To my great surprise and amazingly lucky luck, Lincoln Wallen was joined by my favourite director, Dean DeBlois. The talk was about technical enhancements in the animation industry, more specifically for How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014, dir. Dean DeBlois). At DreamWorks, they’ve installed some fancy harddrive and processor that makes it possible for the digital animator to animate rendered (or semi-rendered I presume) characters on their screens, and see the changes happen as they work, rather than to have to wait for a piece to render to be able to see the difference.
I don’t know a lot about CGI animation, and so there was a lot from this talk I couldn’t really keep up with. One thing that interested me though, was a question from an audience member:
How do you deal with the notion of ‘darkness’ in children’s films?
Darkness, in this context, referred both to actual darkness and the fright that it entails. -But also on the psychological darkness: how do you know where to draw the line in relation to ‘the ugly truth’?
Wallen and DeBlois responded in terms of always testing things out, always pitching ideas back and forth, double-tripple-checking, etc… As children adjust to the framework their entertainment is locked within, they also build a desire to break through this framework. My sociology theorists (Cullingford, 1984; Van Evra, 2004) would suggest that this was caused by curiosity and information seeking. We want to now what’s behind the door, inside the box, under the sea, and so on. Human beings are naturally curious, and children even more so.
So how do you deal with darkness in children’s films? One of the answers related to my screenwriting classes: anticipation. You can subtly let your audience know that they’re safe, or that everything will be okay in the end. Another answer strongly related to the theory of colour: as each colour and colour combination will send out a different message, you can support your audience emotionally through your colour palette.