Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 49

erdinand the bull is a lover, not a fighter. A peace-loving beast, he is adopted by a loving farmer and daughter, and grows to enjoy his idyllic life. That is, until one day he is mistaken for a vicious beast and hauled off to a bull training camp where he is expected to prove himself in the ring. But bullfighting is not in his blood: Ferdinand prefers flowers to fighting, and is determined to return home to those he loves. But will he stay true to his peace- ful nature when he is forced to face the matador El Primero in a packed arena? The answer can be found in the climactic scene of the animated feature Ferdinand, from Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox Animation, and directed by Academy Award-nominee Carlos Saldanha, creator and director of the Blue Sky Rio series and many of the Ice Age movies. The film is based on the 1936 book "The Story of Ferdinand" by author Munro Leaf and illustrator Robert Lawson, a charm- ing tale about how appearances can be deceptive, along with the message of love and acceptance. "You can't judge a bull by its cover," says Saldanha about the theme of the film. This project excited Saldanha and Co-producers Lori Forte and John Davis. "I had fallen in love with the story and its wonderful message of acceptance and diversity," says Saldanha. And, the book was a bedtime favorite of Davis's children. It was also a household favorite of Producer Bruce Anderson. But turning a beloved albeit very brief book into a feature-length film required greatly expanding the story line and in- troducing new characters to accompany the central character on his journey. "The story has a very strong beginning and ending, so we took those very powerful components and created this middle part that helped us really get attached to Ferdinand," says Anderson. "We also had the freedom to introduce all these other colorful and memorable characters that weren't in the book. However, they had to fit into this world and echo the message and sensibilities of the piece." As a result, it took quite some time to bring Ferdinand to the screen – ap- proximately four years to nail down the story and develop the design, especially for Ferdinand the bull. "Those two things happened side by side," says Saldanha. "I needed time to develop Ferdinand's look and how he was going to move, how we would rig him, his facial expressions…. I needed him to feel big and impressive, but also he needed an endearing face so the audience could connect with him." In particular, the crew raised the bar in terms of character development, lighting and rendering, and construction of the envi- ronments, requiring the artists to make the most of its in-house tools. BULLISH ON STYLE Ferdinand is set in colorful and historic locales in Spain, where Saldanha and some of his colleagues visited for visual inspiration and for authentic backdrops to use in the film. There, the filmmakers followed Ferdinand's footsteps to Madrid, Seville, and the farmlands in the south of the country, enabling them to create an authentic world for the characters. Unlike Rio, with its strong, rich, primary colors, Ferdinand's color palette is warmer, with earth tones of oranges, browns, and reds. To achieve this look, the group decided to try something different and use full radiosity, achieved through the latest upgrade of the studio's longtime propri- etary renderer, CGI Studio. "We've always used bits and pieces, but this is the first time we were able to use the full power of radiosity in one of our movies," Saldanha points out. "We made the best use of the technology to make a big artistic impression. Ferdinand is not a movie with huge special effects. Our goal was to use the best technology to create the right look that helps serve the art direction and the lighting. Every- thing has been raytraced meticulously, and it looks beautiful." As Saldanha explains, radiosity in CGI Studio simulates reality, but the Blue Sky team wanted a stylized look for Ferdinand. Initially, they were concerned that using radiosity for the entire film would be too expensive. But in the end, it made the process easier, as the group was able to minimize the lighting setup because radi- osity took care of a lot of that work by producing rich imagery. F

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - Edition 1 2018