News Article

Video: Rejected CGI Zelda Film Discovered Online

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

It wasn't to be

Plenty of video game projects come and go while fans are none the wiser, including some for spin-offs and movies that don't make the cut. One such example has been discovered in the form of a rejected pitch for a Zelda CGI movie.

Residing within a Vimeo portfolio of animations — and since posted around the web — the footage was reportedly put together in 2007 by the American department of Imagi Animation Studios, which produced the animated TMNT and Astro Boy movies. It's a short sequence that shows Princess Zelda attempting an escape, before Link arrives on cue to offer help; naturally Ganondorf appears at the end for a mini-cliffhanger.

The failure of this pitch isn't surprising, due to Nintendo's tight control over its franchises and branding. On top of that, this doesn't feel like an animation distinct to the series, with fairly generic character designs that have little to no resemblance to the characters known from the various games. Strip away the obvious props, and this could be any fantasy film.

It's interesting to see, however, and you can check it out below.

[via kotaku.com, vg247.com]

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User Comments (96)

Yosher

#1

Yosher said:

.. These versions of Link and Zelda look like a creepy mix of the realistic and toon versions of them. I don't like it very much, although the video in itself is pretty neat. If a thing like this ever comes to be, please let Nintendo provide the models.

King47

#2

King47 said:

I hate the character design. I'm glad this didn't end up becoming a thing.

Sleepingmudkip

#8

Sleepingmudkip said:

looked nothing like zelda and whats in the box...like for real and zelda has a sword not a ugly dagger looking thing

GuSolarFlare

#10

GuSolarFlare said:

creepy.... and not in a good way, it's creepy in a "why those random secondary characters are posing as hylians and why this ganondorf is so.........
not like a ganondorf?" way
but the background was good at least

aaronsullivan

#11

aaronsullivan said:

Not bad. It's just a pitch, too. It's not like this would have been final design. The article's dismissal of the design is a bit overstated. Ganondorf has little resemblance but the Link and Zelda renditions are easily recognizable especially since the features of the character's faces themselves are very different from game to game.

@Warruz not sure if serious? He looks less like a girl than he does in several of the games themselves.

Anyway, it does show how tricky it would be to pull something like this off. I'd love a collaboration of sorts with Pixar or Dreamworks or... Studio Ghibli. Lesser studios should probably stay away. :)

C7_

#13

C7_ said:

The style miss-matches the seriousness of what appears to be a twilight princess setting and a pixar film rip off. The animation was really solid, but the character design was straight out of the Uncanny Valley.

Not sure if I'm glad this was rejected.

Jaz007

#14

Jaz007 said:

I'm glad Nintendo rejected it. I don't like the art style, doesn't feel right to me. The live action take that you guys found on youtube was much better.

Kirk

#15

Kirk said:

I actually think it looks good.

Well, it's the best animation for Zelda any of us have seen.

I think it could have been pretty sweet.

aaronsullivan

#16

aaronsullivan said:

@C7_
Most stuff circa 2007 had a hard time getting out of the uncanny valley unless it was heavily stylized or super high budget.

@Kirk
Agreed.

Personally, if we're doing Zelda, my dream movie is Hayao Miyazaki San directed (will never happen) or live action with a huge budget so that the fantasy world can be as thoroughly realized as the games but feel real(ish). So... I don't think I'll get my dream. :P

Warruz

#17

Warruz said:

@aaronsullivan Dead serious , Link never looks that feminine . It looks almost identical to the same design of female characters in Jack and Daxter but just tomboy version. Just take a look at Tess

unrandomsam

#18

unrandomsam said:

There were Mario and Zelda Cartoons. (I thought the Zelda ones were pretty good as a kid).

Nintenjoe64

#19

Nintenjoe64 said:

Well played Nintendo for keeping this hidden! If Dobbie the house elf was part of the sacred Hylian bloodline then I would understand why Link and Zelda look like that but this looks pretty horrible.

aaronsullivan

#21

aaronsullivan said:

@Warruz
Okay, just checking.

