeah, there were like, uh, ten of us, I think. Ten or twelve of us that worked on it. So it was still a pretty tight little crew. I think we worked on it for about six months.

Nawrocki: Annie, Annie's, uh, the voice of your daughter. That was Shelby's first-

Vischer: Yes, yes. That was, experiments in netipoism, we're starting to pull in family members, to do the voices, and uh, George. Actully, George was created for "Rack, Shack, and Benny", so we already takled about him. But his mustache wiggled in this show as you see there.

(both of them stumbling each others conversation)

Nawrocki: Yeah, yeah. Kinda, a stiff wiggle.

Vischer: Yeah, it took Pixar, like five years to figure out how to wiggle a mustahce, but we, we figured it out very early on.

Nawrocki: (chuckles a bit)

Vischer: You noticed that he has a postage stamp stuck on his hat. I'm not sure if he actully knows that's there.

Nawrocki: No..

Vischer: But that was signiify he's a postman, you see.

Nawrocki: Hmm, hm!

Vischer: Yeah, and that was the first time we ever done stucko, on a wall.

Nawrocki: Oh, yeah! Look at that! Nice vanishing stucko point!

(both of them chuckling)

Nawrocki: There's a corner, alright!

Vischer: Because this show actully, probally had more locations than anything we had done, to date. Oh, and I like this open!

Nawrocki: Yeah, those trees. How about those trees?

Vischer: Oh, the trees are a little simplistic, perhaps. (chuckles a bit) But the car's nice.

Nawrocki: Oh, and this is the first time we ever done a real opening graphic within a show.

Vischer: Yeah! We never done- and a logo! We never done a logo for one of our shows, so that was new. There's something, and I like the score that Kurt came up with for that part espeially well. The score's kinda interesting on this show because we actully, we figured out there was, we didn't have enough time for Kurt to score the whole film, so we split it up, and had two differernt composers. Actully, at the end three-

Nawrocki: Three! A guy and his dad, right?

Vischer: Yeah, Alan and Jason Moore had help out on the score, and they were, uh, they did a lot spot work in Chicago. (mumbles a bit) So we pull them into help out with the score. But this was also, actully this scene was really the first time, up to this point in VeggieTales, whatever we did a song, they pretty much just stood there and sang it. And watch them sing it. Well, they might've wiggled a little, around the waist. But that was about the extent. This was the first time where, I cocantistanly tried to write story, running along with the song. So the delivering of the mail thing, uh, was, you know, a, a, revolution in Veggie story telling.

Nawrocki: And we like the delivering of the mail theme with the song so much that we used it again in Jonah.

Vischer: (chuckles a bit) Yes, so uh, you'll see that connection. And it's okay to-to rip off yourself. That's one of the rules of film making.

Nawrocki: You have to pay yourself, but that's okay.

Vischer: Yeah, it's one pocket out in the other. It's no big deal. It's- uh, he's (George) never been able to bend his neck like that since...

Nawrocki: (chuckles a bit)

Vischer: He had a horrible kink.

Nawrocki: Yep, and this, a lot of it is new animation too from what we did the re-release.

Vischer: It is?

Nawrocki: Yeah, I think so.

Vischer: Really?

Nawrocki: Yeah, in that opening scene like the car, the mailman's car he drove-

Vischer: We made a new car.

Nawrocki: Just looked horrible in the first version, and some of the scenes, but then the song-

(Can't Beilieve It's Christmas ended)

Vischer: Oh, is that the end? Is it over?

Nawrocki: Yep!

Vischer: There's more. That's good.

(Laura saying "push it, push it!" in the video)

Vischer: Let's see.

Nawrocki: Oh, I remember this part.

Vischer: (laughs)

Nawrocki: (imitating Mr. Lunt) I'm a elf! (laughs) It's coming up, I like that.

Vischer: Yeah...

(plays Mr. Nezzer's commercial)

Nawrocki: Oh, oh, this is interesting! We render this in field. For those who know uh, you know kinda video lingo. Uhm, in video, there's sixty fields a second, uhm, and uh, in film, there's twenty four or thirty frames per second. So we actually rendered this in field, to look more like television, than the actual story going on. So, if you look at this, it looks like you're watching the actual, an national kinda news program or soap opera, and then get back to this and it looks like just watching a movie.

Vischer: Isn't that amazing?

Nawrocki: It's amazing.

Vischer: Actually, I think it was kinda a bad idea.

Nawrocki: (laughs) I thought it was brilliant! Look at that, it looks like you're looking at a home video right there, isn't that great?

Vischer: Yeah, okay.

Nawrocki: It just got that feeling to it.

Vischer: (singing) It's got that feeling...

