Well, a while back, Walt Disney Animation Studios invited AllEars.Net to their lovely Burbank studio to take an early look at “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” their 57th film and sequel to the hit 2012 film “Wreck-It Ralph.” In Part 1 of the recap of this press day, Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston and Producer Clark Spencer filled us in on the film’s general story line.
In a later panel, Story Download, Josie Trinidad(head of story),Jason Hand(story artist) andNatalie Nourigat(story artist), spoke on the process the story team underwent to tell the tale of Ralph and the internet.
While the idea of the story originates from the directors, the script and visual approach to storytelling is a collaborative effort among the many branches of the story team.
One of the problems the team had to solve for the film was how to make Ralph an internet success. They tried to analyze what makes content go viral, and played with having the character Yesss turn him into a type of virtual-reality celebrity. This was ultimately discarded as seeming “too mean.”
They finally discovered that what made people laugh was seeing Ralph in situations already familiar to them from YouTube, like unboxing videos, reaction videos, etc.
In order to keep the film from being instantly dated they tried to avoid basing it on specific internet culture such as the “two people” quizzes (“Are You an Anna or an Elsa?“) and made it more of a satire of the whole genre.
In The Web’s Wide World, Matthias Lechner(art director, environments),Larry Wu(head of environments) andErnie Petti (technical supervisor) described their journey to make the internet into a tangible environment.
The first place Ralph and Vanellope land inside the internet is the Internet Hub — something like an airport.
The base was inspired by the cross-section of huge undersea cables that connect the internet between continents.
The different colors represent the different wavelengths of light that packages of data get broken down into during transport.
In designing the metropolis of the internet, an effort was made to make the buildings look both different from real-life buildings, and yet proportional and appropriate for the netizens.
Links between websites are represented by the self-driving cars that avatars use for transportation.
Netizens, who live and work in the internet, can move freely using such transports as Amazon drones or email vans.
Speed limit signs are in megabites/second.
Signage is in different languages all throughout the movie to point to the international nature of the internet.
As the internet is always changing, the cityscape is similarly always under construction.
The actual internet consists of the surface web and the much larger deep web — areas you can’t reach just with your search bar or browser.
The deep web consists of things like archives or information hidden behind paywalls, encrypted sites, etc.
It was decided that the deep web would also be where all the outdated, discarded data would end up, like dial-up access.
When Ralph and Vanellope take the elevator down further, they find the dark underbelly of the internet, where users are incognito and scams are prevalent.
Many real-life websites are represented in the film, including Amazon, eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Google, all of which have architecture inspired by their functions.
Oh My Disney resembles a castle from the outside, with a couple of motel sites outside of it. Inside, it holds all the Disney franchises like Star Wars, Marvel and Walt Disney Studios Animation.
For the inspiration for the room in which Penelope meets the princesses, the animators looked to the Dream Suite at Disneyland.
Each princess has something distinctive in her own personal space — Snow White has a mirror, while Rapunzel is painting a mural.
In order to create all the many areas and shots required for the film, animators reused assets from many different past films, up to “Bolt.”
The scene in eBay is a particular treasure trove of Easter eggs, as items up for auction might include Rapunzel’s frying pan, Aladdin’s lamp, and Vladimir ‘s unicorn.
Next was Populating The Internet, with Cory Loftis(production designer),Dave Komorowski(head of characters and technical animation),Renato dos Anjos(head of animation) andMoe El-Ali(crowds supervisor).
Initial count as to how many characters they would need to generate to populate the internet was 150,000. In contrast, “Bolt” had 57 characters, and “Wreck-It Ralph” had 223.
Even the characters who were ported over from the first “Wreck-It Ralph” needed to be upgraded with more wrinkle detail in the clothing and more hair.
The Net Users are the avatars for humans that only appear when in use, while the Netizens live and work permanently online.
By changing the hairstyle or facial features, the animators can make a wide variety of characters to fill a space and make an environment look populated.
Netizens have a simple range of motion/emotion and are specific as to the tasks they accomplish.
If you’re shopping at Amazon.com, they will physically go through the store and put things in their shopping cart for you.
Yesss is the most prominent netizen and is designed to constantly be the most current thing out there.
In contrast, Knows More is the logo for his website — an old, outdated search engine along the lines of “Ask Jeeves” — retro and clunky.
He is the only character who has hand-drawn eyes, to increase his expressiveness.
Finally, co-writer Pamela Ribon, Ami Thompson (art director, characters) and Kira Lehtomaki (head of animation) spoke on the development of arguably the most talked-about scene revealed so far in Oh My Disney Dot Com.
Early on, it was decided that they needed a “meta” scene where Disney could poke fun at themselves.
In one attempt to figure out a way Vanellope could go viral, they thought about her taking a selfie with all the princesses and figured that would break the internet.
After writing the Princess scene, Ribon figured either something big would happen or she would be fired. Moore suggested they just storyboard it as it was.
After voicing all the princesses on the scratch track, Ribon ended up being the voice for Snow White in the final film.
All the princesses in the scene are the “canon” princesses, which explains why some are not represented.
The main challenge for the animators was to make sure all the princesses looked like they belonged in the same world, while translating the 2D princesses into CG.
On looking at the original “Cinderella,” they were surprised to find that her ears were completely hidden under her hairband, so they decided to show them here.
To get some inspiration as to how the princesses all move, the animators took a research trip down to Disneyland to see them where they live.
Another source of inspiration was the voice cast of all the original (still living) voices of the princesses who reassembled to give input and performances.
Mark Henn, original supervising animator for five of the princesses (Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, Tiana) and draw relief for Anna and Elsa, was very involved in suggesting poses and acting choices for them.
To pull it all together, here are some images showing the progression of a shot as it evolves through different departments and stages of completion:
Featuring the voices of John C. Reilly as Ralph, and Sarah Silverman as Vanellope, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 21, 2018.
Do you love Wreck-It Ralph? Did you know you can see him in MIckey’s Christmastime Parade? Check out our video below – Ralph and Vanellope are at around the 3:00 mark!
Are you ready to see this sequel? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.