How Do They Make Movies At Pixar? Six Things I Learned About the Making of Incredibles 2
During our visit to Pixar Studios, we had the opportunity to talk with some of the filmmakers about their process of making a film. Before visiting Pixar I had no idea how much work goes into creating the animated movies we come to love and cherish. There’s a lot that goes into the process of creating the finished film we see. In my first post, I shared about the costume design process and how the characters were dressed and created for the film. During our visit, we also learned about how the animators at Pixar created the worlds and got a break down of all the details that go into creating a scene.
The Parr Family Gets A New Home
One theme we heard a lot during the presentations was the mid-century design used for this film. It was showcased in most of the cast wardrobe for the film and with key scenes all through the film.
The first film was used as a guide for creating the world of the second film. Incredibles 2 is set in the sixties compared with the first film that was set in the fifties. Animators are responsible for creating the look of the film, characters, costumes and changes, environments, props and all dressing, textures in the film, and even lighting.
The first Parr home for the film took six months to build. The home was completely built and was in pre-production. The original design was an upgrade from the Parr house from the first film, increased in size by almost 1000 square feet. Story changes lead to the original design being scrapped and required a new home to be built in two weeks. The finished home we see in the film is amazing and even bigger than the original design and the home in the first film combined, it’s a sprawling 20,000 square feet.
Inspiration In the Real World
When you look at the design elements of buildings int he film, some may look familiar to places you’ve seen in real life. Ralph Eggleston and Bryn Imagire went to Palm Springs to look at mid-century buildings and homes for design inspiration. One challenge the team met when creating Incredibles 2 using mid-century modern design was finding buildings that were cool but less identifiable to viewers. They wanted the world to look familiar to us, but not in a way that made us question authenticity.
Pre-Visualization Brings Multiple Teams Together
Philip Metschan talked to us about his role in the film. He worked on pre-vis, which are rough sketches used to show how something might work. They help everyone working on the film to get an idea of the world of the film and keeps them working as one cohesive unit. Pre-vis sits in the middle combining story, art, and camera into the world of Incredibles 2. Philip and his team also worked on creating maps of where the action takes place, where the camera needs to be, what angles they want to capture and bring them all together.
Nathan talked to us about his team of 55 people in the set department. That included props, sets, vegetation, skies, and set extensions. His team was broken down into smaller teams that worked on different parts of the film. Sub-teams responsibilities include:
- Modeling: sculptors, modelers, architects, they building everything in the film. They make the world look as real or unreal as they want it to look. They create all the things you see on the sets, including trees, toasters, plates, cups, buildings, chairs, and more.
- Set Dressing: put everything that was built by the modeling department into the sets and get it ready for filming. They will the empty spaces with props and story items for the film.
- Set Extensions/Skies: expands the world beyond the set and props. They are responsible for building the city shots used in the film. Instead of creating a painting, they build a 3-D model they could use whenever they needed to have a cityscape in the background.
- Shading: add color and texture and create how they react to light. They control how rough a surface looks, how marble would show on the screen, making leather look like it would in real life. They add those details that make the film look as real as possible.
- Set Tech: they keep things running and remove everything placed on the sets. They make sure everything works for the filming. They use a pruning process to trim out what props are not needed for each scene. There are 2200 shots in Incredibles 2, that this team worked on dressing and trimming for filming.
Helen’s High-Speed Chase
We saw about twenty-three minutes of the movie and a few key scenes. One of those scenes included Helen’s new Elasticycyle and a high-speed chase. Story Supervisor Ted Mathot, Layout Supervisor Mahyar Abousaeedi, Animator Kureha Yokoo and Effects Artist Amit Baadkar shared with us how they created the scenes and what their process was from storyboard to the completed scene we saw at the sneak peek.
The challenge for the team was doing something that was super and unique to Helen and her abilities. In the high-speed chase, they wanted to show the audience several key elements in that short space in the film. Since Helen was solo for this chase, it was important to show how she would find solutions that were distinctive to her superpowers and not that of her family. At the end of the chase when Helen stops the train we see her use her superpowers, the original idea was different and they decided to change it.
The ElastiCycle Was Built for Helen
The elasticycle was built to match Helen’s superpowers. It needed to fit her style in being flexible but durable. It can split into two unicycles so it could go wherever Elastigirl went when she was stretching. The dashboard serves as a mini computer, police scanner, and a phone. The electric jet-powered cycle was designed by newcomer Evelyn Deavor and presented as a gift to Helen once she accepted their offer to use her as a face to help legalize Supers again.
My key takeaway from both presentations is that the animators at Pixar pay attention to all the details. They spend the time making sure they get everything right so when we see the final movie it’s practically flawless. They spend hundreds of hours doing research for small things like clouds, character movement, and even making sure the explosions look real and the glass breaks correctly. I can’t wait to see the movie when it’s released on June 15th, 2018.
In INCREDIBLES 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.