The Oscars: Joubert Talks French Roast
FJ: When I worked in the streets of Paris, I just find the same kind of people and the same kind of design -- it's funny. I don't know if I could say they are stereotypes, but it's the way I imagine the people in Paris. For the tramp, we played with the shapes and the hair was really fun to do on paper, but then we had to fine solutions to make it possible in CG and was one of the biggest challenges. I think we spent as much time on the tramp's hair -- one year-- than on the rest of the film.
BD: What was the solution?
FJ: We used hair simulation: Technically, we modeled 12 pieces of hair that we replicated on his head and beard, and then simulated by the computer. But that was quite complicated.
BD: What inspired your color design?
FJ: Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce and the art direction of Alexandre Trauner. I really looked at Trauner's work on that film, especially his drawings. And Stanley Donen's Charade was another inspiration. It's very interesting how they used a lot of gray with the saturated colors and that was very nice.
BD: So, what can you tell us about Despicable Me?
BD: What was that experience like?
FJ: It's the first time, actually, that we have an American company being in France to produce a film [Universal Pictures]. Because I had this DreamWorks experience, I was so happy to have this opportunity back in France to have that kind of a scale for a film because of the bigger budget for a bigger array of action, and the film is very funny and the characters are in the tradition of American comedies. It's a more modern feel with vivid colors and very different from what we're doing on A Monster in Paris.
BD: What is that experience like?
FJ: It's very close to what we've done on French Roast: trying to create a visual look that is closer to paintings and illustrations, really. I think CG is a great tool and we should use it in an artistic way and we can really create interesting things. What we're trying to do is get a painterly look to freeze frame so that it looks like an illustration. And we're having so much fun working on these characters and it's very funny and very moving, very rich, really, with lots of surprises: the birth of the cinema and you have this character who's a projectionist, and a singer in the cabaret and all this atmosphere. And in Paris we had this big flood in 1910 and we use that as a plot device as well.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.