With the help of hand-drawn advice from veteran Dale Baer (watch the exclusive video below) and the new Hyperion ray-tracing renderer, Disney’s Oscar frontrunner, Feast, is a delectable short. Director Patrick Osborne utilizes a quick-cutting, mockumentary style and a look comprised of warm colors, flat shapes, and shallow depth of field. Brian Scott, the head of animation, walks us through the tech highlights.
Immersed in Movies: A Second Helping of Disney’s ‘Feast’ Short
Immersed in Movies: A Second Helping of Disney's 'Feast' Short
Disney once again used the Meander software from the Oscar-winning Paperman, but only for the finer detailing on Winston’s face to get the most out of his expressions. However, they deconstructed Hyperion for their own purposes. “We stripped out all the cool things that it could do so we could do a more stylized, graphic look that we were after,” Scott explains.
“The look of Feast stemmed from some of the concept art that Patrick’s loves at the studio, particularly from Jeff Turley, who was our production designer. He uses rich color and graphic style. Effects supervisor Josh Staub figured out how to use Hyperion to approximate the concept art more accurately.
“It took a lot of exploration to see how we could use that tool. Soft lighting and shallow depth of field was used to put us in Winston’s POV. We always wanted the focus to be on him and the food in his life.We did a lot of work in the design phase to make sure we could capture the very graphic look we were after. When animating, we viewed Winston in a simplified format, taking out all of the detailed lighting that you’d get in Maya by default. We always had the final image in the mind’s eye and wanted the character to be clear in any given pose.”
Meanwhile, they leveraged Baer’s expertise during pre-production to further simplify some of the drawings and achieve more of a 2D aesthetic. “It’s always about how you present those complex CG shapes in simpler poses, and not overly complicating the expressions.
“Winston was a unique challenge. I wanted to make sure that I matched Pat’s vision and separate him from the Disney dogs of the past. We looked at Pluto and 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp for inspiration but we wanted to come up with a new character. We studied real dogs and Dale talked to us about design. We wanted Winston to be dog-like as well as relatable. But as he grew in the story, we wanted him to take on even more human emotions.”
For food, they had everything from Kibbles to French Fries to spaghetti and meatballs to ice cream to mac and cheese. But they all move and behave differently. “It became an animation lesson for a lot of the effects artists that are used to a simulated approach. We steered away from foods that would be dangerous for a dog to eat and they had to be iconic and looked delicious. nachos, which were triangles, and ice cream, which is a circle, and lasagna, which is a perfect square. It was about making those shapes as graphic and perfect as possible so they registered as believable textures when the light hits them to makes them look delicious.”