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Animating Planes #DisneyPlanesEvent

We attended a press event for Disney Planes as a guest of Disney.

Animating Planes #DisneyPlanesEvent

“It is a big journey as our characters evolve and grow.” Ethan Hurd, Disney Toon Studios Assistant Animator.

When I walked into the room with a massive overhead screen displaying a scene from the Disney movie “Planes,” I had no idea that I was about to have my first attempt at getting to animate a character under the direction of a talented animator like Ethan Hurd.

“I get to go to work and play with an action figure all day, it is that fun,” said Hurd when talking to us about the animation process. Then when he welcomed me to his desk to manipulate Dusty, the main character in “Planes” on his computer, I was in awe. It was more than fun – it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.


The animation team on “Planes” got to a maximum of 48 people, and Ethan Hurd played a large role in the animation of the film. “Before it gets to me, somebody models and rigs the characters, so they move in a way that I can work with them,” said Hurd.

“They take the script and turn it into a comic strip. It comes to me with the basic ideas of the story point.”

After an animator like Ethan Hurd receives the clip, then they will talk to the director to find out what the character is thinking, and get into the characters head. Then they will begin the rough pass at the scene where they work on the character’s emotion and thought process.

Once the animator is done with the rough pass, they will present it to the director to ensure that it is correct. They will get feedback from the director, act out the scene, and then return to work on the final version before sending the scene off to the next department to work on the textures and lighting.

“Generally it takes a week or two to work on a 200-400 frame shot, but it depends on how many characters and details are in the shot,” said Hurd. “An average film takes about 9 months to a year until everything is complete,” at Disney Toon Studios.

With 48 animators working on the film, I was curious to see if each animator was assigned their own character? Ethan Hurd said, “If we find one person who is strong on drawing a character, we give them more shots. If they get good then they will do 70%, but it depends and is spread out” He shared with us how the director and the producer are, “The anchor to ensure that all of the characters look the same.”

“I love it, it is great.” – Ethan Hurd

Disney “Planes” will be in theaters on August 9th.

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  1. Bringing the Disney Planes Characters to Life with Art Hernandez - OC Mom Blog | OC Mom Blog - [...] Once the film is done with the story artist, it will be handed over to the animators. [...]

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