Moore Illuminates The Secret of Kells
BD: That's quite a step up for you and your company. What was it like tackling a feature?
TM: Yeah, it was really an adventure and it was pretty massive. I traveled a lot and learned a lot. Mainly, we kind of got neurotic about preparing everything and it paid off in the end because a lot of people said that they found the film very consistent and were surprised that it was made in so many countries, and I'm proud of that.
BD: What kind of pipeline did you have?
TM: We worked with HoBSoft developed by a couple of Danish guys for Asterix and the Vikings. When anyone at a studio finished their work, they would upload it and I could see it and bring it into the Avid. That was our main production tool because the pipeline was all over the place.
TM: That was all done in Belgium. Digital Graphics took all the CG elements that were integrated with the characters. And then Walking the Dog took key sequences like the battle with [the giant] snake. They worked on Triplets and I was quite impressed with how they made 3D look like 2D.
BD: What else?
TM: At the end, the key role page was drawn and was originally a manuscript from a thousand years ago but an illustrator cleaned it up and pulled it apart in Blender so it could move. And then when the Vikings attack, a lot of the little extra characters that look like brushstrokes were done in CG. Any time anything was detailed and complicated, it was CG. We even had some background characters animated in Flash and then mapped onto 3D geometry.
BD: Was the biggest challenge arriving at an appropriate look?
TM: Yeah, we had so many different styles at the start. The art director, Ross Stewart, is a friend of mine from school, and we worked together for years on the look because we never thought the project was going to go into production. But by the time we did actually go into production, we developed more styles than we could use, and we had to pare it all down in a few months and come up with a consistent style. So, hopefully, we'll publish an Art of book someday so people can see it all.
But we made a simple rule from the start: the medieval world is really flat with false perspective and lots of color like medieval art. That was the majority of the movie. And then for the dream sequences, we went even flatter and simpler. We tried to do something like Monty Python. And then when there was danger, we'd go into 3D like the Viking attack.
BD: And the character design?
TM: We started off with a much more classical Disney look, but, as the backgrounds were developed more for the medieval look, the characters had to be simplified. It made more sense to make them match the backgrounds that we had designed. And Didier Bruner, the producer in France, really pushed us to have very flat characters, more like medieval icons. More like Eastern European animation.
The character design team consisted of my self and Barry Reynolds, who rejoined the team after working with us on the original pitch trailer as designer and animator. Barry made the final designs and modelsheets. He was ably assisted by Martin Fagin, who was our clean up supervisor and who designed the final line and worked closely with Digital Graphics in Liege to plan the "stained glass" effect of thicker outer lines, which was added digitally. Finally Lily Bernard, one of our background supervisors, made the color models for all the characters.
BD: What are you doing next?