JASON DEAMER

Vudu Doodle Q&A

 

Q:   How much did the character models change as technology has come along so much since “Finding Nemo” came out?

A:        The way we do things today is almost completely different than the way we operated in 2003.  When making “Finding Dory,” we ended up having to remake all the beloved characters from the first movie. We put in a lot of effort to make sure that they look like the same appealing characters that everybody knows from the first film. A specific example of one of the ways that technology has changed is that we are just so much better at making controllable rigs. We’ve gotten a lot better at being able to reuse rigs from one character to the other and from being able to make the controls a little easier on the animators. We’ve also gotten a lot better at making realistic looking light and textures on all our characters. 

 

Q:  Who decided to make Hank a septopus?

A:        It’s kind of a funny story, actually. I designed the tentacles separate from his body and the modeling element didn’t fit onto the screen. We couldn’t fit all eight in there without making them either much more narrow at the base -- so they’d be tubes -- or shrinking them down completely -- and they’d look like little pinkies! I realized that when drawing an octopus, you never draw all eight tentacles because they’re a big pain to draw. You would hide some behind the body or the audience member assumes that they’re back there somewhere.

 

I thought, why don’t we put the idea to Andrew that we just don’t build it? We just make him a septopus. Andrew figured, rather than do it and not acknowledge it, he would write it into the story. It actually turned out to be serendipitous because it inspired the Marine Life Institute, a place where animals are being treated and recovering, and it gave Hank a reason to be in the Institute.

 

Q:  What was your favorite scene to work on and why?

A:        My favorite scene is the one when Hank hides as he’s coming down the hallway. The guy on the phone looks out the window and Hank sticks his head into the coffee pot and hides like the plant. I think it’s a great example of all our departments working together. The character department had to work on the filming; the art department was involved in the designing; the idea and animation team had to figure out how to make him turn; the simulation team had to simulate the water squirting out; and the shading team enabled him to shift into the green plant.  It all came together seamlessly and it was a great collaborative moment between all the departments. 

 

Q:  How were you selected to work on “Finding Dory?” Did you select it or was it actually assigned?

A:        It was assigned. [Director] Andrew Stanton and I have worked together on three previous movies and so he asked for me, which was an honor.



Q:  Do you consult with specialists before laying out the ocean floor scenes? Is it more important to be accurate or just go for  visual appeal?

 

A:        We always look at reality and we do talk to experts. We met with this amazing fish expert at one point and he was really incredible to learn from. But, ultimately, it’s the story that matters and that trumps everything. Clarity of storytelling and appeal are always going to win in the end, but we try to do that while honoring nature as much as possible. Being accurate to nature isn’t fundamentally the most important thing. Making an appealing and entertaining story is the most important thing.

 

Q:  How did you decide how Dory’s parents would look? What visuals did you give her parents to make them look different from each other and from Dory?

A:        When we had to design Dory’s parents, we thought to ourselves, maybe we could reverse engineer what her parents look like based on the child that they made. I knew we needed them to look different than Dory, so I started by making different silhouette shapes for clarity reads to the audience. I thought to myself, what two shapes, when they have a child, could make Dory? So, we pushed her father into a rectangular shape and the mother into a half-circle shape, so that when blended together, they would make Dory’s fish shape.

 

We also thought maybe Dory got her mom’s eyes. Dory’s eyes are kind of high on her body and her mouth is really low, so we did the same thing to her mother. We actually stole the exact geometry of her eyeballs and used those on the mom. Dory also has a distinctive bump between her eyeballs and her mouth, so we thought maybe she got that from her father. We gave her father kind of a bump between his eyeballs and his mouth. So, collectively, it implies that Dory is her parents’ child. 

 

Q:  How did you manage to get the water pouncing so real while having so much fish movement?

A:        We have an incredible simulation team and they’re experts at generating realistic physical qualities in liquid dynamics. But what I honestly believe makes it seem so real is sound design. I think everyone underestimates the power of sound -- that “whoosh” sound that added at the end really lends that last bit of impactful realism. So, I think a combination of great simulation, great lighting and great sound design is what does it.

 

Q:  What is your favorite character to draw and why?

A:        I liked designing Hank a lot. He was just really, really hard and because he’s so soft and shape-shifting, you can draw him in all of these different configurations. He’s hard to draw, so it’s a nice challenge.

 

Q:  Does it feel horrible when they remove some of your scenes during the editing process?

