Saturday, March 20, 2010

Creating the Multi-National Book of Kells

Today we received a lengthy report in moderated comments regarding production details of the Academy-nominated The Secret of Kells. Since I found the comment highly interesting ... and since the feature is out now ... I put the whole of it here.

I thought I would bring a bit of trivia about the production [of The Secret of Kells] to the forum.

The film was produced in 7 studios around Europe and Brazil with a work-split approximately like this:

Pre-production and Story up to Layout was done in Kilkenny-Ireland.

Backgrounds: Kilkenny-Ireland and Angoulême-France

Animation: Kilkenny, Brussels-Belgium, Sao Paolo-Brazil and Kecskemet-Hungary

Cleanup: Sao Paolo and Kecskemet, and the odd one in Kilkenny

Ink & Paint: Liege-Belgium

Compositing: Brussels and Angoulême

3D: Brussels

Final editing: Paris-France

All being directed and edited (except for final editing) from Kilkenny, the main base of the director Tomm Moore (His blog:", and the teaser for the next film from Tomm and Cartoon Saloon

The film was drawn on paper, with a few sequences in Flash and 3D integrated with 2D. A few scenes incorporated flash elements.


Photoshop for Layouts and BG's

Good old pencils and paper for animation and cleanup

Linetest in Animo

Ink and paint in proprietary software (SoftAnim) in Digital Graphics (

3D: 3DSMax by "Walking The Dog" (

Composite: Combustion, Shake and SoftAnim by Digital Graphics

Misc: A little bit of flash (Italy, and Ireland)

Editing: 4 Avid systems automatically kept up to date with latest footage (HoBSoft is also integrated with FCP)

Production system: HoBSoft (

Here is an early clip of video featuring some early artwork, and some clips from the studio in Brussels; it is in French, but interesting even if you do not understand ....

Here is an article more or less about the same [It's in French, but break out your French English dictionary and take a look-see ...].

As a last tid-bit of info I would like to add that the production Manager Camille Leganza (Now DreamWorks Redwood), who at the time was living in Turkey did about 50/50 of her time at home and in Kilkenny, however... once production had finished in Ireland (Except for direction and editing), (so only 6 studios producing), Camille worked almost 100% from home in Turkey.

Imagine keeping the reins on 6 studios "From the comfort of your own home" ...

I haven't yet seen the feature, but the NY Times says:

... [T]he sometimes hectic plot ultimately serves as scaffolding for Mr. Moore’s extraordinary visual brio. Using the vivid colors and delicate lineations of the Book of Kells for inspiration, he establishes a surprising and completely persuasive link between the ancient art of manuscript illumination and the modern practice of animation. Like the crystal lens that is a crucial element of Aidan’s craft — an enchanted eye that refracts and renews his, and then Brendan’s, perception — “The Secret of Kells” discloses strange new vistas that nonetheless seem to have existed since ancient times.

What Kell's production highlights is the breadth and width of animation work around the globe. Hats off to everyone connected with the making of the feature. Their talent and craft are on full display.


Anonymous said...

I happened to see "Secret of Kells" earlier in the year, and really enjoyed it. It's a very well-done and appealing piece of work.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I heard this was an amazing film but I never heard of it until just a month ago. Was it only given a limited-release?

Aurora Dawson said...

This is a serious question for Floyd Norman and any other animator who's interested. Would you ever form an animation studio and if so what type of animation would you work on, CGI or traditional or both? and Why?

I'm honestly want people's opinions and no don't bring up Don Bluth in this conversation. His only flaw was storytelling but that doesn't mean any of you other animators can tell a great story.

So feel free to answer.


Anonymous said...

I love the spirit of making a movie from wherever you live. no need to have to move for a project make it happen wherever YOU are.

Steve Hulett said...

Cameron has criticized Titan's Three Dee as a rush job.

Jimbo believes it takes a lot longer than a couple of months to retrofit stereo imaging.

Floyd Norman said...

