Simon Otto, a veteran of the animation industry who formerly served as head of character animation on DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, to serve as supervising director and executive producer of the series.


a tale dark & grimm cover


According to Otto, Gidwitz’s works brought him back to his childhood days of reading Swiss fairy tales. Stories narrated back then was incredibly dark, frightening, and frequently tragic. He recalled “when they talked about your deepest fears and wishes, you couldn’t help but feel a strong attraction toward them as a child. Finding ways to convey that in animation was a huge creative challenge.”

Challenges for the series’ animation and for production team

Observing the animation series’ visual scope, Otto goes on to say, “They’re embarking on a tremendous adventure.” There are always new opponents, individuals to meet, and planets to explore in every episode. It’s huge. Consequently, being prepared for a production of that magnitude was a significant challenge.


a tale dark & grimm king on a horse


Overall, Otto believes that one of the most difficult aspects of the production was achieving the proper tone. “We needed to exaggerate and illustrate certain elements, such as the narrator,” he explains. “We wanted to recreate it in a way that took advantage of the medium while still providing the thrills that have made the books so popular with readers.” Our goal was to offer the audience a taste of Adam Gidwitz’s universe.

Storytelling in animation series enhanced by changing the book’s narrator

During the animation series’ development, Otto claims they chose to employ the fairy tale story’s characters as narrators and questioners. “We thought of three ravens, each with a unique perspective on the fairy tale story.” When the three ravens replace the human narrator of the books, they become untrustworthy storytellers because they make mistakes and correct each other. This is one of the most original choices that the production crew has come up with.

a tale dark & grimm 3 crows

“We’re effectively performing this drama on an imaginary theater stage inside the raven’s memory and fancy,” Otto observes.

A mix of 2D Animation and 3D animation that help storytelling better

The series’ drama was built on an imaginary theater stage inside the raven’s memory and fancy, as Otto said before. This is why backgrounds disappear into the background like a cardboard wall or like the 2D moon in a play.

a tale dark & grimm baker


“We thought it would be a lot of fun. Even in 3D, there’s always some 2D going on. We wanted to depict this universe in varying degrees of theatricality, so that it could be cranked up or cranked down to get the desired level of dramatic realism.

a tale dark & grimm turn into wolf


Otto says the animation series’ CG assets were created and animated in Maya, plus some additional tools for specialized needs. “Quite a deal of 2D animation and compositing was done in Harmony,” he says.

The visual and aesthetics development

Visually, the team was influenced by Lotte Reiniger’s art, Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty, and Magic Light’s Revolting Rhymes films.
During development, Richie Chavez, production designer, included numerous elements from traditional Central European Grimm era art and then blended them all into a cohesive look.

a tale dark & grimm back to life


Jam Filled’s art department, lead by Tom Pajdlhauser, ran with what the team had created.


>> Read more: ‘A Tale Dark & Grimm,’ a Netflix original series, adds a twist to traditional fairy tales (Part 1)

Animost – Vietnam 3D Animation Studio

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network:
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology:
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist:
  4. Bloomberg News:
  5. Insider:
  6. Inverse:
  7. Animation Magazine: