Yesterday, I shared the story behind Disney’s latest Tinkerbell movie – “Neverbeast” which I covered during my press trip in LA. I also had the opportunity to sit down with the Story Artist Ryan Green (pictured right) & Animation Supervisor Mike Greenholt (pictured left) for an interview.
Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast Animation Interviews
Ryan shares that a story artists position is to work closely with the director and writer in a room similar to the one we are pictured in below. They capture the heart of the story, then head to their computers where they draw panels to present back. It normally takes 4-5 attempts to get things perfectly before sending it off to animation. Ryan also mentions that his role in the animation process was working on Fawn and the Neverbeast’s relationship. He also added that before he got into art he actually had a degree in Biology, so he was able to help inform the other artists how an animal is built and what’s under all that fur.
Ryan and Mike talk about doing a lot of research on animals at the zoo to bring Gruff to life. They combined the Neverbeast’s run with that of a rhino charging and the playfulness of a dog. Mike adds “the second challenge was how do we make him act. The last thing we wanted was for Gruff to feel like a man in a costume or like someone wearing makeup that you can tell there’s a human behind the face. So we looked at animals and how malleable is their face, what parts move, what makes it different from a human.”
Q: How many different Neverbeasts were there?
Mike: “There was only one but there were maybe seventy variations of it.”
Q: Is there anymore research besides for Gruff? Anything else new introduced that you had to develop and research?
Mike: “The scout fairies were new in this movie, we didn’t have them before and they were cool because they were like action heroes. They’re tough, they’re brave, they’re more athletic. The fairies that we’ve seen in other movies are more influenced by ballet or gymnastics and they’re graceful and like figure skaters. But the Scouts, we were a lot of like Olympic athletes, pole vaulters, long jumper. And that was a big inspiration for how those characters moved.”
Q: How did you come up with such intense eye color?
Mike: “His eyes are green and that connects to the comet, so it shows that it not only wakes him up but that there’s a connection between the two of them.”
Ryan adds, “There was an image early on that the director had come to the table with and it was one of the images I had up there of the big eye, as almost this glass ball and Fawn looking into it and seeing herself. And that was something we wanted to keep in the final stage so it’s this mysterious eye.”
Q: Who decided on the name Gruff?
Ryan: “Steve the director had used it as a temporary term and then it just kind of stuck. His name is going to be Gruff.”
Q: Is there anything new on this that you’ve never done with other projects that were challenging?
Mike: “Gruff was new, I mean, he was a monster. He was also bigger than most of the other characters that we’ve done in Pixie Hollow. And because he didn’t speak, his performance was all through his body language and pantomime so that was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun.”
It was such a joy to speak with the animators, director and producer to get the “inside story” about Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast. You could feel the excitement about their roles in the film when speaking to them. The movie is different from any Tinkerbell film you’ve seen before, and something I feel brings more of a neutral ground for both boys and girls to enjoy the movie.
Check out this extended sneak peek of the film below:
Pre-order your copy on amazon.com now! The movie hits stores everywhere March 3rd, also available on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere.
I was invited as media to cover this press event. All opinions are mine alone. Pictures courtesy of Disney.