HN: How did you develop all the appearances of each character and the universe of the film?
CB: Making a stop-motion animation is really a collective work, and I’m a little guardian of the project, but after I relied heavily on the heads of post, the chief designer, the chief painter, the chief operator and the animator, who relies on everyone on the team, I think that the universe emerges from each person little by little. So I didn’t impose everything on everyone, but wanted to have a big room for everyone, from the head to all crew in each department, to express themselves for the universe of the film. So I talked them about my ideas of visuals, feelings, and emotions of the film as the vision of a path to bring their creations through. Then, all the staff worked to the direction with having their responsibility for their specialties.
HN: After understanding Claude’s intention of direction, all staff could add their new ideas by using their expertise and Claude made the best use of them to build the universe of the film, isn’t it?
EC: Yes, they discussed with Claude about all their idea to fit his vision. Claude was very open to any ideas that would fit his vision.
CB: Before the construction of everything, you already have the storyboard, which gives you a very strong frame of the whole project.
HN: I felt that not only in My Life as a Courgette but also in Sainte-Barbe, your short film, I could share each character’s emotion with their eyes, expressions and acting. What do you think is the reason why your puppet animation can directly touch the audience’s heart?
CB: Puppets for my film have big heads and big eyes, always, and it is really important for me because head and eyes are like doors to the characters’ emotions. If there are big doors, the audience could see their emotions very well. That allows me, as a director, to film the characters at the closest to their own emotions. I think Elie can explain more.
EC: I think that once again, Kim, the head of the animation, gave us a lot of advice on how to use their eyes and the blinks and the eyebrows and so on. Everything was very well planned ahead. Claude had a lot of ideas that was already tested in the pilot of the film in 2009. It was a one minute short film in which we presented the characters of Courgette and gave us the opportunity to get funding to develop the film. Claude tried to test all his ideas for puppet animation back in 2009 to develop it much further for the feature film. All facial parts on their head are magnetic and it makes it very easy for us to animate their eyes. I think usually in stop-motion, puppet’s eyes are small because in our face, eyes are small so that pupils and their eyes are very difficult to animate and it takes a lot of time because they are very small and difficult to handle. From the very beginning of the film project, Claude and Kim discussed that creating expressions for the pupils need to be easy and shouldn’t be a pain. I think that worked because we, animators, could animate the puppets more directly and create the characters easily.
CB: I think it also facilitates the meeting with the puppet.
EC: Yes, that is true, we were talking about how the animators meet the puppet and how we get to know the puppet more and more. Of course, a puppet with a big head and big eyes is very easy to use for me. It was much easier and much faster to animate the puppet.
CB: It also helped the relationship between the puppet and the animator.
EC: Yes, this is a nice relationship, that’s true. Sometimes you are, as an animator, angry at the puppet just because it was not well designed and it is hard to use. And you know you are angry at the puppet. But it was not the case with My Life as a Courgette, it was always a pleasure to animate, because it was easy and it was very handful.
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