Disclosure: Thank you to Disney Animation Studios for inviting us to attend this event.
The magic of Pixar is in the storyboards. During our Cars 3 media event in San Francisco in April, we were able to learn how the Disney Pixar production pipeline creates movie magic with each film.
Cars 3 is unique in the fact that there is a next generation of pivotal characters in this storyline. Production Designer Jay Shushter, Characters Supervisor Michael Comet, and Directing Animator Jude Brownbill shared their insight into these new characters, and why the details of their creation is so essential to the Cars franchise.
The Character Creation Starts With Lines
Jay says that Lightening McQueen is “round and flowing” while new character Jackson Storm is angular, sharp, and with an aggressive shape. He’s meant to have a low profile, something that we don’t see in McQueen. As the antagonist of the film, the animators wanted to make sure that Storm looked the part. The constantly reminded themselves that the Cars 3 cast were characters first, and cars second. We needed to be able to connect with them on a personal level.
Cruz Ramirez is a happy medium between Lightening McQueen and Jackson Storm. Is is part of the new generation of characters, but still has a likability the audience will connect to. The animators worked with the curves of the character, incorporating them into the shape of her eyebrows, mouth, and even paying special attention to her headlights. Cruz is based on actress and comedienne Cristela Alonzo, the voice of Cruz. The team studied Cristela’s mannerisms and her stand-up comedy routines to round out Cruz’s characteristics.
Cars 3 Production Pipeline
We has the pleasure to learn even more about the Cars 3 production pipeline. Supervising Animator Bobby Podesta, Supervising Technical Director Michael Fong, and Effects Supervisor Jon Reisch lead our discussion.
Bobby says that Pixar films are all about not only being visually tangible, but also emotionally tangible. Pixar animation takes the things that people know and love and twist it just a little bit to make it visually and emotionally tangible.
One of the most amazing scenes in Cars 3 involves a Crazy 8 demolition derby race. Bobby questions what a demolition derby has to do with Lightening McQueens journey throughout the movie.
“Have you ever been at a crossroads in life where you feel really out of place? That’s the point of this scene in Cars 3. The audience feels like McQueen does – out of his element.”
The team watched a lot of demolition derby races in order to get this scene just right. They also mentioned that the digital creation of mud was one of the most challenging things they had to endure during this process. So interesting!
John shared that little fact about the mud creation during our session. He also talked about how small interactions like tire peel-outs, engine smoke, and skid marks helped to create an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. The sense of realism and detail helps the audience identify with the characters.
At the end of the day, they’re focused on the basic laws of effects – giving weight and balance to each effect and character.
Let’s Talk About Mud
Remember that little tidbit John shared with us about the mud? Well, it was so fascinating to learn more about that. Think about it – mud is neither solid nor liquid, so creating it digitally can be an amazing challenge. The team wanted it to look like a mixture of oatmeal and soup. When you take your family to see Cars 3, you’ll have to comment on this post to let me know if you think they nailed it!
Michael mentioned that story is king, which is what we explored in our last Cars 3 post. Every explosion, skid mark, and fling of mud is used to enhance the story. Michael mentioned legitimacy quite a bit during our chat, because the audience needs to feel that what’s happening in this animated film can happen in real life. During the Crazy 8 scene, we feel part of the action. We feel the emotions that Cruz and McQueen entail. We legitimately root for them, and are frightened for them. It seems “real” because the animators make a point of doing so within every detail.
Are you getting excited about the June 16th release of Cars 3? We are!
Watch the new Cars 3 trailer here: