Whenever I watch an animated film, I’m awestruck by the visual aesthetics, knowing, in part, how much time, effort, and creativity are involved. After watching Cars 2 for the third time over the weekend, I still came away from the film amazed at it’s beauty and realism.
I don’t often conduct interviews on the site, but I was very curious to speak with one of the animators from the film. So while the interview may very well be for my own information and enjoyment, I think you’ll find Enrique’s perspective on his role as an animator interesting and inspiring.
To give you a bit of background, Enrique Vila is an Effects TD at Pixar. His role in Cars 2 involved creating effects such as fire, smoke, and dust.
Enrique…. Thank you so much for taking time to speak with my readers. I saw the film over the weekend (three times, to be exact) and absolutely loved it.
1. How did you first get involved with the film? Did you choose to work on it? Did Pixar specifically ask for you?
I was asked to work on “Cars 2” by Pixar’s Effects Supervisor Gary Bruins. Also, I was interested to work on “Cars 2,” so I guess it was a lucky coincidence.
2. The animation is spectacular and having traveled to London and Paris, I felt like they were portrayed so well and were incredibly realistic. What is actually involved (briefly of course) in animating a Pixar film like Cars 2?
Lots of hard work, patience, teamwork and talent, not in that order necessarily.
3. When you are not working on a film, what is the day-to-day life of an animator like yourself?
I am not an animator in the traditional sense, that meaning I don’t animate characters like Mater or McQueen in the movie. I am involved in the production of effects animation, such as fire and flames, explosions, dust, destruction, etc. On the rare occasions I am not working on a film I spend my time learning new tools and techniques.
4. Can you tell us briefly about your journey into animation and eventually into Pixar?
For 8 years I worked in production visual effects for live action films in different studios. My first show was “The Matrix,” back in 1998. In 2006 I came to work for Pixar as an Effects Animator for the film “Ratatouille.”
5. Have you worked on any other films we might be familiar with?
Yes, here at Pixar I’ve worked on “Ratatouille,” “WALL•E,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3,” “Cars 2” and some short films as well. Before Pixar I worked on the three Matrix films, “Mission Impossible 2,” “Constantine,” “World Trade Center,” “Poseidon,” “Fantastic 4,” “Happy Feet,” etc…. even the infamous “Catwoman.”
6. How many animators would work on a film like Cars 2 and how long would it typically take? (I’ve
heard about 2 years?)
From its first inception until release in theatres film production can take up to 4 years, with the size of the production team growing in size throughout that period. The final year of production is the most labor-intensive phase. On “Cars 2” there were probably 300 artists involved full-time during the last 6 months of production.
7. What do you see as the future with regards to technology and animated films?
It’s hard to say. Everything seems to be pointing at tighter schedules and more complicated productions, while keeping the costs down and producing imagery of higher quality that mimics physical reality almost perfectly. These scenarios will definitely bring new tools and technology that will have to be up to the task.
8. Can tell us briefly how digital animation differs from animation that has evolved from drawings?
If with digital animation we are referring to 3D animation the difference is the extra dimension of space available to the animators. Most good 3D animators started as classical 2D drawing-based animators. A good 2D animator can always learn to use the software to create 3D animation, while the opposite is rarely true.
9. What is your inspiration behind your work?
Producing interesting and appealing imagery.
10. What are you most proud of with regards to the film and your work as a whole?
On “Cars 2” I am most proud of all the fire effects that I did. I think it looks pretty good. As a whole in my career, my work on the Matrix films.
11. What is your next project?
“Brave” or “Monsters 2,” I’m not sure yet.
12. I noticed towards the end of the film, we see John Lasseter’s name (Lassetyre) during one of the races. Are there a lot of hidden things we might not be aware of in the film?
More than meets the eye.
13. Who is your favorite Cars character and why?
McMissile… I am a great fan of Michael Caine.
Thank you so much for taking time to speak with my readers. Thank you for this opportunity.
I have to agree with Enrique…I think my favorite character in the film is Finn McMissile! He’s got that British James Bond appeal complete with the tricked out car!
Cars 2 is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
No compensation was received for this post.