Animation with a twist: Disney’s Tangled on DVD
Tangled has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK this week – on its release 3D World spoke to the studio about its blend of traditional aesthetics and CG animation
Rapunzel’s hair is 70 feet long and consists of up to 140,000 strands, guided by dynamic wires. Image © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Tangled accomplishes something no other studio has done – something, perhaps, no other studio could do: combine the look of the beloved Disney features from the 1940s and 50s with the attitude and action of a contemporary live-action film.
Directed by Byron Howard, who received an Oscar nomination for Bolt, and Nathan Greno, head of story for Bolt, the film follows the Brothers Grimm’s fairytale Rapunzel, but with a twist.
Rather than a prince it is a dashing rogue who provides Rapunzel’s ticket out of her towering prison,
the only home she’s known – and rather than being the daughter of a thief, Rapunzel is a sassy modern
When this plucky heroine lets down her hair, she does more than drop her golden locks out the window as a ladder. She traps her thief, she opens doors, she coils it into a pillow.
“Byron and I love the classic Disney movies,” says Greno. “And it’s exciting to be part of the history. We tried to take that look and make a CG movie that’s something people haven’t seen before.
We didn’t want to go back to the same wells – we wanted to do something fresh and different.”
To design the style and give it that look, however, art director Dave Goetz and co-art director Dan Cooper did dip into the well. “The directors were taken with the early Disney The making of Tangled movies, Cinderella in particular,” says Goetz.
“For some reason those classic films have a graceful, appealing look. So we tried to dissect it and see what that was all about. Some of it was from the shapes, some was colour.”
Image © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
The shapes, they discovered, seemed to be combinations and re-combinations of S-curves and French curves.
“When you look at old movies, you can see that they’re consistent about using these shapes to compose with,” Goetz says. “That gives the shows a visual continuity, a grace and flow. So, we tried to leverage off that.”
Not an easy feat with CG objects, which aren’t as malleable as drawings. “The directors were interested in making Tangled feel like a three-dimensional version of a 2D movie,” Goetz says.
Sometimes the technology cooperated – and sometimes it didn’t.
One piece of technology that did work was a tree-building tool, which enabled Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, the thief, to run through a believable forest.
In previous films, Goetz explains, the artists typically worked with three or four trees rotated to create a forest of apparently dissimilar plants.
This time, they had a tree bank with approximately 30 trees. “We couldn’t see what the canopy looked like
before we rendered the scene,” Goetz says.
“When you’re fine tuning with S-curves, you’re not really sure what you’ll get. Fortunately it was all very credible.”
For modelling, Disney artists used Maya, and for textures it was Ptex, the texture painting tool developed at Disney. “Ptex gives us per-face textures that you paint directly on subdivision surfaces,” says look and lighting director Mohit Kallianpur.
“Before, we’d cut our subdivision surfaces into many tiles, each with its own texture. With Ptex, we didn’t have to cut up the surfaces, so it vastly reduced the number of texture fi les on disk – and it follows whatever happens with the mesh. We used it for everything on the show.”
The making of Tangled In addition to establishing shape and scale, Goetz, Cooper and the visual development department created an art packet that showed textures and colours for every element of the environment in the film.
Look artists then created the elements based on the references in the packet.
“Although the shapes are somewhat stylised, the textures are pretty much photoreal,” Cooper says.
“Dave and I have a painterly style, so we would paint the effect of what we wanted and then provide a sample of the actual texture. The artists would have to extrapolate, approximate what we were going for.”
Kallianpur calls it “real, but not photoreal. We took liberties with shapes, but not so much with textures. The world was a realistic world, so wood needed to look like wood and grass like grass.”
Click on the next page button to carry on reading about Tangled’s colour palette and lighting style.
Tangled on Amazon UK
Tangled on Amazon US
on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 at 4:08 pm under Features, Making of.
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Tags: Animation, CG, Disney, Tangled