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From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter). When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (voice of Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (voice of Damon Wayans Jr.), chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (voice of Genesis Rodriguez) and fanboy Fred (voice of T.J. Miller). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.” Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and featuring breathtaking action with all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” is directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”).
We recently attended a Press event at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank and had the opportunity to meet with the filmmakers to to learn more about Disney’s 54th animated feature film, “Big Hero 6.”
We started off with a brief introduction by Director, Patrick Osborne and we were treated to his new Disney short “Feast”. Patrick Osborne shared how he started with the idea of telling a story about food and ran with it convincing Disney to produce this short. Part of the work on this animated short, included bringing in real puppies for the animators to use as models and to make the characters come to life. “Feast” will be released as a short along with “BIG HERO 6″ and is sure not be missed.
After we were done Watching “Feast” We watched some amazing footage from “BIG HERO 6″ which was introduced by Directors Don Hall, Chris Williams and Producer, Roy Conli. During the clips we were able to see some of the most important key parts of the story. It was amazing watching this “never before seen footage” which included rough animation and temporary special effects was very as it gave us a glimpse into the making of the film. Several key scenes including one where Baymax and Hiro meet for the first time and when they test fly Baymax’s super suit became our instant favorite parts of the film. This film is sure to please moviegoers of any age.
“Big Hero 6” filmmakers set out to create a movie that balances action, humor and emotion, but according to producer Roy Conli—it’s not necessarily an even split. “When all is said and done, heart and humor are so important to us—we want to make sure that the action always has meaning—an emotional context to live in. Emotion and humor tend to come along with the action in ‘Big Hero 6.’”
At its core, of course, is the budding bond between Hiro and Baymax. Says director Chris Williams, “The movie is really about the two of them coming together. We decided early on that the central relationship would be between Hiro and Baymax as Hiro struggled to deal with the loss of his brother. While we want the story to be really fun and funny, at the same time, there’s this emotional depth and resonance, that is pretty far beyond what people might expect.”
The genesis of “Big Hero 6” lies in the Marvel vaults, though filmmakers say the comic- book series was small and not widely known. “When I was a kid, I loved Marvel comics,” says Hall. “I was encouraged to explore the Marvel universe and one of the projects I found was called ‘Big Hero 6.’ I’d never heard of it, but I liked the title and its Japanese influences—it just sounded cool.”
According to Hall, he was encouraged to take the idea and run with it. “From the beginning we were told to make it our own,” he says.
During the day, we were taken to various departments inside the Disney Animation Studios for Q&A with the various Filmmakers. Head of Animation Zach Parrish (“Wreck-It Ralph”) and members of his team shared the long hours and hard work that goes into how the characters go from an idea on paper to actual talking, walking and coming alive on screen. A new software program created in house allowed for the Animators to be able to create, each wrinkle, facial movement and every aspect of how a character is created in new and amazing ways. They demonstrated the program and showed us how they take a scene and with clicks of a mouse button transform it into something magical. Just like with the ice castle in “Frozen”, they are able to take the characters and scenes to new heights in the world of Animation.
Next up was Michael Kaschalk (Head of Effects ) and Effects Production Supervisor Nathan Curtis talked about how “BIG HERO 6″ was one of the most challenging projects to date. Viewers usually think of visual effects as things like fire, rain, snow, water, etc. but in Disney films, visual effects include “magic” and to create Disney magic, the special effects teams needed to “capture the essence of the character”. Using a new program they developed called Hyperion, the team was able to create incredible special effects. Sharing information about the Microbots, which are a big signature effect in the movie, the team shared the extensive research in architecture and structural designing involved to make the Microbots come alive in a variety of forms. The visual effects in “BIG HERO 6″ from the Microbots to the fire-breathing suit worn by Fred and the 7 fight scenes, will once again place Disney is the top spot with visual effects.
Screenwriter Robert Baird and Head of Story Paul Briggs talked about how long it takes to put together a story. “Story teams are made up of directors, producers, and story people to build a story.” “BIG HERO 6″ “took 4 to 5 years to develop a good story”. Viewers don’t realize the number of sequences and in turn drawings that go into making a movie. Discovering how “BIG HERO 6″ had over 30 sequences, with one sequence having 1000 drawings gave me an idea of the enormous amount of hard work and time involved.
Production Designer Paul Felix and members of the visual development team shared artistic design choices and all the research that went into the creation of San Fransokyo and the unique character designs of “”BIG HERO 6″. The idea of combining San Francisco and Toyko was a perfect blend because of the differences in artistic designs in each. San Francisco has the old Victorian homes and Toyko has the modern architecture (any building over 30 years is considered old and demolished). “San Fransokyo was born and set in the near future which allowed for people to be people” and the combination of the two worlds gives it the perfect setting.
Part of the process involved researching the robotics world to find Baymax. Hall spent some time with researchers at Carnegie Mellon. “We had some really great conversations about robots in pop culture,” says Hall. “And I learned that they were actually researching soft robotics, including this vinyl arm that was inflatable and non- threatening. It could do simple things like brush somebody’s teeth, but the possibilities were endless.”
Not only did Hall like the idea of a soft non-threatening robot, he liked what it could become. “A big part of this movie is that Hiro turns this compassionate nurse robot into a meched-out warrior with some dangerous consequences at stake.”
Filmmakers decided to set their action-packed story in an all-new world that embraced the Japanese influences, but provided a fresh setting unlike anything audiences had ever seen. “I thought about San Francisco,” says Hall, “which is cool, but I thought ‘What if it was San Francisco mashed up with Tokyo.’ It felt more interesting as a setting—more playful and exotic. It was something we could create. And the visual possibilities of those two cities—which are pretty different aesthetically—mashed together felt like a really cool place to set the story.”
Conli says that the film’s setting wasn’t the filmmakers’ only twist on the Marvel series. “The original source material gave us six very interesting and brilliant kids that we could explore,” he says. “And because we decided to take it into a heightened world, we were able to reinvent the characters for today’s audiences.”
Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and featuring breathtaking action with all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” hits theaters in 3D on Nov. 7, 2014.