ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.9 - DECEMBER 1999
Toy Story 2 Is Not Your Typical Hollywood Sequel
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New Advances In Animation
Lee Unkrich explains that in making the sequel they didn't want to stray too far from the look of the original film, but the company had developed a lot of new software since the first feature had been completed. He remarks, "We wanted to take advantage of the technological leaps that have been made since Toy Story. We learned a lot while making A Bug's Life. It was full of organic life forms. Nothing was made of plastic in the entire film and that was a big challenge for us. We also made great leaps in automating animation, both with crowds of ants and grasshoppers and animating wind through grass and leaves on trees. It was a complicated movie." He says that the new film "looks like the Toy Story we remember, but it is far more lush and vivid."
"When we finished Toy Story we were at the forefront of animating the human form, but all of us would agree, looking back on it, it was the best we could do at the time. If we were to ever tackle humans again we would want to spend more time on it and do a better job of it.
"We had a whole team of people on Toy Story 2 dealing with the humans, especially the lead character Al, the toy collector who steals Woody. I think everyone will agree that we have made great strides forward. He is such a realistic person, but at the same time it's good to point out that we never set up for ourselves that we would try to recreate reality. We're not trying to make a human on the screen that people will think is a real human interacting with the toys. Part of the world of Toy Story is that we stylize the humans somewhat and give them a caricatured look.
Hamm and Etch A Sketch show off their composite picture of Woody-stealing toy collector, Al. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios.
"At the same time we've made the skin very realistic with hair on it. Al has hair on his arms, beard stubble and little hairs in his nose. All those things add up to a viewing experience that makes people think to themselves, `I know that what I'm seeing is not real, but it really does look real.' I'm really proud of him. I think we have done a really amazing job with him.
"This film was very difficult because it was a very big project. A lot of people worked hard on it and they all really pulled together and were a great team. Glen McQueen, supervising animator, did brilliant work on this film and was a real team leader. He really inspired the animators to do spectacular work. The animators had to work quickly, but there were no compromises...McQueen had to spend so much time working with the animators on a daily basis that he wasn't able to animate a whole lot."
All of the animators at Pixar worked on multiple characters. Brannon says, "Glen McQueen assigned the shots. He decided which animator would work best with each shot. Some are really great with action scenes, others are better with quiet moments. There are certain animators who are really good with a specific character such as Woody or Buzz so they got more Woody or Buzz shots. We tried to give people a series of shots that go together so the animator could work on the continuity.
"We are finally getting a lot more female animators. We have really great female lead character animators. A couple of them really took off and did some incredible work.
"The animator works as an individual on the shots and we check their work in dailies. At these screenings we give feedback and anybody can say what they want. It's important people see how shots will cut in and around their shots. We need to make sure everything will fit together as a whole.
"We have certain animators that everyone goes to with their questions. There is a lot of learning going on. People are in open cubes, not offices. This promotes a lot of interaction among the animators."
Unkrich says, "A major development was Pixar University, established after the completion of Toy Story. It is an intense training program." Some of the company's top artists teach the new animators the software that will be used and the fundamentals of animation. The school offers the entire staff a well rounded education in drawing, sculpting and other disciplines. Unkrich feels, "The most exciting thing is when we bring somebody on board that we are not quite sure about and they end up really wowing us by doing brilliant work that wasn't expected from them. That happens more often than not."
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