The Oscars: Phelan Talks Granny O' Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
NP: It sounds bad to say my grandmother inspired the look of her because she was such a lovely granny, but she wore the same kind of clothes as Granny in the film and she had a hair style that went straight up, so it kind of influenced, I suppose, the starting point to make Granny look more interesting with that six-foot monstrosity, and probably, subconsciously, Bride of Frankenstein, was in there somewhere. And Annie herself, originally her design had kind of a little bob haircut and I just wanted her to feel more vulnerable and different stylistically from Granny, where she has a big sharp shape and Annie's is softer and more circular. And Kathleen told me when she was a kid she had a little Afro but her mother cut her hair short, and that's where Annie's look comes from.
The bedroom itself is rooted in vague memories of one of the rooms in my Granny's house that nobody really used and it was dark, and she had a few sacred hearts around the place so that influenced it.
NP: A few things stayed with me: the illustrations of Errol Le Cain for The 12 Dancing Princesses had been around the house when I was young, and when I was thinking about it, it jumped in my head: the style of the costumes and the Maria Antoinette wigs. I think Yellow Submarine is an influence: the shapes are simple and graphic and have those S curves in them. Another big influence is Twice Upon a Time, directed by John Korty and [exec] produced by George Lucas. That iconic style, when working with Flash, sort of suited us.
BD: What other software did you use?
NP: All the backgrounds and characters were colored using Photoshop texturing and the backgrounds were traced off of Flash and kind of collaged in Photoshop. And then the scenes were comp'd together in After Effects. And for the 3D, we used Max and it was com'd together in After Effects as well.
BD: How difficult was the hair?
NP: Well, simulated hair itself wouldn't have really worked, given how weird their shapes are. And mass modeled hair wouldn't have either, so there was some toing and froing and messing around where the guys would have a certain level of control with it and then be reactive to their movements so it wouldn't be static. It's more of a stop-motion style of hair design than the traditional 3D style, but I think it works well in the end.
BD: What about other technical challenges?
NP: There were challenges with textures and stuff looking right because they're creepy, I suppose. The quilt cover as well took some figuring out in terms of the consistency of it and we rigged it for Annie to be able to move it around. And there were challenges with lighting and getting the shots working with the mirror where Granny is interacting and stuff like that. I think managed to deal with all these challenges with the resources we had.
BD: And the challenge of pulling off the story?