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Classic Disney Design
"This movie was just filled to the rim. I think no other film that we've done has got so much going on in terms of location.” ~James Aaron Finch, Production Designer

Creating a world that has credibility while maintaining an aura of fantasy is always a challenge, so the filmmakers examined how the Disney masters of the past had designed their films. "The directors were talking about ‘Lady and the Tramp' for the architectural stuff, but ‘Bambi' for the natural stuff, the organic stuff,” Ian Gooding says. "In ‘Bambi' they took something incredibly complex, a forest environment—leaves and twigs, rocks and bark clumps, everything else that you find in a forest—and they painted only what was important. You still have the feeling of a forest, but not a literal forest. You don't miss the billions of twigs and leaves and stuff. It completely works the way that they conceived and executed it.”

"We knew we were working on a period piece,” says production designer James Aaron Finch, "and we knew that some of the architecture was of that Garden District feel, so we looked at ‘Lady and the Tramp,' not so much for the application of paint, but definitely the caricature of shapes and the compositional elements.”

Lighting and Color "In lighting and color, I think our film is actually a little bit more complex than our early films, although we often look to the simplicity of previous titles,” says head of backgrounds Sunny Apinchapong.

In color styling, visual development artist Lorelay Bove aimed for balance. "For the color on the bayou, I would look at photographs and research on the Internet, and really look at what's appealing, or what colors were working together. If the moment was a sad moment, maybe it's monochromatic and more on the gray side.”

Ian Gooding says the process involves a lot of push and pull. "We started with a background, and I painted it, contextually, too far—too organic, too brush-stroked, too painterly, too soft. We put characters on top of it and showed it to the directors and John Lasseter. They said, ‘Parts of this are working, but let's tighten up these areas,' and we started pulling back until we found what worked.”

Apinchapong adds, "One thing we try to do is that even though we're using software to paint these days, we don't want it to look too digital. We try to make sure it feels more traditional, even though we don't use brush or paint.” A Frog's Eye View

The differing species of characters led to another unique design challenge for the filmmakers—creating a relative size scale that would enable the appropriate staging of scenes between characters of differing sizes, and their scale relationships to their settings. "It's something we always have to be aware of and not just cheat like mad so it doesn't feel real,” says supervising animator Eric Goldberg. "Yes, there's some liberties that you can take in order to stage things effectively and make it look like characters are having a conversation, but everything has to be in proper relationship to everything else.”

Rasoul Azadani, layout supervisor and lighting designer, recalls how the notion of scale affected a research trip to a real bayou. "When I went to the bayou, some parts had no water, so we could see the buildup of bayou from the ground up, we could see what the ground would look like, and you could see the water marks, how the water would come in. So I was walking with my camera right on the ground, taking snapshots from the point of view of the frogs.”

Oscar®-Winning Composer Randy Newman Adds Authenticity and Experience It was unanimous among the filmmakers—Randy Newman was their first choice, their ideal composer for "THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG,” right from the beginning. Newman, a longtime collaborator for Disney•Pixar films, received an Academy Awa


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