“Technology pushes art. Art pushes technology.” Supervising Animator Shawn Krause
The animation process behind every film I see never ceases to amaze me. The team behind each and every movie are a fine-oiled machine that create incredible images and stories for the audience. In Pixar’s “Inside Out” that animation process includes Supervising Animators Shawn Krause & Victor Navone, as well as Directing Animator Jamie Roe and Story Artist Tony Fucile. Together, they would work with the animators and Director, Pete Docter, to animate the upcoming movie.
These forums, called “animation dailies“, are a forum where animators and director meet about an hour every morning to make sure everyone is following Pete’s vision for the film. For perspective, animation starts after the Story Department has figured out what the scene is, it has gone to layout and they have placed the camera, stage blocking is set up and then animators take it from there. There is a process that must be followed and leads directly to the final animation process.
As they work through the dailies, it is meant to be a collaborative process. The team works together to come up with ideas for the shot and the director gives the final say. These meetings are meant to all about reaction, not silence. Of course, dailies can be stressful for animators as they watch reactions from their peers as to whether or not a scene works. The animators take notes and direction and then work each day towards hearing the words, “Final it!” from the director. It is at this point that a shot is done and can move further down the stream to finishing it.
Throughout the animation process, each shot goes through several changes and can be presented in morning dailies multiple times. The progression of one shot for the animator begins when they get the shot from layout. Layout tells the animators where the character needs to stand in relation to the camera. This acts as a starting point for the animators as they begin to format and create the drawings.
The animator then comes up with ideas, does acting references, creates drawings and comes up with what they believe will work for the shot. They then come up with 1st pass blocking which is really a rough collection of ideas to take to the director. They typically don’t waste too much time on it because it is simply something quick to show the director as soon as possible.
During dailies, Story Artist Tony Fucile does “draw overs” as animators and Pete Docter talk. This then gives the animators a tangible piece to take back to their desk. The animator takes Tony’s drawings and feedback from the dailies to interpret the information for what they feel the shot needs. Once they are ready to move forward, they do another run of the shot to present at another daily as a second pass showing. Even though it is smoother and more polished, the animator is still problem solving to figure out exactly what the performance should look like.
During dailies, it has been noted that Pete Docter often shows impressions for characters on his face, so the animators can watch his face for direction in their shot. Plus, it is good to have a mirror nearby as an animator to see the emotion and translate it. Or, if possible, they use facial expressions from the voice actors to develop the shots. They draw from wherever they can to come up with the best shot they can achieve for the film.
Disney Pixar’s Inside Out opens in theaters everywhere on June 19 and is rated PG.