To Berk and Beyond: How to train your Dragon
Stories & Ideas

Wed 25 Jun 2014

To Berk and Beyond: How to train your Dragon

Animation Craft Film

Production Designer Pierre Olivier Vincent talks about creating a land of dragons

4 reasons to avoid Berk:

  1. It's twelve days North of hopeless
  2. A few degrees South of freezing to death
  3. It's located solidly on the meridian of misery
  4. And the pests...

Production Designer Pierre Olivier Vincent, shares some of the intricate details in the development and aesthetic of the How To Train Your Dragon world. Working with famous cinematographer Roger Deakins, they used light and shadow as you would in a live action scene to create a unique mysterious world. “The village is a finger pointing at the dragon... saying I'm fighting you!” - Pierre Olivier Vincent


When you talk about Vikings, you think about those people who are fearless, who are jumping on their boats and going to conquests. So, I think it calls for a completely different appreciation of scale, space, drama. For our Vikings, who are the fighters, they’re fighting dragons, they’re not hiding, they’re very brave, courageous, sometimes maybe to the point of stupidity.  But anyway, we had to create something that was more fitting.

The shape of their island was in a way, a finger pointing at the dragons. If you see the village, the village is basically having that shape. You see a big rock like this and the peak  and it’s basically a finger pointed at the dragon, like; “I’m fighting you. I’m defying you.” I remember the painting of the village, it was a black and white painting and we showed it to Jeffrey and he said; “That’s it!” and then we went; “Phew.”  And we went for it. For the dragons, they are the mystery, they are the fantasy of this movie. So, we wanted something a lot more ambiguous, something that would be difficult to completely grasp and a world of infusion, like a volcano, was perfectly adapted to this.

What we did as far as lighting is we worked with Roger Deakins. Roger Deakins is a very famous cinematographer. He brought us a completely different vision about the colours and mood. Usually in animation, we’re a little bit worried about going too dark or dramatic and Roger gave us a lot of strength to embrace it and to go with it. Having for example, black shadows, dark shadows, is usually in animation a no no. But he said; “No just go for it. If it supports the mood and the emotion, just go for it.”