Wreck-It Ralph won't be in theaters until November, but the buzz for Disney's upcoming animated film has already begun. Directed by Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama), the movie stars John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch as video game characters whose lives are more complex than what players see on-screen.
Wreck-It Ralph is a hero's journey story set inside video games that never actually existed. It's a tribute to arcade life, with each world reflecting a different generation of video games, from '80s 8-bit to '90s whimsy to today's hyperrealism.
Last week, I was invited to Disney's animation studio for a press day surrounding Wreck-It Ralph. We were treated to an excerpt from the movie and, more importantly, we were able to spend some time with the creative team behind the forthcoming film to get an idea of what went into this unusual feature-length animation. Obviously, video games were a huge influence on Wreck-It Ralph's story and style, but there's much more to the movie than that. Check out a breakdown of some of those influences.
All around Disney's studios, you could see inspiration material for Wreck-It Ralph. In one of the rooms, there were clips from Japanese fashion magazines documenting the fierce style of the teens and young adults who hang out in the Harajuku section of Tokyo. These fashions served as the basis for the animated wardrobes of the characters from Sugar Rush, a racing game within the film. The references to Japanese street fashion are subtle but distinct. The go-kart-driving girls wear bold colors, not terribly far off from what you would see in brands like 6% Dokidoki. They pair bold patterned tights with skirts and big shoes.
San Diego Chargers
Part of Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside Hero's Duty, a fictional first-person-shooter game. The idea wasn't so much to mimic what's out there. Instead, "How does this look to the characters that live inside the game?" was the pressing question, according to effects supervisor Cesar Velazquez. "For them," he says, "it's a real war."
For the film's animators, the challenge came in making the characters of Hero's Duty move like heroes. Wreck-It Ralph's executive producer, John Lasseter, suggested that they head to a San Diego Chargers game.
"We went to a Chargers game and went down on the field and watched them warm up and took video reference of them to see how these people day in and and day out do something incredibly difficult and incredibly physical," says supervising animator Zach Parrish.
Wreck-It Ralph features references to a lot of different styles of video games, but from what I've seen, there always seems to be something linking together the art throughout the movie. That's Disney at work.
Of the first-person-shooter universe of Hero's Duty, Parrish says, "We still wanted to have that Disney caricatured feel, but have the essence of that hyperrealism that people associate with those kinds of games."
Velazquez mentioned that the team revisited Disney classics like Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella while working on the Sugar Rush scenes. "We really drew upon the legacy here at Disney Animation," he says.