An­i­mated ac­tiv­ity

Five things to know from Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net an­i­ma­tor Ben­son Shum


Grow­ing up in East Van­cou­ver, Ben­son Shum doo­dled in­ces­santly in his school notebooks. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he pur­sued a ca­reer in an­i­ma­tion work­ing at al­most all of the ma­jor Hol­ly­wood North stu­dios.

From there, he went on to in­dus­try pow­er­house Walt Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios where his first gig was work­ing on Wreck-It Ralph. Now his work can be seen in the se­quel Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net.

Shum was in his home­town on a pro­mo­tional tour to talk about the sec­ond in­stal­ment of the se­ries in­volv­ing video-game tough guy Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his best friend Vanel­lope (voiced by Sarah Sil­ver­man) as they em­bark on an ad­ven­ture into the vast ex­panses of the in­ter­net from their home in Lit­wak’s ar­cade at­tempt­ing to save Vanel­lope’s game.

With a re­sume that in­cludes Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana and more, Shum is in­cred­i­bly busy. That hasn’t stopped him from il­lus­trat­ing a chil­dren’s book ti­tled Holly’s Day at the Pool, which was re­leased in 2017 by Hype­r­ion Books in the Walt Dis­ney’s An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios Show­case Se­ries. If you hap­pen to be at the San Diego Zoo on Dec. 22, he’ll be sign­ing copies of the book at the Kid­store.

Pre­vi­ously, he worked on both Go to Sheep and Hide ’n’ Sheep se­ries writ­ten by Jen­nifer Sat­tler and pub­lished by Si­mon & Schus­ter. Shum has a wide va­ri­ety of il­lus­tra­tions show­cased at ben­son­ too.

Here are five things Shum had to say about the movie and the an­i­ma­tion biz:

Ar­riv­ing at Dis­ney

“I re­ally never ex­pected that this would be where I would wind up, although I wanted to. Be­ing Cana­dian, there are visa re­stric­tions and I don’t have a de­gree, and ed­u­ca­tion is one thing they al­ways look for when con­sid­er­ing is­su­ing work per­mits. My many years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try was what the com­pany was able to use to hire me.”

The in­ter­net

“Dis­ney had the idea of the char­ac­ters go­ing into the in­ter­net when they re­al­ized it hadn’t been done. I’m glad they did too, be­cause there is some­thing for ev­ery­one in this film in the same way it is with the ’net. We re­ally had a lot of fun cre­at­ing it be­cause there were so many parts in­volved.”

The princess se­quence

“I had the op­por­tu­nity to an­i­mate Mu­lan, one of my favourite Dis­ney princesses, which was great hon­our. Ming Na, who voices the char­ac­ter, came in and I got to sit in on her voic­ing the char­ac­ter and Mark Henn, a 2D an­i­ma­tor in the stu­dio who worked on the orig­i­nal Mu­lan, was our su­per­vi­sor so that tie-in was a ca­reer high­light.”

3D ver­sus 2D

“When you work in 3D, it can be in­tim­i­dat­ing be­cause it’s so big. But you kind of ap­proach it as you would a two di­men­sional draw­ing, think­ing of how you would draw it on a flat sur­face at dif­fer­ent view­ing an­gles and then mov­ing the cam­era around those to cap­ture it all.”

Frozen 2

“The next film I’m work­ing on is Frozen 2. But Dis­ney doesn’t do se­quels un­less the story is re­ally strong com­ing into it. Ul­ti­mately, you come to a project to do the best pos­si­ble work and that has to in­clude the best pos­si­ble sto­ry­line. It’s a very highly col­lab­o­ra­tive process work­ing be­tween the story depart­ment, an­i­ma­tion depart­ment and all the oth­ers in­volved.”


Dis­ney Princesses share a scene with Sarah Sil­ver­man-voiced Vanel­lope von Sch­weetz in Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net. Film­mak­ers in­vited the orig­i­nal voice tal­ent to re­turn to the stu­dio to help bring their char­ac­ters to life.

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