All on stage 2: the Illumination studio reveals its secrets

A few weeks ago, AlloCiné had the chance to visit the Illumination Entertainment studios located in the heart of Paris to meet the team behind the animated film Tous en scene 2.

From storyboard to lighting: the stages of production

1. From storyboard to lighting: the stages of production

Boris Jacq, one of the three digital graphics supervisors of Tous en scène 2, was the first speaker to speak to us.

He started by explaining his role to us – making sure everything from the characters to the sets is in place in 3D – then quickly walked us through the creative steps for each shot in the film. It all starts with a storyboard, then the layout (which is the first step in 3D), then comes the animation and finally the lighting. All stages are validated by director Garth Jennings.

Boris Jacq also showed us how the characters are created, from the initial drawing of Eric Guillon to the final result (containing many details), taking the example of Clay Calloway. For this particular film, the challenge was to have heroes with fur (even a mane in Clay’s case!) And clothes.

And before moving on to the animation, each character is entitled to their “walking cycle”, a step that allows them to check that their whole body, from face to hands, is moving naturally.

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© Universal Pictures

On November 9, 2021, it was in front of an Aston Martin garage that we found a small group of European journalists, all of whom came to discover the Illumination Entertainment studio, to which we owe the films Me, Moche et méchant.

And precisely, the day started with a little surprise: the presence of Pierre Coffin, the father of the Minions, in front of the building. After a few exchanges, the latter, who is not involved in All in scene 2, wished us a good visit!

After climbing a few floors of the mysterious parking lot (the director Garth Jennings will confide to us later that he did not come back the first time he arrived in these premises located in such a place), we arrived in front of the studio offices. Once through the door, no more cars but posters of Illumination’s greatest hits as well as figurines of all sizes of cult characters from the studio, including the heroes of Tous en scène, Buster Moon and Miss Crawly.

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Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings), Buster (Matthew McConaughey) and Gunter (Nick Kroll).

Led into a small screening room, the same one where Garth Jennings had pitched the idea for a second episode four years earlier, we settled in and were able to meet several artists who revealed to us the making secrets of an animated film, the words of which are reported in the slide show above, accompanied by concept art and other working images.

But before that, it was the director and screenwriter himself who came to talk about his experience on Tous en scene 2, which he describes as a “passion project”And whose creative process seemed to him“Magic”, For him who does not come from the world of animation. It is with a communicative good humor that the one who oversaw a team of about 500 people for the occasion answered journalists’ questions.

How did Bono get involved in the project?

We knew we wanted a rock star, like Bono, but we didn’t think we would have it. We tried, he really stuck with the character [du lion Clay Calloway] and he loved the first movie. Strangely, years before, I had met him several times because I was making music videos and pitching one at U2 but it didn’t happen.

(…) Years later, we contacted him to [Tous en scène 2] and this time it worked! I was already excited that Bono was going to play a character, and then I thought it would be great if we could use U2 songs in the movie.

I couldn’t believe it.

I know it’s hard to get permission for any song, especially when it’s a band and everyone has to agree, but they all did and besides Bono m ‘said “I can imagine a song for that, would that be interesting?”. Obviously I said, “Yes, it would be great if you wrote a song and it was about such and such topics. It would go very well with the end of the film ”.

(…) [Quand je l’ai entendue], I thought it was the most beautiful song [U2] has been writing for 15 years. I couldn’t believe it. I get moved very easily so I had tears in my eyes because I couldn’t believe how lucky I was and I could see the entire end of the movie with this song in my head. It doesn’t happen that often in life, let alone in this business, most things are very hard to come by.

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Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Clay (Bono).

What is the story behind the choice of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For ?

It was always our dream song to end the show. We arranged it to our taste using old recordings of the band singing it (…). Then we called Miss Johansson [qui joue Ash] asking her if she would like to sing it in duet with Bono and she agreed. She’s amazing, she knows how to do everything perfectly, it’s disturbing.

There is a point in the movie where she sings the U2 song Stuck in a Moment. It’s a 2min30 sequence, and it’s just this song, there is no dialogue. We did 3 or 4 takes with a backing track, and at the end I said “Can we try it one last time and you sing it with our engineer playing guitar?”. He was a little nervous and I warned that if it didn’t work, we would just have to erase it. They did it and in one take it was perfect. That’s the take that’s in the movie.

