Hungry for More Ratatouille

I loved PIXAR's cinematic offering for 2007. Ratatouille managed to entertain while, as is PIXAR's trademark, never giving up on story or dialog. It was also rich in colour and I was mesmerized by the subtle beauty of it though for me, the best bits were the bits of Remy tasting the food and the way in which that was visualized.

I knew going in to expect great things from the most recent and final SIGGRAPH event of the 2007/2008 season "Teasing the Senses: The Visual Style of Ratatouille" but as usual, I was a little surprised by what I learned.

This time around, the crew brought up "Goddess of Light" Sharon Calahan, a Director of Photography/Lighting at PIXAR. It was fascinating listening to her talk about how she achieved the rich colours and textures of the film and though I understood very little of the technical, the before/after photos she showed really did speak louder than any words. But for the technical folks, she spoke about saturating shadows rather than mixing in blacks and grays which naturally dulls the colour and, from what I could see, gives everything a "flat" look. There is something very different in the feel of watching "Ratatouille", almost like a painting you want to step into where everything is at once gorgeous and familiar yet different.

What always surprises me is where people get their inspiration and hearing Sharon speak of where she looked for inspiration on lighting the shots provided what was, for me, the most interesting part of the presentation. Sharon spoke of finding her inspiration in her photos, photos of food and, not surprisingly, other films.

"Blade Runner", "Memoirs of a Geisha", "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", "Batman". All very different films but all inspirations on the look of the film and when you see the stills from those films immediately before or after various shots in the movie, the inspiration is uncanny and I wonder how I could have missed it the first time around. I haven't seen "Ratatouille" since I rented it earlier this year but I'm really excited to give it a second look to try and really spot these visual references that I missed the first time around.

Overall, it was a great event and a fantastic way to finish off the year. A two month summer hiatus starts in July and the group will be back for the 2008/2009 season in September with the Animation Festival which I'm really looking forward to.

If you're not already on the mailing list, I highly recommend it. All of the events I've gone to have been sell outs so it's good to know what's coming up with plenty of time to buy your tickets. To sign up, it's as easy as clinking here and filling in your name and email.

I'm really excited and looking forward to another great year!

Previous SIGGRAPH event coverage:

May - "Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead"
April - "droidMAKER: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution"


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