A:        Not really. Maybe when I first started my career and the one thing I worked on got cut out of the movie, I’d be depressed. But it’s pretty much just par for the course in making movies that a lot of what you do is going to get cut. As a designer, it’s basically my job to draw it a thousand times and throw all those drawings away until we get one that the director likes. It’s just part of the job.

 

Q: How much do you rely on storyboards?

A:        We rely on them a lot. Storyboards are like our scripts. We don’t know that we’re ready to make the movie until we have it in storyboard form. So, yes, we rely on them heavily. And when we want to experiment with characters. There are also times, when the storyboard artists have found something so appealing in their storyboards, that we just use that. If it’s already working, why reinvent it? Sometimes, we’ll use the storyboards even for character design. 

 

Q:  What color blue is Dory?

A:        She is more than just one single color blue. The reason being, things in real life are not always a single color. For example, if you look at the wall next to you right now, there’s not just one shade of white on the wall, right?  Look at the way light is attenuating and as it disappears in the darker corners down at the bottom or gradates across things. That is the kind of realism we try for in our characters. So, Dory is actually, subtly a lot of different blues because we want her to look very real and not like a cartoon. Occasionally, you do see a touch towards the greener side of blue: a turquoise.

 

Q: Do you get the script before you work on the design or do you just get a rough plot overview of the story?

A:        It happens both ways. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and get script pages, and sometimes I’ll even have an audio performance from whomever they’ve had do the voice. In some cases, like say on “Ratatouille,” I just had the premise, which was it’s going to be a rat in a kitchen, so draw rats.

 

Q: Did you have to watch fish swimming in slow motion to figure out how to make their swimming so accurate and to capture all the details?

A:        Yes. That’s exactly what we did. But we also combined that with what we learned from our fish expert, who also happened to be an expert in hydrodynamics. He explained to us exactly how fish move their fins and locomote through liquid.

 

Q:  How did you make Hank disappear in the backgrounds?

A:        We took whatever was positioned behind him and then projected it onto his body in the front. Then we bent it a little bit so that it felt like it was aligned with the surface of his skin. We also didn’t want him to be completely transparent. I wanted it to look like he was almost gone, but you could still kind of see the surface of his skin there. We distorted the thing coming through him just a little bit and left a little bit of the shininess of the skin there too. So, even though you could see through him, you could still see the wetness on the surface.

 

 

 

CONTACT US     TERMS OF USE    PRIVACY POLICY
© 2016 VUDU Inc.

JASON DEAMER

Vudu Doodle Q&A

 

Q:   How much did the character models change as technology has come along so much since “Finding Nemo” came out?

A:        The way we do things today is almost completely different than the way we operated in 2003.  When making “Finding Dory,” we ended up having to remake all the beloved characters from the first movie. We put in a lot of effort to make sure that they look like the same appealing characters that everybody knows from the first film. A specific example of one of the ways that technology has changed is that we are just so much better at making controllable rigs. We’ve gotten a lot better at being able to reuse rigs from one character to the other and from being able to make the controls a little easier on the animators. We’ve also gotten a lot better at making realistic looking light and textures on all our characters. 

 

Q:  Who decided to make Hank a          septopus?

A:        It’s kind of a funny story, actually. I designed the tentacles separate from his body and the modeling element didn’t fit onto the screen. We couldn’t fit all eight in there without making them either much more narrow at the base -- so they’d be tubes -- or shrinking them down completely -- and they’d look like little pinkies! I realized that when drawing an octopus, you never draw all eight tentacles because they’re a big pain to draw. You would hide some behind the body or the audience member assumes that they’re back there somewhere.

 

I thought, why don’t we put the idea to Andrew that we just don’t build it? We just make him a septopus. Andrew figured, rather than do it and not acknowledge it, he would write it into the story. It actually turned out to be serendipitous because it inspired the Marine Life Institute, a place where animals are being treated and recovering, and it gave Hank a reason to be in the Institute.

 

Q:  What was your favorite scene to work on and why?

A:        My favorite scene is the one when Hank hides as he’s coming down the hallway. The guy on the phone looks out the window and Hank sticks his head into the coffee pot and hides like the plant. I think it’s a great example of all our departments working together. The character department had to work on the filming; the art department was involved in the designing; the idea and animation team had to figure out how to make him turn; the simulation team had to simulate the water squirting out; and the shading team enabled him to shift into the green plant.  It all came together seamlessly and it was a great collaborative moment between all the departments. 

 

Q:  How were you selected to work on “Finding Dory?” Did you select it or was it actually assigned?

A:        It was assigned. [Director] Andrew Stanton and I have worked together on three previous movies and so he asked for me, which was an honor.


