A little ‘background’ on Bob’s Burgers


Martin Deschatelets, originally of Sturgeon Falls, is now used to seeing his name on the big screen. The artist, now living in Ottawa, has been working in animation for film and television for approximately 13 years. He has worked on several well-known projects, and his most recent, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, is currently in theatres and earning good overall reviews.

For the unfamiliar, Bob’s Burgers is an animated television series centered around the Belcher Family; Bob, the titular character is the owner of an ever-struggling burger restaurant. The series has been running for 12 seasons, since 2011, and reached the level of popularity of series like Family Guy and The Simpsons.

According to Deschatelets, the film is good fun even if you haven’t watched the show before. “I went with a gang of people that never even watched a single episode of Bob’s Burgers, but they had some good laughs and they enjoyed it as well,” he says.

Deschatelets worked on the film as a Background Painter. As the title suggests, he was on a team of people who designed the various backgrounds for the movie. However, there was significantly more to it than just panting a 2D image as a backdrop for the action. He comments: “The series, it’s very flat. There’s not much shading, it’s pretty flat colours. But for the movie, we rendered it like ‘semi-realistic’, with a lot of shading, a lot of light direction, bouncing light directions which is a whole new thing that I learned for this.”

Much of his work consisted in taking the three-dimensional concept of lights reflecting off multiple surfaces in a scene, but applying it to a two-dimensional canvas. Though the work of painting itself is done on a computer screen, figuring out the proper lighting was done with the naked eye. “You don’t have the computer to calculate it for you” he explains. Scenes would also change based on the time of day; “We had a map with a compass of where the sun would be.”

It probably helped that Deschatelets is a big fan of the show. He was thrilled to get to work on this project. “It’s not my first one, but it’s probably my top one, that I’m proud of having done, and was excited to do as well,” he beams. However, there is also some pressure when it comes to working on something you care about. “You kind of have to prove that you deserve to work on it.” He describes it as being sometimes nerve-wracking to do it justice, but at the end of it all it was certainly worth it.

Deschatelets excitedly describes getting to see his name come up on the screen. “I went with another coworker that worked on it, so our names were both there at the same time. (…)  There’s no one left in the theatre except us, taking pictures of credits!”

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