Responses by Marion Gondeau, account manager and Christophe Clapier, creative director, BETC Paris
Background: We wanted to support Disneyland Paris’s new signature phrase: “Where Magic gets real,” which carries the park’s true promise—a sentence that Walt Disney could have said when he created the park, the real projection of his universe. “The Little Duck” is meant for everyone, as we all grew up with Disney productions, comics, cartoons and movies.
Reasoning: When we talk about the park, we usually think of the attractions first. But, what brings most people to the park is meeting the Disney characters: the “Meet & Greet.” We wanted to tell people that the only place to meet Mickey, Donald and their friends in person is at Disneyland Paris.
Challenges: Disneyland Paris immediately embraced this universal story carried by this little duckling that is passionate about Donald. Beyond the realism given to the images, the hardest part was making our story clear: from the discovery of the comic, the link between our little duck and Donald, the migration that pushed him to leave his magazine behind him, the storm that forces him to land and the discovery of the biggest surprise of his life—all that had to be understood in a one-minute fifteen-second format.
Favorite details: Just before Donald’s discovery, we placed a shot of more than three seconds, focused on the reaction of the duckling, where we created an imperceptible dilation of the pupil. It is a technique called CFX (Cognitive FX) that improves identification and emotional contagion.
Visual influences: We liked the cuteness of the little bird in Pixar’s short film “Piper” and the realism of the ostrich in the Samsung VR ad. Cuteness allows us to attach ourselves to the character, to this story, whereas realism increases the emotion creating ambiguity.
Specific demands: The film was made entirely in France. The unit-images studio could not develop the Disney characters and we could not create Donald Duck in CGI. This constraint enabled us to serve the signature as accurately as possible because Donald and the castle at the end are the only real elements of the film.
Anything new: We learned how to be patient. The project lasted nine months from the presentation of the first script to its delivery. We started the character design of the duckling very early on. After the modeling, setup, rendering stages and the animation of the characters, we were finally able to appreciate and reassure ourselves about the film’s potential success.