Imagine having to explain the internet to someone who had never heard of it, who probably hasn’t even seen a computer, what would you say? It’s an invisible place that you can connect to and read and watch stories from all over the world, right? Sure, but show me how! That’s where it gets tricky. That’s exactly what the creative team behind Ralph Breaks The Internet was tasked to do by co-directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston. “We asked our animation team to explore the majesty and grandeur of the internet,” said Johnston. “We told them they could do whatever they wanted. They brought us cat videos.”
I mean, my internet does have a ton of cat videos but that’s not what defines it (my husband might argue it does- but whatever). As any person with a smartphone or laptop can tell you, the internet is what you make it. It can be a world of discovery and knowledge, a fun way to kill time while reading listicles or taking quizzes like “Which Disney Princess Are You?” and it can also be a very dark place. “We kept our vision pretty broad when we began,” Moore says. “The internet has become more hostile. We felt like we can’t do a movie about the internet and paint it as all roses and sunshine. We have to give due to the darker side of it.”
Not wanting to paint the internet as all rainbows and puffy hearts (and cat videos), they wanted to explore some of the darkness that exists. “The internet has become more
“To some extent, we were emboldened, knowing that audiences are actually eager for a more sophisticated approach in family-friendly films
Having that wide a canvas to work with, and a direction of what they wanted to explore allowed for the creation of new characters and entire new worlds. In fact, the team created over 150 master sets; 5,736 unique assets; and 1.9 million render hours, EVERY DAY. They also ended up using 434 characters with 6,752 variants. To get a bit of perspective on the massiveness this team embarked upon, Wreck-It Ralph only had 23 characters and 421 variants. Yea, that’s a HUGE difference.
Yesss is one of the characters I am most looking forward to. Voiced by the amazing Taraji P. Henson, Yesss is an algorithm who heads up the site BuzzTube (a marriage of sorts of BuzzFeed and YouTube). She is a trendsetter- literally. She finds what’s trending, and becomes it in real-time. She transforms her looks, fashion, and hair to whatever is trending or viral at the moment, and according to Moore, “She is going to be really important to Ralph and Vanellope on their journey through the internet.” Interesting!
Ah yes, the almighty search engine. Except Knowsmore isn’t like Google, rather, more like the search engine a lot of us olds remember- Ask Jeeves, Netscape, AOL(!!). Moore and Johnston toyed with the idea of making Knowsmore look like a light bulb a little similar to something else us olds remember-
And the other 430-something characters? They were divided into 2 groups: net users and netizens. “Internet users are basically us when we log into in the internet,” said production designer Cory Loftis. “What do we look like when we are running around on the streets of the internet? We started by looking at iOS icons. That was a major inspiration, and you can see that reflected in the head shapes.”
“Netizens are the ‘ghosts in the machine’,” he continued. “If you send an email, one of the Netizens is going to deliver it in a mail truck. If you put something in your shopping cart, one of these Netizens is going to push that cart to the checkout line and check you out. They are fulfilling all of the actions that you are performing on a website. They are the worker bees of the internet.”
THE INTERNET UNIVERSE
You think that’s all Ralph Breaks The Internet has in store? Ohhhhhh
Ralph Breaks The Internet opens November 21st