I think if this was a TV series, most all of us would tune in. As a movie it would be very disappointing. Once again, however, it's a pitch. It wouldn't have looked just like this or even had that situation happen in the movie. It's meant as an example of the tone, the basic look and approach.

@unrandomsam
I loved the IDEA of a Zelda cartoon when it came out, but it was horrible. I endured it to see a moblin or stalfos every once in a while, but it was infamously bad. To those of you who disagree: "EXCUUUUUUUUUUSE ME, Princess!"

TwilightV

#22

TwilightV said:

I like it. Reminds me of TMNT (2007 film) and the similar video they made for Gatchaman. Maybe they should've focused on that instead of Astro Boy...

Edit: In regards to the artstyle, since when has Zelda ever had a definitive one? Isn't it constantly changing with every installment? :P

aaronsullivan

#23

aaronsullivan said:

@The_Joker
How is CGI inherently lazy? I've been animating since I was kid with flipbooks up to CGI so explain this to me. There is low-budget anime-style animation and low-budget cgi. It means less time or amateur artists. The tool doesn't dictate the quality of the output.

It's funny because Anime has had quite the reputation as "lazy" animation due to the low frame rates and lack of inbetween animation that studios like Disney toiled at. The reputation is completely undeserved, of course. Disney made some very fluidly animated cel-animation that was junk compared to some very sparsely animated "Anime" that was masterful. There's tons of rapidly churned out garbage anime, too, of course.

Anyway, I guess you touched a nerve. lol.

smashbrolink

#24

smashbrolink said:

The models felt too squared off, especially around the chins. It was like watching some sort of badly-done version of generic Disney characters.XD

The black beasts, however, looked pretty awesome......

erv

#25

erv said:

@aaronsullivan animation is both intense in an artistic way as it is heavy on the production side. Take it from someone who makes a living as a designer :)

Animation is a lot of work and pulling through at all deserves respect in itself. Animation that is lazy simply almost doesn't exist usually - artistically challenged, perhaps, but seldom lazy:)

BlatantlyHeroic

#26

BlatantlyHeroic said:

@aaronsullivan The thing is with CGI, every cartoon it seems uses models because they're easier to work with than drawing. Plus, CGI models just look ugly compared to drawings of any type usually.

Metaknight_3Raw

#28

Metaknight_3Raw said:

The enemies looked beast but I agree that Link and Zelda could do with a bit of work.

Interesting take on Ganondorf xD

dadajo

#29

dadajo said:

The characters look like they were from a Barbie movie. (I have a little sister and had to live through some of those lol) It looks cool besides that however, but I feel like I love just because it is a Legend of Zelda movie. (PREWTY PWEASE NINTENDO? MAKE A ZELDA FILM PWEASE!)

aaronsullivan

#30

aaronsullivan said:

@erv agreed.

@The_Joker
There are some things that are easier in each format and there are shortcuts in both that make them look "ugly". If we are going to generalize, I'd say that 2D animation often comes up with better stills and CGI often has better motion. (That's only natural when one is forced to draw every still in 2D and the animator is almost completely concerned with movement in CGI once the model is done.)

Traditionally, with children's television in America at least, animation was used as a budget conscious way to make fantasy and science fiction stories or anthropomorphic animal shows. It's a way to save money and make something colorful from the get go. It's no coincidence that some hard-to-watch stuff comes out of that field.

Lately, I've seen some real focus on good writing and show planning while the animation is carefully stylized and planned out and it can result in some great stuff: Tron Uprising, Legend of Korra, My Little Pony are examples of well-made animated shows that play to their strengths very well with highly-constrained budgets.

As far as movies go: How to Train Your Dragon and Wall E can be beautiful in CG even in still moments, while Ponyo and Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke can soar in 2D as well.

