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Creating the ‘Netizens’ in Ralph Breaks the Internet

I attended the interview as a guest of Disney

One of my favorite things about Ralph Breaks the Internet are the way the people look in the film. Last month, I had the honor of talking with the character building team Cory Loftis (production designer), Dave Komorowski (head of characters and technical animation), Renato dos Anjos (head of animation) and Moe El-Ali (crowds supervisor) about the process of creating the inhabitants of the internet: “Netizens” and “Net Users.

They knew early on from looking at the artwork the team was working on which showed the way the environment would look – that they were looking at a 3-dimensional space which posed a few challenges for the team. Not only do they have to populate one street but also the other streets that you can see either up above or down below.

They started by placing the characters around the town and seeing what it meant. How many characters are they going to have to populate? They began by creating 150,000 characters on their first test – bigger than anything they have done in the past.

To put it into perspective, ‘Bolt’ had 57 characters, ‘Wreck-it-Ralph’ had 223 characters with 421 variations. What they mean by variations is when they take one character and change either their clothing or hairstyle. In the film “Zootopia’ the number of characters was not as high because there are only so many different types of animals they can make and it featured 182 characters with 687 different variants. ‘Zootopia’ had more variants because for each animal they needed a mom, dad, and child. In ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ there are 434 characters and 6,752 variants! They wanted there to be a very diverse population in this film.

When it came to Ralph and Vanellope coming over from the first world there were some challenges with the technology that was used to create the characters for the first film – there was not a lot of flexibility with moving the characters bodies. They are the same characters from the first film, but they have added things like wrinkle detail in the clothing because they have better simulation technique, there is more hair on the head. With Vanellope in the first film, she had a fake ponytail. In the first film, the ponytail would move, but not the rest of her hair. Now, all of her hair moves together.

When it comes to the citizens, they created two different groups of citizens to populate the world. They created “Netizens” and “Net Users.” The Net Users are us or what we would look like when running around the internet.

The Netizens are more of the “ghosts in the machine.” If you send an email, one of these people is sending that email. If you put something in a shopping cart, the Netizens are pushing that shopping cart and checking you out. They are running all the actions you would do when clicking on a web page.

They not only had to create different hairstyles, and facial expressions for the characters but also all the different outfits. It was a very daunting process for the team, so they really worked hard to try and simplify the process.

You’re going to love watching the Netizens, and New Users in the Internet in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Ralph Breaks the Internet will be in theaters on November 21st.

Learn more about Ralph Breaks the Internet online, Facebook, and Instagram.

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