Animating Pixar’s Coco
So I’m actually buddies with someone who was an intern on Coco’s production crew and a couple of the higher-up animators (like the lead person for making ALL the clothing in the movie) came to give a presentation to my school’s animation department a month before Coco was released. (privileges of having tons of Pixar employees who are alumni of my university!)
Aside from getting to watch like TWENTY MINUTES OF FOOTAGE before most of the world (that’s right folks, I had an early ticket on this hype train!) he also walked us through some of the animation mechanics for the characters, which is surprisingly hands-on and full of cool problem-solving!
Some fun Coco animation tidbits:
- Hector’s design gave everyone a headache, his holey clothes kept getting caught in his joints whenever they ran the clothing simulator program that is in charge of making cloth react realistically when draped over a moving model. Hector’s knee joints especially kept getting cloth stuck in them since his kneecaps are free floating.
- Because of this there is what is essentially an invisible stretchy ace bandage wrapped around Hector’s knees that keep his bones looking loose while keeping his pant leg from getting caught when he moves.
- They also built invisible walls on the inside of everyone's ribcage to make them a closed space so no fabric would get caught there either.
-Female skeletons in dresses have small spheres of wind effect (yes, you read that right) anchored to their knees that is programmed to always blow air outward a couple inches in every direction. If their skirts get too close to their knees the wind simply blows it away as they walk to keep their joints from catching on cloth. (Literally, who would have thought?)
- Speaking of dresses, remember Ernesto’s dying performance where there are dozens of big skirted dancers? Pixar had to COMPLETELY redesign their cloth simulators from the code up to cope with scenes like that, those simulators hadn’t been updated in YEARS, giving Coco a super boost in the clothing department.
- Thier motto was to “embrace the skeleton,” meaning that men had open shirts to show their ribs and women had waists that were cinched up to the vertebrae whenever possible. But in some cases, the unfamiliar outlines this created was a little too odd or unfamiliar looking. Male characters had the back of their jackets stiffened to give their shoulders a familiar sloping triangle shape for this reason
- Another problematic character, for this reason, was Tia Rosita, she’s literally big-boned, meaning that her pelvic bone was “basically a satellite dish.” (The animator’s exact words.) They didn't want the weird shape her skirts would make by dropping into her pelvis, so they ANIMATED A LARGE PILLOW TO SIT IN HER PELVIS. That’s right folks, Tia Rosita has a large soft pillow sitting in her pelvis the whole time that keeps a familiar rounded feminine shape about her.
Anyway, I’m totally obsessed with this movie from all angles and thought I’d share. I hope they have some of this in the bonus features when it comes out on DVD, the whole process is so cool!
Follow my blog for future Coco-related ramblings. :)