Azur and Asmar on France 4: why did Michel Ocelot use 3D?

Azur and asmar on france 4: why did michel ocelot use 3d?

3D animation, dubbing … on the occasion of the broadcast tonight on France 4 of Azur and Asmar, a look back at the conception of this fairy tale by Michel Ocelot.

8 years after the phenomenon Kirikou et la sorcière and 6 years after the diptych Princes and Princesses / Les Contes de la nuit, Michel Ocelot returned with a new production, Azur et Asmar. A magical oriental tale about tolerance and difference which marks a turning point in the career of the filmmaker and especially in French animation. Feedback on the film’s conception.

For the first time, the filmmaker used 3D. For this, he called on the Mac Guff company, future producer of Moi, ugly and bad. The boss of the company, Jacques Bled, talks about his collaboration with Michel Ocelot: “I remember that Michel told me about one of the reasons that led him to be interested in this technique. He said to me: “When you draw an animation and you have to start over, you have to start all over again, whereas in 3D you can intervene on what has been done and correct”. Michel transmitted to us his taste for precision and poetic simplicity, which goes against the traditional and historical use of 3D which was very demonstrative and spectacular.“Assistant director Eric Serre, a long-time Ocelot collaborator, adds:”We provided (…) the same basic material for graphic designers that we give to 2D animators: drawings that represent the characters from all angles. It is during the transposition into 3D that it is necessary to monitor the way in which the character will be adapted.. “

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Animated film obliges, the conception of Azur and Asmar required a long term work. If the feature film has 1300 shots, no less than 13,000 preparatory drawings were developed at the start. There are a hundred characters in the film and twice as many extras. Michel Ocelot wrote the first draft of the screenplay in 2 weeks. For 1 year, he wrote a storyboard, while working on the documentation. 2 years were necessary for the preparation of the animation, during which “the 1300 shots of the film are each defined in a file where we find the framing of the image, the main positions of the characters in the image, the outline of the sets, the indication of the dialogues and the camera movements“. This work was done by a small team, made up of 6 to 8 experienced designers. It then took a year and a half to”the creation of the sets and the animation itself“.

On the dubbing side, the director made a first blind screening. This is how he decided, for the role of Crapoux, to call on Patrick Timsit without knowing his name. The actor was not at his first attempt since we could hear his voice in the French versions of Hercules, Atlantis, the lost empire and Gang of sharks. For the character of Jenane, Asmar’s mother, the process was quite different.

At first, actress Hiam Abbass had been hired only as a coach for the Arabic language, a job she had already done on other films, including Munich and Babel. For example, she had to advise the director at the time of the casting, by assessing the language skills of the suitors. But after reading the script, she also told him of her desire to lend her voice to Jénane. However, Michel Ocelot preferred to look for another person. “It was hard for me“she remembers,”especially when we organized a casting in Tunis, since Michel did not find what he was looking for among the actresses we had seen in France. We had to give tests to renowned theater actresses, and when I spoke on the phone with Michel, I told him “You’ll see, in the end I’m going to be the best for this role anyway!” We laughed about it together, it was a joke. Among the sixteen actresses that I met there, there is one that really pleased him. And there, it is true that it was hard for me (…) I think that what “blocked” Michel as far as I am concerned is that he absolutely did not want to see people before d ‘hear their voices (…) One day, in Paris, when I was leaving a film shoot, I turned on my cell phone and heard a message that said “Hiam, hello, it’s Michel. Then- I have the honor to offer you the role of Jénane?

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