Disney D-Light is the drone preshow at Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris. There is also a post show, which is absolutely stunning (definitely stay for it!). Disneyland Paris shares this interview with Disney D-Light’s Motion Designer Jean-Paul Faurre about the show. I also added in our video of Disney D-Light. Here is the interview!
Photos and text copyright Disneyland Paris
Jean-Paul is the artist who created Disney D-Light’s breathtaking images, which are projected on Sleeping Beauty Castle. He reveals all the secrets behind the production of this sequence of magic, that is filled with lights.
Could you tell us about your professional journey at Disneyland Paris?
I started working as a stage technician at Disney Village at the end of 2002 and held that position for two years. That’s when I heard there was a filming and editing studio at the resort, and, since I have a degree in editing, I went in and introduced myself. I then joined the team. In 2005, Disneyland Paris Business Solutions gave me the opportunity to become an audiovisual technician. I held that position for five years, and in 2010, I joined the research office of the Business Solutions department, where I worked as an editor and motion designer. This is how I joined the team that designs mapping for the different events at Disneyland Paris (except for Disney Illuminations, Star WarsTM : A Galactic Celebration and the Christmas season). We mainly work on Sleeping Beauty Castle and The Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorTM, along with the Pirate Galleon since last Halloween, and Skull Rock and Phantom Manor.
What are your most memorable moments?
The production of a video for Disney Hotels’ Property Management team as part of our resort’s 20th Anniversary back in 2012. Our job consisted of recounting the entire history of Disneyland Paris, and to do so, I drew my inspiration from Back to the Future, by recreating the legendary DeLorean’s cockpit in a video, so we could travel back in time! The second most memorable moment that comes to my mind is the 2018 Electroland Party, on which I worked as well. I was asked to give free rein to my imagination, so I decided to design a retro-futuristic program, in line with the spirit of the 1980s – an era I particularly like.
How would you describe Disney D-Light?
It is a brand-new sequence imagined for the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris. It will precede Disney Illuminations. The key element of Disney D-Light is actually Sleeping Beauty Castle – which is the symbol of the resort. We literally wanted to light it up, by covering it with lights thanks to various video projections that change throughout the pre-show, until it ends with a drone display in the sky. We also use a couple of effects, such as lasers and water jets, which make it even more spectacular. In addition, we have installed neon strip lights in gardens and lights underneath trees.
What was the process to create this sequence?
I started working on it last year in November with Juan Fuentes, the show director in charge of this project. It all started with a list of words I was given, such as “color”, “transparency” and “iridescence”. Based on that, I gradually developed a storyline in collaboration with him. To do so, I intentionally used a general thread – as opposed to Disney Illuminations – but at the same time, the pre-show consists of various phases. The idea was to change light-filled scenes throughout the sequence, until it ends with a drone display.
Music plays a key role in this pre-show.
It made it possible to determine the theme of each scene. Just like Fantasia, I used the pre-show’s soundtrack to design images. It’s an amazing version of the 30th Anniversary’s theme song “Un monde qui s’illumine”, which was arranged for a symphony orchestra. It was recorded by around sixty musicians at the famous Abbey Road studios in London. That shows how much it is powerful! When I heard the beginning of the song – which is very quiet – I thought about a starry night. Then, a few piano notes are added, so I decided to include spotlights that light up the Castle and make it look transparent, as if it was made up of glass. And, as the music becomes stronger, lights get brighter as well, and the sequence becomes more dynamic. Music really played a key role when it came to selecting colors and rhythms for this pre-show.
What strikes us when we see Disney D-Light is the strength of emotions.
To offer an emotional moment, we worked extensively on transitions between each scene, by basing ourselves on music changes. The sudden appearance of some of the scenes will hopefully give our Guests goosebumps. And obviously, the most powerful moment will be the ultimate scene, during which a synchronized group of illuminated drones will take off from the very back of Central Plaza to end up in the sky. It will be spectacular! This will be the very first experience of this kind in a Disney Park!
What were your sources of inspiration to design the images that are projected?
For the first scene, I wanted to reproduce the castle we can see at the beginning of the movie Tron: Legacy. I also drew my inspiration from the immersive environments created by Moment Factory studio – that is based in Montreal – and especially pixie dust effects projected on the Reims Cathedral, which are truly magical.
Finally, I drew my inspiration from the colors and ribbon-shaped decorations installed on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom in Florida as part of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort to create the 30th Anniversary scene, in which ribbons are reminiscent of the Gardens of Wonder mobiles. I really wanted this pre-show to reflect the style of the other 30th Anniversary decorations. This is my favorite moment.
What are your work tools?
Everything is done on a computer. I work with such software as After Effects, Cinema 4D or Elements 3D.
Sleeping Beauty Castle is not a usual backdrop. What was your process to work on it?
The Castle is an incredible backdrop, but it is very complicated to work on it. When we design projections for its façade, it’s better to envision the whole picture, because if we start inserting too many little details, we can get lost very easily. This does not prevent us from adding details here and there, and even surprises… but I won’t give you more information. You will discover them yourselves! With Disney D-Light, we will see the Castle as never before, with many more original textures – including transparency, light reflections, and an iridescent aspect.
How did you include the drone display in the pre-show?
When drones will appear, the Castle won’t be illuminated so Guests will be able to focus their attention on them. They will take off from the ground to end up in the sky and move in a synchronized manner to form figures. This will be magical! They will also appear right after Disney Illuminations, as part of a post-show, the mapping of which will encompass all Disney D-Light scenes.
What did you feel when you discovered Disney D-Light for the first time?
I discovered it when we conducted tests starting early January. It is always a stressful moment, especially since our managers were there during the first test. At the end of the day, everything went well, and everyone loved it. We could feel the emotion from the beginning of the pre-show. I then made a couple of modifications, added some extra effects, and now the final version is ready to be unveiled to the public! I can’t wait for our Guests to discover it! This will surely be the key moment of their day at the Park!