The result is the best scene of the film, one that plays with different art styles, allowing the animators to flex their skills — even if only for a moment. It is unlikely we’ll get an entirely 2D “Trolls” movie anytime soon, but it still shows that the studio is encouraging some experimentation. And “Trolls Band Together” still finds other places to play around with what 3D CG animation can do, particularly when it comes to textures. Given the film is inspired by real dolls, there’s a tactile feeling to the movie and the different creatures and places we meet. The biggest example of this is the Vacay Island; like the name implies, it’s an island where everyone is always on vacation.
“We had discussed that for the Vacation Islanders, their heads would be kind of like puppets,” head of character animation, Benjamin Willis, said. “Their heads were a little bit more solid, but their body was made out of a water balloon and just wrapped in a terrycloth-like beach towel.” Indeed, the final result is like seeing characters out of “Sesame Street,” moving with the limitations of real puppets.
Likewise, the villains of the film, a brother-sister duo of evil pop stars, look straight out of a Fleischer brothers cartoon. “We got to try a whole new animation style with them where they moved a little bit more like rubber hose animation,” Dorhn said.
This desire to break out of the mold culminates in a third-act chase sequence that is unlike anything the “Trolls” franchise has done until now. It has a sense of scale and kineticism you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the trilogy of jukebox musicals that is mostly about dancing and singing. Indeed, it was even a surprise to director Walt Dorhn that the sequence got made at all. “We could do kind of a musical chase concert comedy extravaganza and a rollercoaster ride. How do we do all those things?” Dorhn said. “We just pitch it out, everyone gets excited, and then just slowly but surely, we build it step by step, from rough sketches into layout and the camera and our team’s building models, and it still blows my mind that we actually did it.”