Something I enjoyed pitching and working on. In Framestore's commercials department we were pitching on a short piece of 'Storybook' animation in Universal's "Tale of Despereaux" film, which I eventually supervised for Framestore.
Here's a little mucking about I did before the job was won. Something about paper animation, not quite origami, flat but not completely flat. Textural and three dimensional. Looking like something that could have been made with a little clever folding. Trying to get something simple and naive. Fluid moving but made of rigid bits. Fire was just a last minute element keyed off library footage. Client producers very happy and we got the job.
We had three months in which to turn the job around, so as much as I would have loved to do design, time did not allow. Below are some concepts I did exploring ideas before Evgeni Tomov, the films' production designer started to hand over his designs from his team. I was awed to work with Evgeni on this - he was production designer on Sylvain Chomets' "Belleville Rendez-Vous".
We built some flat / thin, character rigs much in the vein of paper cutout puppets. These allowed for the simple two dimensional / proscenium style staging and forced perspective layouts that was required by the storybook brief. Above and beyond that, they could be controled in the manner of a 3D rig. The characters could be posed / staged as in a flat cutout puppet, and then with a few restrictions in 3D too - allowing headturns and such. Here is an early prototype rig which I built: it showed flatness but with slight dimensionality - and resultant shading, an illustrative quality given by the painterly texturing and baked / painted in lighting. Some elements are really rough in this early prototype.
Here are a few final frames from the Storybook sequence in The Tale of Despereaux. All images below are copyright Universal Pictures.
Daniel Marum's beautiful fire: