Concept art from The Croods (DreamWorks Animation)
Stories & Ideas

Tue 19 Aug 2014

The world of The Croods

Animation Craft

What did the world look like for a caveman? In the imaginations of the talented folks at Dreamworks they took the prehistoric world to a whole new level of terrifying in The Croods

In The Croods, there are no traditional bad guys... except the world itself. Though topsy turvy and playful, it's also a dangerous place, with plants coming to life, volcanoes erupting and prehistoric animals on the hunt, resulting in the characters constantly on the run for their lives.


We wanted the characters, the family, to feel the world, to participate with the world. We wanted to be able to touch anything and everything and we should never feel like we should shy away from it. Even if they were touching each other in physical contact.That then travelled through as a concept throughout the whole movie.

On The Croods, we don’t have any nemesis. We don’t have any bad guy. Therefore, the world itself became the bad guy.  It’s completely moving all the time and the animals are always escaping from it. Plants can be animals while the animals can be plants. We kind of mix and match that to always have a whimsical feel and be topsy turvy and be always playful with that. 

So, when we started looking at it artistically as well as technically, about how to support that, we needed to come up with new ways of lighting our film and new ways of creating materials for our film so that the world felt far more tangible. 

It was a task as well to produce images to tease them as well and to give them a different take of what the Jurassic time could have been. We created a lot of different landscapes, imagining where they could go. 

What we wanted to do is take all that tangibility and then push it. That in turn made the art team even more bold in their aesthetic. 

You feel a texture in the movie. You feel the different surfacing and different mood of light, because it’s part of the story. They’re moving from act one, which is really a desert, arid area.To the second act, which is definitely more lush, and they’re discovering as the audience does a new world. After falling from the desert, they fall into the jungle, we wanted to make sure that they fall into to a place they’re never been before.  It’s scary for them.  They’re discovering new material. So instead of just doing a regular jungle, we looked into underwater photography.You cannot see too far. There’s a lot of atmosphere because of the density of the water.  Where the light strikes, you still have a lot of light, therefore, a saturation in colours. So it was a challenge to stay saturated but stay moody at the same time. 

A very unique challenge was the water sequence. We developed a new technique of getting far more detailed water close to the characters so that the characters could really feel integrated into the water. We took it to a whole other level. 

At the end of movie we did our biggest effects sequence ever here where we had to destroy the world. So we had one of most experienced artists basically take a brand new technology that we developed here for being able to do huge particle simulations and took that to the max.