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Press | Tim Lamb and Christine Bian Talk ‘MacGyvering Our Way to Survival’ on ‘Orion and the Dark’

The production designer and art director approached the challenging, ‘scrappy indie project’ by honoring the hand-painted, watercolor feel of Emma Yarlett’s original book; written by Oscar-winner Charlie Kaufman, the DreamWorks’ and Mikros Animation film debuts on Netflix February 2, 2024.

6 February 2024

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Produced by DreamWorks Animation and Mikros Animation, Orion and the Dark follows elementary-age Orion, who seems like the average shy, unassuming kid harboring a secret crush. But underneath his seemingly normal exterior, Orion is a ball of adolescent anxiety, completely consumed by irrational fears of bees, dogs, the ocean, murderous gutter clowns, falling off a cliff, and even getting cancer. But of all his fears, the thing he’s the most afraid of is what he confronts on a nightly basis: the dark. So, when the literal embodiment of his worst fear, Dark, pays a visit, Orion gets whisked away on a roller coaster ride around the world to prove there is nothing to be afraid of during the night. As the unlikely pair grow closer, Orion must decide if he can learn to accept the unknown — to stop letting fear control his life and finally embrace the joy of living.

As Lamb and Bian did their practical effect experiments, they would videotape the process and results on their iPhones to send to the various production departments and their animation partners at Mikros in Bangalore, India. 

“Parts of the movie are actually that footage from our iPhones and some of it is digitally recreated,” says Lamb. “So, it’s a cool mix of media. It’s essentially a positive and negative mask of that video that we take of different ink, and it’s impossible to control it. It involved taking hundreds of footage clips at the right angle and the right speed, combining, and stitching those two together, and creating a mask for a matte painting or scene, as opposed to, ‘Here’s our reference. Now digitally recreate it using software.’”