‘Takes many bad drawings before good ones come out’

American production designer Yarrow Cheney talks about why animation films never fail
Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 13:08 IST
Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 13:08 IST
Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 13:08 IST
Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 13:08 IST

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American production designer, visual effects artist, director and animator, Yarrow Cheney is popular for his work as a production designer in ‘Despicable Me 2’, ‘The Lorax’ and
‘Despicable Me’. Set on doing something related to animation from a young age, he says that it takes a lot of bad drawings before your good ones come out.
He has co-directed ‘Dr Seuss’ ‘The Grinch’ and feels that creating the characters for this project has given him both creative and artistic satisfaction. Ahead of the Indian television premiere of the show on December 22 on Sony PIX, Yarrow spoke to Metrolife about his love for animation and how technology helps.

Did you always have an interest in animation? What prompted you to turn to the movie industry?

I’ve always wanted to work in an artistic field. I grew up drawing and painting and I was very fortunate to have a family which helped me a lot. They inspired and supported me in drawing and creating art. Every field is difficult, and art is no exception.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind while creating visuals that match the character’s voice and personality?

Make sure that your design, the characters, the world, the colour palette, the lighting and everything else serve the story and specifically the journey of the characters in that story. With animated films, there is a very rich medium and you can create anything you can think of. So, it’s sometimes it’s a challenge to create the visuals that match the story that you’re telling.
It takes a lot of thought and experimentation. And because every aspect of the film — from the colour palette to how the performances are animated — everything tells you something about the story, the characters and what they are feeling. There’s nothing that exists in the beginning. You have to design and build it from scratch.

What are the finer points that you look into when working on animation? How do you manage to bring in the creativity to make every animation movie look different?

Animation is a funny art form. What you’re trying to do is create a world that is very small. You are not looking at all the details, but you sort of take them in. You build a world from these little things.
And for example, in the case of ‘The Grinch’, all the characters have heard the furglow in the wind. You don’t want the audience to think about these things, yet you want them to feel great. What’s wonderful about animated films is that you can really dive into the details of the world and make everything consistent and have an artistic point
of view.

The charm of animation movies never seems to fade. What keeps people hooked to it?

When the artistes pour out their heart into an animated film, they really want to give the world a very artistic and authentic story experience. It’s always fun to pick stories to which we can relate.
What the filmmakers make in animated movies is to create a really interesting world, with amazing characters and experiences. The process is one of the few art forms where you can see so many artists coming together at once.

What changes must be brought into the animation industry?

I think animation is an interesting industry and it’s always changing. Technology has developed and artists have also developed with it. And then, of course, the 3D tools have become available, which we see in most of these films now.
And many kinds of 3D animation, repudiate the original drawing animation. There’s a lot of work being done now where digital tools are helping people do traditionally animated films. We are now doing things that you couldn’t even dream about a while ago.

Published 17 December 2019, 13:05 IST

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