I don’t know about you, but we’re pretty excited about seeing Brave when it opens this weekend, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing Jim MacQuarrie’s series of posts about the making of the movie. I’ve always loved animation and I’m a huge fan of Pixar — that, combined with my ongoing quest for strong female protagonists makes Brave a great fit. I got a book and a few apps related to the movie and I just couldn’t wait, so I’ve already started delving into them. Here’s a quick look at a few more ways for you and your kids to immerse yourself in the world of Brave, though I recommend waiting until you’ve seen the movie. There is one significant plot point which, contrary to common Hollywood practice, is not revealed in the movie trailer but will be seen in the book and the storybook apps. (Note: my reviews here will be spoiler-free.)
First up: The Art of Brave is a lovely coffee-table book (do they still call them that?) full of concept art and interviews with the various artists and filmmakers involved in the project. For anyone who still thinks that computers do all the work in a Pixar film, this book will set you straight. The amount of effort (and number of people involved) in creating a character, a story, the setting, and all the fine details that make up an animated movie — that’s what is showcased in this book. It’s great to read about the process, too, and how all of the art that the Pixar team does is focused on one thing: serving the story.
The book is written by Jenny Lerew, an animation story artist and author of The Blackwing Diaries blog. Although she did not work on Brave, her background in film animation serves her well in knowing how to talk about the creation of a film. There’s also a preface by John Lasseter, and a foreword by co-directors Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews. A lot of other familiar names appear throughout the book like producer Katherine Safarian and co-director (and originally story supervisor) Steve Purcell. (It wasn’t until I was reading this that I made the connection — this is the same Purcell behind Sam & Max.) It was also fun to see concept artwork by other names I recognized, like Mike Mignola and Tony Fucile.
The best part of the book, of course, is the artwork itself. There are photographs taken by the team on their research trip to Scotland, pencil sketches, digital color tests, acrylic paintings, sculpted models, and more. The book is well-organized, showcasing various artwork from things like character development, the scenery (including the wild weather, which is almost its own character in the movie), and storyboarding. Reading through the book, you really get an appreciation of how far the technology has come since Toy Story. As Lasseter says in the preface, “Medieval Scotland is as far from an environment that is natural for computer animation as you can possibly get.” Things are rough and mossy and uneven; even the man-made objects are irregular, worn, dented. And then, of course, there’s Merida’s hair, which is was a challenge unto itself.
It’s a stunning book which I’ll enjoy sharing with my wife and my kids — after they seen the film. The Art of Brave can be purchased from Amazon, or you can check out the Chronicle Books website for more info.
Next up, the apps: a comic book with a fun bonus, an interactive storybook, and Temple Run: Brave.