DA: Could you please detail how you turned the panels of a singe page into a series of scenes and shots in the animation?
At the very beginning of the project, I took pages from the original book and sketched on top of it to conceptualize scenes, shots and panels. Basically I would divide parts of the page into scenes, and then divide the scenes into different shots to indicate in which order they would appear in the animation.
The original page
"If the shot consisted of different panels I would indicate this as well. In the process, I'd have to critically assess which parts of each page were necessary to include or which parts could be removed. This was important to be able to create a coherent storyboard with every element numbered. Since we were working in a larger team, this structure was necessary to be able to give proper names to all of the files.
"Once I had a storyboard, I came up with a number of animation techniques and interaction techniques and assigned a number to each one. I would place these numbers on or next to the scene to create 'guides' for the animators and interaction designers."
Animation and interactive storyboards
The final scenes in the motion comic
DA: Tell us about the soundtrack. Who composed it, and what did you want it to bring to the episodes?
LVB: "The soundtrack was composed by Pastelle, a studio in Amsterdam that was very dedicated to making a soundtrack which fitted the visual concept. We wanted something which not only brought the visual material to life but also chose a style of music which enhanced the fun, quirky and adventurous style of the animation.
"Most of all, we needed something which brought a sense of wonder, nostalgia and melancholy to the story, which Pastelle did very well."
DA: How did you involve Julian in the creative process?
LVB: "Julian was involved from the very beginning. When we had our very first rough concept finished and a general idea of how much interaction and animation we would be adding, we had a meeting with him and gathered his views on what we had made. He also gave us a lot of tips and feedback when we had our storyboards finished and had restructured the entire story into eight episodes.
As a person who himself had worked in the animation industry for many years [Julian worked as an animation director on shows such as Charlie and Lola], his feedback was extremely valuable and he was very open to our ideas. Not only did he give feedback on the things we made but also created some new artwork for us to use. [This was especially useful for] the interactive games, where extra graphics were often needed."
DA: What are you most proud of about the project and what have you learned from it?
LVB: "I am most proud of how everything has come together into one coherent whole. All of the 2D animation, overall animation, interaction, music and website functionality were made at different points in the process and it was hard to get an idea of how it would all come together. When it finally did, I was very pleased with the overall impact that the project has, and the way it really did manage to bring Julian's unique style to life.
DA: What are you working on currently?
LVB: "Right now, I'm continuing my usual freelance activities: a lot of illustration and character design work, and also starting work on my own animation project, Trichrome, which I hope to get funding for soon. Submarine Channel hopes to launch a new motion comic in the near future which I am really looking forward to."
All eight episodes of The Art of Pho can be watched on The Art of Pho website. We'll finish off with a short, making-of film created by Submarine Channel, featuring interviews with Lois and Julian.