How many times have you watched a film at a movie theater and wondered how they created the world you’re seeing up on that huge movie screen? I’ve often wondered how filmmakers are able to completely transport us to a new world. Animated films are an entirely different horse and one that I had no idea what all went into creating the worlds our favorite animated characters live in, until I was invited by Disney to visit Pixar Animation Studios for an all expense paid trip to cover the early press days for INCREDIBLES 2 (all of the opinions you read here are my own). I wish I could’ve brought all of you with me or at least filmed the presentations that I sat in on, especially the presentations I’m going to share with you today about the set design and how an action sequence is made for INCREDIBLES 2. I can’t film presentations about where INCREDIBLES 2 is set nor can I film how Pixar is able to create such believable action sequences. I can, however, share with you what I learned. I hope that you’ll learn to be in awe of the movies that Pixar releases the same way I am. It’s completely mind-blowing the work that goes into a film like INCREDIBLES 2 and I left each presentation wishing I had paid a little more attention in computer, math and engineering classes while I was in school. Let your mind imagine the greatest things as we look at the setting of INCREDIBLES 2 and how they create those action sequences. I’ll even share a few Easter eggs you should look out for in the new film.
The Setting of INCREDIBLES 2: The INCREDIBLES 2 world, their new house and what Easter eggs to look for.
“The world of the film, especially in a film like THE INCREDIBLES, is a character in the film as much as any other character; it has to support the story being told,” Ralph Eggleston, Production Design, told us during the early press days for Pixar’s newest animated feature film INCREDIBLES 2. Eggleston has had a long career with Pixar Animation Studios and has worked on iconic films like TOY STORY, MONSTERS, INC. and was the head of Production Design for INSIDE OUT, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
Where is INCREDIBLES 2 set?
The sequel to the first INCREDIBLES movie, INCREDIBLES 2, takes place right after the first film ended. Better go and watch the film so you’re up to Parr (ha! Get it? It’s the family’s real last name, “Parr”) before you see INCREDIBLES 2 on June 15th. The movie is set in about the late 50’s, early 60’s, so the design and feel is mid-century modern, everything from the Safari Hotel, that the Parr family is currently living in after the Manta Jet destroyed their home in the first film, to the new house the family will be living in during INCREDIBLES 2, just screams mid-century modern. The Incredibles family live in the city of Metroville and their first home, the one we see in the first film was about 1300 to 1500 square feet. The new home that the family will be living in during INCREDIBLES 2 will be a 20,00 square foot suburban home.
The production design team actually had completed the new home that the Parr family will be living in and then had to completely scrap that house due to a change in the story. Originally, the home was going to be 2300 square feet and as I said just above the family will be living in a 20,000 square foot home. Talk about a story change, huh? The team had two to three weeks to completely change the house and build it from the ground up. Every single set that you see, as well as the props that are in every room and building, every tree, are made by hand by Pixar. It’s not just some fancy computer that does it all (which is totally what I thought), teams of talented artists and engineers come together to create these worlds that we’ve grown to love from Pixar.
The Parr’s home was inspired in large part by James Mason’s house in the Alfred Hitchcok’s film NORTH BY NORTHWEST. There’s also a waterfall that the production team originally added to the exterior of the house that became a major part of the film’s plot during production.
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To gain inspiration for the interior design of the home, costume designer, Bryn Imagire, looked at various textures, color palettes and visited mid-century modern homes. The interior of the home in INCREDIBLES 2 also has running water throughout the home and it plays a major role in the film. Below is the concept art of the main room in the house that was shown during the presentation and next to it is an example of mid-century modern decorating. The picture to the right has absolutely nothing to do with the film. I just found the image while I was writing this article and found it stiking how there are definitely color palettes and tones and concepts that are key to the time period. Imagire talked a lot about the Eastern influence of bringing elements of the outdoors inside during the height of the mid-century modern trend as well as using a lot of different textures in a room. I honestly had never noticed or even thought to look at the various elements of a set that you see on the big screen before, much less, an animated film. Mid-century modern trends are making a big comeback and I think that many of us will be inspired by what we see on the big screen in INCREDIBLES 2 this summer.
