Christophe Lautrette

In 1992, Christophe Lautrette started as an assistant animator at Disney Feature Animation in France, where he worked on A Goofy Movie (1995, dir. Kevin Lima). In 1994, he became an art director for Bibo Films. Today he works as a production designer at DreamWorks, where he has worked on films such as The Prince of Egypt (1998, dir. Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner & Simon Wells), The Road to El Dorado (2000, dir. Bibo Bergeron et al.), Madagaskar (2005, dir. Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath), Rise of the Guardians (2012, dir. Peter Ramsey), and The Croods (2013, dir. Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders).

The Croods was the film that re-evoke my interest for animated features produced after the early 2000’s. It’s uncertain whether this was purely based on stunning visuals and amazing storytelling, or the relief of the first 20 minutes being over. The first 20 or so minutes takes place in a dull and brown-gray environment, enough to make you want to switch the film. However, once those mute-coloured 20 minutes are over, you understand why they were there: all of the sudden, a fantastical and brightly coloured world is revealed.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods.

Image source. Concept for The Croods. By Nicolas Weis.

Image source. Concept for The Croods. By Nicolas Weis.

The Croods was a huge inspirational source to me in terms of its ‘underwater’ inspired environments. It wasn’t until I looked at its concept art that I noticed all the work that went into creating the details of the fictional pre-historic forestry. These concepts truly awakened the way I have been developing my forest. I trailed back in thoughts to a text we read by John Berger in Stage 1 or 2, I can’t quite recall, where he stated that a table was not a table. His essay explored how the formation of sense and object, combined with the perception of the individual viewer, would shape different views of the world. He questioned whether two people discussing the same object, are actually referring to the same object. Berger’s text made me consider what a tree is, and how I could portray a tree in a more creative way, while still conveying its predominant essence as being a tree.

Image source. Concept for The Croods. By Nicolas Weis.

Image source. Concept for The Croods. By Nicolas Weis.