An Inviting Glago's Guest
Bill Desowitz chats with first-time director Chris Williams about his new Disney short, Glago's Guest.
July 15, 2008
By Bill Desowitz
'Glago's Guest' is unlike anything you've ever seen from Disney, with its minimalism,
hair and cloth CG work, and exquisite lighting and textures. All images © Disney.
http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=p...rticle_no=3699It began as an illustration of Roman soldiers and evolved into an artful 3D-animated short about desolation and discovery in a Siberian outpost in the 1920s, as a lonely soldier named Glago has an extraordinary adventure with mysterious alien orbs.
Glago's Guest is the second short produced at Walt Disney Animation Studios during John Lasseter's tenure, following the delightful Goofy redux How To Hook Up Your Home Theater. It's the directorial debut for story vet Chris Williams (The Emperor's new Goove), who is also helming the studio's next animated feature, Bolt. (Glago's Guest will screen with Bolt in both 2-D and 3-D when it opens Nov. 26.)
However, the seven-minute short is unlike anything you've ever seen from Disney. It is quite minimalistic, while advancing CG at the studio in terms of hair and cloth. The lighting and textures are exquisite, from the sky and the snow, to the interior décor inspired by Doctor Zhivago, to Glago's beard and coat and rifle. Meanwhile, the alien orbs are marvelously squishy without acting too cartoony.
The main technology challenges were the animation of the alien orbs; achieving the art direction of Glago's hair and beard; and simulating Glago's coat. In fact, the short was created in a new pipeline, for which Yun-Chen Sung wrote a back-end package from scratch to do all the lighting. Cesar Velaquez developed the movement of the alien orbs. His process consisted of three basic steps: A particle simulation was the basis of the movement; the second step was to attach spheres to these particles and run them through a rigid body dynamic engine; and the third step was to process this geometry so that the alien orbs appeared to squish against one another.
Mitchell Snary was responsible for the grooming and appearance of Glago's beard, which called for a sculptural look made of individual hairs. It was to look and move photorealistically, while being very stylized. To achieve this, Disney developed a process where it modeled the individual clumps of hair, then filled those volumes with hair grown from Glago's scalp. This allowed very tight control of every tuft of hair on the character.
Ian Coony handled the setup of Glago's coat. Lasseter suggested that they visit Pixar and talk with the team that was responsible for the cloth on Rataouille. These visits were very useful and resulted in some changes in Disney's own cloth program, FABRIC.
Bill Desowitz: Let's begin with what your pitching experience was like with John Lasseter.
How to hook up your animated short at Disney- 11/17/07