Disney’s Finding Dory books and apps are integrated with the film making process and use collaborative digital technology to ensure consistent visual storytelling.
My children have enjoyed the Little Golden Book incarnations of their favorite films over the years. I had assumed that these were created after the films as something of an afterthought. However, visiting Disney Publishing this year and talking to art director Brent Ford I discovered how embedded the publishing team was in the movie making process.
As we sat down to talk about the books I made the mistake of casually asking about the different Finding Dory assets surrounding us. “Are they assets?” Ford asked, “or are they paintings, drawings, artistic works?” It was illustrative of the care and attention that goes into the process of creating the books and apps. The team spoke about their illustrations as something deserving the same respect as other art for the film.
This is by design. Rather than receiving a final cut of the film and having to hurriedly concoct the bones of a book, they are involved through the whole process. Certainly, the space for our interview looked more like a creative art studio than commercial office with Walt Disney’s original drawing easel proudly displayed down one corridor in a glass booth.
“We get to see the film as it’s being created” Ford explained, “and we get to see the changes that happen during the course of the creation of the film. We meed with the film makers at least twice a week to keep up with story changes but also to make sure all the DNA in the film is transferred into the book illustrations.”
The result is not only a timely finished book but layered locations and fully 3D modelled characters that can be put to multiple uses. The digital technology was not so much changing the artistic process but extended how versatile each image could be.
“We collaborate with the digital folks on the creation of the app. If you look at the Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming there’s a scene where Dory is collecting bubbles that uses one of our story book illustration backgrounds as well as our 3D story book character models.”
This highlights something that I notice my children comment on. The Dory in the books and the app are the same, although different from the incarnation that appears on the big screen. As Ford put it, ”if you look at the illustrations you’ll notice that it’s a creative interpretation of the film.” It’s a shorthand of sorts, that creates the illusion of the film-Dory but in a form that reads better on the page.
Seeing the amount of work that goes into the creation of the book and the app I ask Ford again, wouldn’t it be easier to pick up the completed film and copy down a quick rendering in book for from there? ”We want the child to pick this up and love it, and there not going to do that if we just go half way with this. We want to represent the film as best we can.”
It’s easy to assume that apps are taking over from printed books for children, and in some areas this is true. However, an app will never really be a memorable keepsake for a happy memory in the way a book is. Also there’s something timeless about being read to from a book at bedtime — my children still prefer it to interactive screens before bed.
I asked Ford if the collaboration with apps was a way of Disney Publishing stepping away from books. He was quick to allay my fears, ”Books are not going anywhere, we’re not seeing a decline we’re seeing an increase.”
Banner Photo Credit: Disney•Pixar