Sometimes, we take animation for granted. I know I always did until I started heading to early press days, like the one Disney invited me on, where I got to head to Pixar and learn about the making of Pixar’s Coco. The amount of work that goes into a single shot of an animated film, is truly something to marvel over. But, imagine, having to create something that was, uh, dead-ish, and making it come to life. That was a task handed to the animators at Pixar when crafting the skeletal characters, families and people in Coco. Not just make them move, and respond believably, but to also give them personalities, textures, and, in essence, a life.
Here’s how the Pixar team gave the many skeletons of Coco a new life:
- Being that it was the first time that Pixar has EVER animated skeletons, the animators studied the bones, muscles, and anatomy to help them build the skeletons for COCO. Explored as to whether the skeletons would have teeth, eyes, tongues, eyelashes, hair or wigs, face paint for Dios de Muertos. They didn’t want it to look too scary, but wanted to make them vivid.
- Animators explored how they wanted the skeletons to look by drawing. Had to decide whether they wanted them to look like real skeletons or more like folk art
- The way Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) walks was inspired by Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ratso, in Midnight Cowboy. They wanted Hector to have a brokenness feel to him, and loved that detail about Ratso.
- The animators took some creative liberties like keeping eyeballs, eyelids and lips on their skeletons so there were ways to have the skeletons show their thought process and have clear dialog.
- The animators also decided to give the skeletons clothing. They actually spent years on this process as the clothes made it difficult for the team because the skeleton bones made gaps where the clothes would get stuck. So they added joints, so that the clothes would stay on the skeletons and move, without getting stuck in the joints.
- The shading of the skeletons was another decision they had to make. They wanted the skeletons to look authentic but also not creepy, and had to test it under lighting to make sure they had the right texture and response to light. This had to be decided before they created designs for the face painting on each skeleton.
- The work can be hard, but the animators absolutely love it. Daniel Arriega, Character Art Director, said “sometimes there’s nothing happening here during the day, it’s not working, then we go home and get inspired by something,” Arriaga said. “It’s hard because a lot of people don’t realize how hard these movies are to make. How much tears and anger go into it. And the reason for it is passion. We want to make these films great.”
COCO opens on November 22nd.
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Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco