Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Making and 3D elements of Lion King

The Lion King by Disney is entirely a 2D animation feature film, it is very clear it has been animated hand drawn traditionally. Before the movie was produced, artists and animators had to travel around Africa where they found a world teeming with life sound and colour and the landscape seem immense. Africa has ‘one of kind animals to its breath taking scenery is larger than life.’ Disney animators had all Africa to inspire them, they have shown an explosion of colours and character unlike anything you have ever seen. You will have seen, feel and hear Africa in every frame and detail in the Lion King. Animators were dealing with the beautiful visual tapestry of Africa. Directors tried to achieve having a visually unique enchanting wonderful place that no one has ever been. They have constantly captured the vastness of Africa. They have added subliminal elements like sounds for instance, simply the effect of having a character standing on open grassland and having the wind blow its mane. You won’t be able to see the wind obviously, but you will feel it because of the mane reacting to the wind and you see the grasses on the savannah being blown quite gently. Natural sensations like these elements are really hard to portray, animators had worked really hard on capturing it. Andy Gasco the lead production designer has studied a lot of painting styles that lead the animators to an enhanced Naturalism. As the art style and character designs got further in production, the animators matched the artistic elements into a unified design. Africa has inspired from the colour of the sky to a galloping wildebeest. Music has also complimented the animation’s visual art and the design of the film, it can be called colourful, mystical, majestic, dramatic, ‘or just Africa’

Animator Ruben Keno made detailed key studies of the way many various animals moved. His work became the standard reference for all the animators of the movie because he has truly captured every movement and behaviours, even having tiny little details like secondary movements are captured to show appeal and realism to the audience. In the animation his study of drawings of the wildebeest has to become a heard of hundreds. Animators found it really hard to animate every movements precisely all by hand so they had help from ‘Disney’s innovative CGI computer generated imagery’ this combines hand drawn animation with computer technology. The technician Scott Johnston was put in charge of the software. At first they had an animation of a single galloping wildebeest all done by hand frame by frame, and then made a 3D digital duplicate with the same motion. You can see the sense of motion rotating in 3D dimensions by placing a camera anywhere you want. Animators needed hundreds of wildebeest because one isn’t enough to create a group of stampeding wildebeest. They have come up with an idea simulation by duplicating the beasts and controlling the behaviour and then randomising its layout. They have made is ‘sort of follow the leader’ which now a days we call it ‘parent and child’ where you control one beast and the rest follow the path it goes. To match the galloping wildebeest with the background, they have built a map grid and placed this simulation where the bugs are replaced by the full running galloping wildebeests. After all these processes have been done, animators have then cell shaded them to look like hand drawn animation. ‘This process took more than two years to create a two and a half minute of stampede sequence.’  They have used other usage of computer animation where it was done by using CAPS, which helped simulate the camera movements such as tracking shots and was employed on the colouring, lighting and particle effects. ‘The computer might be able to keep track of hundreds of stampeding animals, but only a performer with a pencil can combine movement and emotion to bring a believable character to life.’ It has been a big challenge for all the animators, artists and technicians to getting emotional, getting things across and mechanics, having all the work go together smoothly.


The consistency of style and motion is also very important which was used for Charles Grosvenor’s ‘Once Upon a Forest’ they have adopted and used it unique characteristics. ‘Once Upon a Forest movie’ has used similar 3D techniques to the machinery and tractors which were taken from the Iron Giant. They have used a really old software to help aid with the animation of complicated parts. This is the same technique was used in the ‘Lion King’ ll the 3D was created as linear renders, making it up which is similar to a blank colouring in book for the 2D animator.

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