Behind the Scenes of Moana & Inner Workings #Moana

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Behind the Scenes of Moana & Inner Workings

Behind the Scenes with Inner Workings and Moana

In less than 3 months, Moana will be in theaters. This much anticipated film is still in production but I had the chance to see some of the footage and screen the new short film, Inner Workings, during my recent press trip for the Pete’s Dragon Event. Along with these screenings we also had the chance to hear from the people behind the films. The first people we had the opportunity to hear from were Inner Workings’  director, Leo Matsuda, and producer, Sean Lurie.

Behind the scenes interview of Inner Workings

Director, Leo Matsuda, came up with the story/idea for Inner Workings and was inspired by the transparent human anatomy pages in his childhood encyclopedia set while creating the images. This short film combines both hand drawn images and computer generated images to tell the story of Paul.

INNER WORKINGS - PAUL visual development by Director Leo Matsuda. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

INNER WORKINGS – PAUL visual development by Director Leo Matsuda. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Inner Workings is the internal struggle of man’s (Paul) brain and his heart. This is no ordinary journey as we see the struggle take place from the inside. It is really cool to watch the animation of his organs and how they work together (or against each other) to make him function. The main characters are the brain and the heart and their struggle find balance touches home with everyone who is trying to balance responsibility and relaxation.

INNER WORKINGS - PAUL layered visual development by Production Designer Paul Felix. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

INNER WORKINGS – PAUL layered visual development by Production Designer Paul Felix. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Not only did we get to hear from Leo Matsuda and Sean Lurie but we also had the opportunity to hear from the amazing talent behind Moana.  This great talent included Head of Animation- Amy Smeed, Head of Story- Dave Pimentel, Story Artist- Dave Derrick, “Mini Maui” Animation Supervisor -Eric Goldberg and Development Sr. Creative Exec -Jessica Julius.

The MOANA filmmakers embarked upon research trips to the Pacific Islands to learn about the cultures that inspired the film. They were given the opportunity to assemble the "Oceanic Story Trust," a group of anthropologists, archeologists, fishermen, liguists, tatto masters, dancers and elders who help keep the film's story grounded in respect for the cultures that inspired it.

In order to learn about the culture that inspired the film,  MOANA filmmakers embarked upon research trips to the Pacific Islands. They were given the opportunity to assemble the “Oceanic Story Trust” to help insure respect was shown for the culture in the film. The “Oceanic Story Trust” is made up of anthropologists, archeologists, fishermen, liguists, tatto masters, dancers and elders from the Pacific Islands.

MOANA filmmakers consult with members of the MOANA Oceanic Story Trust.

MOANA filmmakers consult with members of the MOANA Oceanic Story Trust.

It was interesting to learn the how they go about creating the perfect story and images to make the film a success. Characters are often added and removed during the process and just because they are in the original story idea does not mean they will make it into the final cuts. One of the characters who almost did not make it was HeiHei. When they first started making MOANA, HeiHei was very intelligent. He wasn’t lending anything to the story so they were given a chance to change his character to make it work or he was going on the chopping block. They came up with the idea to drop his IQ and by doing so gave him new life in the film.

MOANA HeiHei

One of the other characters who went thru some transformation was Maui. He has tattoos of a “Mini Maui” in different poses and the idea was made to make “Mini-Maui” interact/react with Maui. Maui is voiced by Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock”.

MAUI visual development. Artist: Bill Schwab, MOANA Art Director, Characters.

MAUI visual development. Artist: Bill Schwab, MOANA Art Director, Characters.

"MINI MAUI" animation test still frame. Artist: Eric Goldberg, Animation Supervisor.

“MINI MAUI” animation test still frame. Artist: Eric Goldberg, Animation Supervisor.

We were also given a drawing demonstration and given the chance to put our artistic skills to the test by creating “Mini Maui.” I did not do as bad a job as I thought I would but I do not think they are going to be hiring me in the art department anytime soon. Their “Mini Maui” is the top image and mine is the bottom one.

"MINI MAUI" expression sheet. Artist: Eric Goldberg, Animation Supervisor.

“MINI MAUI” expression sheet. Artist: Eric Goldberg, Animation Supervisor.

Moana drawing of Maui

What stood out to me the most when viewing the footage was how strong and self-reliant they have made Moana. It was also very cool to see how her character has progressed from rough images to the character we will see in November. There are so many steps that they go through while perfecting these characters. They have shown incredible detail in the images of Moana, right down to her apparel.

MOANA effects progression image, featuring Animation (top), Simulation (middle), and Render (bottom) passes.

MOANA effects progression image, featuring Animation (top), Simulation (middle), and Render (bottom) passes.

MOANA visual development. Artist: Jin Kim, Visual Development Artist.

MOANA visual development. Artist: Jin Kim, Visual Development Artist.

MOANA village costume design. Artist: Neysa Bové, Visual Development Artist.

MOANA village costume design. Artist: Neysa Bové, Visual Development Artist.

AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

They have even gone to great lengths to show us what Moana would look like as a toddler. She is simply adorable and once again you can see the care that is given to each character.

