Earlier this year, Disney-Pixar invited AllEars down to Pixar Studios to take an early look at their upcoming “Incredibles 2.”
[Unattributed photos and video provided by Disney]
The first half of the day was detailed in Early Press Day for “Incredibles2” Part 1. After the first two panels and the studio tour, we were given a look at some of the characters’ new costumes with Bryn Imagire (Shading Art Director), Fran Kalal (Tailoring Lead), and Deanna Marsigliese (Character Artist) in “NO CAPES!”
Deanna Marsigliese, Fran Kalal, and Bryn Imagire
–Costume design for animation is no different than costume design for live-action.
–The two major components of the process are “be creatively theoretical” (abstract thinking through storytelling) and “be creatively practical” (efficiency.)
–Initial focus is on what the designs should communicate and how they can facilitate storytelling.
–On developing costumes for Edna Mode’s fashion line, designers went back to look at her character from the first movie.
–While Edna likes things bold and dramatic and ‘now’/mid-century, designers often don’t design to their own tastes, but create what will suit their models.
–Edna, however, clearly states that she hates models, so her designs tend to be vehicles celebrating the superheroes and superpowers she prefers.
–Practicality comes into play largely with the hundreds of background characters which each need clothing but do not need the specificity of the main characters.
–The tone for the average character’s costume is day-to-day mid-century modern with elements of nostalgia.
–Rather than the glamorous ads of the period, research focused on images from home sewing patterns.
–Background clothing should be evocative but not compete for attention with that of the main characters.
–Because technology was so much more primitive when the first film was made, the fabrics for the supersuits were actually just textured straight onto the characters’ bodies.
–The new suits are constructed from patterns so they have better texture and don’t stretch as much as the previous ones.
–For the family’s everyday clothes, designers took inspiration from Paul Newman for Bob and Mary Tyler Moore for Helen.
–Accessories add to the completion of a character by adding details down to sunglasses, pearl buttons, etc.
–They thought it would be funny if Bob never put Jack-Jack in anything but diapers when he was home alone with him, so Jack-Jack only wears clothes when Helen is home.
–Famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head was a big influence for Edna Mode’s outfits in the first film. In this one, Brad Bird stated that Edna is half Japanese and half German, so her clothes were revamped to reflect that.
–Looking at Japanese designers, they noted that in contrast to the flamboyant clothes they made for others, the costumers tended to wear more grounded, comfortable clothing with accents from nature.
–For newcomer Evelyn Deavor, Bird specified fashion influences from Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Diane Keaton, and Annie Lennox: Bohemian, practical, and a blend of masculine form and feminine accents.
–In Character Tailoring, designs are taken and realized on the computer to act like physical costumes.
–To costume the background males, they made twelve unique garments and refit them to six different body types. With variations in pattern and color, they were then able to create 72 uniquely costumed characters (their “Mad Men” lineup.)
At a press conference also held that day, Writer-Director Brad Bird and Producers Nicole Grindle and Producer John Walker fielded questions about the sequel.
Bird on time constraints: “The original ‘Incredibles’ was supposed to be after ‘Cars.’ It was going to be ‘Nemo,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘Incredibles’ and our reels came together a little earlier than ‘Cars’ did, so we moved up, and the same situation happened here with ‘Toy Story 4.’ They’d been going a number of different directions in story and it was concluded that we were a little further along than they were, so we moved up. So that was a challenge for us, but the studio is three times bigger than it was at the time of ‘Incredibles’ so if we didn’t choke, we could actually, theoretically, get the movie made, and then that is what came to pass.
“When I got involved with ‘Ratatouille,’ it was a little over a year and a half between my involvement and the finished film, and we only retained two lines of dialogue and two shots from all of the previous versions that had been done. So it was like running in front of a train, laying down track in front of a moving train like Wallace and Gromit. But, as Nicole said, everyone rallied and as long as it’s clear where we want to go, people rise to the occasion.”
Bird on setting the film directly after the ending of “Incredibles:” “I thought about aging everybody the way everybody does, and then I thought no, that sucks…One of the conceits of the original film is that I tried, initially, when I was first starting to work on the project, long before Pixar or anything like that…I went to a comic book shop and thought I’ve got to think up new powers. And after about a half an hour in the comic book shop I realized every power has been done by somebody, somewhere, even if it’s only self-published a hundred issues in Ohio. Then, right after that little epiphany, I realized I’m not very interested in the powers. That’s not the part that interests me. What interests me is the idea of having a family and having a reason to hide the powers. And once I had that insight into what I wanted to do, I picked the powers based on who they were in the family.
And so men are always expected to be strong, so I had Bob have super-strength. Mothers are always pulled in a million different directions, so I had her be elastic. Teen-agers are insecure and defensive, so I had Violet have force fields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy balls that can’t be stopped, and babies are unknowns: Maybe they have no powers, maybe they have all powers. We don’t know.
“So that idea changes if you age the characters up. The insight into the periods of your life and those particular perspectives disappear once you age them up. I’m not interested in a college-age Jack-Jack, I’m just not….I also was on the first eight seasons of ‘The Simpsons’ and that’s worked out rather well for that, so I’ll stick with that.”
Bird on diversity: “We are just telling the story we want to tell. Some people have remarked…”oh (they) geared this towards the #MeToo movement because it’s got a female lead” and all this stuff…I had that idea right on the heels of the first film. That’s the oldest idea in this current movie, that and exploring Jack-Jack’s powers. So we don’t really respond to whatever the thing of the moment is, because our lead time is so long. We just kind of tell the stories we want to tell.
“But, that said, you know the first walkaround character in Disneyland that was black is Frozone. And so, you know, I think we’ve done okay and we will continue to present that sort of world because that is the world that we live in.”
Bird on making sequels: “You want the characters to feel consistent, you want the world to feel consistent, but you don’t want to be able to know what’s going to happen next. So that’s the challenge, and it’s not an easy challenge to meet.”
Walker: “And the fact that we took fourteen years to do it suggests that we took the challenge seriously.”
Bird: “The thing is, that many sequels are cash grabs. There’s a saying in the business that I can’t stand where they go [gangster voice] ‘YOU DON’T MAKE ANOTHER ONE, YOU’RE LEAVIN’ MONEY ON DA TABLE!’ You know, money on the table does not make me get up in the morning. Making something that people are going to enjoy a hundred years from now is what gets me up. So if it were a cash grab, we would not have taken fourteen years. It makes no financial sense to wait this long. It’s sheerly that we have a story that we wanted to tell.”
Bird on artistic control: “I’m elbows in. I have very strong opinions about how I like to see things staged, I mean, ask people. Some people have (asked) why am I the only Pixar director that works alone…and I always look at the other filmmakers and I go WHY WOULD YOU GIVE UP ANY PART OF THIS MOVIE? WHY WOULD YOU GIVE THAT UP? WHY WOULD YOU GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE TO DO and they just wave at me, like ‘shut up.’ So that’s the best way to handle me. Tell me to shut up.
“I’m not opposed to other people’s notions. I just want to make sure I get mine in first.”
At the end of the day we were treated to a tour of Pixar’s relatively new Archives facility. While we could have stayed there all week looking at the tons of concept art and maquettes and other Pixar relics, we were shown at least a small portion of the various pieces of the studio’s history. Some of them, such as the original Woody bust, had recently been on tour as part of a traveling Pixar exhibit, but will probably not be loaned out again as they are irreplaceable.
More to come, including the terminally adorable short “Bao!”
“Incredibles 2” comes to US theaters June 15, 2018.