Everyone has secrets right? Of course they do! Even the skeletons have secrets from Coco! Thanks to Disney I had the amazing opportunity to attend the long lead Press Day for Disney Pixar Coco in beautiful San Francisco. Everything that I share with you are my opinions. As I was saying yes, I’m sharing the secrets of the skeletons from Disney Pixar Coco with you today. The secrets I’m sharing with you today are pretty amazing. I think you will appreciate the film even more when you see it Thanksgiving.
The Skeleton Dream Team
But first let me introduce you to the team of Animators that brought the skeletons to life. A true dream team that brings this beautiful story together. The team of Byron Bashforth, Emron Grover, Gini Santos and Daniel Arriaga did extensive research to bring the skeletons to life. Every skeleton plays a integral part of the story.
It was really neat to hear from each of them during the presentation. One of the things asked during the question session was about turning off the wants to edit. Santos told us, “a lot of the time we don’t watch the final cut as we will find something else we could have done.” Just so you know there were over 80 skeletal characters in the film. The skeleton element took Pixar three years to develop. High five guys!! They have so much commitment to the film. They will be well versed in skeletons from now on that’s for sure. Some trivia- Pixar has never done a movie with skeletons.
COCO – Concept art by John Nevarez. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Bringing the Skeleton to Life
As you can see from the pictures it took many drawings to get the look that would work best for all of the movement expected from the skeletons. As you’ll notice when you watch the film, in the Land of the Dead there are many many skeletons and they all bring life to the background. I remember one of the issues they ran into was how they were going to give a skeleton character. And how were they going to justify the mandible (jawbone) moving and not falling and to be able to show emotion.
Arriaga explained to us the initial difficulty they endure when trying to make “The universal symbol of death” something light and relatable. This is where things like their smile, eye placement and even the hair, accessories and clothing worked together. They used several kinds of testing: a wedge test to see the varying degrees of how you can separate bones. For the actions a rig was used to move a 3D model to watch their walk cycle to see how it would it propel itself. Skeletons are much lighter in weight so it took time to get it right.
The clothes, the hair, and the clothing. It’s broken down into 3 things – the patterns, graphics and how it responds to light against the bone and skin. Using digital paint or writing up digital software. You would be surprised the amazing programs Pixar folks have developed to bring a story to life. Everyone on the team have different backgrounds such as computer science, graphics and artistry that came together for the huge undertaking of bringing the skeletons to life.
Yes, even the clothing for the skeletons required a lot of expertise. It was so amazing to hear all of the challenges they had to deal with when coming up with the characters. One of the cool things we saw was the actual (I’m assuming) clay or plastic molds. They aren’t life size but I think they give the designers an idea of how things would lay or build from the skeletons.
Unless you grew up watching movies made in Mexico, you may not know who Jorge Negrete is. I remember many movies with my mom. Cool Coco trivia fact, the city of Santa Cecelia was modeled after Oaxaca and Guanajuato. Negrete was born and raised in Guanajuato. Nice huh?! Another cool trivia fact for you, Jorge Negrete was used as a model when developing the skeletal structure for Ernesto de La Cruz, the character voiced by Benjamin Bratt. I can totally see the resemblance of Ernesto de la Cruz.
One of the things I’m super excited about is getting to know Ernesto de la Cruz. I’ll be sharing a post about the music very soon. The score/soundtrack is gonna be good ya’ll. It better not let me down! 😉 But get a good look at Jorge Negrete and come back and let me know if you see how they modeled Ernesto after him. I totally see the resemblance and love it to much. It brings the movie even closer to my heart.
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