Last year, the folks at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brought back a classic animated character in a brand new adventure with Tinker Bell. The fans responded in a big way, making it the highest-selling DVD in its debut week. Now, one year later (almost to the date), the pint-sized pixie is back with another animated film Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27. I recently had the chance to speak with one of the people that helped bring this film to live, art director Ellen Jin Over, whose background in digital background painting lead to her role at Disney as an art director. Here's what she had to say.
Everyone I've talked to at Disney seems to have an interesting story about how they first started there and I read that you dreamt of working for Disney when you were a kid. Can you talk about yoru process of just getting to work for this amazing company?
Ellen Jin Over: Yeah. I did need a lot of experience and, most of all, if you know someone inside who can give you something to apply for or what openings there are, that's the best. I graduate from art school in 1996 and wanted to work for Disney for 10 years but never got a chance. A couple of years ago, my friend told me there's an art director position open and I applied for it. Of course, you have to have a really great portfolio to make them feel confident they can hire me as an art director and do the job. So, you take the portfolio and great timing and a little bit of information coming from people who worked here before.
You have a background in digital painting. Can you talk a bit about what your job entails as the art director on this film, maybe as opposed to a live-action art director, and what kinds of responsibilities come with that?
Ellen Jin Over: Well, I can't speak for live-action art directors because I've never been one (Laughs). I think we have a lot of similarities in our position, though. Basically what you're doing is you're leading a team of artists, doing different things, to basically come up with a look and feel of the movie. You're in charge of the graphic designs and the character designs and lighting, the color, all the things that you see visually, we produce them in the art department. This is what our department does, and I'm in charge of that.
So when you first came onto this film, besides watching the first film, what other kinds of things did you do to kind of get into this Tinker Bell world before you started this project?
Ellen Jin Over: Yeah, I looked at a lot of references. Tinker Bell was coming from the movie Peter Pan, so we would see a lot of references from that movie, try to figure out what kind of style it is. Once you figure out the style, you apply that to the world. The movie is set in fall, and we worked on coming up with an area that's like a fall. It's not that important, but we'd come up with our versions of a maple tree with fall leaves and we tried to make the lighting feel more fall. It's really warm lighting and textures, we tried to come up with a texture that's more like fall as well.
The first film was kind of revolutionary since it was the first time we heard Tinker Bell's voice. What other things can we expect that would up the ante from the first film? What kind of different adventures can we expect?
Ellen Jin Over: Oh, the first Tinker Bell travels to London, and we've been there before through the previous movie, but this time, Tinker Bell and Terrence they travel outside of Pixie Hollow, outside of Neverland, to some unknown island that we have never been before. They travel a pretty long distance, experiencing different areas and different creatures. It's really adventurous to follow their journey through different locations and environments.
So these first two films are kind of establishing this character that's already set up, and there are a few other movies in the works. Is that part of the fun, going beyond what the character and exploring these whole different worlds?
Ellen Jin Over: Yeah, that is exactly right (Laughs). At first, there were a lot of worries because we were creating a completely different world that we've never traveled to before, but it ended up really fun and I think the audience will end up having a lot of fun exploring shipwrecks that we came up with on this island, and stuff like that.
Did you work with any of the voice actors at all, in designing the characters?
Ellen Jin Over: Oh, no (Laughs). I don't have a chance to work with the voice actors. The director and the producers interact with the voice actors and the director, he is sort of the heart of all the production. He works with the voice actors and works with us, but we don't directly work with the voice actors.
You're working on the fourth film right now, I believe?
Ellen Jin Over: Yes. That is a winter movie.
So how far do you plan on bringing this whole series? Are you just expanding as far as you can right now?
Ellen Jin Over: You know, I think there's no limit. I think we can take Tinker Bell anywhere. We're going through four seasons, at this moment, winter will sort of be our last seasonal environment. After that, we can probably take our characters to maybe different places beyond Pixie Hollow and Neverland and London. I don't know quite what they're planning on doing, but I see a lot of possibilities in the stories to come.
As far as this DVD itself goes, were you involved in any of the special features on this new release?
Ellen Jin Over: Special features, I'm not sure (Laughs). I'm not sure how involved I am in the special features. We came up with a lot of short stories and vignettes that the kids will enjoy. I think that was my involvement.
Finally, what would you like to say to the fans of maybe this character as a whole or the first film, about what they can expect from this new DVD?
Ellen Jin Over: I think they will have such a fun time, having an adventure with Tinker Bell and exploring new territories. You're going to learn about the true meaning of friendship and how you come to appreciate it, during Tinker Bell's experience.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Ellen. Thanks so much for your time.
Ellen Jin Over: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27.