TOY STORY 2
Animating The Characters
"Toy Story 2" turned out to be a dream come true for the film's
talented group of animators. Just as Lasseter and the story team enjoyed
revisiting their friends, so too did the animators. Additionally, the story for
the sequel called for a diversity of acting styles ranging from subtle movements
to slapstick comedy and heartfelt drama. Compared to their previous assignment
on "A Bug's Life" — which had a large cast of complicated characters
with multiple appendages — working on the toy characters was a change of pace
for the animators.
Supervising animator Glenn McQueen observes, "We know exactly who these
characters are. It's like slipping on a pair of shoes that have been in the
closet for a couple of years. They fit perfectly, they're already broken in, no
chafing, no bunions. It's just comfort from the word go. Buzz and Woody are like
our Mickey Mouse. The other real advantage we have here is that our animators
have a lot more experience so the animation is far better on this film than it
was on the original 'Toy Story.'"
"Toy Story 2" also offered the animators lots of new and improved
tools for doing their job. Technology is faster and more sophisticated than on
previous Disney/Pixar films, allowing the animators to concentrate on their
performance. Despite its many advantages, computer animation is still a labor
intensive art form where even the most skilled artist creates typically four or
five seconds of animated footage in a given week.
Working closely with McQueen on this film were directing animators Kyle Balda
and Dylan Brown. Balda had studied traditional animation techniques while
attending CalArts but was attracted to computer generated imagery. He went on to
create special effects for such films as "Jumanji" and "The
Mask" during a four-year stint with ILM before joining Pixar to work on
"Toy Story 2." Brown was already interested in computer animation when
he saw "Jurassic Park" in 1993. The film blew him away and led him to
pursue a position at Pixar.
"The thing I really like about animation is the motion," says Balda,
"and computers let you concentrate wholly on that aspect. You don't have to
worry about being on model with the character; you can just focus 100% on the
performance and the timing. Working on the sequel to 'Toy Story,' gave us the
added advantage of having an entire film to look at for reference. It would be
like a painter studying Picasso. You're trying to match that style but at the
same time you're doing something completely original. The original 'Toy Story'
gave us something to live up to. You have to make sure that these characters
remain consistent from one show to the next."
He adds, "'Toy Story 2' is a real animator's film. Unlike 'A Bug's Life'
which was a big epic tale with so much to look at in the world around you, this
film is a little bit smaller and more about the characters themselves. What's
happening in their lives; what's motivating them. I think you get into the heads
of the characters a lot more. From an animator's point of view, there's much
more acting and performance so it gives you a chance to really explore a lot of
Unlike traditional animation, where a directing animator usually specializes
in one particular character, the animators on "Toy Story 2" tend to be
generalists who work on whatever characters are needed in a shot. Still, some
animators gravitate towards and excel in bringing specific characters to life.
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