ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.9 - DECEMBER 1999
Toy Story 2 Is Not Your Typical Hollywood Sequel
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Making Late Changes
At Pixar they spend as much time as necessary on the story reel trying to get everything worked out just right. The story reel consists of rough storyboard art in the proper sequence to give everyone a chance to study how the film will fit together. Animation is so time-consuming that they don't want to do very much of it a second time! It is better to make changes before the animation begins.
Despite all the planning, almost every production requires some changes to the animation as things progress. On Toy Story 2 there were a few short sequences that were changed after they were animated. Unkrich explains, "There is a sequence where Woody is kidnapped from the yard sale that Andy's mom is holding. Originally Andy ended up there accidentally. He fell out of a window, slid down the roof, and fell into a box in the yard sale. When we added Buster, Andy's dog, and Wheezy the penguin to the cast, we came up with a great idea. Mom takes Wheezy outside to sell him. Woody goes outside to rescue Wheezy. We completely rethought the idea of how Woody gets down to the yard sale."
Residing on the dusty top shelf, Woody consoles fellow forgotten toy, Wheezy. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios.
When the film was well into production they decided it would be better if they added a few new characters. Unkrich says, "It's not that easy to add things at that point. We had to go through the process of designing the characters, doing all the computer modeling, developing the proper articulation so the animators could bring the characters to life, and do all the texturing, coloring and shading of the characters. It's really a huge process. You normally don't add characters that late in the game, but they were really great characters to add. We don't regret it one bit. The new characters include Buster, Andy's little wiener dog, and an asthmatic squeeze toy penguin called Wheezy. Luckily we hadn't animated the sequences they are in so we didn't have to redo footage."
Unkrich says, "We had an effects team on this film and they did have a lot of challenges. In our world we have such strange limitations that sometimes the effects team has to recreate reality. It's not like doing a special effect laser or explosion. It can be something as simple as dust.
"In this film we explore the notion of what it is like to be a forgotten toy. We have a number of scenes where toys have been left under the bed or left high up on the shelf. What better way to say that visually than to show them covered with a layer of dust. We knew we wanted to put lots of dust in the film, but we were not sure we could do it. The effects team, led by Oren Jacob, did a job that surpassed our expectations."
Ash Brannon, 29-year old wünderkind, co-directs Toy Story 2. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios.
Pixar never uses motion capture according to Brannon. "It isn't right for our film since it is a very caricatured world." The people in the film have to be carefully animated by hand so they will look right. People seeing the film know how humans move so "if you don't animated it right, it looks wrong immediately. You can animate toys anyway you want because we don't know for sure how they move."
Getting A Job At Pixar
Although Ash Brannon was a classmate of Pete Docter at Cal Arts (Docter co-directed Toy Story and is directing another feature at Pixar), they went in different directions after college. Brannon explains, "Docter came to Pixar right out of school. I didn't. I like drawing a lot. I didn't want to get right on a computer. When I left Cal Arts I had never seen a computer do really great character animation. I went to Warner Bros. and worked on some shorts and a Nike ad. We were trying to revitalize some of the old characters.
"In early 1993, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft were down in LA and they showed me a 30 second test that had been done for Toy Story. It displayed an amazing degree of character animation. I'd never seen that done on a computer. I dropped everything and literally two weeks later was working at Pixar. I did some story work on the first film and then moved into directing animators on the next film. I also did some story work on A Bug's Life before starting on the sequel."
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