During the post-production period that encompassed editing, scoring, color timing, sound mixing, and innumerable other tasks, Wedge took time to reflect upon the myriad challenges and opportunities afforded by EPIC, singling out the critical work of his various department heads and their teams.
Production designer Greg Couch was one of the first filmmakers to work with Wedge on EPIC, painting ideas for its world, early in the project's development. "Greg's work is very painterly, magical and mesmerizing," says the director. Michael Knapp came onboard as art director, designing characters, colors, environments, textures, story, and lighting. As art director, he worked with Wedge to transform the familiar environs of a woods into a kind of alien universe, where the colors are more vivid, the light more expressive, and vegetation sways as if it were consciously alive.
Supervising animators Galen Tan Chu and Melvin Tsing ChernTan explored unexpected ranges of motions for the characters and creatures, with the Sculpting, Modeling, Rigging, Hair Fur, Materials and Effects departments also making critical contributions to the world of EPIC.
With these departments achieving unprecedented levels of realism and spectacle, Wedge singles out "pushing the animation further than ever before" as another formidable creative challenge. "Our characters in EPIC are the most sophisticated-looking and human-looking of all our Blue Sky Studios projects," he says.
The Blue Sky Studios team has no bigger fan than Beyonce Knowles, who says, "The animators based much of their work on footage of the actors recording our lines, so my facial expressions and body language have become part of Queen Tara.
"I was blown away by the detail in the animation," she continues. "It's very hard to even tell it's animation; it looks so lifelike. I've always imagined being in an animated film, so to see that happen was really exciting for me."
Another giant in the music world -- composer Danny Elfman (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Simpsons Movie) -- brought his singular talents to EPIC's score. "I thought Danny would give the film a heightened reality and emotion, while also capturing its tongue-in-cheek elements," says Wedge. "Of all the scores we've done at Blue Sky Studios, this one feels the most -- I hate to use the word 'epic' -- but it feels like a big movie."
Academy Award-winning sound designer Randy Thom's (The Incredibles) work is interwoven with Elfman's score to create additional aural magic. Thom takes nature's sounds -- such as leaves rustling in the wind, a bird taking flight, or a woman's gentle breath -- and creates something slightly otherworldly.
Action is also king -- or, in this case, Queen -- in EPIC, which features two spectacular battles, including the climactic confrontation in which the Leafmen, M.K. and Bomba face off against Mandrake and the Boggans that will decide the fate of Moonhaven. It's grand storytelling, giant action, and bigger than life heroes and villains in the ultimate war between good and evil.
It's EPIC. And it's all happening in a world you've never seen before -- but is as close as your own backyard.
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