Behind the scenes at the making of The Snowman and The Snowdog
Get behind the scenes at Lupus Films for the making of The Snowman and The Snowdog coming to Channel 4 this Christmas. The Snowman and The Snowdog required over 3000 pencils to create over 200,000 drawings. Watch the video to see how this remarkable film was made.
Creating over 200,000 drawings to make The Snowman and The Snowdog required the incredible teamwork of many different roles, from storyboard artists to runners and renderers. In order to best replicate the beautiful illustrative style of Raymond Briggs’ drawings, The Snowman and The Snowdog used the same hand-drawn animation techniques as the original film. Discover more about some of the roles that went into making this new magical film.
Storyboarding is the first step in visualising a film treatment. Once the director has conveyed their vision for a project, the storyboard artist will set about sketching each scene, initially offering an insight as to how a scene will be framed, and where characters should sit within a background. Once a suitable scene has been staged, the storyboard artist will then draw frames to represent the key character poses within the scene, and produce diagrams to represent camera moves at the relevant intervals.
The background artwork is created with various mediums, using paint, pencil and ink to achieve the necessary subtleties in tone and colour.
The backgrounds are often very large and come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the action for the relevant scene.
The animator is responsible for bringing the character to life. Lead animators often map out key frames for characters in a scene, typically providing every fourth drawing – the remaining frames are then completed by an in-betweener, who fills in the characters motion between the key frames.
The renderer is responsible for the colour and tone of an animated character. They concentrate on where light and shadow should fall in order to render a two dimensional line-drawing into a three dimensional environment.
Matte lines are created in order to quickly produce a digital back-paint, which helps to embolden the hand-rendered artwork. A matte artist will finely trace around the animation, whether it be character or prop, with a very fine pencil point – creating a constant unbroken outline of the image. This is then scanned in, and using After Effects the outline can be filled with solid colour to create the matte. The matte is then placed behind the hand-rendered image (which is made slightly transparent digitally) in order to ensure that there are no breaks in colour, and to add the desired tone to the original render. All colours, both original pencil and back-paint, are predetermined by the art director before the rendering process begins.
Once all the individual elements of an animation have been produced they need to be composited into one single image. The compositor is responsible for ensuring the background artwork and character animation sit together comfortably as a stand-alone image. Images can be subtly re-coloured and resized digitally in order to achieve the desired look.
Although readily available to help all members of the team as necessary, the runner will spend most of the working day at either a scanning station or a line tester.
Line testing is the process of quickly capturing each frame of animation and compiling a viewing-quality video in order that the director may approve the animation or isolate certain frames that need further attention.
Scanners are used to digitise the rendered elements of the animation process to the technical specifications required by the compositing team.
Stage 1: Storyboard
A sequence of images depicting key moments in the story.
Stage 2: Animatic
The storyboard panels edited together accordingly to provide a timeline for each scene within the film.
Stage 3: Layout
Technical drawings to map out camera moves, and to illustrate the correct size and position of characters and props within a scene.
Stage 4: Background
The background for the animation.
Step 5: Animation Keys
The key poses for action within a scene, typically every fourth frame.
Step 6: In-between Animation
Filling the gaps between key frames to bring the character to life in real-time.
Step 7: Matte Lines
Producing the mattes ready for back-painting.
Step 8: Key Rendering
Colouring key poses for action within a scene, typically every fourth frame.
Step 9: In-between Rendering
Filling the gaps between rendered key frames.
Step 10: Compositing
Bringing all the elements of animation together digitally.