Writer-director Brad Bird wowed the Comic-Con audience Friday afternoon with two scenes from Disney/Pixar's THE INCREDIBLES (opening Nov. 5) and some lively and revealing comments on his transition from 2D to 3D animation.
In the first clip, while moonlighting once again as a superhero Mr. Incredible has trouble fitting into his costume and the escape hatch to fight a robotic creature on an island. It takes a while for him to get the hang of it, but he eventually regains his strength and smarts. Afterward, he visits an old designer friend (a nod to the great Edith Head) to fix his suit. Bird promised that this initial PG-rated Pixar film will appeal to everyone while skewing older, reminding everyone that he was a SIMPSONS guy.
Of the '60s superhero riff, Bird said, "We were trying to make it pleasing graphically. And I think there is a tendency in CG films, in particular, to throw in so much detail that it loses simplicity and a pleasing graphic element. I think the fact that it was designed originally for 2Dit retained a pretty stylized look."
Bird added that Pixar "bubble wrapped us originally and gradually took the tape off" during the difficult 3D transition. "It takes forever to do these things, especially if you wanted them to do the kinds of expressions in animation that we wanted to get into. For me it felt like you were dumping thousands and thousands of decisions into this giant bottomless pit and nothing was ever moving forward. Everyone would finally go, 'This film is being made, isn't it?' 'Yes, yes, we need another thousand decisions to go into the pit today.' The weird thing is, suddenly you'd get these images one after another with unbelievable detail and nuance and light."
Bird explained that since "detail demands more detail in CG," and reality can become more and more deformed until you wind up with people that look like they belong in a Fellini movie, he ended up simplifying the graphic design and working hard to convey weight believably.
The audience erupted in laughter, though, when Bird exclaimed that at Pixar "it's easier to blow up a planet than move somebody's shirt." Since humans have always been the Achilles heel at the trailblazing 3D animation studio, Bird often encountered the same angry response from the technical geniuses: "He wants to touch the shirt!" So Bird had to ration his shirt grabs.