Last Thursday February 25th, NYU's Student Animation League hosted a special presentation by Disney Animation on their new film, Zootopia. Disney animator Darrin Butters screened exclusive content and clips from the film, as well as answered questions about the making of Zootopia.
Zootopia follows Judy Hopp (Ginnifer Goodwin) who dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer in the city of Zootopia, where all kinds of animals live alongside one another. When she takes on a big case in the city concerning missing mammals, she soon learns that the issue is bigger than she could have imagined. She teams up with hustler and sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to get to the bottom of the crime and make Zootopia a better place.
Darrin Butters, a Disney animator on the film, gave a bit of his backstory, and then dove into showing animation tests and discussing the research and development that went into animating Zootopia. Disney animators visited zoos, Disney's Animal Kingdom park, and finally Kenya to observe animals in the wild. What they learned they applied directly to the characters in the film. One of the greatest challenges that character modelers and animators faced was anthropomorphizing the characters so that they could walk on two legs. Animators worked hard to find a balance between the human and animal features of their characters.
Perhaps the greatest point Darrin Butters made was that story is at the heart of every film, animated or not. Every decision made, from the design of the characters and their world, to the performances given by the animators, worked to create the world of Zootopia, where predators and prey live alongside one another. Ultimately, the film deals with stereotyping and prejudice, and how the characters overcome those issues to live alongside one another.
After the event, students were invited to ask questions about the film and Disney animation. Student Animation League events are open to the entire NYU community. Visit animation.tisch.nyu.edu/sal or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about screenings, presentations, workshops, and other events.