Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, experiences and Disney character crushes are 100% my own!
The process of creating Disney movies is obviously quite complex. Last week when I visited the Disney Toon Studios, I got to see this process first hand, as we went through the step-by-step process of how an idea becomes a movie. It’s a long process (years and years in the making) and it involves so many creative minds. As you can imagine, the people who work on these films are not only brilliant, but they are awesome, happy and excited about what they do!
I had the honor to sit down with an actual Disney Story Artist as he guided us through the steps of drawing the PLANES character, Dusty. That’s my drawing up above (toot!toot! …that’s my own horn, in case you couldn’t tell, lol) Anyway…it was probably one of my favorite parts about this experience, and I will tell you a bit more about that in detail at another time.
After I finished my little drawing, I couldn’t help but wonder how something like my flat little drawing of Dusty, could be turned into the fabulous Disney animation that you see on the big screen.
Well as luck would have it, I got to find out!
Enter Ethan Hurd. He has worked on many (many!) Disney films, and was the Assistant Animation Director for the movie PLANES. He is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, and boy-oh-boy does he have a cool job! Ethan uses some crazy-amazing computer technology: a graphics program called Maya. Maya is a 3D graphics program, that quite frankly, is so mind boggling to me that other than knowing that it is super awesome, I can’t wrap my head around it. Against his better judgement (oh if he only knew what a tech mess I am!), Ethan let me and the other bloggers play around on his computer. I am not sure that was too safe, but he sure was generous to let us have a go at the actual animation process. It is so amazing how the graphics program could literally grab and move and rotate things with just the click of the mouse. Everything from tiny eyebrow movements, to actually setting the mouth of the character to the voice tapes.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that this is a super intense process of getting every little movement just right. In fact, it’s so intense, that it took close to FOUR years to get the movie PLANES from paper to screen!
Once Ethan is finished with the animation, he sends the product off to a team for the finishing touches, things like lighting/shading, coloring, etc. The entire process is just amazing, and I am so glad that I was able to experience an inside look at it all. One thing that really stood out to me, as it always does, is the passion that people like Ethan have for their jobs. You could tell that he is not only proud of his work, but that he loves what he does. This is inspiring, and I hope that if you know any young budding artists that you will share with them that dreams DO become a reality if you stay focused and work towards your goals. I saw first hand that people like Ethan are living their dreams!
Photo credit (Ethan photo) goes to my friend Isra at The Frugalette! And a huge thanks to the folks at Disney for this wonderful and unforgettable experience, something I will never forget!
Can’t get enough Disney? You can read more about my most recent Disney experiences, you can read my Monsters University Tailgate and Premiere post here and you can also read my Monsters University movie review here.