Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney Animation Studios in their temporary home on the Tujunga Campus in Burbank. (I know. Shut up.) A group of us bloggers were treated to an entire day of being completely immersed in the creation of the upcoming Disney Animated feature film, ‘Zootopia.’
The booming metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. It’s a melting pot where animals (and only animals) from every different environment live together – a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything you want.
First, let me describe Disney Animation’s ‘temporary’ campus. You know that Disney doesn’t do anything by halves. As their animation studios are being renovated, they set up shop in a warehouse. But, of course, they’re Disney. And even their temporary space is magical.
We got to wander around their beautiful space where the animators and technicians are completely immersed right now in the world of ‘Zootopia.’ Every corner, all the decor, all the art is All Zootopia, All the Time as they’re working on perfecting the film.
No detail is too small. Take for example this ‘Zootopia’ Art Gallery, which is accessible and accomodating to all the sizes of the Citizens of Zootopia. I couldn’t help but be caught up in the charm of it all.
Of course, At Walt Disney Animation Studios, story is the king of the jungle.
Imagine sitting in a room with the Disney masterminds behind how the story gets told in animated form. Yeah, that’s what we got to do.
I’d like to stop and try to describe the passion with which these people do their jobs. Guys, it’s somebody’s JOB to take sketches and bring them to life on the big screen. I know. Mind blown.
A dozen of us got to sit down with writer and Co-Director of Zootopia, Jared Bush, Writer Phil Johnston, Story Artist Marc Smith, and Head of Editorial Fabienne Rawley as they took us on the unique journey of creating ‘Zootopia’ from script to story sketches to the editing room.
They showed us their story boards and sketches and re-created exactly how they went about pitching an entire scene to John Lasseter and the rest of the team. They did the voices themselves as we were roaring with laughter. Also, what a gift to get to experience their genius storytelling at this level, but that’s not important right now. When the scene was over, they confessed that it ended up having to be completely re-done, but that was the nature of their work.
The process is very hands on and there is much collaboration between teams. Writer Phil Johnston told us, “It is a big Disney film, but sometimes it feels DIY. Just some buddies in a garage, making a movie.”
We watched a short portion of the film and I’m genuinely excited to see what happens next. Because, as you well know, Disney is always full of surprises.
Zootopia opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. Until then, here’s a wonderful sneak peek into the world of ‘Zootopia’ as we visit Flash the Sloth who works at the DMV. This experience brilliantly captures our real life. *applauds Disney once again*