These interviews with the Zootopia Animators was part of an all expenses paid trip to LA, but all fan girling is my own.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much goes into a Disney animated film like Zootopia. We had a chance to sit down and chat with Zootopia Animators Renato dos Anjos and Chad Sellers. They shared with us the great research trips that it took to bring the characters of Zootopia to life. Plus, we got to hear some secret inside goodies that the animators love to try and sneak in with each Disney animation.
Chatting with Zootopia Animators Renato dos Anjos & Chad Sellers
Every department does a lot of research before diving into a new Disney project. When I say research, I mean full on trips to Africa, visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and visiting local zoos to study the movement and habits of animals. Even though Zootopia features animals in clothes that walk on two legs, they wanted to make sure that the movement of the characters were still true to their species!
Chad Sellers shared, ““How to study animal behavior, how to convey that is an animal not a human. For the moose we would keep his arms stiff and bring his mouth to the food. For the wildebeests, they are not the brightest.. In the film they are put in situations when the animals are in their natural behavior. Like when the wildebeests are crossing the street in a herd. The characters in Zootopia were evolved but we were still holding on to that animal feel”.
Renato expanded on that sharing that, ““Multiple species were needed to get the proper behavior. Each animal is specific to its species. We had to study how an elephant behaves versus how a mouse behaves. Why does this animal move this way? Animals move in herds and we wanted to have the species move together in crowds. The drawings each have their own personalities”
It always amazes me how much care for detail that goes into animation. You don’t really think about it so much when you are watching a movie, but it does make sense because if the movements weren’t true to the animals the audiences would definitely notice.
The Zootopia animators worked really hard to make the animals look like their own species, but it was challenging to do that and not make the characters look human. Renato shared, “The weirdest thing was when the animals lost their clothes! Nick was difficult to not look too human. We had to keep his arms close to his body, he did not have equal properties, we did not want him to seem human. The elephant and giraffe on two feet were the most challenging, to not look like a human in a suit”. After seeing the film, I have to say that the Zootopia animators did an amazing job staying true to each species.
The detail to the animals wasn’t all research and no fun. It was great to hear about how some challenges with characters even left room for a little Disney surprise. Clawhauser is one of my favorite characters in Zootopia because he’s not your stereotypical cheetah. He’s the wonderful ball of fluff that’s at the front desk of the Zootopia Police Department.
dos Anjos explained, “Clawhauser took a village! It is so difficult to do on a computer, there are different departments to work to get the look right, you just have to trust that the next department will get the look right. We have to be mindful of the fur and the markings on the animals”. The extra little fun tidbit that the Zootopia animators shared is that Clawhauswer a hidden Mickey in his markings. When you watch Zootopia on DVD make sure to see if you can catch his sneaking Mickey.
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Preorder Zootopia now and get it when it’s released on 6/7!
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