October 26, 2007

Spanish animator brightens up ‘Bee Movie’

By Kiko Martinez

Igor Lodeiro puts the lights in “lights, camera, action.”

As the lead lighter in the special effects department at DreamWorks Animation Studios, Lodeiro is in charge of the technical aspects of animation including creating shadows for characters and reflections on inanimate objects.

Lodeiro, who grew up in San Sebastian, Spain in the Basque Country, came to the U.S. in 2001 to follow his dream of working on Hollywood films. The first feature he worked on was 2004’s “Shark Tale.” He has gone on to do lighting for the 2006 films “Over the Hedge” and “Flush-ed Away” and has just finished up his part as the key lighter in “Bee Movie,” which opens at theaters this Friday. He is currently into his fifth film for DreamWorks titled “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” which is scheduled for release in March 2009.

You’ve worked with shadows on animated sharks, turtles and even sewer slugs. How is working with animated bees different?

The insect is a really humanized bee. It stands like a human. Shadows react the same way as a human. You do have to be really careful with the antennas, because they can cast a very ugly shadow in front of the face all the time.

Other than the bee’s antennas, what else is a challenge in the lighting process?

The worst thing about lighting bees is that the bees are yellow. It’s a very difficult color because it mixes very quickly with other colors and makes colors that are not so nice to look at.

What about challenges not associated with the bee?

It was specially hard to do the lighting for the streets of Manhattan. There is a huge complexity of assets happening – lots of cars, drivers, people waking, wide buildings. The lighting has so much activity going – reflections and shadows.

Do you think the regular moviegoer notices the hard work you put into these films?

I think they do. People go to the movies and expect more quality and detail. If a movie lacks in something it’s not good for the movie.

What if your lighting department didn’t exist in the animation process. What kind of movies would we be getting?

It would be grey and dark. There would be no variations through the movie. It would be really, really poor.

So, away from the animated world, are you the type of guy that is so detailed-oriented in his work that you catch yourself staring at shadows and reflections in everyday life?

[Laughing] I used to try to overanalyze reality. If I do it now, its more unconscious.

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