Nawrocki: See, you know that back there, and it's got a nice film look to it?

Vischer: (sarcastic) Yeah, right. And that goes, that one kinda goofed up.

Nawrocki: Yeah, that was a film dominance problem. See, we want field one dominant, and I think that was field two dominant.

Vischer: I'm sure you really like to hear about how we came up with these character and story ideas. We're gonna argue field dominant. So pull out your video manuals...

Nawrocki: Get out your vector-scopes.

Vischer: (giggles) That's, of course, Mr. Nezzer, playing the role of fake Santa. And then uh, Buzz Saw Louie. The voice of Buzz Saw Louie was uh, the uh, adult ministry pastor at my church. And I heard him, actually preach a serman, from the popeit, and I thought "He has a funny voice! I bet he could be a character." And so, I asked him and he said "Oh yeah, I did a little acting". So he was very excited about it, so we brought him , and he did a really good job!

Nawrocki: Yeah!

Vischer: And he could sing too!

Nawrocki: Yep!

Vischer: What did you know?

Nawrocki: (imitating Louie singing) Grumpy kids... That's coming up.

Vischer: These kids are grumpy. Actually, this scene got replaced from the original version because there were no toys or anything in the room.

Nawrocki: Yep!

Vischer: It was them in a bare room.

Nawrocki: That's a nice wood floor, too.

Vischer: That's a really nice, that there is a nice wood-

(shows Mr. Nezzer spying on Dinkletown)

Vischer: Hey! I designed that! I just wanted to say this was before we had any real concept artists. So, most of the show, is, are my little sketches. So this was back when they let me draw things.

Nawrocki: (giggles)

Vischer: I thought that was, you know, the ol' North Pole, barber pole as observatory was kinda a fun angle.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: And of course, elevators so that no one has to be animated hopping up and down stairs.

Nawrocki: (giggles) That's right!

Vischer: That's hard.

Nawrocki: Elevators are good for, right?

(Nezzer saying "More wilier than my brother, Nebby K?")

Vischer: That's, oh yeah this is-

Nawrocki: Oh, yeah!

Vischer: Uh, we had a little problem because we had Mr. Nezzer in "Rack, Shack, and Benny" as a mean guy, but then he was redeemed by the end and he became a nice guy, and then we sat down to do this video, and we thought "Wait a minute! He can't come back as a mean guy because he turned into nice guy." So we decided to have him come back, but make his nose fat call him his own brother.

Nawrocki: (giggles)

Vischer: That's clever!

(shows next scene of George and Annie)

Nawrocki: That is clever, but then did he show up later again? I mean, were they triplets, or did you just kinda gave up?

Vischer: No, we gave up!

(both of them chuckling)

Nawrocki: That's..kinda logic

Vischer: Yeah, we- instead of keep trying to multiplying his family, we just installed a little morality switch on his back.

Nawrocki: (laughs) Good!

Vischer: Good Nezzer, bad Nezzer! Good Nezzer, bad Nezzer! He sees really upon.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: He does our bidding.

Nawrocki: The hair on Annie is nice too!

Vischer: Oh, yeah!

Nawrocki: That was, that was all rigged to just move naturally, or move automatically with the head, so that was-

Vischer: Yeah, and this is '96! This is lightyears ago! WAY before "Final Fantasy"!

Nawrocki: (giggles)

Vischer:  Uh, this, the penguins were also, really with, the penguins and Buzz Saw Louie we had never done anything limb before. You know, unless you count the sheep in "Dave and the Giant Pickle", which I don't (giggles) because they didn't really move much.

Nawrocki: Now, didn't this come out before "Toy Story 2", where all of the toys were lined up?

Vischer: Of Course! This is '96, the year after "Toy Story 1". Whada saying?

Nawrocki: Well, I don't know. I'm just saying...

Vischer: Coincidence? Coincidence?!

(both of them chuckling)

Vischer: Of course, this probably come out AFTER Nick Park's the "Wallace and Gromit" with the rooster, or the penguin dressed up as a rooster.

Nawrocki: Uh, coincidence?

Vischer: No, that was not a coincidence.

(both of them chuckling)

Vischer: I really went for that penguin! Penguins are so much fun, they could work in CG. But THEN, we did, then their next show, uhm, Wallace and Gromit, uh, the one with the sheering machine. What was that called? I don't know.

Nawrocki: Uhm, oh, "A Close Shave"!

Vischer: "A Close Shave", right! That had was shop full of sheep!

Nawrocki: Yep!

Vischer: And we done like, two or three shows with sheep, at that point. So, ha, ha, ha! It goes both ways. I'm not actually saying that they ripped off our sheep. But we hear that some of them were fans of ours. You know, cross pollination.

