The Making Of Zootopia


If you haven’t seen Zootopia yet- join the club buddy! Apparently it’s pretty great (and definitely in my personal queue after I figure out what that Soylent Green stuff is made of… Soy, probably?)

I did, however, watch Imagining Zootopia, a fantastic 45-minute documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind slapping together an animated movie that casually rakes in $800m for Mr. Mouse.

This is a must-see for anybody of the creative persuasion. I learned so much about their story-making process, animation, learning to let go, secret Disney vaults, etc.

But for those who don’t have 45 minutes to spare (yeah right, buddy), I’ve put together a list of the highlights below:

  • 2:44 – John Lasseter says the whole movie came from their love of seeing “animals walking upright wearing clothes.” What!
  • 3:34 – We’re introduced to Disney’s “Animation Research Library,” a vault that holds millions of pieces of art from every one of their animated features that’s probably 80% sexy anthropomorphic dogs.
    • DISNEY TRIVIA: Their first animated movie? Snow White. Their best animated movie? A Goofy Movie, probs.
  • 4:50 – They begin the research process which is pretty much taking pictures of cute animals at home and then taking a trip to Africa to take pictures of cute animals in the wild. And who said research was boring?
    • It was very interesting to see what the different creative departments were looking for while on safari. The Environment CG Supervisor was taking notes on “ze soil.”  The Director of Lighting? Cloud shadows. The Co-Writer/Director? The amount of animal babies.
  • 8:45 – A quick rundown on how the CG film making process works. Any idea what rigging is? Cloth simulation? I didn’t! It’s fascinating!
  • 12:15 – They talk about how they came up with the movie’s overarching theme of “bias” and show us clips from an earlier version of the movie that revolved around a spooky world where all of the predators had to wear shock collars.
  • 14:01 – STORY. Everybody knows the heart of every Pixar (and now Disney Animation) film is a great, engaging story. Here we hear from a bunch of folks about how much time and energy is put into getting the story just right. We also get a rare glimpse of the synergy between the Disney Animation and Pixar studios.
  • 17:58 – We watch a rap session with the fabled Disney “story trust.” Every month or so they give an internal screening of the movie and completely rework it each time. BONUS: A clip of a room full of white people arguing about racism.
  • 20:17 – They discuss how they drew inspiration from Eye of the Storm, a ABC documentary where an elementary school teacher leads her class in an exercise that explains the horrors of bias in a really interesting way.
  • 24:30 – A deeper look into the discarded shock-collar storyline, including a very emotional scene involving polar bear bar mitzvahs.
  • 29:55 – FUR! Did you know how hard it is to give everybody fur in a movie?!
  • 30:53 – A very cool look into the artists that came up with the actual “world” of Zootopia and tackles questions like: “How can elephants and mice live in the same city?” Variable-sized doors, mostly! There’s also a very interesting bit about POV.
  • 35:25 – An explanation behind why the team decided to switch main characters halfway through development and what kind of challenges that brought.

I’m tired of writing this, but you should really watch it. Props to the folks at Fusion who put it together. Subscribe to their channel here.