Behind The Scenes: Creating The Worlds of INCREDIBLES 2


Bryn Imagire (Shading Art Director) and Ralph Eggleston (Production Designer) at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores)

Creating the Worlds of INCREDIBLES 2

Production Designer Ralph Eggleston

Shading Art Director Bryn Imagire

Production Designer, Ralph Eggleston, says “our jobs are to create the world of film.”

“The world is a character in the film. We design our characters/actors, their environments, the props and dressing, the costumes of the characters, the textures in the film and the lighting.”

That seems like a huge responsibility. You have to create this entire INCREDIBLES 2 world from scratch. It is a lot of work, and I’m going to take you behind the scenes to look at some of what they do from beginning to end.

Bryn Imagire, The Shading Art Director added that their inspirations are:

  • Mid-century (mundane)
  • Inspirational pictures
  • Big and meaty environments (in regards to mid-century aesthetic)
  • Textures

At the beginning of the film, the Parr family is living in a mid-century mod hotel off the interstate called Safari Court. They took into account the foods on the table and packaging for foods that were used, as well as designed the textures in the room. Bryn feels like there is a specific color palette in mid-century time-period and they made sure to use that color palette throughout the film. 

See the hotel room in the official trailer below: 

Where do they get their design reference?

Ralph says they gather reference from many different sources. On this film, they went to Palm Springs to get some reference and ended up with 30 properties that they were able to photograph.

Bryn adds additional sources for design inspiration:

  • Terrazzo flooring
  • Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design
  • Bring the outdoors inside (i.e. plants, organic materials, etc.)
  • Picture references that tell a story about the time period
  • Dark woods inlaid with brass
  • Beautifully set-dressed forms
  • Patterns, [the 50s was a] juicy time period to use design ideas
  • Palette was inspired by Sunnylands in Palm Springs, really light with accents of color
  • Warm and creamy
Concept art by Ralph Eggleston. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Concept art by Kyle Macnaughton, Philip Metschan, and Shelly Min Wan. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Concept art by Garrett Taylor and Philip Metschan. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Ralph concurred about gathering reference from many different sources. They actually were finished with the Parr’s new house for the film, completely done and in production. The Parr’s original house in INCREDIBLES was 1300 square feet and this new house was a 2300 square foot suburban home. They completed the work over 6 months, but then there was a story change and the Parr’s moved to a 20,000 square foot home. The design team had 2 1/2 – 3 weeks to make ALL the changes! The had everyone on the team working on the changes [for the new-new house]. Ralph said he told everyone it was “our last chance to go crazy!”

“Everything you see in the final film is built from scratch. Everything.”

Philip Metschan (Visual Designer) at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores)

Visual Designer Philip Metschan

Visual Designer, Philip Metchan explains pre-visualization work is like a rough sketch.

The sets are like a character and it’s important we understand them.”

By using [pre-visualization] we get everyone in the same place about our work. We like to work with story/art/camera departments and build these quick models that all of us can look at and react to. “It’s important to start rough and move to fine.”

After the initial script, the storyboards are created. The new-new house is drawn in several different ways, and Philip Mechan brings it all together so they can all react to one design. He says his job is to “bring everything together and make it into one so that everyone is on the same page.” 

Other aspects of Visual Designer work

  • Produce maps so that everyone knows where things happen [in the story] and where the actors can be.
  • Build the 3-dimensional model to focus on so their all looking at the same things. For example, only look at one idea of the house instead of multiple.
  • The 3-D model brings everything off of the drawing page and into the world it will end up in.
  • Try everything out (tables, products, characters) and see if the space is too big or too small, etc.

“We had such success, we used it for every set in the film.”

Nathan Fariss (Sets Supervisor) at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores)

Sets Supervisor Nathan Fariss

Sets Supervisor, Nathan Fariss led the team of 55 people in sets department. The sets department is actually broken into a smaller collection of groups that fill specific roles. 

The set department makes all the stuff: props, architecture (inside and out), vegetation, skies, and set extensions.

