Disney ZOOTOPIA ‘Animalmation’ Interview – Creating Animal Characters

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Disney’s ZOOTOPIA hits theaters SOON (March 4th) and it’s going to be one the whole family will love! Animal movies always seem to be such great hits, but Zootopia promises to be something we’ve never seen be-fur!
Zootopia PosterWhat is Zootopia?

It’s a city like no other – a modern mammal metropolis. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.

How many unique animals are in Zootopia?

There are over 1,000 unique animals!!!!! WOW!!! From gnus to shrews, lemmings to leopards, rabbits to rhinos, Zootopia is home to animals of all shapes, sizes, stripes and spots.

What are the challenges to animated 1,000 different animals?

We met with Art Director of Characters, Cory Loftis, to answer that question! With 1,000 unique animals, you can imagine that it was quite a challenge for the Disney Animation team! Disney Animation Zootopia

  • Animals walk on two feet in Zootopia. Obviously, this presented a BIG challenge to the team. You want the animals to look/act true to their natural tendencies, yet are personified to walk like humans. How a giraffe would walk on two feet is obviously going to look VERY different from how a mouse would walk on two feet. So, there was A LOT of research and experimenting that was involved to get this just right for each type of animal.
  • Animals wear clothes. How exactly would a water buffalo look in police uniform? What about an adorable fluffy, donut-eating Cheetah? How does an elephant wear pants? Animators had to consider each animal’s body type and tail to figure out what clothes would be worn and how they would look on the animal.
  • Animal Scale. Unlike many animated animal movies we’re used to (where most of the animals are roughly the same size on screen), the Zootopia team wanted the animals to feel more real. So, the scale of the animals HAD to be right. Imagine having a mouse and a giraffe in the same shot. How do you make that work? What does that look like? This was definitely a challenge to the team.

zootopia animal lineup

  • 1,000 UNIQUE animals!! I can’t even image this! In Little Rodentia where all the rabbit families live, you can imagine that there are A LOT of bunnies. To make things look realistic though, you can’t just make one or two bunnies and then copy them for the town. Just like a real colony of rabbits, each one would look slightly different. So, ALL the animals had to be uniquely created.

Animation Demonstration….

Speaking of rabbits, the main character in movie is a bunny – Judy Hopps. And, we got an animation demonstration on sketching her from Cory. Everyone was given a pad a paper and we walked through the process step by step with Cory shoring us how – drawing her on his fancy computer and TV set-up! Here’s mine: Judy Hopps AnimationNot too shabby, but definitely don’t think I missed any calling as an animator! 😉 Hahah!

Getting a behind-the-scenes look gives you such a HUGE appreciate for the work (YEARS) that goes into making these characters and films that our children & families come to love! We can’t wait for Zootopia! Make plans to see it on March 4th!!!

Be sure to follow ZOOTOPIA for updates – Facebook, Twitter, and the ZOOTOPIA website!!!

Disclosure: I was invited and hosted by Disney/ABC to cover the #StarWarsEvent & #ABCTVEvent as part of an all-expenses paid press trip. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. 

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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