It's art, it's subjective, it's very rare and difficult to pull off and almost none of it is universally respected.

Suicune

#31

Suicune said:

The art style basically was Imagi's trademark style. But i'm sure they would have been open to changing it if Nintendo asked.

sleepinglion

#32

sleepinglion said:

I've always felt for Zelda to become a feature film it would need to go CGI, so they nailed that... but yeah, it shows with the face design that this is the TMNT studio. With better character models (with CGI there's no good reason they can't emulate the actual Nintendo character models) this could be amazing. Bring it on, Nintendo. Someday =)

hydeks

#33

hydeks said:

could have been pretty good, I figure any way to get interest into Nintendo lately is a plus.

Sleepingmudkip

#34

Sleepingmudkip said:

i really don't want this i want the Kerby, Mario cartoons to come back i have dvd of the zelda and even a VCR for fire emblem(now that was old)

AlexisOmar

#35

AlexisOmar said:

The animation looks bad, but the fight sequence looks cool and if Nintendo ever want to a Zelda movie it has to be produced and everything else by themselves

Kelevra

#36

Kelevra said:

Oh yeah sure, "its a good thing they stop this one", why didn't they do that with mario bros movie? Now that was horrible. A real abomination.

supermage65

#37

supermage65 said:

Character models look atrocious, especially Ganondorf. WTF is up with his hair? It makes him look like a green Sephiroth...

I'd like to see a Zelda movie animated by those folks at Studio Ghibli, though :)

Megajack

#38

Megajack said:

It looks rather ugly... but it isn't so bad.

If they ever do make a Zelda movie someday, it better be 2D anime style though... otherwise, I don't feel it could fit...

jeremiah31

#39

jeremiah31 said:

Actually I think that this could have worked. I have always thought that the majority of video games that can be turned in to movies need to be animated. If for no other reason than to stay true to the fiction. I would love to see what could be done with something like Metroid. Also I can completely understand why Nintendo would reject this I mean the Super Mario movie was flipping atrocious. I can't really blame the company for not wanting to put trust in Hollywood.

BlueNitrous

#40

BlueNitrous said:

Ganondorf? More like GanonDORK! (Im sorry, Ganons look is just so incredibly stupid here.)

LUIGITORNADO

#41

LUIGITORNADO said:

The idea that a Zelda movie was pitched has me more excited than the pitch itself. I've been wanting a CG or just plain old animated Zelda movie since like forever.

triforcepower73

#43

triforcepower73 said:

Who's the bad guy at the end? With a stretch of the imagination, it could be Ganondorf. You have to close your left eye and squint your right, though.

jayclayx

#45

jayclayx said:

Ouch! without disrespect the american industry this is crap, too much american style cartoonish ala clone wars, glad Nintendo always make superb modeling on their series! this thing is light years away from Aonuma's job.

AlexSora89

#46

AlexSora89 said:

I don't get all the hate. This is a pretty cool step forward, between the animated series we all know and how an actual true-to-form animated adaptation would work. Oh, well.

AugustusOxy

#47

AugustusOxy said:

I like this a lot better than the obligatory Lord of the Rings style LOZ movie everyone wants.

WiiLovePeace

#48

WiiLovePeace said:

shudder man I'm glad this got rejected! The characters look scary, ugly & nothing like their counterparts in the games (especially Ganondorf & the enemies). & no one talks in the Zelda franchise other than the obligatory grumble so I don't think it could work as a movie :P Plus the games themselves are much longer & far more interactive than any movie so I think the Zelda games do the job well enough themselves haha

Daggo

#50

Daggo said:

First , this kind of CGI... I dunno... looks weird...
Plus the art style isn't appelling.

The Legend of Zelda is a great videogame, unique in its genre because it relies in the strenght of the medium, why try to turn that into a film?
It would lose its essence... what makes it compelling in the first place!
Not every single piece of entertainment has to go cross-media.

