TWB Film Group Teaser: Incredible by Design

TWB Film Group Teaser: Incredible by Design

Designer and TWB Film Group Co-Founding Member Nel Sparkman writes about one of her favorite films ahead of the Club’s inaugural meeting today.

In 2004, director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) released The Incredibles, which I argue is the best Pixar movies EVER. It has one of the best scores ever written, strong character development, and more importantly, a uniquelook and feel. As a designer, I watch films through such a lens. A film designer’s job, whether it be for set, costume, or visual effect, is to help tell the director’s story as well as contribute to the genre, period and visual aesthetic of the film. The Incredibles is a film that does just that — and does it extremely well.

In what era does the film take place? It really doesn’t take place in any era...and yet it does. The film exists in an idea of what the future would look like viewed through the lens of the 1960s. Confusing, but not really. Even though I wasn’t alive back then, I’m going to assume that there was a strong belief that the future was coming. It was so close you could taste it, grasp it and tuck it into bed with you at night.

Kids growing up believed that they’d be traveling to work by jet-pack, dogs would be fitted with collars that would allow them to speak, and robots named Rosie would clean your entire house. The future was so technically believable, but it never showed up. 

So how do you design the future from the perspective of the 1960s?

How futuristic is the world?

Are there flying cars?

How futuristic is the home?

These thoughts and questions were eventually reeled in and the designers drew up objects that we are much more familiar with (cars with four wheels vs. flying cars).

The key thing about this film is that they mix the mundane with the fantastic. Some environments were drawn so fantastically and then placed next to things that are “everyday” so that viewers would believe that the futuristic tech actually existed.

If everything in the film was so fantastic and futuristic, the fact that superheroes existed wouldn’t be as super. It’s an incredible thing.

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