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September/October 2022

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The MPC team worked with music when possible and with click tracks when mu- sic was unavailable. "What that [allowed] us to do was to embellish it slightly," says Jones of the keyframe technique. "Push the envelope a little bit in terms of poses, and especial- ly for someone like Honest John — he's extremely flamboyant." Members of the animation depart- ment, including animation supervisor Christophe St-Pierre Paradis, shot ref- erence poses, which were then used for the characters' individual movements. "Bob would often look at the referenc- es and choose a particular one and say, 'Hey, I like what he's doing here.'" MPC's proprietary tools were used for facial animation, as well as for all the grooming of hair and fur. "And then we relied really heavily on (SideFX) Houdini for all the effects and sims and water stuff," Jones notes, in- cluding the film's climax, where Geppetto and Pinocchio are swallowed by a giant sea monster, rather than a whale, as told in the 1940s film. "Over the past few years, we've tended to move a little towards using Houdini instead of some of our propri- etary software." When Jones is asked what part of the film presented the biggest challenge, he replies, "It's an easy answer." The Pleasure Island scene challenged the MPC team because of its many components. In it, a wagon-filled with children are told they are going to the famous island, where there is a massive theme park and no rules — or adults. Children can drink as much as they want, ride roller coasters, shoot pool and break things without consequence. Ultimately, though, they've been misled, and are instead turned into donkeys for use as manual labor. "The Pleasure Island stuff was the most tricky scene on this show, for sure," says Jones. "You've got Pinocchio, interacting with a live-action character, and you've got a huge background en- vironment that's mostly full-CG. (There are) kids dancing to music and lots of effects. I think a lot of shots in that scene were made up of multiple plates — maybe three or four plates make up one shot. So they were very complex assembly shots. That was certainly the most complex scene." Geppetto may have gotten his wish, with Pinocchio coming to life, just like a real boy, but for the MPC team, there was no help from a magic fairy. "Nothing comes for free in CG," says Jones of the studio's two years of hard work. "That's for sure." Pinocchio premiered on September 8 th and is currently streaming on the Disney+ app. VISUAL EFFECTS 15 POST SEPT/OCT 2022 Cynthia Erivo provides vocals for the new version of "When You Wish Upon a Star." Pinocchio was modeled after an actual wooden puppet crafted by the film's prop department. Tom Hanks as Geppetto. The film's live action was shot on stages in the UK. MPC used Autodesk Maya for modeling. The animation was all keyframed.

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