“John las­seter wanted bay­max to feel big, im­pos­ing and in­flat­able”

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Big Hero 6 -

emo­tion­ally. Part of the treat­ment for this is to sur­round him with friends and loved ones. Then it was like, ‘ Oh, that’s how they’re go­ing to be in­cor­po­rated into the movie.’ It sewed them into the movie in an un­break­able way.”

With their story in place, Hall and Wil­liams turned to pro­duc­tion designer Paul Felix ( an­other vet­eran of Bolt) to de­velop the com­plex mega­lopo­lis of San Fran­sokyo.

“It was al­ways Don’s in­cli­na­tion to make sure that it was some­thing wholly orig­i­nal,” says Felix, tak­ing a break from the light­ing stage of pro­duc­tion to tell us a lit­tle about Big Hero 6’ s look. “That’s why he didn’t want to set it in some­place too recog­nis­able. The hope is that this would be the near fu­ture, like, ten years out. But that it was recog­nis­ably San Fran­cisco was def­i­nitely the idea. We wanted to make sure that the parts of the city that you ex­pect to see are where you would imag­ine them to be.”

To cre­ate the film’s set­ting, a cul­tural hy­brid ap­pro­pri­ate for its char­ac­ters, Felix and his team un­der­took an in­ten­sive study of anime.

“It helped us get a sense of how Ja­panese cities or­gan­ise space; and the kinds of spa­ces you don’t find in Amer­i­can cities. Like mar­ket­place walk­ways, and the way they cram air con­di­tion­ing ducts and dense de­tail­ing into those parts of the city. That was im­por­tant, be­cause it felt spe­cific to a place.”

Ex­am­in­ing Ja­pan’s an­i­ma­tion cul­ture, Big Hero 6’ s artists soon found them­selves in­cor­po­rat­ing its min­i­mal­is­tic ap­proach to char­ac­ter de­sign, de­spite its chal­lenges.

“The char­ac­ters,” ex­plains Felix, “are so stripped- down — not just the cos­tumes but their fea­tures — that it was re­ally im­por­tant ev­ery­thing get placed in the right place. If one thing is slightly off, you know it. There were fewer op­por­tu­ni­ties to put a mass of de­tail on and hope that some­thing that doesn’t get re­solved isn’t no­ticed. There were times that I could have taken a dif­fer­ent de­sign di­rec­tion. Early on, we had this idea that they wouldn’t have ac­cess to a lot of the ma­chin­ery they would need to make their cos­tumes, so they would be more of a rag­tag band. Which is a cool aes­thetic in and of it­self, but in the end it started to feel bet­ter that they were more uni­fied. They’re all ge­niuses, and 3D print­ing seems to be a big part of the show. So it just made sense.

“When Shiy­oon Kim — our lead char­ac­ter designer — took his first pass at the cos­tumes we have now he re­ally wanted to come up with some­thing that uni­fies them all. He came up with the cir­cle mo­tif that you’ll find be­tween their shoul­der pads and their breast­plates and on their hel­mets. That kind of curvi­lin­ear aes­thetic was the one thing that we hoped would tie them to­gether. We re­ally wanted a more min­i­mal­is­tic ap­proach to it, kind of Ap­ple- like.

“Some­thing John Las­seter wanted,” laughs Felix, “was to keep Bay­max a lit­tle bit more re­lat­able, and not just a per­fect V shape. To feel big and im­pos­ing but keep a sense of the in­flat­able in­side. So he still has that kind of rounded swell to his ab­domen.”

In the end, it’s Bay­max who, iron­i­cally, sym­bol­ises the spirit of Big Hero 6, re­veal­ing a core of hu­man­ity even while buried un­der lay­ers of tech­nol­ogy.

“I just fell in love with the char­ac­ters,” says Hall, re­mem­ber­ing his first en­counter with the comic books, “and the po­ten­tial for what we could do with them.”

Big Hero 6 is re­leased on Fri­day 30 Jan­uary.

Do 3D printed para­chutes work? Bay­max and Hiro are about to find out.

The stan­dard tabloid A- level re­sults day poses never change.

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