Disclosure: This post is part of my all expense paid trip to Los Angeles, CA provided by Disney, in exchange for coverage. However, opinions are 100% mine
Ralph Breaks the Internet is the highly anticipated sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, and this past August, I had the opportunity to attend a press junket for the film while attending the Christopher Robin PremiereChristopher Robin Premiere. As part of this junket, I learned about building and populating the world of Ralph Breaks the Internet from the people who were in charge of that very thing. Josie Trinidad (Head of Story), Jason Hand (Story Artist), Natalie Nourigat (Story Artist), Matthias Lechner (Art Director, Environments), Larry Wu (Head of Environments), Ernie Petti (Technical Supervisor), Cory Loftis (Production Designer), Dave Komorowski (Head of Characters and Technical Animation), Renato dos Anjos (Head of Animation), and Moe El-Ali (Crowds Supervisor) – whew, that’s a lot – were all on-hand to give us a better insight into the film and how they created it.
The Three Steps to Building the World of Ralph Breaks the Internet
Before Ralph could break the internet, it had to be built, and the incredibly long (and talented) list of people I just laid out to you were all a big part of that. They headed up their departments, which all worked together to create the world of this new animated feature.
The story team played a unique role in developing the new adventure on which Ralph and Vanellope go by envisioning how the internet might look if it were a place where people lived. As any movie is made, changes can and do happen. Josie Trinidad, Jason Hand, and Natalie Nourigat and their team followed the entire production process from start to finish, tracking the film’s progress, what should be changed about the story, and what shouldn’t. They essentially have to be writers, artists, and actors – and in some cases more – to ensure that the story remains true to itself and to the process while it makes its way from concept to theater.
Throughout the process, the story team helped guide their story through 15 artists, 10 screenings, and 45 sequences. That sounds like a lot, right? Well, it’s even more than that, when you get down to it! To get those 45 sequences, they started out with 153 and cut over 100. There were 7,883 total sequence versions and 283,389 storyboards! According to them, all the work was worth it to achieve those perfect moments in the film.
The World’s Wide Web
Ralph Breaks the Internet is set in, well, the internet. For most movies – even ones featuring anthropomorphic animals – artists can go do research at places like zoos or national parks to get ideas for animal, scenery, and weather looks. However, with a setting like the internet, things get a little more tricky. To make Ralph Breaks the Internet come to life, Matthias Lechner, Larry Wu, and Ernie Petti took their teams to the internet hub of southern California, Wilshire One, to see exactly how the internet works and how that could be translated into a thriving virtual metropolis.
Using motherboards as inspiration for the city grid, various other hardware, and the ideas behind fiber optics; the team created a city filled with life and, most importantly, a believability which is quite impressive. For example, when Netizens arrive in the city, they get there via different light colors, a direct pull from fiber optic technology.
Populating the Internet
And speaking of Netizens, after the concept of turning the internet into a bustling city was finalized, it was time to populate it with Netizens and Net Users. Cory Loftis, Dave Komorowski, Renato dos Anjos, and Moe El-Ali and their team were responsible for creating these inhabitants.
Netizens are the citizens of the internet. They are the workers that keep it all going. In the film, you’ll notice that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to give them an individualized feel even though they are thronging the world of the internet. In order to make them appear natural, a special formula was created to dictate when they blinked, how they moved, and how they blended into a crowd.
Net Users are the avatars of the people using the internet on the other side of the screen. Much live video game avatars, the Net Users have different features but one unifying “block” look to them – male or female.
Other Fun Facts
- The Deep Web makes an appearance. It’s the part of the web where viruses and anonymous users live.
- To prepare for the scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet where Ralph and Venellope visit OhMyDisney.com (a real site), animators stayed overnight in the Castle Dream Suite.
- One Netizen of note is Knows More. Voiced by Alan Tudyk, this Netizen is the Google of the city. To give him the look of someone who knows everything, his eyes were hand-drawn for his character to be more old-school.
Ralph Breaks the Internet was a MASSIVE Team Effort
The is only a little of what went into making Ralph Breaks the Internet. As you might imagine, a film of this magnitude took far, far more work than what has been listed here. However, these little tidbits offer an excellent cross-section of all the work that goes into the film. I was blown away by everything that has to be done and all the thought that goes into making a film like this, and I was so happy we had the chance to get a deeper look into Ralph Breaks the Internet with the minds behind this amazing film.
Ralph Breaks the Internet opens in U.S. theaters on November 21, 2018. Don’t miss it!