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Motion Theory Conducts Mickey Mouse's World of Color

Creative production studio Motion Theory creates a stunning, cinematic, CG film, staring a redesigned Mickey Mouse in the launch of Disney’s spectacular new show, “World of Color”.

Press Release from Motion Theory

Venice, CA -- JUNE 10, 2010 – Creative production studio Motion Theory creates a stunning, cinematic, CG film, staring a redesigned Mickey Mouse in the launch of Disney’s spectacular new show, “World of Color”.

Motion Theory directors Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone partnered with Disney and advertising agency, mcgarrybowen, to create an artful, cinematic experience where a mischievous Mickey Mouse unlocks a stunning world of beauty and magic as other beloved Disney characters boldly interact with dazzling fountains of colored water and light.

Motion Theory’s visual effects team was charged with the creative responsibility of conceptualizing and designing the story for the animations. This encompassed directing the Mickey animation with lead animator, Tony Bancroft from Duck Studios, as well depicting Pixar characters in incredible 3D water form. To re-create the characters in fluid form, as well as elaborate 3D water fountains and environments, the team articulately rendered over 150 fluid and volumetric mist elements utilizing cutting edge beta software to produce massive volumes of 3D fluid simulations.

The film begins with Mickey approaching a music stand, where he begins to wield a conductor’s baton.  Mickey fumbles, and as he reaches for the baton, the sensational magic begins.  The action is set in motion as a huge first blast of water erupts. Soon a fusion of mighty water fountain blasts and brilliant arrays of colored light explode skyward as animated Disney characters burst onto the screen, magically forming into liquid shapes that flow and move with the animation and music.

Inspired by “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" sequence of /Fantasia/, Co-Director Christopher Leone said, “After a sneak peek of the ‘World of Color’ show, we realized that the bar was high.  Mickey Mouse is such a huge, iconic figure in our minds, we wanted to look beyond the icon and rediscover Mickey as a character -- a character capable of mischief, daring, and surprise.   We approached the blocking and designing of our animation with a live action sensibility so that our camera angles captured both Mickey’s performance and the epic scale of the show."

Each character had to be modeled, rigged, and match-moved.  Buzz, Simba, Eve, the Princesses, Crush and the other characters each comprised up to a dozen different simulations, formed from millions of particles. The full 3D environments that set the scene were a complex mixture of 3D water tricks, fountains, background mist projection screens, along with shafts of water shot 150-200 feet in the air under extreme pressure.

Visual Effects Supervisor John Fragomeni went on to say, “There are always challenges when you integrate traditional 2D animated characters into a photo-real 3D world of water. The key to success was finding that unique balance where the two styles could creatively coexist and retain the fantasy edge that makes Disney magical.  From the onset we knew we would be pushing the boundaries of CG fluid simulation technology to meet these challenges.  We developed a very lean and streamlined process to produce amazing 3D fluid simulations. It was a wonderfully rewarding project and the hard work by our terrific team of artists is reflected in the on screen quality.

The production timeframe for “World of Color” spanned February through June 2010. Production included concept, storyboards, pre-visualization, technical R+D, animation, fluid simulations, light, rendering and final integration of all 3D elements.

The production timeframe for “World of Color” spanned February through June 2010. Production included concept, storyboards, pre-visualization, technical R+D, animation, fluid simulations, light, rendering and final integration of all 3D elements.

RealFlow Lead Andy Cochrane said of the process, “Six months ago this project was technically unachievable on a commercial schedule.  We were able to deliver the massive amount of fluid simulations required only due to our access to the pre-release of RealFlow5.  We created more CG water elements in this commercial than the last two features utilizing CG water that I worked on…combined.  Disney’s “World of Color” commercial will be the first to showcase this technology, it was a great opportunity to push the new software to its limits.”

Gustavo Sanchez, RealFlow Technical Consultant, Next Limit Technologies. “The Disney project was a great test to demonstrate that RealFlow 5 was ready for release. Motion Theory and their team of water-wizards really did push the boundaries. Their experiences and constant feedback and it has been a pleasure for us and has helped us get to where we are with RealFlow 5 and now the rest of the RealFlow community can benefit from that.”

