When you were little, chances are you dreamed of growing up doing an amazingly fun job such as creating the cartoons you loved to watch. Now that we are adults, how many actually pursued that career? I was recently given the honor of attending the Disney Planes event where I was able to take part in a question and answer session with assistant animation director, Ethan Hurd. Ethan attended school at the California Institute of Arts and now has an amazing job with Disney Animation Studios.
During our sessions with Ethan, he took the time to show each of us bloggers how to use the Maya program that they use to animate characters. It was awesome getting to experience this! I couldn’t stop thinking about how this would be the perfect job for my oldest son who LOVES to draw! I’ve been trying to talk him into becoming a Disney animator since I returned! 😉
We were able to “grab” various parts of Dusty, the main character in Planes, and move him around to see exactly how these amazing animators create these characters and their movements! Ethan was incredibly down to earth, friendly and willing to answer our questions! Take a look at some of the things we asked him so you, too, can learn more about Ethan and Planes!
Q & A Session with Ethan Hurd
How long does it take to do a scene for a film?
There are approximately 200-400 frames per shot and it takes about 1-2 weeks (per shot).
How long did it take to animate the entire film?
The animation process about 9 months, the whole film takes 2-3 years with lots of animators on the project.
How many people on the Planes animation team?
There were about 48.
Being that the process can take so long do you ever get tired of it?
Never, I love my job!
Being that it can take so long to get a scene done, do you ever get tired of a specific scene and want to move on?
Sure, maybe one or two things but for the most part it’s all worth it. I get to work and play with an action figure on the computer all day!
Does one person work on each character and if not, how do you maintain consistency with each character?
If you find one person who is particularly strong with a character you try to give them the most shots, but it gets spread out and everyone on the team gets a hold of each character at one point in time.
After a scene has been finalized, do you find yourself wishing you had done something differently?
Sometimes but for the most part you look at the big picture and if it all works together you are usually pretty satisfied. There is always one or two things you are like ehhh….but for the most part you are pretty satisfied.
The characters in Planes look similar to those in the Cars movie, did you use references to make sure the characters looked like those from Cars?
Yes, we worked really hard to make this a seamless transition between Cars and Planes. We talked with Pixar animators, we looked at the notes they worked with. It was like a learning process trying to figure out the character rounds and to make sure it felt like the same universe. I’ve watched Cars so many times. I’ve watched it without audio and watched it just looking at tires. I’ve done versions just looking at the eyes. It’s fun, it’s great! I love it!
Of the characters you worked on in Planes, which was your favorite?
El Chu is definitely my favorite. He is just so flamboyant and gets to be that person you always want to be.
Of all of the work you’ve done in your career, who is your favorite character?
That’s hard to answer because it’s like you are picking your children! Which is my favorite kid? Planes is definitely the best work I’ve done so far. It’s probably my favorite at this point.
Thank you Ethan Hurd for an amazing session and for being so friendly and down to earth! It was great meeting you and learning from you!
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