The creation of a movie universe requires a careful balance between realism and fantasy. It is essential to establish an environment that is both aesthetically pleasing and engaging to the audience, while also staying true to the narrative of the story being told. I recently had the opportunity to interview Nicolas Cloutier, the artistic director of the film "Butterfly Tale" to discuss the process of creating the universe of the movie.
The first step in creating the universe was to determine the physical aspects of the butterflies and their journey. Cloutier explained, "It's important to know physically where the butterflies are starting from and where they're going to end up. We needed to see what types of environments we would be passing through and try to see what could be interesting along the way." The team worked closely with the director to determine the various locations they found compelling.
Once the locations were established, the team worked to establish a cohesive style that was both realistic and identifiable. Cloutier stated, "We wanted to start with a realistic environment that people could recognize. We couldn't be in a super stylized fictional environment that the audience wouldn't be able to connect with. It had to be realistic so that the audience could identify what it was, and there also had to be a cartoon treatment on top of it."
When it came to creating the look of the environment, the team first looked to the characters themselves. Cloutier explained, "We always start by looking at the characters and what they should look like. In our case, we did a bit of a hybrid between realism and stylization because if it was too stylized, it would take a long time. So we tried to find a style that's somewhere in between." The team then looked at each element in the environment to determine how it could be simplified to give it a more cartoonish feel.
In terms of the atmosphere of the environments, Cloutier noted that it was more about creating the right ambiance for the story being told. "It's really about seeing at what time of day they are passing through a location, as they're on a big journey. We look at what they have arrived at in the story and then decide if it's a morning or evening palette of colors. It's all related to the storytelling."
Finally, the team drew inspiration from real-world locations to create a sense of authenticity within the environment. Cloutier noted, "We took inspiration from places like Palo Duro Canyon, which is actually on the way to Mexico. We modified it a bit to fit the storytelling, but we wanted to make sure that the vegetation was recognizable and that we stayed true to the environment that the story was taking place in."
Creating a universe for a movie requires a delicate balance between realism and fantasy. The team behind "Butterfly Tale" was able to strike that balance by starting with realistic environments that were then simplified to give them a more cartoonish feel. Drawing inspiration from real-world locations helped to ground the movie in reality and ensure that the audience would be able to connect with the story being told. As Cloutier noted, "It's all related to the storytelling."