What Easter eggs to look for in INCREDIBLES 2
I love finding the hidden props and designs in an animated film and Pixar is notorious for adding their own touches to suspecting audiences in their films. Easter eggs is what most of us call these hidden touches and you can see them all throughout Pixar’s filmscapes – for example, the Pizza Planet delivery truck that’s in almost every single Pixar movie. No really look for the delivery truck in TOY STORY (where it first appeared), A BUG’S LIFE, MONSTERS, INC., FINDING NEMO, CARS and CARS 2, UP, WALL-E, and very discreetly in RATATOUILLE. What kinds of Easter eggs can you find in INCREDIBLES 2?
Nathan Fariss, set supervisor for INCREDIBLES 2, told us that because creating sets and props is so labor intensive, Pixar re-purposes anything that they can. “The stuff that we made for the first Parr house it’s in the film somewhere,” Ferris explains referring to the first version of the new Parr home, “Keep your eye out, for the house, you’ve seen the pictures of it, it’s in there somewhere.”
Fariss also told us that he was in charge of putting the Pizza Planet Delivery Truck Easter egg into INCREDIBLES 2. “What’s also interesting about the Pizza Planet truck in this film,” Eggleston chimed in, “is that it’s in period.”
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There’s also a reference to a classroom number “A113” that is in a number of Pixar films. Many employees at Pixar Animation Studios, including INCREDIBLES 2 director, Brad Bird, attended the California Institute of the Arts and A113 is where many graphic design students studied. Ferris said that placing the A113 Easter egg is usually the job of the director, so in this case Brad Bird’s placed it somewhere in the film.
The tradition for Pixar is to put something, a prop, into a film that’s from the next Pixar film. For INCREDIBLES 2 that would be TOY STORY 4 and Fariss had the distinct honor of placing the object for that film somewhere in INCREDIBLES 2.
How is an action scene created in animated films?
You wouldn’t believe it, because Pixar makes everything look so effortless, but a lot goes into planning an action sequence. When you have a film like INCREDIBLES 2, that relies heavily on action sequences, you almost take for granted all of the work that goes into planning and then making that action scene happen. While I was at Pixar Animation Studios I had the opportunity to sit in on the process of shooting an action sequence. There are so many moving parts that I think you’ll be like me and never look at an action sequence the same again.
First, they create a storyboard; the storyboard helps the team stay on point while they’re shooting. The main goal is that the action scene fits within the narrative of the story. After they’ve established a storyboard, and a very rough draft version of the action sequence the team comes back together and discusses how to make the scene better. After all, it’s Pixar, and that means the team is constantly striving for excellence.
Then they look at details. For example, the scene that I saw was when Helen, aka Elastigirl, is on her fancy, new Elasticycle, chasing a train that’s come undone and is quickly tearing through the city on its track. In the rough version of the scene there were police cars there but the focus was primarily on Helen. The production team looked at that and asked, “What about the police? Where are they and how are they reacting?” After that kind of detail is addressed the team gets back to the proverbial drawing board and puts the police cars in to interact with Helen. The second part of their decision to add in police cars for Helen to interact with is because people with super powers (called Supers) are still illegal. From a story standpoint, they need to give a reason why Supers should be legal, meaning they can help and do things that normal, everyday people cannot do. You’ll see that in the film so pay attention to the cop cars.
After they look at adding in different story concepts (there’s a hilarious call that Helen receives mid-train chase and I’m not going to ruin it for you, but as a parent, you’ll love it), then they get into the nitty gritty of developing the scene. They start with an extremely rough draft, then as you can see in the photo below they expound on that first version and add details, even details when it comes to how Helen rides her bike on a very narrow plank. They want for the scene to be realistic, sure the computer software can do anything but it’s these realistic details that really makes a Pixar movie above the rest.
What is INCREDIBLES 2 about?
In “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible. Written and directed by Brad Bird (“Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) and produced by John Walker (“The Incredibles,” “Tomorrowland”) and Nicole Grindle (“Sanjay’s Super Team” short, “Toy Story 3” associate producer), Disney•Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018.
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INCREDIBLES 2 opens in theatres everywhere on June 15, 2018!
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As the creator of the lifestyle blog Me Before Mom, Bert supports millennial moms facing the challenges and changes of motherhood. Me Before Mom is an online community that offers support through real life stories, encouraging advice, and answers to questions about how a woman maintains herself during this self-sacrificial time of parenthood. Stories from Bert Anderson have helped women across the globe through the Huffington Post, Today’s Parent, and on the Harry show. Whether weathering the first year of motherhood or walking through the later stages of motherhood, Bert has helped many continue to find herself while still in the throes of motherhood.