Motion Theory’s 3D team chose a workflow utilizing beta RealFlow5 Software coupled with Houdini: both new to Motion Theory’s pipeline. The number, complexity and weight of all-3D elements amassed over 12 terabytes of data.  In addition to using RealFlow5 and Houdini, the production toolkit included RealFlow Renderkit (RFRK) for Mantra (alpha testing), Maya and Zbrush for modeling.

Houdini Lead Marion Spates added, “The final lighting and rendering was done in Houdini’s Physically Based Renderer (PBR), well known for its photo-real qualities.  Despite the complex nature and sheer volume of the simulations we had to manage, the results are beautiful and speak for themselves in terms of the look of the 3D water delivered.”

There were many complex moving parts required to deliver the final result.  Motion Theory’s exceptional composite team, lead by Andrew Ashton, strived to integrate 2D and 3D elements, flawlessly embracing the best of both worlds to create a cinematic short film as unforgettable as the World of Color experience itself.

*About Motion Theory *Motion Theory is a creative production studio that unites the efforts of directors, animators, designers, visual effects artists and writers, resulting in a deeply collaborative approach to creative development, filmmaking, design and innovative visual effects. Motion Theory has delivered work for some of the world’s leading companies, including IBM, Disney, Nintendo, Budweiser, Honda, Nike, Hewlett Packard, Tanqueray, Lexus, and Universal Music Group, and partnered with top advertising agencies, including Wieden+Kennedy, Ogilvy & Mather, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Leo Burnett and Young & Rubicam.  Additionally, leading artists, including Weezer, Green Day, Beck, Adele and REM have sought out the studio’s directors to create music videos.

The studio has been recognized for its groundbreaking projects, receiving awards from the AICP, Grammys, Emmys, AIGA, Art Directors Club, Clios, and D&AD awards for outstanding direction, creative design, animation and multi-channel work.  For more information, please visit

PRODUCTION CREDITSDisney “World of Color”Client: Disney Destinations, LLCSVP Global Marketing Advertising & Creative: Marty MullerSVP Global Marketing Operations: Doug McGuireVP Global Broadcast & Print Productions: Sally ConnerDisney Parks Production Director: Cory StoneDirector of Account Management: Janice SimcoeAccount Manager: Jim St. AmantDisney Glendale Creative Director of Special Projects: Dave BossertProducer: Roger Petrusson

AGENCYAgency: mcgarrybowenExecutive Creative Directors: Ned Crowley, Jonathan Moore

PRODUCTION/POST PRODUCTIONProduction/VFX Company: Motion TheoryDirectors: Mathew Cullen, Christopher LeoneExecutive Producer: Javier JimenezCreative Director: Mathew CullenVFX Supervisor: John FragomeniArt Director: Ram BhatComp Supervisor: Andrew AshtonProducer: Christina CaldwellDesigners: James Levy, Satomi NagataIllustrator: Carm GoodePre-visualization: Simon Dunsdon, Christopher LeoneRealFlow Lead: Andy CochraneRealFlow Artists: Jennifer Hachigian, Klaus Seitschek, Parker Sellers, Karen SmithRealFlow Technical Consultant: Gustavo Sanchez Perez (Next Limit)Houdini Lead: Marion SpatesHoudini Artists: Brandon Lester, Ahmed Hassan, Val Kharitonashvili, Klaus Seitschek, Tom Allen3D Generalist: Parker SellersModelers: Gil Hacco, Trevor TuttleRigger: Gil HaccoMatchmovers: Brandon Lester, Gil HaccoAE Compositors: Aaron Frebowitz, TJ SochorNuke Compositors: Krista Benson, Ryan Geist Bozajian, Rachel Keyte, Daniel RaschkoMatte Painters: Ram Bhat, Jason Dunn, George Fuentes (print), James Levy, Reina SparksFinishing: Danny YoonRotoscope Artist: Megan GaffneyStoryboard Artist: Yori MochizukiProduction Manager/HR Director: Tina Van DeldenProduction Coordinator: Paul Pianezza2D Production: Duck StudiosExecutive Producer: Mark MedernachProducer: Dan RidgersLead Animator: Tony BancroftDigital I&P Technical Director: Kyle Borth

SOUND DESIGN + MUSICComposer: Mark HammondAudio Mix: Margarita Mix* *

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