“Big Hero 6” is a 2014 American 3D computer-animated superhero-comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, the film is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, and is the 54th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
And yes, you’ve previously seen “Feast”, the short film that was released to whet your appetite for “Big Hero 6”.
Now feast on some movie fun facts for real:
1. “Big Hero 6” is the first Disney animated film to feature Marvel Comics characters, whose parent company was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2009.
2. Although it is based on a Marvel comic of the same name, there are lots of changes: the names, the setting, the ethnicities of characters, the backstories, and several plot points.
3. For “Big Hero 6” producer John Lasseter, story is king, and nothing is more important to get right in a film than story. He stressed to the writers that “you don’t know how a movie starts until it ends”. So he wanted the writers to work backwards, from the end to the beginning.
4. Luckily, Marvel was supportive but not possessive about what they wanted to do with the property. Joe Quesada (Marvel’s chief creative officer) and Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel TV) went to screenings and became a part of the “Story Trust” meetings where they would give notes, but they were only ever suggestions and not directives.
5. The “Story Trust” is where other directors from previous or upcoming Disney films, as well as story editors step in to criticise a movie’s flaws more than any filmgoer might. Rest assured, they are not back-patting sessions.
6. This film is a superhero origin story and even though there is potential with these characters and this world to do many more stories, they really wanted to put everything into this movie without thinking about possible future films. However, several “Big Hero 6” characters won’t appear in the film due to copyright issues.
7. As a life-long fan of comic books and of Disney animation, director Don Hall started imagining what a combination of those 2 things would look like. When he came across the lesser-known Marvel comics series “Big Hero 6”, he was inspired to create an original story set it in a new, unique world.
8. The film might also draw inspiration from the “Big Hero 6” mini-series, where Wasabi and Fred first appeared, replacing Silver Samurai and others. Since Disney took Wasabi and Fred as characters of the film, it’s likely that Disney also took inspiration from the series’ setting: America.
9. The setting for the story is a city in the near future, called San Fransokyo, that is a mix of both San Francisco and Tokyo. It is a high-tech city that blends both Eastern and Western culture.
10. To create the city, they took a research trip to Tokyo to get a visual sense of what it was like, and they paid special attention to the light in the Bay Area.
11. At it’s core, “Big Hero 6” is a story about a young man named Hiro and his robot, who helps him recover from a devastating loss and help him become whole again. A family tragedy was always the catalyst for Hiro’s journey, from the first pitch of the film. Through the eyes of this young man we see this process is filled with tears, surprises, thrills, and lots of laughter.
12. The villain’s name, Yokai, means “demon” in Japanese.
13. Filmmakers typically screen an animated feature 8 or 9 times during the development process, and they bring the voice cast in around the third or fourth screening. There are generally about 12 weeks in between iterations, which gives them the ability to actually start molding the character to fit the actor.
14. Hence, about a year into the screenwriting process, they hired actors to come in and do a radio play of the script to see what’s working and what’s not.
15. This cast is the largest cast of characters ever in a Disney animated film. There are about 15 main characters, but 701 unique characters, which all have to be animated. 1,300 animation cycles were created, which is about 600 per gender, and allows them to populate the world with characters who are standing, sitting, talking, texting, talking on the phone, carrying a shopping bag, etc., to really fill in the world and make it rich.
16. During pre-production, in the long tradition of Disney animation, everything starts with a drawing that then provides the animators with the emotional range of the character from multiple angles and keeps a consistency of look with the characters, through the rigging process.
17. Each control moves a specific part of a character, ranging from very broad pieces of the body, all the way to the most finite pieces, like fingers, eyes, lids and lashes, and there are hundreds of controls for each character.
18. Another challenge was the breadth of animation, which ranges from very subtle, nuanced performances to very heavy action sequences. With 7 action sequences, many on a much larger scale than we’ve ever done before, there is more action in this film than in any other Disney animated film.
19. A sequence can be up to 1,000 drawings. If a 9 minute portion of the film doesn’t work as the writers would have hoped, up to 30,000 boards can end up in the garbage, and the team will have to work on a blank board again. Conceptual things will remain.
20. To create the look of Baymax (essentially a personal health care companion robot who’s programmed with over 10,000 medical procedures), the character design team went to Carnegie Mellon and learned about soft robotics, which led to him being an inflatable robot. Bells inspired the look of his eyes.
21. They looked to penguins for inspiration in animating Baymax because they don’t really use their arms and a robot doesn’t need to move anything that doesn’t necessarily have a function. That simplicity to Baymax really allows the audience to be a more active participant in his performance because you project onto him what you think he’s feeling.
22. Costume and colour supports the character’s personality, and you should be able to tell who they are by what they’re wearing. Like the Power Rangers, they wanted the colours for each member of the team to be very iconic.
23. Each superhero has a superpower, in the form of effects, that reflects their individual personality. The effects department works very closely with character animation to achieve those effects.
24. The effects department, which has grown significantly over the last few films, is a balance of the creative and the technical. To put that into perspective, for “Tangled”, there were 13 effects animators, and for “Big Hero 6”, there were 40 effects animators.
25. In total, there were 85 animators responsible for all of the characters’ motions in “Big Hero 6”.
“Big Hero 6” will be released in cinemas nationwide on 13th November.
For more information, visit the movie’s official website.