In addition to the major films created at the Disney Animation Studios, there’s always something extra that viewers get treated to. Showing right before Big Hero 6 in theaters is the adorable Feast animated short. It features a small Boston Terrier-like pup, named Winston, and his life with food and family.
While we were at the studio a few weeks ago, our blogging group was able to sit down and chat with the director and producer of the film. Nothing like the decorated halls to get you in the mood 🙂
How the FEAST Animated Short Came to Be
According the to the director, Patrick Osborne, the inspiration of the film was based on an app called 1 Second Everyday that Cesar Kuriyama made. He was helping to beta test the app and took one second videos, complete with sound, of his dinners for all of 2012.
When edited together, the 6-minute video revealed some surprising discoveries. First of all, he saw why he wasn’t losing weight and why he wasn’t making any money (from going out to eat too much). He also found that a full story of his life was being told just seeing the plate and hearing where he had been. It be came apparent that a meal changes when one is single, dating, in a relationship, out of a relationship, or when a family expands. That was the initial pitch. That’s how the story of this dog, Winston, and his family began.
- The dog breed?
The Boston Terrier fit the bill for a two-toned coat to easily show when it turned, was small enough to be below table height, and was a breed that had not been featured in any other Disney film. Jin Kim came in and drew up several designs and that’s how the look of Winston was decided on.
- Story behind the names?
No one really knows where the name “Winston” came from, that’s just what his name always was. Perhaps it was someone’s high school friend’s dog’s name? Kirby, the girl’s name, is Patrick’s grandma’s maiden name and his cousin’s first name.
- Personal touches?
He was going to name the couple after his grandparents but his grandfather’s name is Jack. Jack Kirby is a comic book artist so they didn’t want to confuse anyone. So, they shifted it to James, another “J” name. The setting is based on Oxford, Ohio, a little college town outside where Patrick grew up in Cincinnati.
- How long was the process?
Four months of working on the pitching and 53 weeks in production until its premiere. The goal was to show it at Annecy Animation Festival in France. The real deadline in shorts is not budget but having people to work it between other things, as production of Big Hero 6 was coming up quick. He worked on the story until December, it was green lit in June, January 13th they began making shots, and it was 16 weeks until it was finished. It was done April 20th with post-production sound and music in May.
- Any hand-drawn elements?
Patrick was one of the inventors of a software called Meander, which was created for Paperman, and even has a patent on it. The software allows you to draw on top of CG (computer graphics) information and then it automatically uses the motion of the CG in between the drawings so it doesn’t have to be done manually. The CG influenced the timing and line works, cutting down the human labor from 20 artists for Paperman to two for Feast. Winston’s face is hand-drawn the entire time, especially his lips.
Producer, Kristina Reed, later joined us and the fun questions and answers continue. Beware, this section will make you hungry…
Now onto the Food in Feast!
- What about the food?
Kristina pointed out that all the food has to be very iconic. A lot of the shots are 20-24 frames/2-3 seconds so the audience members have to recognize the food right away. Otherwise, they can no longer relate to dog. So, they spent a lot of time making lists of food and sending them to the designer to identify ones that could be read clearly right away. She also mentioned that they gained a ton of weight working on this. After watching kids throw spaghetti over and over, she would come home wanting spaghetti…a lot of it!
- What else?
One of the challenges with such a turnover of who was working on the project is keeping the momentum and feeling like a team. So, Patrick and Kristina did something called Feast Fridays. They would show the work from the week, give updates, and then have eat one of the dishes featured in the short. That way everyone very much felt a part of it and some could even keep participating after their bit on the short was over. They got rid of the vegetables right away as no one would show up for carrots and hummus day. When they had a waffle bar, though, it was another story.
- What about the football scene?
Patrick mentioned that they always wanted to have some way for all the junk food and happy food to climax in a way. They just needed a reason to throw food in the air. There’s also a bit of a back story. Winston knows that if he just walks to that spot and waits, when he hears that the announcer is getting louder, something good will be coming. This shows that this happened before and that there is life there. They decided to take out two foods since there was just so many and it slowed things down. This scene fit perfectly in that now open spot.
- Was there anything that had to be removed?
One portion ended with Winston on the table actually eating things. Patrick really thought the concept art of something like a frat party was really interesting but there was also something kind of gross about it. Kristina mentioned the dramatic aspect of watching the dog get promoted from the floor to the chair, the food is on the couch then on the table. You want to take him to the next level. John Lassiter said, “No. That is unappealing…” It was a neat moment but having the dog walking on the table just didn’t work.
I have to say that I personally appreciate that that was nixed. It grosses me out to see dogs eating on the table but having him actually on the table would just be nasty. Thanks to Patrick and Kristina for the interview and making the fantastic Feast animated short!
You can get a better idea of the “flavor” of the short with this clip. (Get it – food and flavor, ha!) The full short is just so, so worth seeing though so don’t let this little tease make you think that’s all there is!
The Feast animated short is now in theaters, shown just before Big Hero 6!
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I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney and ABC in honor of the Big Hero 6 movie and mentioned sitcom series. All opinions are my own.