Does Shrek ever get out of that sack?
What style of dress looks best on a bright green
ogre-princess? What colors make an evil stepsister
look super-evil? Those are just some of the decisions
that Isis Mussenden faced when she signed on to be costume designer
for "Shrek 2," the fairy tale fable sequel that hits theaters tomorrow.
Yes, even animated characters need to be clothed. (Well, except Donkey!) Mussenden had worked on movies with live actors (and she's working now on a movie version of C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia") but the "Shrek" movies were the first time she had tried to clothe actors that didn't really
exist. She says in some ways it's easier to dress animated actors. For one thing, you don't have to find the right amount of the perfect fabric to make a dress
for an actress. "In animation . . . I can have any fabric I like because I design that too," she says. Though her actors are created in computers, Mussenden created their clothes the old-fashioned way, on paper.
She had patterns made from her drawings, and even picked
out cloth to make sure that the costumes had the color and
texture she had in mind. Then she gave this information
to the computer artists who, like extremely skilled
versions of you at your computer paint box, played
around punching in color and all the details of trim,
sheen and embroidery to make her sketches come to life.
Bridget Byrne talked with Mussenden about the fun
and challenges of dressing ogres,
princesses and cats.
How does a flowing skirt move on an ogre: "I did actually make a skirt for Fiona, so [the computer animators] could sort of see how it moved."
Tight sleeves vs. flowing sleeves: Fiona's sleeves are tight and that's because of the extra work the sleeves would create for the animators. "If the sleeve were flowing down like a medieval sleeve, [computer animators] would have to animate everything inside the sleeve every time it moved."
You don't have to put zippers in costumes for computer images: "You don't have any of those worries about . . . how someone will get into the garment."
On a princess and an ogre wearing the same (green) dress: "The dress has to work for both body types. Fiona ogre is so deliciously cute and I wanted to make sure she looked really cute, because Fiona princess will always look good. One thing I did was lower the waistline to get a more medieval style than in the first 'Shrek.' "
Fiona's new clothes: "We start her off in her lilac dress, a little organic and textured, because she's been living in the swamp. . . . Then there's a ball gown, which is inspired by a picture I found of a 1958 . . . dress with rhinestones."
Sacked out? Without giving too much of the story away, Shrek does get a clothing change in the new movie. "He's high style," Mussenden said.
A tip of his hat: "Puss-in-Boots is just the cutest. Very gallant with his boots and cape, and feather in his hat. You have the same problem with a hat as you do in live action. Does it cast a shadow over his face? We didn't want to lose sight of that cute little face, so the brim is curled back."