Director Andrew Adamson talks animation vs. live action and the aspects of the fantasy & magic in The Chronicles of Narnia.
What is the biggest difference for you between directing an animation movie and live-action movie?
Andrew Adamson: It's story telling. In some ways it's very similar. You figure out the best way to tell the story and then you work to get the performances. The whole time you are working to create the visual world for them to exist in. I found a lot of similarities, in different environments. The biggest difference is that in live action, you don't have to tell your characters when to blink, and in CG animation you don't have to worry about the weather, extend that metaphor out and it pretty much covers everything!
In which way was the experience of making Shrek helpful for creating a fantastical world like "Narnia" and working with an enormous amount of complex special effects?
Andrew Adamson: We story boarded and did a lot of pre-visualization of the movie before we ever shot footage. That is something I learned from the way animated movies are made. I consider this more of a writing tool than a production tool because you get a chance to watch the movie before you make it, but it also helps with the complex effects.
Obviously the other similarity was the CG characters. Narnia is populated with mythological creatures and talking animals. Although I wanted them to be photo-real in this film we employed a lot of similar animation techniques.
Are there any CGI pioneers who've influenced your work, do you exchange know-how with any of them or does everyone in this field more or less work on his/her own?
Andrew Adamson: Every CGI intensive film stands on the shoulders of the work that's been done before, it's a rapidly evolving field. When you work with many CGI houses there has to be a constant exchange of know-how, sometimes we would have three different companies working on one shot. Aslan from Rhythm &Hues, Mr. Beaver from Sony and some other creatures from ILM.
I have been very lucky to work with many VFX pioneers, I consider my close working with John Dykstra in particular to have been a huge privilege.
In recent years, we've seen films like Shrek, Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings make a big impact at the box office. Why do you think that the fantasy genre has become so popular?
Andrew Adamson: I think fantasy has always been an important part of our story telling, in every culture and every generation. There has been a resurgence recently and I think it's largely a reaction to the amount of reality programming. In the 80's there were a lot of ‘natural disaster' films, now we have things like ‘Survivor' – for me it's a welcome relief to step into a theatre and be transported into a world that exists only in our imaginations. Worlds that we wish we could visit.
How did the new vogue for fantasy filmmaking - especially in the wake of films like Lord Of The Rings - influence your approach to the film?
Andrew Adamson: They didn't really, though they did help make it possible. I think that the success of films like those have shown the studios that a wide audience is ready for faithful adaptations of classic literature.
Dont't forget to also check out: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe