it is not just the look of the environment that creates the style of a film, the characters are at least as important. both elements have to fit. once in a while you can see that apparently there was never any communication between the character-designer and the production-designer. or when you look at the characters of a recent major disney jungle movie, you can see, that 4 or 5 different character-designers were involved, but nobody coordinated them. at least those characters were well designed, what was not the case in disney’s LITTLE MERMAID. the environment was a disaster as well, no design-direction at all. the film looks like, every background-painter had a chance to paint the way they wanted.
in MULAN’S case all characters were designed by CHEN-YI CHANG, we both worked very close together to make sure the film had ‘one’ look, character- and environment-wise. the leading animators of the main characters were asked to fine-tune their characters, so they felt comfortable animating them. but after that their designs went back to chen-yi to be brought back to the style.
chen-yi was influenced by BRUCE TIMM’S style, they both had worked on the BATMAN-cartoon series – but as well by his cultural background, chen-yi is from taiwan. he was my most important partner on the film, because he explained the chinese culture to me and gave me always advice for my designs.
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