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3D character model renders © Passion Pictures Australia
  • Production Process

    Part of the Shaun Tan Education Resource.


    As well as being the writer and creator of the animation of The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan worked as co-director with Andrew Ruhemann and was involved in all aspects of the production process.

    An insight into the production process used in The Lost Thing

    A look into the production process behind The Lost Thing animation.

    In this module: Respond  |  Reflect  |  Explore  |  Create


    • Despite being a very ‘painterly’ book, The Lost Thing film was made using 3 D animation techniques.
      • What do you think this digital animation process has added to the film? Focus on the creation of the film’s world and the animation of the characters.

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    • Before making any specific creative decisions, the producer, Sophie Byrne and the directors, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, needed to make a number of decisions about how to tell the story. As well as deciding how long the film would be, the creative team needed to decide the audience the film would be aimed at.
      • What kinds of things need to be taken into account when deciding on the intended audience of a film?
      • Why is it important to know who the audience for a film is going to be?
    • Any form of storytelling requires the creator, or the creative team, to adopt a particular tone. Mood is about the feeling and atmosphere created within the story but tone relates to the audience and provides information about how to ‘read’ or understand the story.
      • What is the ‘tone’ of The Lost Thing?
      • Is the tone of the film different from the tone of the book?

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    • As part of the CG animation process, Tan worked with the CG supervisor to create a painted effect. This required Tan to paint textures and then scan them. They were then wrapped around the models. Focus on a single frame from The Lost Thing and describe the use of paint to add texture.
      • Explain what this adds to the world of the film.
      • How does this technique contribute to the story being told?

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    • The storyboarding process is the same whether you are producing a live action film or an animation.
      • Build your own storyboard, exploring the effect of different shot types using a short script you have written yourself.

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    Lost Thing Boy