Disney•Pixar’s upcoming film Coco tells the story of Miguel, a music-loving boy who gets transported to the Land of the Dead on the eve of Día de los Muertos and has to find his way home to his living relatives.
One of the most impressive visual aspects of Coco is the beautiful and colorful Land of the Dead. Take a look at it in all its beauty below, as shown by Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography – Lighting for Coco:
One of the many technical elements that had to come together to make the still that Feinberg is speaking about above possible is, of course, lighting. You may not focus a lot on lighting while watching a computer animated film, but it is so crucial to the feel of the finished product. Can you guess how many lights exist in the above still? It’s probably a lot higher than you think.
There are 7 million lights in the still! According to Feinberg, “I don’t think we’ve ever been even close to that” in a Disney•Pixar animated feature.
Obviously, all 7 million of these lights were not hand-placed (though many in the film are!). If that were the case, “I don’t think the movie would ever get done,” said Feinberg.
The lighting artists behind Coco used a technology developed during The Good Dinosaur to take on this monumental task. Put simply, this bit of code takes sets of specifically named lights and groups them. So, if the lighting artists were working with streetlights, the computer “finds all the streetlights and puts a tiny little light in each one of them, but because of the magic of math and code, it considers them one light. So instead of a million lights … we now have what the computer considers a single light,” Feinberg explained.
“It was very important that this world felt very fun and alive and joyous,” Feinberg said while discussing her team’s lighting process for Coco. This scene definitely accomplishes that objective.
These 7 million lights do their part to bring the splendor of the Land of the Dead to life, and we cannot wait to see the finished product in motion when Coco comes to theatres on November 22!