I recently had the chance to visit Burbank, California to learn about how Disney makes movies, you can read the first part of my review here. The 2nd day, brought all of us to Disney Toon Studios. It’s kind of a covert (undercover) location that the general public wouldn’t even know is part of Disney. Although we knew this while on our way, I still expected an extravagant building. But true to their word, Disney Toon Studio is just a plain building – on the outside! The inside of the building is filled with beautiful Disney Art, original sketches and all kinds of wonderful things that I couldn’t take pictures of.
All of us bloggers were broken down into small groups of 2 or 3 to go through special set up stations all about Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. My group first got to take a peek at all the new products that are going to come out for young fairy fans. I thought the neatest product was a mini fairy world that magically moves while a child makes the fairy fly over all the different objects. Unfortunately the toy wasn’t functioning (I think the people that work at Toon Studios killed the batteries because it was just so cool to watch the flowers magically open and close). I also loved the cute butter fly winged backpack and the tutu backpack – what a super cute idea for young girls. The new products that are connected to this movie seemed endless and true form to Disney, each and every detail is taken care of – even each Fairy has it’s own individual wing pattern.
The second area we visited was the online virtual world of Fairies called Pixie Hallow. This is like a 2nd life where children can play games and work together in a safe environment that is monitored by parents and Disney Staff. Parents can put special limitations on their children’s capabilities and Disney Staffers monitor the game 24/7 for any unusual or flagged content. Children are unable to use any bad words, and can not enter any numbers (so no addresses or phone numbers). Children can fly around freely with their friends and get special items by playing games and working together with their friends. Rather than having head to head competitions, Pixie Hallow encourages working together (I love that). If you child has a DS, they can transport their special fairy into their game.
We then were taken to a design studio. You may think that Tinker Bell just has one outfit, but she actually has a summer, spring, fall and winter ensemble. For this movie, it was fall so designer Ritsuko Notani put together a number of collections for Tink. Each outfit is carefully designed, and eventually one is picked to be the official Tink Autumn wear. It’s almost like a mini fashion show.
On top of being a “fashion designer” Ritsuko Notani is really a character designer, she draws the key emotions of each character in the movie. It is then the animators jobs to make them 3D and capture that same emotion. Ritsuko Notani is originally from Japan and has an impressive resume that includes my favourite – Winnie the Pooh. Ritsuko Notani isn’t just an artist, she is a full fledged character designer.
The next area was in a Disney movie theater, where animators showed us how a 3D movie is made. Although I would like to think that I am a little tech savvy, this part of the tour completely amazed me. It takes animators weeks and months and years to compete an animated film that last just 1.5 hours. The scene that we were watching was simply a 10 second clip of Lizzy flying around her room with Tinker Bell. This scene alone took 3 weeks to produce. The important thing for all the animators to take care in is that the film plays smoothly and that all characters are the same throughout the movie. There should be no point in the movie when a person focuses on the making of the movie, they should just be enthralled and captivated by the movie itself.
On another note, each second of the movie has 24 frames, so if it takes 1 second for someone to give a “thumbs up” there are 24 different movements to get there. Unlike the old picture 2D movies that is like one of those old flip picture books, a 3D movie is made completely on a computer with a 3D model. Each 3D model has movable points on their body (everything can move individually, eyelids, nostrils, fingers – you name it). Each area has to be moved together to make everything flow smoothly. I got to play with the controls for a few moments, this experience gave me a brand new appreciation on how much work goes into a 22 minute cartoon yet alone a full movie.
The last place we visited was the office of Fred Warter, he is the Art Director and is responsible for designing and creating the entire set for the movie! Once again, Disney impressed me. One may think that making something like a fairy house would be simple – a couple of acorns, twigs, leaves, moss put them all together and voilà, you have a fairy house. Let me reassure you that this is not at all how simple it is. There must have been at least 40 prototypes on the wall before the official fairy house was constructed (and these are only the ones that made it onto the wall).
After the blueprint of the fairy house was approved, it was onto the actual construction. Artists had to pass by the sharp eye of Fred before it was officially accepted. As in all things Disney, nothing short of perfect was accepted. Much like an editor of a movie ensures there are no “movie mistakes” this is the same thing that Fred and his team must accomplish. Once again, Disney wants to ensure that when people are watching their movies, they are not focused on the making of the movie, but are engaged with the movie itself.
That was my Tinker Bell Experience! Overwhelming, exceptional, amazing, incredible, unbelievable, exciting, fun, overwhelming (again),,,, need I go on? It was like something I had never experienced before, or ever thought that I would experience. There was one small disappointed though – I wish I could have taken pictures so I could have really shared them with you. However, pics were not allowed inside (or outside for that matter) of the building.
If you want to win some Tinker Bell Swag (movie, wings, fairy house, blanket etc) please check out this post.
Stay tuned for more,,, next we venture into the world of Beauty and the Beast.