Disney animators faced knotty problem with Tangled

2010-11-26 07:26

Los Angeles – The makers of the latest Disney animated blockbuster Tangled say one of the biggest challenges was making Princess Rapunzel’s long flowing hair seem realistic, including in 3D.

Disney’s 50th animated feature is based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale and fits into the long tradition of a studio that brought children’s classics Dumbo and Cinderella to the world decades ago.

But moviegoers can be forgiven for being reminded of films by younger animated movie rivals Dreamworks (with Shrek for example) and Pixar, of Finding Nemo and Toy Story fame.

“There’s a look in the film that kind of relates back to the Disney animated from the 40s and the 50s,” said Nathan Greno, co-director of the movie, which opened Wednesday on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

“But because it’s been made by computer, it’s so fresh it’s so new, it’s unlike anything audience have seen. We really tried to have one foot in the past and one foot firmly planted in the present,” he said.

The film – initially called Rapunzel but changed to reflect the boosted role given to her charming rescuer – tells the story of the princess born with magic hair but trapped in a tower.

She is saved by bandit Flynn Ryder – voiced by Zachary Levi – but that only marks the start of her real journey.

“The core of the script is this coming-of-age story with this girl trying to find herself,” said Greno’s co-director Byron Howard.

“We did look at the original Grimm’s fairytale, which is very dark and kind of confusing in a lot of ways. And we tried to take the best part of that and expand it to something epic and huge.”

In addition to its narrative drive, the film used the very latest hi-tech advances in computer-generated graphics – in particular for the princess’s river-like hair, splashed across giant publicity posters for the movie.

“The biggest challenge has been to raise the bar, the artistic bar, the animation bar for the human characters,” said animator Carlos Cabral.

“The hair was a huge technical bar that we had to achieve. The interaction of the hair with the clothes and multiples layers of clothes really kind of raised the bar on CG character animation.”

Cabral said it was particularly difficult to simulate hair because every strand of the princess’s locks had to be reproduced.

“And every hair has to collide with everything. This is a huge calculation. Literally up until recently, we haven’t had the computing power to be able to get even close to that,” he added.

The latest technology also helped the animators give the characters expressions reflecting the actual faces and movements of the actors who lend their voices.

“I saw Flint’s face when I first auditioned for the role, they had pretty much already conceived it. And I thought, ‘Well it’s a good looking guy!’,” said Levi.

“There’s a camera in the voice-over booth, kind of picking up your movements and facial expression. There’s a little bit of you in the character.”

Voicing characters – a growing source of income for actors amid the explosion of animated movies in recent years – presents unique challenges.

“It was very strange not being able to have like a give-and-take with another actor,” said Levi.

“You always have to use you imagination to picture the world. At least in a live-action show you have all this things that help you to picture this fictitious world.

“In voice-over, it’s all about imagination.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.