Have you ever wondered what goes into the process of animating a full length feature film? A few weeks ago I had the privilege to sit down with Disney Animator, Darrin Butters. You might have heard of a few of the films he’s worked on… FROZEN, Wreck it Ralph, Tangled, Big Hero 6, and most recently MOANA; just to name a few. He’s been with Disney since their first CG feature, Dinosaurs, in 1996. You can really tell when someone loves their job by listening to them talk about it. In just a short 15 minutes Darrin walked us through the general animation process, shared how he got his start, and gave us a hint on what’s next for him.
MOANA created several unique challenges, including Maui’s interactive tattoo and the fact that the film happens mostly on water. Humans and a constantly undulating boat presents quite the challenge. Maui was larger than life- big guy, small boat – every movement on the rig there is counter movement. He noted that working with human characters, there is a reference point. We see and interact with humans everyday and notice when something is off or not quite right; unlike talking animals. 😉
Butters enjoyed working most with Maui and his attitude. His early inspiration was performers like Steve Martin. A multi-talented actor that is a master at physical comedy. It’s no surprise that Darrin loves animating these kinds of scenes.