Working from home because of the pandemic has challenged many of us. But if your challenge was the create a full-length feature animated film that carries the Disney name, your challenge just quadrupled!
It was right around March of 2020 that the COVID pandemic shut everything down and eventually sent all 200+ people working on Disney Animation’s next feature, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” home to make it.
“It was all done from home, really,” said Osnat Shurer, producer of Raya said during a virtual early press day. “This was the first time we’ve had to do something so collaborative, apart.”
As with most animated productions, much of the actually making of the film (animation, lighting, rigging, coloring, etc.) is done via computer. Advances in technology have allowed that to happen with mobility, even with a tablet the size of an iPad.
But the process of creating a Disney animated feature is a lot more involved because the teams rely on collaboration. Each department is often meeting with each other in their open-space plan studio in Burbank, California trying to make each other’s work better through feedback and discussions.
Co-director of Raya Don Hall (who directed Disney’s “Big Hero 6”) said that even though those in-person interactions needed to cease, they still needed to happen. “They did happen, and the fact that we were apart made us feel closer together in a lot of ways,” Hall said.
To make it all happen, Disney Animation’s own in-house IT team worked hard to ensure that all the teams making Raya had their computers, the specialized software, and strong internet connections.
“If it wasn’t for those guys (IT team), this wouldn’t have happened as seamlessly as it did,” said Shurer. Production eventually ended just a few weeks ago, and as scheduled. It is now officially the first Disney animated feature made entirely from home.
And as I said a few weeks ago having seen the first 30+ minutes of the film, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” will hit open theaters and Disney+ with Premiere Access ($30) on March 5, 2021.
We’ll have more behind-the-scenes features on Raya in the coming weeks, so check back soon!