This is for Aurora --

Yes, I've actually already tried that. Back in 1966, after Walt Disney left us, I launched my own studio in Los Angeles. Vignette Films, Inc. produced animated and live-action films for anybody who would pay us money.

It was one of the most valuable experiences of my life, and it taught me that it takes more than hard work to be a success. You can work your butt off, loose your home, savings and your marriage - and still fail. Oddly enough, luck remains an important factor.

I still love this crazy business, and the medium doesn't really matter. Work is work, after all.

Aurora Dawson said...

To Floyd-

I'm so sorry that you're studio didn't do well. And thank you for answering. Yeah, I do agree the medium is not that important, but I was just curious.

I'm interested in knowing what films you made. And it's good to know that you still love the business, but here's another question would you do it again?


PS: I asked this question specifically for you because you seem passionate about making films, especially with the recent happenings at Disney.

Anonymous said...

I would actually love to see Floyd start his own animation studio again (I'm sorry that it didn't work out the first time around). He has a broad background of animation while working for Disney. He seems level-headed and has a good idea on what a great movie takes. And right now would be a good time to start one, albeit a year or two. Especially with the recent lay-offs at Disney and the shutter of IMD, it wouldn't be that hard to find animators.

Also of course there's money, so yeah it was just an idea. I just think if Katzenburg can do it then you can do it Floyd. Although Katzenburg was part of the BIG FOUR at Disney.

Floyd Norman said...

Of course I would do it again any day. Like I said, it was the most valuable time in my career other than working with the boss, Walt Disney.

We never made big films, features or the like. We were small potatoes, and did work for the educational system, government and corporate promotional films. Still, it was an education in film making. There's no better way to learn film than making films.

Like I said, luck is always involved. We would never have even gotten our doors open without the initial investment of a big shot corporate banker who believed in us.

Aurora Dawson said...

We would never have even gotten our doors open without the initial investment of a big shot corporate banker who believed in us.

True you can't open a studio without money. Glad to hear you would do it again. And I agree with the previous poster that it would be cool if you did it again.

I wonder if Warner Bros. would be interested to re-open their animation department, highly unlikely though. Sorry just brainstorming, lol.

Anyway thanks for the answer Floyd.


Anonymous said...

Wow I never thought to ask that...

And surprisingly I agree, Floyd you should try it again. Sorry if this sounds like an insult, but you could be the next Don Bluth. You could scare Disney into getting more creative than playing it safe, lol. In all seriousness we know you're retired but I think some may find it an honor to work with you, especially since you worked with WALT himself.

Hope you really consider doing it again I would want to work with you.

Anonymous said...

Jeez...why don't you guys get a room. Isn't there any fansite you kids can hangout at?

Anonymous said...

Bluth didn't scare Disney into getting more creative. By leaving, he took his tired ideas with him and opened the way for a new generation to flourish.

Of course, maybe you think Banjo the Woodpile Cat was cutting edge, and the kind of creativity that Disney needed at that time.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat agree that this lovey-dovey stuff is getting a little, "yuck".

Besides the point, I think it would be interesting to see a veteran animator, someone like Floyd not saying him exactly, to start their own studio. I just find it fun to see how it will work out. Maybe someone should try it out before knocking it down.

As for Don Bluth he did make some pretty good animated films (The Secret of NIMH and Land Before Time come to mind). Though that success had to end sooner or later, and unforuntaly it was sooner for Bluth. And juding the time I would somewhat agree that Bluth did help Disney get creative like the above posters said it was either he scared them into being creative or his leaving opened the studio for fresher films to be made.

Hans-Christian Jehg said...

The Integrated Production System used for the secret of Kells has now finished another animated feature, "Chico and Rita", even more multinational :-)

Check out Chico and Rita Case study

for trailer and technical info

and here for the article written by ToonBoom about the production

PDF article

Any questions about "Brendan and the secret of Kells" or "Chico and Rita", fire away :-)


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