Last night, during the hour-long “Frozen” special on ABC, there was a sneak preview of Disney‘s next animated feature, the superhero romp “Big Hero 6.” (This is the same special where they announced the new “Frozen” short film, “Frozen Fever.“) The two-minute clip goes a long way towards giving you a taste of the characters and overall feel of the 54th animated feature film from the Walt Disney Animation Studios.
We were out at Walt Disney Animation Studios in late July and got to see a little bit of what is in store for “Big Hero 6” (we’ll be delivering more of that content in the weeks leading up to the film’s release). The movie concerns a young robotics prodigy named Hiro (Ryan Potter), who is working on a new technology involving miniaturized robots (called “micro-bots” in the movie) that swarm and look really, really cool. (According to the visual effects department we visited, one scene involves 20,000,000 micro-bots. Damn.) After an accident involving his micro-bots, Hiro’s older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is killed. Hiro has both lost his potentially revolutionary invention and his best friend and hero, all in the same day.
In the scene that aired during the “Frozen” special, Hiro sits in his room when he drops an oversized model of one of his micro-bots on his toe. This accident, in turn, wakes up Baymax (Scott Adsit from “30 Rock“), a helper robot that Tadashi designed. Baymax is an inflatable robot and based on real technology that is being worked on today. When we visited with the design team for “Big Hero 6,” one of the illustrators hilariously agonized over Baymax’s hands, because they were worried that cold robot hands would be super creepy. (Designer Shi Yoon Kim said that he based Baymax’s tummy on what his wife tells him: “My wife is always like, ‘Your stomach is coming out.'”) Thankfully, Baymax’s hands, like the rest of him, are squishy and totally adorable.
Baymax’s interaction with Hiro gives you an impression of how the robot is supposed to work professionally (“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?” the robot asks), as well as how the friendship between Hiro and Baymax will develop. The animation is totally beautiful in this sequence; we love the way that Baymax tiptoes around the bed to get to Hiro (the animators said they watched footage of penguins to get his walk right). And while you don’t get to see any of the razzle dazzle action sequences (there are seven such sequences, more than any Disney animated film), or the crazy amount of detail that has gone into the creation of the made-up world of “Big Hero 6” (with 701 unique characters, it has the largest cast of ever in a Disney film) you do get, in this brief clip, a better understanding of what is going to make this movie so special – the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. That is what is going to set “Big Hero 6” apart from other Disney animated films (and, indeed, other Marvel-based properties) and that is what you see on display in this little sequence.
“Big Hero 6,” directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and based on the Marvel comic book by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, is out on November 7th. We’ll have plenty more from the film before its release.