Pixar’s enchanting short is dissected at Europe’s leading CG conference
Following Seamus Malone, the next treat for FMX early birds is Daniel McCoy, who worked as supervising technical director on Pixar’s latest short, La Luna. McCoy’s talk starts with a screening that’s met with warm applause.
McCoy describes shorts as the roots of Pixar.
The director started by painting watercolours to evoke the feel he wanted. Unusually, says McCoy, these were preserved and used for the story reel.
McCoy talks about the tradition of European TV and film shorts where the characters use their own language – something British readers old enough to remember the imports shown on BBC children’s TV will appreciate.
Actors and circus performers who specialise in speaking gibberish were brought in. McCoy shows an entertaining clip of two actors – “We’ve got hours of the stuff,” he laughs.
I had no idea you could get a job speaking gibberish. I may have found my dream career.
The characters were feeling too young, so they kept casting to find actors who felt older. One actor asked if they wanted him to perform “with teeth or without teeth”.
Prop building and texturing was also evolving at this stage. McCoy shows the plans and textures for the boat among examples, with a full progression of paint layers.
The older characters presented a challenge to animators because their mouths were fully covered by beards. The solution was to set up surfaces under the beard to animate.
The transition from the ladder to the moon “was something we were worried about on a lot of levels”, says McCoy.
The lighting is one of the defining elements in La Luna. The moon seen from the earth is a flat pastel, while parallax layers were used for the stars.
There’s a brief look at the colour script, which shows the transition from blues to yellows during the short.
Light sources had to be managed to avoid any hint of creepy underlighting during the moon scenes.
McCoy also reveals an alternative ending where a female crew heading for the sun is seen behind our heroes’ boat.
In questions, McCoy says this is the longest short they’ve done, but there are relatively few shots – “less than 80″, says McCoy. Some of their shorter projects have half as many again.
La Luna has seen shown at festivals up until now, but will be shown in cinemas with Brave this summer.