Young Moana interacting with the Ocean.

Young Moana interacting with the Ocean.

Moana is voiced by newcomer Auli’I Cravalho. When planning the movie, they wanted to keep with the cultural roots of the film. They were looking to have a local Polynesian voice Moana and auditioned hundreds of women.  Auli’I Cravalho (a Hawaii native) was the last audition and almost didn’t audition because of all the responses they had received.

Photo Credit: Jana Seitzer / MerlotMommy.com

Photo Credit: Jana Seitzer / MerlotMommy.com

This was such an informative time and has me even more excited for November 23rd when MOANA hits theaters. Make sure to watch for our exclusive interview with Auli’I Cravalho coming to the blog soon.

Check out the trailer for MOANA and make plans to see it in theaters November 23rd. 

To keep up with all the latest news surrounding  make sure to follow along on Social Media.

Like MOANA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disneymoana

Follow MOANA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneymoana

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Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/

Visit the official MOANA website here: http://movies.disney.com/moana

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  1. says

    My Kiddies and I are counting down the days to see this movie. We lived in Hawaii for nearly 3 years and we are so excited to see a movie set there…

  2. says

    Love the trailer of it. Looks like a movie my family could all enjoy! Ihope me and the kids can watch it.

  3. Kendall says

    This movie looks absolutely adorable! I can’t wait to see it – and what an amazing process that’s gone into it! Cartoons always amaze me!

  4. Kathy says

    I can’t wait to see this movie. It looks like it’s going to be a good one. It reminds me a lot of the Croods too. I’d love to take my girls to see this.

  5. says

    The kids and I cannot wait to see this movie. It’s so refreshing to see an empowered female lead in a Disney cartoon. I love all my faves (Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Alladin, B&B) but it’s time for some new role models for this next generation. And Moana is perfect!

  6. Debra says

    I loved this post! We are looking forward to the new film immensely and I loved reading a little bit about behind the scenes. My girls can’t wait, I love this story idea and I think it is going to be all sorts of amazing. Truly can’t wait.

  7. says

    looks like a great movie to take the kids too! We’re always looking for a fun watch in the theaters! Love your indepth review, thanks !

  8. says

    It’s really cool seeing just how much work goes into a movie. Most people don’t appreciate it. Moana seems like a movie I’d have to watch. Thanks for sharing such a great article.

  9. Michele D says

    This movie looks so adorable. I truly can not wait to see it.

  10. Susan says

    Oh, I can’t wait to see this movie!!! So cool that you got a behind the scenes look!

  11. Jenn says

    My family is so excited for this movie to premiere! My little girl and I love watching the Disney princess movies together and I feel like her story is a great one! Thanks so much for sharing this with us! It made me even more excited!

  12. says

    Love watching behind the scenes of movies. Animated or not. This is great. I’ll have to check it out when it’s in theaters.

  13. Pam Wattenbarger says

    Wow, I am so excited to see Moana. I can’t believe that Auli’I Cravalho almost didn’t audition. That would have definitely changed the course of the movie. She has the perfect voice for it in my opinion.

  14. Jennifer Seigler says

    My kids have been patiently waiting for Moana to come out. They want to go to the movie to see it instead of waiting for it to come to DVD like we normally do. We will probably cave since they are so excited.

  15. Tami Qualls says

    Inner Workings sounds very interesting. To understand how our body parts work together is one thing. To see each part personified will be more than interesting. What a creative mind to put this together.

  16. says

    You did a great job in your drawing!

    This sounds like a really interesting movie and im glad I read your post; I’d not heard of it before and now I’m excited to see it!

  17. says

    I’m so excited to see this! I love the Rock, and from what I’ve seen of the trailers, it’s going to make a star of Auli’I.

  18. says

    I have always found it interesting how much work goes into creating an animated film. So many talented people that work behind the scenes to make one film come together. I’m excited to watch this film with my family!

  19. says

    I cannot wait to see the full movie in the theater! I was so happy to be there with you learning about all the nuances that went into the making of this, it adds such a bigger dimension once you know the little secrets!
    Mitch

  20. says

    realy looking forward to seeing this movie. The character Moana is very rich -I love the behind the scenes look at it all. Aloha!

  21. says

    My daughter is so excited for this movie. She was talking about it before I even saw anything about it. I’m looking forward to seeing the short, Inner Workings, it sounds interesting.

  22. says

    SO cool to see all the work that goes in to animated movies! I’m really excited to see Moana when it comes out. It looks like a lot of fun! My kids always get excited when the trailer comes on- they think it looks really fun and funny! Thanks for sharing all the art and sketches – I’ll have to show my kids, too!

  23. says

    I actually think the truest part of this film will be their new starlet. She certainly seems like huge talent for a newly found star. I love how MOANA came together and I have been waiting to see this since the trailers began and the original announcement.

    • Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life says

      She is an amazing young lady. We had a chance to interview her (post coming soon) and she is so sweet and down to earth. I loved seeing her and her mom interact. You can feel their love.

  24. says

    Thanks for all the details on Inner Workings. I think kids will really get into this short. Perfect pre-movie film.

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