There are many employees that work together to bring an animated film to life. Often times, all Pixar employees are referred to as animators, even if they had little to do with how the animation appears on screen. This error is widespread because of the confusion surrounding what animation can achieve. Animators can move characters and environment details around, but it is the job of other employees to adjust other aspects of the scene such as lighting. Scott Clark, supervising animator of Monsters University, talked to me and a few other members of the press about how animation works. Find out seven things that he had to say about animation and Monsters University after the break!
- Animators are the actors and stunt people of the virtual world. They have to take a long time to figure out what the best take will be. Live-action has the luxury of multiple takes, while animation is a lengthy process, so animators work hard at perfecting the one take.
- Pixar uses a software program called Presto, so named after its short film which was directed by Doug Sweetland. Presto is a proprietary software that was first utilized on the company’s last film, Brave.
- There are 2 camera types that are utilized for creating the scene – the camera that the audience looks through and the “scratch camera,” which can be turned to any angle to easily manipulate movements.
- Pixar animators use the same animation principles that were used for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Disney animators in the 1930s did not look to other animation for inspiration – they referred to Charlie Chaplin and plays. Pixar also looks to real life for inspiration on how animation should appear.
- Motion capture, the tracking of movements from cameras placed on actors, would not be helpful to animation. Clark believes that it would still just be a person in a suit acting like a character, instead of the character itself performing the motions.
- Sulley is not built to dance. The large character has long arms and short legs, which made it challenging to figure out how he would dance. The character needed to be balanced between the characteristics of a confident male and a somewhat insecure 18-year-old freshman.
- The animators strive for the characters to feel real, which means most audience members will look past the animation and at the story. Clark states that he is accepting of the fact that his work is done behind-the-scenes because he knows his work will forever be seen in that character on-screen.
Monsters University is unsurprisingly one of the studio’s most beautifully animated films (or at least the first half is, which I had the opportunity to see back in April). With the majority of the film taking place on a college campus, there are hundreds of additional characters in the background, yet the animation never loses a beat. You will have the chance to be amazed at the animation when the film opens nationwide on June 21.