Like the first two films, Trolls Band Together is directed by Walt Dohrn and produced by Gina Shay. While most of the film’s animation was handled by Dreamworks, the studio did team up with Titmouse to produce the psychedelic “hustle” sequence teased at the end of the trailer.
Trolls Band Together is the fifth Dreamworks franchise to get the threequel treatment after Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon. The first Trolls film earned $350 million at the global box office and its sequel grossed more than $100 million on PVOD during the pandemic when theaters were shut down. Given the box office success of Dreamworks 2022 holiday release Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, expectations will be high when the Trolls franchise heads back to theaters in November.
Speaking with Cartoon Brew, Dohrn relished in the freedom that the Trolls films have given him as a creator, and outlined ways that he and his team have pushed the envelope with the latest installment.
“We’ve created a world where anything can happen. It doesn’t feel too manufactured, and we’ve always had psychedelic visuals as part of the Trolls’ world, so this time we were thinking, ‘How far can we go with it?’” he explained. “As we gain more trust from the studio, they support our wilder ideas. With the psychedelic scene, I think we were able to get closer to some of our influences like Fantasia, the pink elephants, Yellow Submarine, and the work of R. Crumb.”
Shay added, “The scene was kind of like the child of many different and diverse artists like Dave Cooper and Milton Glaser.”
The visual innovations in Trolls Band Together don’t end with the psychedelic hustle scene. According to Dohrn, there is a shadow puppet sequence in the film and Shay says the new villains’ aesthetics are a tribute to animation from the 1940s.
Aside from the stylistic additions to the Trolls universe, the Dreamworks team has been able to improve the overall look of the film with in-house innovations at the studio that have improved textures across the board.
“Those kinds of textured felt surfaces we’ve been using in the previous films; we were able to push that even further with this film and give a real puppet feel,” Dohrn explained. “There is also some new software that allows us to deal with glitter. The computer really struggles with all the glitter which I think is hilarious because of AI ever takes over, I know how to take it down.”
Shay added, “The environments always start very DIY, then we spiral out from that and create entire worlds. This time, we have an entirely new world with new surfaces and textures to explore. It’s great we get to explore outside the Trolls universe a bit.”