During our Disney sponsored press trip to L.A., we were able to speak to the directors, producers and animators of Disney’s Zootopia. With the movie hitting theaters this March 4th, being able to speak to the animators about the new addition to the Disney Animation Studios slate was such a dream.
Our visit to speak to the animators included an adventurous trip to a very interesting warehouse. See, this is where the animators have been housed while the Disney Animation building is under construction. While the outside left something to be desired, the inside was full of Zootopia awesomeness. Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde and the rest of the crew were in full affect inside the walls. What I loved were all the secrets, details, and fun facts that we learned during our visit.
10 Awesome Facts About Zootopia
- There were 550 people involved in the making of Zootopia. Can you imagine a small town getting together to make an animated film? Well, that’s basically what happened during the development of Zootopia.
- If it doesn’t serve the story, then it’s scrapped. Listening to the Co-Head of Story Josie Trinidad speak about certain scenes that took her weeks or months to create, that eventually were removed from the film had me flabbergasted. She worked hard on those important parts of the film. But, she put it all in perspective. If it wasn’t serving the movie, the flow of the film, and the lessons they wanted the audience to learn, it had to go. Phil Johnston, a writer on the team, said “You have to be wiling to kill your darlings.”
- According to Co-Director Jared Bush, there were over 1,170 drafts of Zootopia before the final cut. Holy. Cow.
- Hair is a big deal in Zootopia. Animators spent a lot of time researching how the hair of each animal falls, the true color of their hair (Polar bears actually have CLEAR hair), and how that hair moves in the wind.
- Story board artists present their scene concepts by acting out the roles of the characters, emotions and all. This was so interesting to me. I wonder if the “acting” of a story board artist in a pivotal scene influences the actors they eventually choose for those characters?
- Do you see a bit of Disney’s Robin Hood when you look at Nick Wilde? There’s a reason for that. Head of Animation Renato dos Anjos loves the movie, and started his Zootopia journey with Robin Hood in mind.
- The Zootopia team learned quite a bit about animals during the development of the film, as you can imagine. One of my favorite things that they shared with us? Wildebeests aren’t very bright. They’ll all walk into very deep water, and almost drown, if they see another Wildebeest do it. And you thought lemmings were bad!
- A small part of the team had the opportunity to watch animals in their own habitats. They visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and even went to Kenya! Animation Supervisor Chad Sellers said that until that trip to Kenya, it felt like they were only touching the surface of story creation.
- While I think the Sloths will be the breakout star of the film, the animators admit that they were the most difficult to humanize. Because of their slow mannerisms, there were many story boards that were taken apart or out of the film. I guess it’s not that easy to draw a character that’s basically moving at a glacial pace.
- Have you ever heard of binkying? Animation Supervisor Nathaniel Engelhard studied this special characteristic of rabbits when working with Judy Hopps, and the creation of her family.
Zootopia hits theaters everywhere on March 4th!
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