Son of Faster Cheaper: A Sharp Look In­side the An­i­ma­tion Busi­ness

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame - By Floyd Nor­man, edited by Bob McLain [Theme Park Press, $10.95]

Hav­ing spent over 50 years in the an­i­ma­tion biz — work­ing as a story artist on ti­tles span­ning Dis­ney’s The Jun­gle Book to Pixar’s Mon­ster, Inc. — Floyd Nor­man knows “where the bod­ies are buried” … and he’s not afraid to take you to them. The fol­low up to his Faster Cheaper col­lec­tion of ob­ser­va­tions on the biz once again play­fully skew­ers our fa­vorite in­dus­try with the bite that only some­one who re­ally loves it could get away with.

Son of is a close-to-home car­toon history culled from Nor­man’s ob­ser­va­tions on work­ing at the Mouse House un­der the iron rule of Un­cle Walt, the war zone at­mos­phere of Hanna-Bar­bera, the Eis­ner era of the Dis­ney stu­dio, and the day-to-day con­flicts of an­i­ma­tors, stu­dio bosses and pro­duc­tion pur­ga­tory. As Nor­man puts it in his in­tro­duc­tion: “There’s noth­ing pro­found here. Just a bunch of gags about a crazy busi­ness.”

we needed to, but we went down ev­ery al­ley.”

Pitch­ing Un­til It Hurts Co-di­rec­tor Ron­nie del Car­men and head of story Josh Coo­ley said turn­ing Doc­ter’s ab­stract idea into a con­crete story took a lot of work and dis­cus­sion among the stu­dio’s story team.

“We would sit across the room from each other and tell sto­ries about our kids and our lives,” says del Car­men. “And when we do that, be in­volved in?” says del Car­men.

Char­ac­ter de­signs get sim­pli­fied down to their essences through this process as story artists pro­duce hun­dreds of thou­sands of sto­ry­boards for a typ­i­cal fea­ture, Coo­ley says.

“A story artist has to draw about a hun­dred boards a day, and when you’re done with that you hang it up on the wall or post it dig­i­tally and you pitch it to the di­rec­tor and the other story artists to see how it would feel in the fin­ished film,” he says.

Pitch­ing se­quences with the story artists do­ing dialog and even act­ing out the im­ages in the se­quence might seem un­nec­es­sary, but is ac­tu­ally ex­tremely use­ful, del Car­men says. “A lot of times, it doesn’t feel real un­til you pitch it,” he says. When enough se­quences are done to have a com­plete draft of the movie, it’s shown as a movie — and then picked apart to find what works. In­side Out took four screen­ings be­fore it even be­gan to find a story that worked, says Rivera.

De­sign­ing the Mind Eg­gle­ston says there were sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal chal­lenges in de­sign­ing the movie’s ever-chang­ing look.

“For a lot of the char­ac­ters, the de­sign told us what to do,” says su­per­vis­ing an­i­ma­tor Vic­tor Navone. “Like when you look at Anger, he’s like this brick, and so you want to treat him like that brick. You don’t want him to be too flex­i­ble in his torso.”

Joy’s eyes re­quired a spe­cial rig for her eye­brows that could be cus­tom­ized as needed to de­liver a cal­li­graphic line. “It was a real strug­gle to do some­thing in CG that’s so sim­ple to do with a cou­ple of hand drawn lines,” says Krause.

A se­quence in which Joy and Sad­ness en­ter Ri­ley’s realm of Ab­stract Thought dis­torted the char­ac­ters into — what else — ab­stract im­ages more in line with a 2D style of an­i­ma­tion that re­quired its own team of an­i­ma­tors, says Navone.

“That was kind of like a movie in a movie,” he says. “We kind of broke off a whole sep­a­rate team to take that and re­search and de­velop it for six months. ... It was an ob­sta­cle to over­come, but it was a place we could be play­ful in that world.”

Ri­ley was a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing charac- ter, as her move­ments had to show her at an awk­ward stage in life but also keep her ap­peal­ing.

“We had to build some new fa­cial con­trols for her to get some of the re­ally sub­tle emo­tions that we needed to get out of her and just try to find what’s the ap­peal of the hu­mans in this movie ver­sus what is the ap­peal of the mind char­ac­ters,” says Navone. “It’s two dif­fer­ent styles of char­ac­ter de­sign and how do we make each one nice to look at and what’s the style of move­ment.”

Un­der Pres­sure The pres­sure on the film has been higher than usual, due to the stu­dio re­leas­ing no

Good Di­nosaur.

Cars 2, Brave Mon­sters Univer­sity



The Good Dino-


Di­rec­tor Peter Doc­ter re­views ideas on a typ­i­cal day of pro­duc­tion on In­side at Pixar’s stu­dio in Emeryville, Calif.

Pete Doc­ter

Jonas Rivera

Josh Coo­ley

Ralph Eg­gle­ston

Ron­nie del Car­men

Vic­tor Navone

Shawn Krause

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