Here at rotoscopers we are big fans of the work being done at the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon and especially their recent film Wolfwalkers. Recently we had a chance to sit down with the creative team behind the film and learn more about the many hands and minds, which went into creating such a beautiful animated film.
The first point of collaboration came with the animation. The mixture of 2D, CG 3D and creating a new style deemed ‘wolfvision’ (which shows how the girls see the forest at night) was a challenge to balance and make feel seamless. Rough Animation Supervisor Svend Rothmann Bonde says: “3D has been pushing itself recently with things like Into the Spider-verse, but I think there is something unique about the hand drawn style…Everything feels tired if it all looks the same”
Character Designer Federico Pirovano elaborates on the unique style of the film, “from the beginning of the script Tomm Moore (director) wanted very symbolic, contrasting styles, for the town and the forest. It’s helping visually with the central conflict of the movie: what’s considered order and civilization and what’s the wild world”. The town in the film has a harsh rigid feel where the forest is a “very lose style…to invoke freedom and the absence of boundaries”
To create the glowing appearance of the ‘wolfvision’ Animator Eimhin McNamara says “it was a lot of back and forth about how many lines do we have on the screen and how many details? It was a huge melting pot of different ideas that needed to come together. I could see what other people were doing and then ‘wolfvisionify’ that and work it back into the film.”
Production Designer and Co-Art Director Maria Pareja says even picking out the colors was challenging “It was a lot of experimentation with all the different colors. We were studying the spectrum of the colors and giving the lower colors to the townspeople and the more vibrant colors, the reds and passionate hues, to the wolves.”
This collaboration continued into the music, sound, and editing departments. Sound Supervisor Brian Seznec says “we have some rough takes of the music but the fact is to give the picture a more rich sound-feel the guys here manage to work without it. Also at the end the recording mixer takes whatever recording elements he thinks serve the movie at that point and works with it. In a way, they have elements to use but also they put it aside to give their techniques and artistry into and then the recording mixer does the mix and the final thing.”
Sound Editors Sebastien Marquilly and Philippe Fontaine elaborate on the process: “you don’t want the music and sound effects to fight each other. You want them to be one part of one big soundtrack, which is composed of dialogues, sound effects, atmospheres and music. You don’t want it to be separated. You want it to be cohesive. “
With 3 different styles of animation, Wolfwalkers proved to be a big challenge for the editors as well . Editor Darragh Byrne says: “the graphic nature is really interesting in this film. In some scenes there are 3 things going at the same time. There are things very similar between the 3, but I think Tomm and Ross (directors) are always changing as directors. This film has some real innovations. Especially some of the transitions are amazing. A lot of people are involved in that process not just the editing.”
Composer Bruno Coulais had the challenge of creating a score that worked for all the tones of the film as well as integrating the band Kila and a song ‘Running with the Wolves’ from singer Aurora. He says:
“It’s a theme of contrasts. The contrast between the city, very dark and square and the looks of the forest with a lot of freedom shapes and colors. So for the music it was very interesting to play on both sides. I think the link is Kila, the Irish band…I’m not Irish…I have a small orchestra. The theme of the film is metamorphosis so it was interesting to balancing a big orchestra with a small band of Kila.”
With all of these team-players working together it’s no wonder Wolfwalkers is such a joy to watch. If you haven’t had a chance to see it we highly recommend watching it on Apple Plus. You won’t regret it!
Have any of you seen Wolfwalkers? What did you think of it? Share with us in the comments section.
Rachel is a rottentomatoes approved film critic that has loved animation since she was a little girl belting out songs from 'The Little Mermaid'. She reviews as many films as she can each year and loves interviewing actors, directors, and anyone with an interesting story to tell. Rachel is the founder of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast, and the Rachel's Reviews podcast/youtube channel, which covers all things animated including a monthly Talking Disney and Obscure Animation show.