[ToScenes] ?s=scenes A Beautiful Mind - Update News
AT first glance ''How to Train Your Dragon,'' the new action-adventure film from DreamWorks Animation based on the whimsical children's book by Cressida Cowell, does not seem to share much with the Coen brothers' ''No Country for Old Men'' or M. Night Shyamalan's ''Village.'' But a closer look reveals some similarities. From washed-out landscapes to minimally lighted rooms, the Nordic locations in ''Dragon'' feel more lived in and rough edged -- more realistic -- than one typically finds in animation. This comes from the influence of an outsider, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins. Best known for his work on ''A Beautiful Mind,'' ''The Shawshank Redemption'' and Coen brothers' films, Mr. Deakins had little experience working in animation, save for some consulting on ''Wall-E.'' But as the co-directors of ''Dragon,'' Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (''Lilo & Stitch''), were thinking of a way to distinguish their film from other animated work, they decided to bring in someone who could see light in a different way. Below Mr. Deakins, Mr. DeBlois and Mr. Sanders discuss how they achieved the film's look.
PHOTOS: PHOTO (PHOTOGRAPH FROM DREAMWORKS ANIMATION); THE LIGHTING INFLUENCE OF ROGER DEAKINS: Hiccup, the boy hero of ''How to Train Your Dragon,'' lacks fighting prowess and an eagerness to slay dragons, making him out of step with his clan of Vikings. He often retreats to his studio to work on his inventions. In the studio scene above, light is used sparingly, with the corners of the frame fading into black, similar to Mr. Deakins's work in ''The Village,'' right, set in 19th-century rural Pennsylvania. ''There's such a temptation to see everything, especially in animation,'' Mr. Deakins said. ''And I think part of my influence was to go away from that and say you don't always have to see everything. If the film has one element in it, it's a lot of darkness. And in the same way, there are a lot of very bright areas. It's just sort of pushing the extremes as probably I would do in live action.'' (PHOTOGRAPHS FROM DREAMWORKS ANIMATION; TOUCHSTONE PICTURES, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS); MINING PAST WORK: As they plotted the movie's lighting design, the co-directors and Mr. Deakins assembled a collage of images for each of the script's scenes. ''A lot of the stills that we pulled for reference were stills from Roger's past films, specifically scenes from 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,''' left, Mr. DeBlois said. ''There were a lot of similar moods in that imagery to what we wanted to convey.'' The directors were taken with the way that Mr. Deakins evoked a sense of place and feeling in that film with natural light. ''You can really taste the scene as much as you can see it and hear it,'' Mr. Sanders added. The filmmakers sought to capture that in the scene shown above, an encounter between two small dragons. (PHOTOGRAPHS FROM DREAMWORKS ANIMATION; KIMBERLEY FRENCH/WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES); THE GENESIS OF TOOTHLESS: These progression images show the various stages in creating the look of Toothless, the seemingly mythical dragon that terrorizes the movie's band of Vikings. ''If you're trying to create, for instance, a very soft day exterior in an animated world, it's really hard to do,'' Mr. Deakins said. ''And some of those things were the hardest things to discuss. We had to figure out how to adapt the software in the technique of lighting to create soft effects'' (like the subtle way light bounces off Toothless's skin in the last of the progression images). The actual design of Toothless fell to Mr. DeBlois and Mr. Sanders. ''We wanted him to be a little more mammalian than the other dragons, which are generally more reptilian in their vibe, because we knew that this dragon was going to have to have a certain warmth,'' Mr. Sanders said. (PHOTOGRAPHS FROM DREAMWORKS ANIMATION)
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