Disney Breaks the Mold with Wreck-It Ralph
More important, Moore has helped put Disney back on track toward animation greatness. Moore's a hand-drawn guy who's taken to CG with warmth and affection. But, stylistically, he's infused CG with a 2D aesthetic that's fresh and funny. What's old is new again. One look at Felix and King Candy and you immediately sense the influence of Ward Kimball. Indeed, King Candy is an obvious homage to The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland right down to Ed Wynn's whimsical voice. Like Glen Keane on Tangled, Moore drew over the CG footage on the tablets to get more of a hand-drawn performance out of his characters, but here it was to get more of a snap. They even created a new position called effects designer, who did draw-overs for the Sugar Rush racing sequences so they had more snap.
Each world has its own look and shape language: "Niceland was built in the computer with a modeler in two hours," says art director and Disney vet Mike Gabriel, who, like Moore, made the transition from hand-drawn to CG. It's a very simple square but every detail had to bolster the 8-bit effect. But the biggest animation challenge turned out to be the Nicelanders. Getting the right staccato motion took several iterations. In the end, they even Disneyfied it with the right flourish.
"Hero's Duty was comprised of aggressive triangles and it's weathered, torn up, full of grime and grit," Gabriel adds. "Sugar Rush is made of broken ceramics and organic shapes in the shape of an O. It's a caricature of candy using the architecture of Barcelona. Even pollution is a pretty candy cane forest."
Keeping the characters distinct was the biggest concern, according to animation supervisor Renato dos Anjos. "Ralph is a cartoony [mountain man], Calhoun is more realistic [as a soldier] and Vanellope is more musical and cartoony [with a Japanese influence]. It was a challenge for the animators to constantly remind themselves what style of animation they were working in."
Likewise, even the VFX had to be stylistically different in each world. In fact, this is the first Disney animated movie with two supervisors. "For Niceland, in particular, it took a lot of fire and smoke iterations to get it right," explains supervisor Cesar Velazquez, who split duties with David Hutchins. "It had that staccato motion to objects, really keeping the look of things simple. One of the animators from video games came up with a design that fit the world. There was a lot more destruction to sets so we developed new technology for destruction of objects and buildings. With so much smoke, haze and clouds, we developed a new pipeline for volumetric rendering."