Nov 7, 2007

Ratatouille – A Day at Pixar

Source: DVD Talk

DVD Talk recently had a chance to sit down with some of the key talent behind Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille [review] to see what they’ve cooked up for the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray on November 6th. The visit kicked off with a set of roundtables with some of Pixar’s digital wizards at their headquarters in Emeryville, California:

Our first stop was with Michael Venturini, a directing animator at Pixar who helped bring Remy to life. He started off the discussion by running through the animation tests throughout pre-production that gave him a feel for how these digital anthropomorphic critters ought to move and behave. “It was very similar to how we did Nemo in the sense that in this film, we had rats that were going to be talking and acting, but we still wanted them to be rats. Usually the first thing we’ll do is very heavily reference rats, and we’ll do a lot of animation tests that really explore rat behaviors.”

Remy is a rat, of course, but there’s a very human quality to his character that has to be incorporated into the animation too, and striking that balance was a bit of a challenge. “We’ll take a look at all of those tests we’ve done that are very realistic and pick little ideas out of them, and we’ll try to sprinkle that into our acting. On Ratatouille, we went through a learning curve during production where we would do little sniffing and nose twitching behaviors that are very common when you watch rats, and we’d put that in our acting here and there. Brad [Bird] found that as he was editing the movie together, these things were popping up a little more often than he would like, so he started directing us to pull back a little bit from the ‘rat-isms’.” One of the other stumbling blocks Venturini and his team had to overcome was making a character with hands convincingly skitter around like a rat. “It was harder to get [Remy] on all fours because we built him with hands so he could cook. Getting his hands to behave like feet was actually harder than making his feet behave like hands.”

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