On Cartoon Brew, we regularly spotlight video essays that explore the subtleties of animation’s visual language. Most are made by sharp-eyed fans or other filmmakers. It’s less common for feature filmmakers to break down their own creative process, which makes this behind-the-scenes video on the cinematography in Pixar’s Onward all the more valuable.
Speaking to CookeOpticsTV, Adam Habib and Sharon Calahan — respectively, Onward’s director of photography — camera and director of photography – lighting, reveal the efforts made to emulate the nuances of live-action filmmaking in their latest production. They illustrate their approach by commenting on two specific scenes.
Onward follows two elf brothers on a magical quest, and the DPs discuss how they helped differentiate the two personalities. Ian, the meeker brother, tends to be framed in centered or symmetrical compositions, with little or no movement of the (virtual) camera. The more gung-ho Barley is linked with faster, sometimes handheld camerawork, skewed compositions, and relatively fast editing.