As part of the Pixar COCO Press Day, I learned how the skeletons in the “Land of the Dead” were imagined, designed, animated and clothed by the team responsible. Boy, oh boy, research, thoughtful and funny thinking went into BRINGING SKELETONS TO LIFE in Pixar COCO.
Filmmakers Daniel Arriaga (Character Art Director), Gini Santos (Supervising Animator), Byron Bashforth (Character Shading Lead), Emron Grover (Simulation Technical Director) provided details behind all the work that we all take for granted when watching a Pixar movie.
- As a Pixar fan, it seems that there would so many characters that are difficult to bring to the screen but according to Daniel Arriaga (Character Art Director), the skeletons were some of the hardest characters to create.
- Before the team starts, it’s all about research, research and more research. The team studied all aspects of a skeleton – the skull, their bones, the anatomy and for the movie, how to make them “appealing” and for them to actually have character. After this phase, they made basic exploratory drawings; sketching them out with and without hair or without and with face paint (which is part of the celebration, drawing their jaws and different facial expressions. Every imaginable variation was presented before settling on the final look.
- They also had to test what the skeletons should wear. Should their clothes be tight or loose? Should they cinch their waists with a belt? You get the idea. I think of it as shopping for a fancy dress and having to try on a gazillion dresses to find the one that looks fabulous. No difference in finding the right skeleton look that fits in with the look of the movie.
- The big question was how far could they go and have the skeleton’s look still be believable but make sure their look is not distracting.
- Gini Santos (Supervising Animator) was responsible for animating the skeletons and developing the rules about the structure and design of the skeletons. Remember they had not done this before.
- During the Wedge Tests, different variations showcasing the skeleton’s physical presence were shown to the directors.
- Hector was inspired by Ratzo from the 1960’s classic Midnight Cowboy.
- Emron Grover (Simulation Technical Director) was responsible for “clothing” the skeletons just like human actors. Lots of testing going and another big question was how much bones should be shown. I can only imagine how many different variations were drawn before the final decision was made.
What do you think of the skeleton’s in Pixar COCO? I find them so interesting, unique and most of all, a colorful addition to the look of the movie.
About Disney Pixar’s COCO – Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
Learn more about the making of Pixar Coco:
- “Behind the Scenes” article featuring 2010’s Oscar®- and Golden Globe® for “Toy Story 3, Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla K. Anderson.
- Fun Facts About the Making of Disney Pixar featuring the Adrian Molina (Writer and Co-Director); Dean Kelly (Story Artist); Harley Jessup (Production Designer), Danielle Feinberg (DP-Lighting) and Chris Bernardi (Sets Supervisor.)
COCO opens in theatres everywhere on November 22nd!
Disclosure: NYC Single Mom was provided a trip to the San Francisco for the Disney/Pixar’s COCO Press Event. Opinions are 100% my own.