Movies and TV
Technical Supervisor Hank Driskill Explains the Tech Behind Disney's Big Hero 6

Elizabeth Harper | 26 Nov 2014 18:00
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Q: You talked about the crowd mechanics, but what about the micro-bots. Was that a particular technical hurdle?
A: It's not using the same process. Denizen is for crafting our human crowds, and all of our people walking around on the street. The micro-bots were a product of our effects department. The micro-bots are really, really fun from a technical standpoint of being able to put together millions of micro-bots, sometimes in one shot.

But there's also the emotion of them. When Hiro's using the micro-bots, they're very different than when Yokai is using the micro-bots. They're really a reflection of the emotions of the person using them. The effects animators who did that work really conveyed that in a wonderful way. It's another place where we could have cheated, but if you actually look in close the micro-bots are crawling over each other in this fun, kind of creepy look. We wanted to do something different with those.

This movie is a celebration of science, a celebration of technology and how exciting and fun this stuff could be. Very much the message we wanted to convey was that technology is only bad when bad people are driving it. We tried to keep it all grounded -- we didn't want it to seem magic-y. So as the micro-bots are traveling and building things and moving things, we tried very hard to keep trellis structures underneath them so they could support the weight. We did all kinds of of these fun things to convey these could actually be real some day and they're not just magic. They're not just flying things that defy physics. That was an important factor that the artists had to keep in mind while delivering those shots.

Q: How was Big Hero 6 a different challenge than previous 3D animated features? Was it just the sense of scale?
A: There are a lot of things. Certainly scope and scale was a big part of it. We wanted this richer environment, we wanted the sense of spectacle you get from a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We wanted to capture some of that because we really though there was a middle ground we could reach between a classic Disney story and one of the Marvel cinematic films. We were aiming for something that was the best of both, so that definitely had a lot of challenges.

A lot of it was self-imposed. It wasn't like we had Marvel guys breathing down our necks. We had Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb and Brian Michael Bendis coming in for screenings and offering ideas. They were loving everything we were doing.

We're big Marvel fans. We're big Disney fans. Every movie we make has that sense of pressure: the name on the door, the legacy of 80 years of filmmaking. With every movie we make here, we want to make something that's worthy of putting that name on it. It was a combination of both of those things: we wanted to do something that really felt like it lived up to the Marvel films as well as the Disney name.

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