Magazine article Variety

Inspired by a Master

Magazine article Variety

Inspired by a Master

Article excerpt

Roger Deakins, the Academy Award-winning DP who served as visual consultant on the Dragon trilogy, says that if a single word could sum up the photographic aesthetic of "The Hidden World," it would be 'restraint.'

"That's my mantra," Deakins says, "whether it's camerawork or lighting. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."

But such restraint sometimes leads to a rich, cinematic feel that evokes the best live-action cinematography, including Deakins' own work.

Take simple matters like depth of field. In animation, it's simple to put everything in a scene in focus and make it razor sharp, all the way to infinity. But Deakins says, "You don't have to shoot with a wide lens and have everything look pretty. Dean felt we could shoot with longer lenses and allow backgrounds to be out of focus."

Then there's the feeling that comes from the camera. In "The Hidden World," Vikings and dragons, once mortal enemies, are so allied that the Vikings have become dragon riders. DeBlois told his layout team (the department that creates the virtual camerawork) that he wanted every shot to seem as though there was an operator behind the camera, in his words, "to give the audience a very first-person visceral point of view, to make them feel like they were actually riding on the back of a dragon."

On "The Hidden World," Deakins teamed with head of layout Gil Zimmerman and VFX supervisor Dave Walvoord to plan how to place the virtual camera to show the lighting to best advantagejust as a DP would in live action. …

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