It allows me to discover songs.

Were there any songs to which you did not have the rights?

No ! It’s amazing, we literally got it all. You believe in it ?! We always say to ourselves “They are not going to accept”, but we do. We start with Let’s go crazy from Prince (…), we have Billie Eilish and more obscure titles. That’s what I like about the world of Tous en scène, is that it allows me to discover songs.

So yeah, there are some big hits but also things you haven’t heard or your kids haven’t been exposed to yet. It could be an old song by an independent group or Latin dance music, we have it all.

How did you choose the animals for the new characters?

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Johnny (Taron Egerton), Darius (Eric André) and Meena (Tori Kelly).

We didn’t have a lion in the first Tous en scène, so it was interesting to add one this time. And for Nooshi (Letitia Wright), we wanted an animal that reflected the energy of the character. It’s like a little sister who can’t hold still, so a wild cat was a perfect match, it’s adorable but also strong and fast. And for the character of Pharell Williams, we knew it was going to be an elephant because Meena (Tori Kelly) had to be attracted to him. So sometimes it’s because of logic and sometimes it’s because of personality.

For Darius the yak which is played by Eric André, for example, it had to be a yak because it is a cow with big horns and it goes well with the personage, a kind of silly macho. We even made a short film of him doing commercials for his own perfume called “Animal Attraction”.

I’m Just a Sexy Yack!

You know what, actually, there was a song we didn’t get the rights to, I remember now. We recorded it and it was refused. It’s probably going to get me in trouble to tell it but originally when we saw Darius for the first time he was singing Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake but we changed it to “I’m Just a Sexy Yack” and it didn’t happen. We had to do something else with a Justin Bieber song.

You play a character in the first movie, are we going to see more of her in this sequel?

Yes, Miss Crawly! Indeed, his role is more important, I hope you will not think that it is because of my ego. She has always been kind of a sidekick and the sidekicks are very useful because you always end up at a point where you need something to happen but nobody can do it because they are too smart (.. .), then you send it. You can do anything with it.

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Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings).

She’s adorable but I mostly love what she brings out about Buster because he’s really nice to her even though she isn’t very good at what she does. He is loyal to her because she has always been with him, it is endearing.

Were there times when the technique hampered your creativity?

No, that’s what is extraordinary. Everything is possible. The problem is never doing something, it is sometimes having too much control. You can always polish. You have to know when to stop and sometimes you have to cheat and say “We don’t have time to do this the way we wanted, but it doesn’t break the charm of doing it that way.” Everything cannot be absolutely on the same level, like the crowd in the back of the shots. (…) You have to choose your battles, like close-ups, there, you don’t compromise.

We all need wonderful moments right now.

What do you think of repeating the film for each country?

I think when you make a movie like that it’s aimed at a big audience and especially kids so I think the subtitles might be a problem, it would limit who can have that experience. So you double it for other territories but you also have to respect the culture where you are going. The most important thing for me is that it works for the characters, that the dynamics and the story are preserved (…).

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Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale / Damien Bonnard).

In France, Mr. Crystal [le vilain du film] is played by an actor called Damien Bonnard. I love him, I made a short film with him a few years ago and I find him fantastic. His voice doesn’t sound like Bobby Canavale’s [qui fait la voix originale], because no one has a voice that looks like him, but he has the same ability to access that tone that provokes fear that the French public will find authentic. This is the most important thing.

What lessons would you like audiences to learn from this sequel?

Already, I hope the spectators have a wonderful time and it sounds like a boring response but it’s very important, and I really hope so. We all need a wonderful time right now, and I think there are lessons to be learned of course. You can’t go on a journey like this without learning some serious lessons.

It’s all well and good to say “dream big dreams” but if you’re going to follow them, you better be prepared for a difficult journey and you need to know what to give to get there and who to trust or not. . (…) It’s important for us that the film resonates as something stronger than just entertainment. Whether it’s a 5 year old or my grandmother, I want the spectators to take it with them.

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