When starting a project, I alway start building character designs and backgrounds to set the mood of the story. For this particular project, I looked for inspiration in Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” and “Peter Pan” backgrounds to set a night time, blue mood. This ambiance helps reflecting the girl’s state of mind.
When settling on the mood for the animation, I started with visuals to further advance the story.
Once the mood and characters were in place, we had one month to go for the animation. With planning, we had to finish the animation in 2 weeks to have 1 week to clean and 1 week to colour.
The animation is about a wolf representing the girl’s mental issues. The wolf needed to be introduced as a threatening and scary character, which meant the pace of the first short when the wolf comes in needed to be slow. However, whenever working with a particular piece of audio, the timing may be diverted. In order to speed the scene, the girl was placed in the middle so that, even if the wolf slowly gets to her, it could fit with the timing.
The challenge was trying to fit this particular detailed style in such a short timeline. While I would not give up on the color, I had to give up on shading and highlighting to achieve a more 3D feel.
This project pushed me to the limits, trying to achieve the best result you can in a short amount of time while still pleasing the client.
When animating, I took this habit of watching “making of” videos on youtube. It started about a whole playlist on all the Disney feature length animations, giving insight of every process used on different movies, the multi plane camera, the medieval influence on “Sleeping Beauty”, the rotoscoping for “101 Dalmatians” and the use of 3D on “Mulan”. I then found myself looking at making of for “Lord of The Rings” and “The Hobbit”.
I have always found these movies fascinating in terms of storytelling, visual effects, attention to detail, craftsmanship and also imagination. Watching such a piece of art always helped aspire to do more. I believe that such movies can only be achieved by choosing the best people in each area.
I remember years ago buying the sketchbook for “Lord of The Rings”, featuring concept art from Alan Lee and John Howe. As an illustrator, that is the level of imagination and details I aspired to. As an animator, this is the sense of movement and life I aspire to reach. Alan Lee and John Howe had previously made illustrations for the book before Peter Jackson went all the way to recruit them to help in every part of concept design. Alan Lee and John Howe helped in the creation of the sets, as well as the creatures, as well as the armors. The subtility of correct historical artefacts as well as their knowledge of Tolkien and his influences help the visual look of the movie to stand out and be aspiring.
This particular story struck something in me. Peter Jackson was talking about how he asked the people of “Weta Workshop” to design concepts for the dragon “Smaug”. Obviously, all the artists went crazy, developing futuristic or alien types of dragons that could not fit the needs of this particular movie. In the end, John Howe designed the dragon, giving it a more realistic and subtle style, something that perfectly matched Tolkien.
This perfectly reflects what I believe in: that we should look for inspiration in the part and keep the pencil as a first stool for artists.