(shows the scene of Buzz Saw Louie opening the factory door)

Vischer: Oh, I like this part. (imitates George) "How hard could it be?". Oh, down the ol' stairs. That was some of our first attempts at particle animation.

Nawrocki: Oh, and we did that in the redo version too, we didn't have that in our first release of it.

Vischer: Right, because we never had the money to do particles before that.

(shows the ending of act of the video)

Vischer: I like that. That was our first over head twisting camera move.

Nawrocki: Oh yes!

Vischer: Yeah, we never had done one of those before either, at least on purpose.

(Silly Songs with Larry starts)

Nawrocki: Oh, here we go!

Vischer: What are we, where are we going?

Nawrocki: This is Silly Song with Larry.

Vischer:  Oh, you could explain this.

Nawrocki: I remember, I had seen a uh, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" with Chita Rivera.

Vischer: What?! (chuckles)

Nawrocki: Chita, Chita yeah? Chita Rivera. Yeah, that's who it was. But it is a famous, uh, musical we saw at the, my wife and I saw at a uh, Chicago theater, and they had this song within the play where they're simultaneous singing going on, and so people were kinda, you know going back and forth lines and singing together in differernt lines. And I thought that was really cool, and so I wanted to write a song, uh, that kinda, you know had that element in.

Vischer: Just like "Kiss of the Spider Woman"?

Nawrocki: That's right! So when the bandits come in, they get that little singing thing going.

Vischer: Yeah, you'll noticed there's more particle action going on in the background there.

Nawrocki: Oh that's just regular- that's just regular confetti, although some of it is bouncing around there.

Vischer: We spared no expense on this film.

(silent for 5 seconds)

This is a good one.

(silent for a second)

See, and we saved-

(bumps mic)

Whoops. Sorry, I didn't mean to bump the mic. We saved money on the mouth animation there by putting a hankiercheif around his head.

Nawrocki: That's right.

Vischer: That's good.

Nawrcki: You know those cookies, uhm, for the last three Christmas', Geni Personki, who is the wife of the head of our HR Larry Personki, bakes the whole company Christmas cookies in the shape of these cookies right here.

Vischer: Right.

Nawrocki: And they look exactly like them, and they're very yummy.

Vischer: And since there's now ten thousand people on staff... estamte about 25 thousand cookies

Nawrocki: (chuckles a bit) Oh, and that, uh, the set for this. I went out out and gota few differnt issues on log cabin living.

Vischer: Really?

Nawrocki: Yes I did, and uh-

Vischer: (interrupts) Is that the best you can come up wth?

Nawrocki: (chuckles) Yeah. I found this uh, fireplace that I really like, and you know these logs I kinda like them, and I just sotra, you know just painted them in Painter 4 I think was out at the time was the paint program I painted them in.

Vischer: You painted the logs yourself?!

Nawrocki: I painted them myself, thank you very much.

Vischer: Wow! That's pretty cool!

Nawrocki: Impressive, huh?

Vischer: See if John Lassater can paint his own walls.

Nawrocki: (laughs)

Vischer: I don't think so.

(calms down from laughing)

Pajama's are nice.

Nawrocki: Oh, thank you.

Vischer: Think those showed up in a book or something.

Nawrocki: Yep.

(cuts to the door)

Ohhh!

(silent for 4 seconds)

It's fun doing, uh research for viking, uh costumes to-

Vischer: (interrupts) That came in handy later.

Nawrocki: Yeah, I still have that little book, it's a little book on vikings in those little, you know, it's like a 3 by 5 little mini viking book.

Vischer: (chuckles a bit)

Nawrocki: It's a real viking looking helmet except for, horns on a viking-

Vischer: (interrupts) Yeah..

Nawrocki: -helmet are a modern fabrication. You don't really do that, it must've been-

Vischer: (interrupts) We'll go over that in a little more detail when we do the commentary for Lyle the Kindly Viking.

Nawrocki: (chuckles a bit)

Vischer: But for now, you know- Oh, this is the longest Silly Song ever, right?

Nawrocki: Yeah, this is over 5 minutes.

Vischer: Yeah, this is insane.

Nawrocki: Yep!

Vischer: Holy mackerel.

Nawrocki: Tells quite a story.

Vischer: Wooh!!

Fun Facts

Real-World References

  • "Final Fantasy" is a RPG video game series. Phil was probably talking about the film adaption  "The Spirits Within", as it came out a year before the commentary.
  • Painter 4 Mike wasreferring to is possibly Corel Painter
  • "The Little Mermaid 2" is a sequel to Disney's Little Mermaid. The scene Phil referenced that was similar to the cliff scene they did was when Tip and Dash were trying to rescue a baby penguin from a shark.

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