Friday, February 29, 2008

Speaking of E's House

Having made mention of E's house, I should show some examples..

We did alot of work on E and her environment very early on. The character was still being designed and the story was still being developed. The material was very rich and everyone loved the concept - this designer of all the costumes and accessories for the 'supers', with exquisite taste and laser-beam vision- so we probably spent more time on it than we should have. We didn't know how much would be portrayed - she might be seen making the costumes, so we did a ton of work designing the stations in the lab; cutting boards and gigantic atomic powered sewing machines and turbo kinetic weaving looms and God knows what. Then Brad started talking about a kind of 'test chamber' that would be 'like when you're at the car wash' that E and Helen would see the costumes being put through their paces. After a few rounds of that, the story guys went to work and alot of the final design was dictated by the boards.
At the same time we did the exterior and interior of her living portions of the house. At first the drawings were parrotting Prairie Style and Bauhaus ideas, and looking at alot of Neutra and Schindler mid century modern structures. After a couple of weeks of that, someone made the suggestion, i don't remember who, but somewhere between Brad, Teddy Newton , Lou Romano and myself, that E would be inspired by classical mythology and that the house should incorporate bits of Ancient Greek art, the Greeks being considered the peak of western culture. That gave us a direction and even better, a metaphor. It ended up in her dialogue ('I used to design for GODS') The first drawings were a bit crude in concept, but Lou provided more refined ideas ( this whole process was spread out over a year), especially in taking it to the Modern look.

As for the final exterior, it was a quick marker rendering bashed out during a working lunch, just before the meeting to decide the thing. Bam, approved. As it turned out, that's all you see of it in the final shot. So all the work and worry of the preceding months didn't matter. That's the process.

The 'hall of mannequins' was originally going to be just posters or photos on the wall (imagine if Richard Avedon had done a series of portraits of superheroes) but eventually became the niches with mannequins and the 'best of' display. E wouldn't have them on display upstairs, because she's supposed to be retired along with the supers, but she's justifiably proud of her own work, so the display became an antechamber/hallway on the way to the lab.


Cesare Asaro said...

Thanks for posting this material! I have to to say that the Incredibles is one of my favorites. I honestly think it was a turning point for CG animation. It's movie that walks the line between animation and live action. You did a fabulous job on that. If you can share more material I would love to read an see more of the design process.

Thanks for the handouts, it's useful information an to the point.

Mélanie Daigle said...

Awesome, thanks for posting all this Scott!! :)

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Scott,

This type of background info is great to read, as it's interesting to learn about the thought process leading up to the final designs. As you know, characters are my bag, but environments are an admitted weak area for me. I'm always curious as to how you guys get a handle on how to portray machinery and other gadgetry for example. When you mention designing such things as "gigantic atomic powered sewing machines and turbo kinetic weaving looms and God knows what", I'm often left with my eyes glazed over, as I wouldn't have the foggiest idea on how to come up with such things. In addition to your layout skills, do you also require at least a serviceable knowledge of basic engineering in order to begin visualizing such things? I'm always in awe of what I see in the layout designs of guys like Paul Rivoche and yourself.

scott said...

Cesare, Incredibles was an incredible experience;I 'll try to share more soon.
Melanie: Thanks for visiting!
Pete:I have so much I could tell about the design process and history that went into Incredibles; must be careful tho, it wasn't all rosy.
As for how does one portray such stuff, well, it's simple: have a burning interest in art, architecture, science, music, movies, chemistry, engineering, astronomy, optics, meteorology, metallurgy, history, geography, do drawing , painting, modelling,drive old cars, drive new cars, make armour, learn to fly, learn navigation, travel the world, read everything, spend a lifetime just beginning to learn about how things work, and maybe just maybe you 'll do a couple of things that some director will point at and say, OK, but make it bigger!

Ashley Jin Kim said...

Your layouts are quite charming! (and pretty damn cool)

i think working on a character such as E would be really fun. You can really stretch different styles and put lots of really neat stuff in her house.

Her house was really well done. One thing that stuck out for me the most was probably the idea for her staircase, and how everything was so much bigger than her. Compensating for her height, much?

p.s. if you can, please check your sheridan email account ASAP!