A BUG'S LIFE
Origins of the Project
As "Toy Story" was entering its final year of production in 1994, John Lasseter and his team began actively exploring ideas for their next feature project
As "Toy Story" was entering its final year of production
in 1994, John Lasseter and his team began actively exploring ideas
for their next feature project. A film involving insect characters
had been discussed and seemed a natural because it could utilize
the strengths and advantages of computer animation.
The spark of the idea for "A Bug's Life" came one day
as Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft were having lunch. They began
talking about the classic Aesop fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper,
in which a starving grasshopper, fiddle in hand, drops in on a
family of ants and begs for a bite to eat. When the grasshopper
confesses that he spent the summer months making music, the industrious
ants turn him away and suggest that he spend the winter dancing.
Aesop's conclusion was "there's a time to work and a time
to play." Stanton and Ranft concluded that it might make
for a pretty interesting scenario if the grasshopper, being much
bigger than the ants, decided to just take the food. Their active
imaginations began racing and they laughed at the humorous possibilities.
Lasseter shared their enthusiasm and helped flesh out the idea.
Soon after, Stanton began drafting a treatment and a screenplay.
Screenwriters Donald McEnery & Bob Shaw, who had worked on
Disney's feature animated version of "Hercules," collaborated
on a subsequent version of the script. Ranft joined the team
in 1996 as story supervisor and began fleshing out the story and
corresponding visuals through the storyboarding process.
"Kids love bugs," says Lasseter. "I know because
I'm a kid at heart. I have five sons and they've all spent time
in the yard playing with bugs. We have lots and lots of jars
with holes poked in the top. The insect world is such a fascinating
one. I remember when I was a kid, I would get down really low
and picture myself tiny and think that the grass was like giant
trees that were part of a big forest. Looking at the world that
we know from an insect point of view was very intriguing to me.
I thought it would make a really interesting film. And with
computer animation we have the ability to make worlds that are
so dimensional and almost realistic looking with reflections and
shadows and textures."
Stanton adds, "There was something about the way bugs look
and the way nature appears up close that seemed very compatible
with computer animation. We felt we could play off the most fascinating
aspects of photorealism and create something that was more like
a caricatured version of reality. We call it hyper-realism.
We did all this research on ants and grasshoppers and became amateur
entymologists in the process. In the end, we would always fall
back on common knowledge and the things that most people remember
From its inception, the filmmakers envisioned "A Bug's Life"
as a David Lean-style epic adventure that unfolds in a vast natural
setting. From a bug's perspective, blades of grass would appear
to be a forest of tall trees; a tree would appear to be Mount
Everest; microscopic areas would appear as endless panoramas.
The decision was made to produce the film in a wide-screen CinemaScope
format to emphasize, exaggerate and have fun with these elements
of size and scale. Many on the production team, especially production
designer Bill Cone and director of photography Sharon Calahan,
screened a variety of wide-screen classics to study the composition
and movements tha
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