5 Subgroups within Sets Department

  • Modeling
    • Modeling sculptures, upholsters, builds all the 3-D items in a set. Nathan says that “computers are really good at making a straight line.” But the world isn’t made of straight lines. The modeling group can “make the world as real as we want it to feel or unreal depending what we’re making.”
    • They have 10 or so modelers that worked on the film that created every seating, the towers, buildings, carafes, everything. Everything has to be made. 
  • Set Dressing
    • Set dressing takes the props and puts them together in a set to make the set. They add the food, knives, forks, and such to make it a set. They can make things look lived-in using a sink of dirty dishes.
    • They prep the structure of the world so that lighting and animation can use them in the downline. They come back later in the film and camera dress (i.e. add grass, stones, proper shading, dead leaves, etc.)
  • Shading
    • Shading adds color/texture, inform the surfaces [in the computer] how they react to light.
    • Color, level of shininess on props.
    • Terrazzo (aggregate material)
      • Take some of the textures in the Terrazzo (i.e. stone) and mixed them together. Using a base layer of light stone, adding specific colors (light/dark) and build on that using reflections, textures, and adding a layer of dirt to make it realistic.
    • Amount of texture in cloth (i.e. silk, wool, etc.)
    • Elasticycle –
      • paint/leather/ribbing in the tire.
      • Fender has orange peel from the paint texture.
      • All about the attention to detail. 
  • Set Extension/Skies
    • The small group that expands our world.
    • They make the great big city. My goal at the beginning of the film was to not be afraid of cities. We made a 3-D city that we can put in [the film] and place wherever we want it.
    • This same group makes clouds (like in The Good Dinosaur).
  • Sets Tech
    • They are the unsung heroes of sets department.
    • They remove stuff that we may not need on the sets.
    • Behind the scenes trimming on a scene by scene basis called a pruning process. They do this for both crowds and props.
    • They do this for ALL of the 2200 shots in Incredibles 2.

Progression Images from INCREDIBLES 2 “Stop the Tunneler” Sequence

Progression Image 1 of 5: Story – This storyboard was drawn by story artist Bobby Rubio for the sequence called “Stop the Tunneler.” Storyboards are drawn by story artists in order to pre-visualize the film as the script is being written. They are placed side-by-side in sequence by the editorial team, to convey the pace of scenes and deliver a rough sense of how the story unfolds. This storyboard is one of approximately 410 boards delivered to editorial for this particular sequence. In total, 52,725 storyboards were delivered for the entire film. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Progression Image 2 of 5: Art – Once the storyline for a sequence is determined, concept art is created by the production designer and art department to determine the look and feel of the film. This concept art piece was created by production designer Ralph Eggleston and showcases the exploration of color and design for the characters and new environments. In the first film, “The Incredibles,” bold colors were used to establish a visual language for the film, and the art team wanted to make sure this style was consistent in “Incredibles 2.” ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Progression Image 3 of 5: Sets and Layout – Using art reference for guidance, technical artists build basic forms and shapes of the sets and characters in the computer during a process called “Modeling.” “Shading” comes next, during which technical artists use a combination of painting and programming to apply textures, colors, patterns and other material properties to give the sets complexity and appeal. This image also shows the phase known as “Layout,” in which a virtual camera is placed into a shot. The characters are “staged” or placed into positions within the built set that work visually with the chosen camera angle. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Progression Image 4 of 5: Animation – When Layout is complete, the characters are brought to life by the Animation department. Animators often use video reference of themselves or the voice actors to inform mouth shape or expressions, as well as overall movement of the characters. On average, it takes 4-6 weeks to animate a shot, but because the composition of the characters in this shot was so complex, it took the Animation department 8 weeks to complete. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Progression Image 5 of 5: Lighting, Effects, and Final Image – The Lighting department helps to integrate all of the elements – characters, sets, effects, etc. – into a final, fully visually realized image. The Lighting process involves placing virtual light sources into the scene to illuminate the characters and the set. Technical artists place the lights to draw the audience’s eye to story points and to create a specific mood. The lit images are then rendered at high resolution. 24 lit images, each over 2 million pixels, are created for each one second of the movie.
All the natural phenomena seen in this final image, such as the dust, smoke, and glow of Violet’s orb, were brought to life by the Effects department. Effects artists create these elements using complex simulation software that models the physics of how certain materials move. These Effects elements provide a believable and tangible sense of interaction between the characters and their rich, realistic world, which also helps to reinforce the emotional stakes for the audience. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I have a new found respect for all things animation. It may be the fact that I’m a writer, not an artist, but it is unbelievable the amount of work that goes into creating an animation feature. Join me in the theaters on June 15, 2018, to catch all the excitement of INCREDIBLES 2.


Pre-sale tickets now available!

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