Q:  Do you consult with specialists before laying out the ocean floor scenes? Is it more important to be accurate or just go for  visual appeal?

 

A:        We always look at reality and we do talk to experts. We met with this amazing fish expert at one point and he was really incredible to learn from. But, ultimately, it’s the story that matters and that trumps everything. Clarity of storytelling and appeal are always going to win in the end, but we try to do that while honoring nature as much as possible. Being accurate to nature isn’t fundamentally the most important thing. Making an appealing and entertaining story is the most important thing.

 

Q:  How did you decide how Dory’s parents would look? What visuals did you give her parents to make them look different from each other and from Dory?

A:        When we had to design Dory’s parents, we thought to ourselves, maybe we could reverse engineer what her parents look like based on the child that they made. I knew we needed them to look different than Dory, so I started by making different silhouette shapes for clarity reads to the audience. I thought to myself, what two shapes, when they have a child, could make Dory? So, we pushed her father into a rectangular shape and the mother into a half-circle shape, so that when blended together, they would make Dory’s fish shape.

 

We also thought maybe Dory got her mom’s eyes. Dory’s eyes are kind of high on her body and her mouth is really low, so we did the same thing to her mother. We actually stole the exact geometry of her eyeballs and used those on the mom. Dory also has a distinctive bump between her eyeballs and her mouth, so we thought maybe she got that from her father. We gave her father kind of a bump between his eyeballs and his mouth. So, collectively, it implies that Dory is her parents’ child. 

 

Q:  How did you manage to get the water pouncing so real while having so much fish movement?

A:        We have an incredible simulation team and they’re experts at generating realistic physical qualities in liquid dynamics. But what I honestly believe makes it seem so real is sound design. I think everyone underestimates the power of sound -- that “whoosh” sound that added at the end really lends that last bit of impactful realism. So, I think a combination of great simulation, great lighting and great sound design is what does it.

 

Q:  What is your favorite character to draw and why?

A:        I liked designing Hank a lot. He was just really, really hard and because he’s so soft and shape-shifting, you can draw him in all of these different configurations. He’s hard to draw, so it’s a nice challenge.

 

Q:  Does it feel horrible when they remove some of your scenes during the editing process?

A:        Not really. Maybe when I first started my career and the one thing I worked on got cut out of the movie, I’d be depressed. But it’s pretty much just par for the course in making movies that a lot of what you do is going to get cut. As a designer, it’s basically my job to draw it a thousand times and throw all those drawings away until we get one that the director likes. It’s just part of the job.

 

Q: How much do you rely on storyboards?

A:        We rely on them a lot. Storyboards are like our scripts. We don’t know that we’re ready to make the movie until we have it in storyboard form. So, yes, we rely on them heavily. And when we want to experiment with characters. There are also times, when the storyboard artists have found something so appealing in their storyboards, that we just use that. If it’s already working, why reinvent it? Sometimes, we’ll use the storyboards even for character design. 

 

Q:  What color blue is Dory?

A:        She is more than just one single color blue. The reason being, things in real life are not always a single color. For example, if you look at the wall next to you right now, there’s not just one shade of white on the wall, right?  Look at the way light is attenuating and as it disappears in the darker corners down at the bottom or gradates across things. That is the kind of realism we try for in our characters. So, Dory is actually, subtly a lot of different blues because we want her to look very real and not like a cartoon. Occasionally, you do see a touch towards the greener side of blue: a turquoise.

 

Q: Do you get the script before you work on the design or do you just get a rough plot overview of the story?

A:        It happens both ways. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and get script pages, and sometimes I’ll even have an audio performance from whomever they’ve had do the voice. In some cases, like say on “Ratatouille,” I just had the premise, which was it’s going to be a rat in a kitchen, so draw rats.

 

Q: Did you have to watch fish swimming in slow motion to figure out how to make their swimming so accurate and to capture all the details?

A:        Yes. That’s exactly what we did. But we also combined that with what we learned from our fish expert, who also happened to be an expert in hydrodynamics. He explained to us exactly how fish move their fins and locomote through liquid.

 

Q:  How did you make Hank disappear in the backgrounds?

A:        We took whatever was positioned behind him and then projected it onto his body in the front. Then we bent it a little bit so that it felt like it was aligned with the surface of his skin. We also didn’t want him to be completely transparent. I wanted it to look like he was almost gone, but you could still kind of see the surface of his skin there. We distorted the thing coming through him just a little bit and left a little bit of the shininess of the skin there too. So, even though you could see through him, you could still see the wetness on the surface.