Finding Dory animators catch real-life inspiration

Finding Dory animators catch real life inspiration

Jun 15, 2016

One would think the task of creating the sequel to the 2003 Oscar-winning Pixar animated feature, Finding Nemo would make some animators a bit nervous. But Character Animators Allison Rutland and Benjamin Su, who both coincidentally graduated from Sheridan the year that Finding Nemo was released, were simply happy to have played a key role in producing Pixar’s latest offering, Finding Dory. The sequel based on the friendly but forgetful blue tang fish Dory, opened across North America on June 17 to rave reviews.

“I loved the first film (Finding Nemo) so I didn't feel pressure as much as I felt excitement about the opportunity to animate those characters, by studying the first film and trying to keep the characters consistent for Finding Dory,” said Allison Rutland, whose work on Inside Out (also an Oscar-winner) won her an Annie Award, the industry’s highest honour.

Besides viewing Finding Nemo for inspiration, the Finding Dory animation team was also learning how to animate fish by seeing them up close. “Pixar sent our department to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to study fish, otter and octopus locomotion,” said Benjamin Su. “It was a great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium and learn from the professionals there.” Su was thrilled to have the chance to work on several characters in the film, especially Baby Dory. “I did quite a few Baby Dory shots mainly because I knew my daughter would want a plush of her!  Also she has some of the most adorable lines in the film.” A two-time Sheridan graduate, Su earned an animation diploma in 2002, and a certificate in computer animation in 2003.

Rutland, a 2003 animation graduate who joined Pixar in 2009, found the experience of working on Finding Dory equally interesting and unique. “Animating characters swimming is much different from animating them on land because of the weight of the water and the physicality of the fish,” explained Rutland, “Not only did we visit the aquarium, we had a fish tank in the animation area and I enjoyed studying the fish swimming.”

Rutland and Su are just two of the many Sheridan alumni who were part of the Finding Dory crew. Among the animation grads who worked on the film are Directing Animator, Robb Denovan (2001), Shaun Chacko (2001), Guillaume Chartier (2008), Eric Lacroix (2007) and John Lee (2002). Click here to read more about Ben Su.

Click here for the Finding Dory trailer.

, which plays prior to Finding Dory, is building a reputation as the most appealing and technically innovative short film the famed studio has produced to date. Piper, the charming story about a hungry baby sandpiper, is the brainchild of long-time Pixar animator and 1996 graduate, Alan Barillaro.
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