Emblem

#51

Emblem said:

"...this doesn't feel like an animation distinct to the series, with fairly generic character designs that have little to no resemblance to the characters known from the various games. Strip away the obvious props, and this could be any fantasy film."

This, good effort but it looks like it would annoy me after 5mins.

-Crystalline-

#52

-Crystalline- said:

That's it! If a film actually goes into production, it should be a CGI one! Nintendo and co most certainly have the funds to do it, so why not? It'll be just as gorgeous as those god like Final Fantasy trailers.

JimLad

#55

JimLad said:

Oh god that hair...
That is not the hair of someone that rescues you, that's the hair of someone that works in Hot Topic.

CrabGats

#56

CrabGats said:

I'm glad this was rejected. If anyone was going to make a Zelda movie, I don't think it would've been a good idea to give it to these guys.

Void

#57

Void said:

I'm pretty meh on the character design overall, (Mostly the Ganondorf who looks nothing like Ganondorf.) but I don't think it really looks that bad for a proposal.

Nico07

#58

Nico07 said:

I got chills when Link wielded his sword. Still not a huge fan of the Clone Wars-esk character models.

Sir_Deadly

#59

Sir_Deadly said:

I wanted to rip out that hair in front of links face. Ugly character design as well. If your going to do a Zelda CGI movie, atleast make the characters look like the ones from the games!

Funky_Gamer

#60

Funky_Gamer said:

Enough with the criticism. I doubt 95% of you could do anything close to this. I know I couldn't. Hell, I can't draw link for the life of me.

Henmii

#61

Henmii said:

Pretty cool video! A pity that the movie never came to be!

Ganondorf just looks very wrong, but Link and Zelda look okay! You could say the faces look all generic, but that's the case with 95% off all tv/movie computer animation! That's just how it is!

V8_Ninja

#62

V8_Ninja said:

I've heard absolutely dreadful things about the 2009 Astro Boy movie, so I'm not too disappointed that this got shot out of the sky.

As for the character designs; the thing that really throws them into the ugly pit is the eyes. Besides the somewhat generic look of Ganondorf, everything looks completely normal. They got Link's outfit correct, Zelda's dress is striking, and the monsters/knights don't look bad. However, instead of going for more proportional eyes or the half-oval design that is in a lot of anime, the modellers grossly exaggerate the eyes to the point that, by the standards of reality, the eyes should be wrapping around the characters' heads. That's outright disturbing and I'm wondering why a SAW movie hasn't already done that creepy S***.

WinterWarm

#63

WinterWarm said:

Wow, really interesting.

Too bad it didn't get completed, the rough edges could've been smoothed over.

All in all, I wish they finished this :'(

3Daniel

#64

3Daniel said:

generic anime inspired american design aside, i always thought cgi would be better suited for a zelda movie then live action. I think the formula would be great for a pixar film but itll never happen seeing how poorly mario bros was received(i love it tho).

Wintendo

#66

Wintendo said:

I'm sorry, I'm just going to say it. That was absolutely godawful. Thank god it wasn't made.

Wintendo

#67

Wintendo said:

I'm sorry, I'm just going to say it. That was absolutely godawful. Thank god it wasn't made.

Erixsan

#68

Erixsan said:

This look like a mix of Final Fantasy and Shrek XD
The design is good, but not for a Zelda.

realar

#69

realar said:

@aaronsullivan The reason we say CG is lazy is because it removes animators and removes flexibility for the animation. Sure you could toy with the rig to squash and stretch the character but it wouldn't have the same kind of life that a drawing does. You could say that a drawing is like a human and CG is like robotics.

DarkLloyd

#72

DarkLloyd said:

Damn oh well, i would of definitly watched this and own it on blu-ray day one lol. well nintendo rejected this (not cool) they better have something up thier sleeves for an idea like this :P

aaronsullivan

#73

aaronsullivan said:

@realar CG removes animators does it? It removes flexibility? I agree that there is a different life to cel animated and CG animated work. There's also a different feeling to the old stop motion animated clay films and the live action. None of it is lazy and most of those 2D animators of old are doing amazing work bringing 3D CG characters to life.

