Let me introduce you to my fellow blogger and good friend Julie, who recently sat down regarding MOANA – behind the scenes with a Disney animator.
Hi Finding Debra readers! My name is Julie and I blog over at Julie is Coco and Cocoa, a lifestyle blog that offers easy solutions for everyday living. I share simple crafts, quick recipes, and yarn patterns. I’m a Mom to 3 boys and an avid movie watcher. That’s something that Debra and I have in common, a love for Disney movies! Which is why I’m so excited to be here today talking about the new Disney animated movie Moana.
Moana is a movie about a young girl named Moana and her quest to save her people. Moana is drawn to the ocean from an early age, but doesn’t understand why. No one in her family, that she knows of, has ever left the island. It’s only when she discovers her journey that she understands her connection to the ocean. Along her journey Moana meets the demigod Maui, as well as host of other colorful characters.
Julie and Disney animating supervisor Malcon Pierce
What is it about bonding over a favorite Disney movie? Moana animating supervisor Malcon Pierce was in Dallas recently as part of the Moana artist tour. I got the opportunity to not only watch a few clips of Moana, but also sit down with Malcon and talk to him about the film. We had to ask him what his favorite animated Disney movie was, that he didn’t get to work on. His answer? The masterpiece Aladdin. As we talked about the shared experience of watching Aladdin in the movie theater, and then many more times afterwards, I knew we were off to a great start.
Malcon told us that while he had been drawing essentially since he could hold a pencil, he really wanted to be an animator, or knew that was an option, after seeing Aladdin. Malcon worked on Moana for 2 years, so we definitely had some questions for him about the new film.
Something fascinating about the character of Moana was that they had her designed and ready to be animated before the voice actor was cast. It’s remarkable that they found the perfect match when they cast Auli’i Cravalho as the voice for Moana. Malcon said personality wise Auli’i brought a lot to the character. And they were able to add some of that to the animation.
I’m a girl with long hair, so something I noticed about Moana was her fabulous hair. Malcon walked us through the unique way they animated her hair, almost strand by strand. And here we get another classic Disney movie connection, the desire to have her hair really have some personality – because of The Little Mermaid.
Some of the clips we got to watch were the development of Moana’s character, from sketches through the art direction of making sure she was animated from every angle. That meant that as a character, she could move in any direction and still look like Moana.
As someone who loves (I mean, adores) musicals, I was so excited that number 1 the characters in Moana sing. And number 2, Lin-Manual Miranda contributed to some of the music in the movie! (If you don’t know who Lin-Manual Miranda is, I have one word: Hamilton.) We had to ask Malcon what it was like to animate singing versus speaking. He said that Auli’i’s voice coach came and taught them about breathing and singing and some of the technical aspects. Before deciding on a career in animation he had told us that he went to college to study music. That music background greatly helped with the singing animation. Plus music in general has a lot of parallels with drawing and other artistic mediums. And he said that studying music really helped with timing, both dramatic and comedic, for his animation.
Not only with the singing, but with the film in general, they did a lot of research. In fact, to get from concept to finished project, Malcon told us that research is key. The film is set about 3,000 years ago, so research impacted all aspects of the film, even the costume design. All the costumes were based on things they would have been able to make or find. They had a group that advised them on all the cultural aspects of the film. They put that group in place from their very first research trip to the South Pacific so they were with them throughout the entire project. This group, that they called The Oceanic Trust, was able to provide them with feedback and make sure what they portrayed was true to the culture. They didn’t want the movie to portray any one specific culture, but rather to be overarching for all of the islands.
Moana is a strong female character. She’s a go-getter who knows what she wants. At 16 she’s also a little younger than some of the Disney princesses. She’s fearless, intellectual, and a real problem solver. A modern female role model for the modern day.
I loved that the story is very character driven. And these characters are great. Other than Moana, we have a couple of hilarious sidekicks in Pua and Hei Hei. I can’t wait to see which one is your favorite! And the Kakamora? Of course Malcon couldn’t tell us if there were any Easter eggs in the film, but my bet is on the Kakamora.
And an unexpected character in the film? The water! Yes, the water is a character. I’m not sure any description will do it justice, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. Hint: it’s a tear-jerker moment.
I had to ask Malcon how he stayed inspired while making the film. I wasn’t surprised at all when he said that looking at sculpture was an inspiration. Malcon told us that Moana is his favorite project to date that he has worked on. And I agree! The clips were incredible and I can’t wait to take my family to watch the entire film.
Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.
MOANA arrives in theatres everywhere on November 23rd!
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- Visit the http://movies.disney.com/moana
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