Making TIGER BABY smile August 14 2019
Last year, we got to design the title credits for the Netflix anthology film, Lust Stories.
One of the films in LS was by Zoya Akhtar, and soon after the film came out, she wrote to us... telling us that that she loved the credit sequence we’d created (yay!!) and that she wanted us to animate the logo for her new production house, Tiger Baby.
Needless to say, we jumped the chance to collaborate with her.
Zoya already had the logo designed, so we were coming on board to animate this logo and bring it to life. The scope of work was much smaller than anything we’d done before… but as we would soon discover, making a tigress smile was not going to be an easy task!
After we heard Zoya's brief, the first thing we did was translate it into a concept script:
The screen is dark. A doorbell rings. A circular door opens in the dark screen, and we see Tiger Baby, looking at us. She smiles and says, “Say Cheese!” and raises the camera to her eye, looking at us through it. Click and the flash bursts in bright white. The white halo of the flash fades away to reveal… the logo art with the Tiger Baby title. The diamond brooch sparkles and cut to black.
We always create animatics for any animation project we take up, and it was no different here. Once the script was approved, we did a pretty basic animatic, just to get an idea of the timing and actions of the character.
In our first take of the logo animation, we stayed close to the script but put in a scratch male (!) voice.
It didn't work, of course. In Zoya's own words, "The voice intonation was awful" - which it was!
It was really strange to hear a man's voice come from her mouth, and we can't remember whose bright idea it was to use to a male voice (we should have just looked harder for an apt female voice.)
Tiger Baby's voice is feminine and sexy... and Zoya had an artist in mind for this, but her dates never lined up for the recording. Finally, it was decided to drop the “Say Cheese!” completely from the animation.
(We have since wondered if Tiger Baby is the kind of tigress who quips, “Say Cheese!” Probably not.)
With the dialogue gone, the focus shifted to Tiger Baby’s smile.
The question was, how do you make a tigress smile and yet retain her regal demeanor?
We tried out a few different smiles, here’s one of the more smiley ones.
While Tiger Baby was trying out various smiles, we were fashioning arms & hands for her.
Would her arm have stripes, like a tigress? Or would it be a human arm?
What kind of hand would it be? What were her fingers like?
During our initial explorations, her arm carried the stripes.
But eventually it became a woman’s hand, without the black bands.
And then, we dropped the smiley face as well, and everything just... fell into place.
Looking back now, it’s quite wonderful to see how the character evolved from the initial brief: from a perky, cheerful tigress, she evolved into a graceful, stately empress.
TIGER BABY was finally ready to meet the world.
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