MAKING OF

Kuntzel+Deygas artists

We agreed on a rule for this title sequence: we would not ask Sempé any further work, only the authorization to use the drawings he created back then.”
Kuntzel+Deygas

Le Petit Nicolas, 2009

How did you approach the title sequence?

We first turned down the offer, which was to make a visual creation our own way, and we suggested Sempé be called on to create the title sequence. Laurent Tirard had the good idea to propose a collaborative work with Sempé, that’s it!


What was the artistic direction from the partners


None. Art is precisely our job.

We agreed on a rule for this title sequence: we would not ask Sempé any further work, only the authorization to use the drawings he created back then, in order to write our own story. We know it neither possible, nor pleasant for a drawer to have to pretend drawing in his old way. We usually don’t like to add more colors, and anyway the drawings he gave us access to were black and white, with a touch of red that we used for typo.

The other basic rule is completely linked to the first one, and is, according to us, the key to the charm of this title sequence: we imposed on ourselves the non animation of Sempé’s drawings, because they were created for a printed book and thus were not meant to move. So there was no way we would wreck them by making them move for no reason, by making them zombies. If you look at them, they already deliver their potential of vitality, presence and charm. We decided to use what was there, and to present it to serve the narrative.

Eventually, our third rule was obviously to not add our own drawings. Our only graphic contribution is the shape of the white cuttings supporting Sempé’s drawings: the outlines of buildings, trees and other white elements of the set.


How did you work with your team?


As usual, the work was entirely done in our studio, with a small team of a dozen of talented, passionate and perfectionist freelancers. Initially, both of us cover the whole story, first with ideas sketched on pieces of papers, according to the list of names and titles, which have a precise order and duration. So we select the drawings we want to use. Then our first contributor comes in to translate these ideas into animated sketches. This animatic is a key moment that specifies the narrative times and the reading times (of titles and names). It gives the pace, the brisk moments, the calm ones. As in dressmaking, it is the draft outline of the white cotton dress; the shape and tone are set, but not the style, which comes with the final shimmering fabric and the little chic details. But this step is essential to convey to the team what we want to achieve, or rather what we have already achieved and what they must go past whilst making sure to preserve the emanating charm of the draft outline.

That is the most subtle and fragile thing. We use this step as a permanent standard and we compare it to the work in progress, which gets more and more sophisticated. The purpose is to check if we haven’t lost something on the way, because it is tempting to refine the work until you get all the charm out of it, without even noticing. The book seems to be paper but everything is digital, and our watchword to the team was to bring in a sense of reality sublimated by the vision of a child, as if the viewer was a little child in front of a huge book. So the animators have purposely created clumsiness and jolts to pretend an invisible hand was handling the pulls and paper mechanisms that rub and resist. The set designers have chosen each speck of dust, each fold, each stain, each staple barely shining in the binding, in order to increase the sense of reality. And with our art director we determined the lenses and depth of field to create the illusion of the book’s size facing the viewer.


How did you work with Klaus Badelt, the music composer?


We haven’t worked side by side, nor have we been directly in contact with him. He worked from a distance on our pre-edit of the title sequence, according to Laurent Tirard’s instructions.


When, in the film fabrication process, were you brought in?


The editing was almost over, the music and sound effects were in progress. It doesn’t matter at all if we watch the film or not before inventing the title sequence. What matters is the few words spread by the director to describe what he has meant to do, and why he thinks he needs a title sequence to his film.


How long did you have to make it?


About a month and a half.

Who contacted you to do this title sequence?


The director Laurent Tirard, then the two producers at Fidélité Films


What are your influences for this title sequence?


Sempé! And the principle of carousel children’s books that gives the illusion this entire drawn world is going to come to life. This idea has guided us to choose the frames and lenses, which make the viewer feel he is a small thing in front of this big book spreading out like a playground.

Kuntzel + Deygas’ Top 10 title sequences

 

Sorry, we can’t do it!!!!!