On the point of flexibility I could just as easily say that 2D loses a huge amount of flexibility by the necessity of an artist to render each frame by hand. Designs of characters are flat and devoid of details lighting often necessarily stark and simplified (cel-shading) movement in a scene is most often done with fixed camera angles, movement is often between well-worn poses to accommodate the limitations of the medium. But you can squash and stretch with the flick of the wrist.

Don't get me wrong. I love to watch and create 2D animation. 3D is not only just as valid but offers tremendous advantages along with disadvantages as a medium and you can make everything from drivel to masterpiece with either.

b23cdq

#75

b23cdq said:

@aaronsullivan "or live action with a huge budget so that the fantasy world can be as thoroughly realized as the games but feel real(ish)"
So basically, give it to Peter Jackson?

Nintendo4Lyfe

#76

Nintendo4Lyfe said:

If Peter Jackson were to direct The Legend of Zelda picture, Orlando Bloom (or Elijah Wood) would have been the perfect Link and Zelda Williams would have been Princess Zelda. You hear that, New Line Cinema?!!!!!

DESS-M-8

#77

DESS-M-8 said:

THAT was meant to be Ganon!!!??? Looked more like Wart's older brother from Disney's Sword in the Stone. The character design and whole art style of this is appalling and I hope Nintendo not only said know but were disgusted with this pitch.

TreonsRealm

#78

TreonsRealm said:

Just posted an updated version on my site for anyone having trouble with the broken link. Enjoy

Veloster

#79

Veloster said:

Ok, what's wrong with their faces?
Link looks like he's been living in the list woods too long.

MadAdam81

#83

MadAdam81 said:

It looks like this was a quick and dirty piece using recolored models from the TMNT movie. Patrick Stewart was the only good thing about that movie, and it's the worst TMNT screen production (yes, including the next mutation). The plot holes were insane, and relied on you forgetting all the details introduced at the start, and the jokes were the worst in any TMNT production. Their Astroboy was also the worst version of that IP as well.
Not the kind of people I'd want to ruin Zelda.

DarkNinja9

#85

DarkNinja9 said:

lol wow... well i can see why they were rejected they look kinda creepy and some how too girl-ish o.o but eh i doubt there would ever be a movie

MayhemStaff

#86

Mayhem said:

If you hadn't told me it was made by the folks who did the TMNT movie from 2007, I would have guessed anyhow as the human models look quite similar.

Shambo

#89

Shambo said:

Watched it yesterday, and I must say: should this be the new style in the next LoZ on Wii U, I'd gladly adapt. Only Ganon wasn't convincing. I'd much rather see a HD Ganondorf fill the entire screen in an environmental puzzle based final showdown. Definitely NOT to be mistaken for QTE's!

Link-Hero

#90

Link-Hero said:

Honestly, if they just change some of the character models, I wouldn't mind seeing it in theaters.

Polaris

#92

Polaris said:

It says the video is no longer available because the uploader closed their account :/

DarkKirby

#93

DarkKirby said:

Damn it Nintendo and their crazy overdone copyright control. I'm talking about the takedown of the video by the way, I can't judge what I can't see.

capac

#94

capac said:

Thank god.
Watch the profanity, please — TBD
FINE: Thank F*cking God

Henmii

#95

Henmii said:

It seems Nintendo has already forced the uploader to end his acount! Good job Nintendo, as always (sarcasm)!!

serpinium

#96

serpinium said:

You can see the pitch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTmK1pu4ZjU
Although the character designs are indeed a bit off (I can really tell this is the same team that made TMNT), the biggest problem for me was the fast editing. I really hate that hyper-kinetic editing that they think is "cool" when it's really just annoying. Fortunately that attitude seems to have waned since 2007.

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