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Lan­tern, says the project stands out be­cause of its heart, hu­mor and vis­ual panache. “The show tells a more am­bi­tious story, and while we’re push­ing the com­edy as­pects, it’s also more top­i­cal and so­cially rel­e­vant, be­cause it deals with is­sues of prej­u­dice,” he notes. “It re­ally felt like we were push­ing the en­ve­lope with it.”

Guggen­heim points out that although the pro­duc­tion meth­ods for the new show have been iden­ti­cal to Troll­hunters, he and his team are quite im­pressed with the qual­ity of the an­i­ma­tion. “It’s a real level up,” he notes. “We didn’t do it by chang­ing our an­i­ma­tion houses, but I think they re­ally worked hard to im­prove the qual­ity of the an­i­ma­tion so that it’s al­most on the level of fea­ture an­i­ma­tion.”

Find­ing the orig­i­nal voice for the show proved to be one of the more chal­leng­ing as­pects of the cre­ative jour­ney. As Guggen­heim ex­plains, “For Troll­hunters, we had a novel and a com­plete screen­play to work off of, with many years of vis­ual and char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. For 3Below, we had to in­vent the show out of whole cloth. We re­ally had come up with the voice of the char­ac­ters and what they’re each deal­ing with on the show.”

The new show’s visu­als are also quite dif­fer­ent from the first se­ries. While the look of Troll­hunters was in­flu­enced by var­i­ous ge­o­log­i­cal con­cepts, 3Below is all about light and en­ergy, which fuel the tech­nolo­gies of the alien planet.

“The artists de­voted a lot of thought and plan­ning to the show’s visu­als,” notes Guggen­heim. “In this show, we know that that all of the tech­nol­ogy on the planet Akirid­ion-5 is based on en­ergy, so the aliens’ ap­pear­ance and de­sign, their weaponry and the over­all look of their world is based on that. Be­cause we start off on the alien planet in the first episode, it all looked like Troll­hunters on steroids. We had to re­ally blast off with a pop, and the art team did such a re­mark­able job with that.”

Vi­sions of a Bright Fu­ture

Re­gard­ing the visu­als, Blaas says 3Below gave him the op­por­tu­nity to pay homage to some of the artists he had ad­mired when he was younger. “I loved the art that was fea­tured in Heavy Metal mag­a­zine,” he notes. “Be­cause sci fi is not a genre that is com­monly ex­plored in an­i­ma­tion, I thought this was a great chance to pay homage to artists like Chris Foss and Syd Mead.”

Blaas says the artists also played with the idea of pre­sent­ing Ar­ca­dia from the point of view of the aliens. “We wanted the town to look more lush and in­ter­est­ing,” he notes. “We ad­justed and re­mod­eled the look and the light­ing and made it look more like the world of Amer­i­can Graf­fiti, old-school Amer­i­cana with mid-cen­tury de­signs emerg­ing. You see that very dis­tinctly with the space­ship, which dis­guises it­self as a mid-cen­tury Cal­i­for­nia house. Also, to em­pha­size the world of the aliens, we re­lied on a lim­ited color palette made of mostly blues and greens and some­times ma­genta splashes.”

The exec pro­duc­ers all point out that as busy as del Toro is with his other projects, he re­mains deeply com­mit­ted and in­vested in the new se­ries. “We are even work­ing more closely with him on this show than Troll­hunters,” says Guggen­heim. “We meet with him pe­ri­od­i­cally and have story, de­sign, art and an­i­matic re­views. All th­ese ses­sions hap­pen on the same day, so they all in­form each other. Work­ing with Guillermo is a very or­ganic process. We are con­stantly go­ing back and re­vis­ing things un­til we have the best show. It’s a very dy­namic, or­ganic process in ev- ery as­pect.”

Blaas says sit­ting with del Toro in all-day meet­ings is like at­tend­ing a mas­ter class in film­mak­ing. “He takes you along on all the dif­fer­ent as­pects of the film­mak­ing process — from di­rect­ing a great cast to stag­ing a par­tic­u­lar scene or de­liv­er­ing a comedic se­quence,” he notes. “He has a truly in­cred­i­ble eye and is able to fo­cus on all the de­tails that we needed to ac­com­plish in or­der to push the bound­aries of what TV an­i­ma­tion can do.”

Just as there were seeds planted for 3Below in the third sea­son of Troll­hunters, the cre­ative team are mak­ing plans for fi­nal part of the tril­ogy, which is called Wizards. “It’s truly a lux­ury to know where you’re go­ing,” says Guggen­heim. “We al­ready have a grand plan, and we’re play­ing with the ideas of which char­ac­ters will be com­ing to the fore in Wizards.”

For now, the pro­duc­ers are hop­ing that the show can send a pos­i­tive mes­sage to fam­ily au­di­ences, while en­ter­tain­ing them with in­ter­est­ing sto­ry­lines, mem­o­rable char­ac­ters and some good laughs along the way. “We want peo­ple to be en­ter­tained and hope they’ll come away with a deeper un­der­stand­ing of prej­u­dice and how it af­fects im­mi­grants in our world,” notes Guggen­heim. “Ev­ery­one is an im­mi­grant of some kind, and this shouldn’t be a di­vi­sive is­sue. It should bring us all to­gether, par­tic­u­larly in Amer­ica which has al­ways been a melt­ing pot. If we can in­spire im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions as well as en­ter­tain, that would be the ic­ing on the cake.” ◆

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