The Art of 3D Animation, Creating Disney's "Planes"

This post contains affiliate links and our team will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.

Last month, SoCalThrills had the opportunity to visit Disneytoon Studios for their upcoming new animated film “Planes.” We were fortunate enough to watch the movie and sit down with the filmmakers after to discuss the process of bringing a 3D Animated film like “Planes” to the big screen.

A select few media members got a first hand look at how the animation process looks and feels like. Using AutoDesk MAYA 3D software Sheryl Sackett, Animation Director, demonstrated how they brought the characters of Planes to life.

Sheryl Sackett is one of the top animation talents at Disneytoon Studios. She also worked in that same capacity on the direct-to-DVD features “Tinker Bell” (2008), “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” (2009), “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” (2010), and on the 2011 TV special and “Pixie Hollow Games.” Other credits as an animator include “Jungle Book II,” “Tarzan II,” “Bambi II,” “Mulan II,” “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” and “Lilo & Stitch II: Stitch has a Glitch.”

Sackett studied animation at Toronto’s Sheridan College, where she made an award-winning short film called “Eternity.” She graduated in 1989, and began her professional career with Bluth Studios in Ireland, and subsequently worked with Amblin Entertainment in London. In 1999, Sackett joined the team at Walt Disney Animation Studios and went through an intensive CG animation training program with some of the best animators in the industry.


The Artists use this software to animate Dusty’s mouth (one of the characters from Planes”), eyes, and landing gear using preset controls within MAYA. Some of the settings on MAYA are preset but others are manually created to fit each character specifically.

Here is a Film Clip of “Dusty Meets El Chupacabra” to give you an idea how the animation looks completed:

It is so amazing how MAYA could literally grab, move and rotate things with just the click of the mouse. Everything from the tiny eyebrow movements, to actually setting the mouth of the character to move with the voice actors. I also had the chance to sit down and play with MAYA. I controlled Dusty’s head and body and then moved his eyes around. It was fun.

“Disney’s Planes” lands in theaters on Aug. 9, 2013. Our Spoiler free movie review will be posted on Wednesday August 7th. Also if you are attending the D23 Expo, you can watch an Exclusive Screening of “Planes” at 3 pm in the D23 Arena.