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Disney's Planes: Behind the Scenes with Animator Ethan Hurd

Dusty-1024x662They make it look so, so easy. The ridiculously talented team at Disney Toon Studios are extremely good at creating movie magic and making completely impossible tasks possible (like having a cast of airplanes talk, emote and act). And what makes it seem even more impossible, from a layman’s perspective, is the technology behind the animation that they do.

I got the chance to peek behind the curtain and see how Disney’s upcoming Planes feature was made by getting a crash course in high tech animation with veteran animator Ethan Hurd.

1000167_4328807478228_186111496_nIn a dimly lit screening room at Disney’s Toon Studios, Ethan showed us how he brings characters ,like the above pictured Dusty, to life. And it’s far more complicated than it appears. Using the initial character images, Hurd than uses the program Maya 3D to “rig” the characters. Think of it as a marionette with points on each moveable aspect of the characters, from – in this case – a tire to an eye – and the subject can be moved and manipulated to make the animation. It’s very high tech, and far from how animated films were made back in the day, but it is very efficient and creates seamless results.  Hurd actually studied hand-drawn animation at Disney’s feeder school Cal Arts but once his career started he was drawn to computer animation.

Check out this clip from Planes below, and remember this when you watch it – 13 seconds can take about a week to create!
[videopost src=’http://youtu.be/Pasf3sWQoFY’ width=’640′ height=’400′]

Disney’s Planes opens everywhere on August 9th!

Photo Source: Lindsay Frank and Disney

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