Wellins Talks Tick Tock Tale
BD: The look may be simple but it's very rich, especially the lighting.
DW: That's probably where we put a lot of our money: volumetric lighting, ray tracing of bells. It's what the computer does best… I certainly had a lot of inspiration from early Pixar shorts (Red's Dream) and John is certainly a big believer in keeping materials truthful as much as you can. We didn't try to bend wood and glass too much; but one total allowance was we let metal bend because we wanted his arms to react, so we let metal be our cartoon license. But we created little metal bands where they would bend, and we moved there heads a little bit and then inside we moved the face of the clock to get some eye movement. We tried to be as clever as possible with movement but still have these behave as real clocks.
BD: Any technical innovations on this?
DW: I guess we've been faking depth of field or using it in a post comp way. To me this was really important so you got the sense of how tiny this clock was and part of this small world, especially at night, when he's up close, you really want things to fall out of focus in the background. So we were able to use actual depth of field in the camera, which I guess we haven't done here before, and now they're doing it in layout, too, for the positioning of everything. I think they're going to use it on a feature for the first time with the next film after Tangled. So this is great for realtime, in camera, focus sort of stuff.
BD: Did you stay on at all to contribute to Tangled?
DW: Just some storyboard stuff in their last go-around.
BD: A lot of changes. What was it like?
DW: It's a way different version now. What Glen wanted to do was a straight, sincere fairy tale with music. But the original fairy tale was really dark. But I think for John, in looking at it, the dark to light scale was a little too much; and I think after The Princess and the Frog and seeing what could be done with a musical these days and revitalizing that sort of thing, they decided they wanted to do that.
BD: But you accomplished so much in terms of technical hurdles with the hair and the painterly environments.
DW: I think a lot of that carried over. Everyone who developed the hair stayed with it. I think Tangled got the best of it all. You look at it and it's incredible. And I got to be free to do my little short and slip out of the pressure cooker, so it worked out well for me. My third son was born in 2008, and, luckily, I was actually around.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.