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About The Design
IGOR, began to come to life in a location that could not have been farther from Malaria's dark setting – Sparx Animation Studios in Paris, France. Benefiting from its status as a former base for Disney Animation, Paris and Sparx provided a pipeline of talent that was unmatched and the added bonus of an animation style that, for Leondis, was crucial to what he was working to accomplish. "I felt strongly that the look for this story needed to be very specific – a de-saturated palette with limited color – a ‘pushed' style that is not as common in the U.S.” 

Leading the design team at Sparx was art director, Olivier Besson, a french artist who was trained at Disney Paris and shared the same artistic sensibility as Leondis – that design is there to create a magical world that tells the story. A veteran of numerous animation projects, Besson proved to be the perfect partner for the filmmakers. "Olivier was a dream come true,” said Leondis. "He completely understood what I wanted to achieve and shared the view that every decision on color and shape had to be about telling the story in a creative and fresh way.” 

At the beginning of the project Besson met with Leondis and asked about his favorite artists, what movies he responded to and what his style was. "Tony had very specific ideas about the look and style he wanted for IGOR. He wanted it to be special, but special for a reason,” said Besson. "It's like following a trail in the forest, you look for the markings left along the way and when you follow them, you've found your movie.”

Once Besson felt that he had a feel for the style and mood that Leondis wanted to achieve, he began drawing ideas and inspiration from sources that he felt would be compatible with the director's vision, including Rembrandt for lighting, photographer Brassaï for values, (Black, white and grey tones), and famed Disney colorist, Mary Blair for color. 

As Besson began finding unique ways to tell the story, Leondis was thrilled with the results. "I wanted high contrast lighting for the film so Olivier chose Rembrandt as an inspiration. Rembrandt used light to tell the story of his paintings, lighting what he wanted the viewer to focus on and throwing the rest in shadow, and often times black. It is very emotional and fits very well into the monster movie genre. Brassaï is a photographer whose work feels timeless to me. There's a magical quality to his images – turn of the century Paris, with smoky streets and strong silhouettes. Again, Olivier was able to capture that feel. For color there is no one better than the Disney artist Mary Blair. Her emotional approach to color is masterful, and Olivier used that for inspiration for IGOR. Olivier would use an unrealistic color like pink for the sky if the emotional moment called for it- and somehow still made it feel like our world. He is a genius.”

One of Besson and Leondis' goals was to make the film creepy, but not too creepy – they wanted a ‘nice' dark movie. To achieve this, Besson employed the use of mist and smoke as a technique to hide or reveal things. "Tony wanted to keep the art and the story in every frame” explained Besson. "By utilizing mist and smoke we were able to hide or reveal things in a very elegant manner and maintain the dark but rich look that we were striving for.” The technique also worked to tone down the 3D images and maintain the ambience of the story to fit into Leondis' desire for a classic film-noir look.

Working with Besson was character designer, Valérie Hadida. Considered one of the top character designers in Europe, her designs are eccentric and pushed, and like Besson's, always tell a story. "Valérie designed every character in the film and each one, even the incidental characters, could be the lead in a movie,” said Leondis. "Look at the modern works of Picasso – the way he played with the form and shape of the human body –

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