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Talent Spotlights

Behind The Glitter ✨ Emmanuel Larralde – Lighting Supervisor

Behind the Scenes of Thelma the Unicorn: Interview with Emmanuel Larralde.

22 May 2024

Get ready to dive into the magical world of Thelma the Unicorn through the eyes of Emmanuel Larralde, the Lighting Supervisor on this captivating project.

  • Can you introduce yourself and elaborate on your role in Thelma the Unicorn?

Hello, I’m Manu, the lighting supervisor of Thelma the Unicorn. My role was to assemble a team of lighters to illuminate this beautiful project! My days consisted of gathering information from the artistic direction (client side) and briefing my teams on the desired look, discussing the artistic and technical means to accomplish this task, and providing feedback (daily) on the latest images of the day!

  • Did you read the book before working on the film?

Of course! I have an 8-year-old son (6 years old when I started my position on Thelma). We weren’t familiar with Aaron Blabey’s universe, and we found it to be an original, effective, and universally appealing style.

  • What were the initial briefs from the directors?

The film’s aesthetic is imbued with nostalgia. The storyline juxtaposes the old and the new school, explicitly criticizing the modern music production method that prioritizes profit at the expense of soul, as opposed to the sincere and authentic method of the past, which prioritizes the musician’s musicality, warmth, and personality. In lighting, we had to work with this in mind, while also considering the 2D visual references provided by the client, sometimes very precise, and other times vague enough to allow for creativity.

  • What were the main artistic and technical challenges?

So, the main artistic challenge was to try to achieve a “photographic” image while still maintaining a fairly cartoonish look in character design, surfacing style (materials, textures), and environment style. The physicality of our lighting was often compromised by conflicting 2D visual references.

The major technical challenge was to teach (almost) all my artists how to use the Katana software. And to find an intelligent way to distribute the limited inventory we received (drip-fed) well after the initially planned date, in order to keep everyone excited about the project – which the production team managed to achieve! I still thank them today if by chance they come across this text 😉

  • What were the visual references given by the directors?

The directors and art directors mainly gave us visual references from live-action films or series. Most of the images they shared were the work of the director of photography: Roger Deakins. We tailored our artistic approach based on this desire for photography, while still maintaining a cartoony look throughout all our elements from modeling to compositing.

  • What is your favorite character and sequence?

3500 is my favorite sequence because it tells the redemption of Thelma. It’s a very simple lighting, outdoor day, but it showcases the two main characters who are very well written and, in my opinion, the most endearing, particularly in this sequence.

  • Any final thoughts?

I take this opportunity to share with you who my true favorite character is: Gary. He’s the ultimate unicorn fan, Thelma’s spiritual and legal son! He’ll come to her defense when she needs it most and will transform (radically) into a unicorn to resemble his adoptive mother as closely as possible! His design is very successful; all the artists who participated in his creation made him an exceptional supporting character who almost deserves his own spin-off!

Thank you Emmanuel – Don’t miss Thelma the Unicorn on Netflix!