When reading a book it’s easy to see how each word is important to the sentence, paragraph, page, chapter and story. In essence, a book can be broken down into single words. Great writers analyze over each one and a book comes together beautifully. The thing about books, is that we can see that labor as we read it.
But when we set down to watch a movie it comes together as millions of frames rolling into one long feature. These frames flow together into a seamless story that draws us for the next 90 minutes. It’s easy to forget that like words in a book, each frame can be broken down into single pieces of work. In fact, that is how a movie is created. It’s a painstaking choreography and just 13 seconds of film can take animators an entire week to create!
But don’t take my word from it. It comes straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. On a recent press trip for Disney’s newest feature, PLANES, we had the opportunity to speak with Animator Ethan Hurd. As most of you know, a film begins on a story board. From there characters are developed but they are brought to life through animation.
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Using a tool called Maya, animators are able to create a 3 dimensional character and then manipulate each faucet of it to create movement down to the tiniest detail. I’m talking something as simple and as important as an individual expression, seen perhaps for only a fleeting moment of time in the movie. Add in the fact that we’re talking about facial expressions on a plane no less and it really brings in the big picture (pun intended, har har).
And while Ethan may have talked as though it was easy breezy, I had to disagree after what I saw next. He showed us just a quick 13-second clip of Dusty that took him almost a week to create! I’m not the only one scratching my head over ”easy breezy” now, right? When you check out Planes in theaters pay attention to the expressions on the Planes faces – if you know you’re actors you may see one or two that are “signature” to the person lending their voice. And then silently thank animators like Ethan who carefully choreograph each tiny movement.
You can see Disney PLANES for yourself when it touches down in theaters August 9th.