Did you know that November is National Aviation History Month? What better way to celebrate than with Disney’s Planes (flying onto Blu-ray on 11/19).
I recently had the opportunity to visit DisneyToon Studios in California, where I, along with 24 other bloggers received the behind the scenes scoop on Disney’s Planes. Part of our day was spent learning about Pre-Vis Development with Jason McKinley and Thomas Leavitt.
Flight Supervisor –
Jason McKinley is the Flight Supervisor for Planes. Why did they need a Flight Supervisor? Because flying is really, really hard. Disney found that they needed a specialized team because of the difficulty of making the flying look as real as possible.
JM: The mandate from Klay Hall, the Director, and John Lasseter, the Executive Producer is that when the planes are on the ground they had to be characters. But while flying – they had to be as realistic planes and limited to realistic physics as possible. So we developed a specific flight team that did nothing but fly. Thomas is our number one Artists and is responsible for some of our really wonderful shots you see.
A Realistic Look –
JM: The first process is we get the script from the Storyboard Artist. They’ll draw the series of panels to get the beads of the film. Editorial will then take those panels and do what’s called an Animatic. An Animatic tries to time out as best they can how long they think the sequence will take. Our job now is to make it look more cinematic. More like the real movie. And then building on that one of the things (on the computer)… is called Real Size, Real Speed. So the airport we built was actually a full sized airport. It’s really a couple of miles wide and a couple of miles long. And once you do that you can start flying the plane in at the speed it would really fly. Which is in this case it’s about 220 miles an hour. By doing that, just by having the real size, it made the things look much more realistic.
Collaborative Building Process –
JM: Then it goes over to animation. Where they’ll refine some of the interments and the flaps and stuff, like the mouth shapes. Then we’ll texture what we have there and light it and make it pretty. But before it gets to that point we wanna’ have everything locked down timing wise with the planes and everything move at correct speed. So the process from boards to final took about a year…we spent about probably 6 weeks with some previz, which is the second layer. And then from that animation, and lighting, it took another several months. So it’s a pain staking process. Plus there’s what you don’t see is the dozens and dozens of iterations that we went through trying to get it right… it’s very much a collaborative building process between us and the Director and Editorial. We’re all trying to make it better…
Q: Jason do you wanna’ talk a little bit about your history and the industry?
JM: Well the reason I was brought on for this was I did a history series…A History channel series called Dar Fights, which was about air combat. We did maybe 27 episodes and basically we interviewed pilots from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. And then we would recreate the combat that they got into and making it as uh accurate as possible. That was a huge success. It was the #1 series on the History Channel while we were on. And that led me to working up with George Lucas on his film Red Tails. Where I designed about 3 quarters of the air combat sequences for that film as well. And that’s how they found me.
A few quotes from our time with Jason McKinley & Thomas Leavitt :
“We interviewed 100 pilots”. “Some of the greatest pilots who’ve ever lived”.
“we all work together to try and get that vision as good as possible.”
“You’re up on a big screen like, Oh that does not look nearly as good as I thought it did…then you make a change and you go back.”
“Each sequence from start to beginning will take about a year”
“The whole film, takes about three years, three and half, su’um like that”.
Disney’s Planes Salutes National Aviation History Month!
Celebrate Disney’s Planes during Aviation Month, avaible on Blu-ray/Blu-ray+3D/DVD/Digital Copy on 11/19/13!
I am working with Disney, Marvel, and Dreamworks as part of this event. They provided me with travel, food and lodging in exchange for my coverage. All opinions expressed are still honest and my own.