Ralph Breaks the Internet is now in theaters (get your tickets here!), so now is the perfect time to get to know some of the characters you’ll be meeting in the land of the world wide web! Recently, Ralph Breaks the Internet Production Designer Cory Loftis, Head of Characters and Technical Animation Dave Komorowski, Head of Animation Renato Dos Anjos, and Crowds Supervisor Moe El-Ali gave us some insights into the internet’s inhabitants, and how they broke new ground to create them. Here are some things we can expect from these wholly unique and carefully considered characters:
Yesss’s outfit is constantly changing.
As the head algorithm at a site called BuzzzTube, Yesss is always focused on what’s trending. Since trends are changing constantly, so are her fabulous looks!
Said Loftis: “We kept [to] the idea that she always stays current, so she’s constantly living in the moment. She’s constantly changing her outfit. She’s constantly changing her hairstyle. She’s constantly changing the content on her site … she doesn’t even have to have real hair—she’s plugged into the internet so she constantly has this data flowing through her hair.”
Komorowski added: “If you look closely … she’s made up of completely digital stuff. Check out her earrings: they’re not really attached by the [earlobe] like earrings. She’s got this floating wristband. Even her outfit lights up.”
All these details result in a character that perfectly embodies the personification of a trending website’s algorithm.
“She was one of the most challenging characters, too,” mentioned Komorowski. Be sure to keep an eye on Yesss’s changing outfits throughout the movie!
The internet is populated by Net Users and Netizens.
Net Users, pictured above, are basically the online versions of ourselves. They’re our avatars, walking around the internet and physically visiting the sites that we type into our browsers. The avatar with the Mickey ears is so us!
Said Komorowski about their design: “[Net Users are] super simple. They’re the simplest characters we have on the film besides another 8-bit game that we have in there. But they’re cool and fun, and wonderful to watch.”
The inspiration for the Net Users’ final look came from a likely source: the internet, of course!
“There [are] so many apps and so many places you have to make an avatar for yourself, if you start an account,” noted Loftis. “We thought it was a fun way to represent ourselves in this very simplified form, and then we gave ourselves lots of hairstyles, lots of accessories, and lots of clothing options.”
On the other side of the spectrum of the world of the internet are Netizens, which Loftis likened to “ghosts in the machine.”
Loftis explained that “if you send an email, one of these people is delivering that mail in a little mail truck. If you’re putting something in your shopping cart, they’re pushing the cart and they’re checking it out for you. They’re running all of the actions that you would do when you’re clicking on things on a web page.”
The function of Netizens.
Netizens, pictured above, essentially work at the websites that they live within. To develop Netizens’ actions within their worlds, the team created many variations of test of what a certain website would look like. In fact, Dos Anjos added that the team spent over a year figuring out what some of these worlds would look like, and how the Netizens would move around within them!
He described the process: “There was a whole discovery period that [we] went through where we were just doing tests … We spent a good deal of time throwing ideas out there [for] how these websites would function.”
“Most people would have gone to Amazon to buy something or would’ve gone to YouTube to watch a video … but how you see that in your mind is different [from how it functions in the movie]. So … we assigned specific websites to each artist and [asked them to create their vision for the website].” What resulted were many hilarious snippets of video that didn’t all make the film, but gave the filmmakers a set of rules for how the world worked.
Komorowski also pointed out the different colors of the Netizens, explaining: “If they’re going to be working at these different internet websites, websites have very strong [branding with their color choices]. It felt like the Netizens [each] belonged to a certain website. They weren’t independent of that.” Therefore, each Netizen matches the color scheme of the website on which they reside.
The size of the crowds broke new ground.
The internet is a highly populated place. To portray this world like the bustling city that it is, the crowd department worked with software originally developed for Zootopia.
“On Zootopia … we got the technology to a place where we could do some large crowds and make them do some really interesting stuff, and really help us breathe life into some bigger city-type shots,” said El-Ali. However, this project quickly proved to be much larger that that.
As the Head of Characters, Komorowski met with Crowds Supervisor El-Ali early on in the process.
“Moe took our characters and started just placing them around and seeing what that meant,” he said. “What does it mean to populate this? How many characters are we talking about? I believe the numbers came in at 150,000 [crowd characters] at our very first test.”
Added El-Ali: “The crowds department was actually created at the studio for the first Wreck-It Ralph, and with every film that we’ve worked on, it’s exponentially grown the numbers of characters, the worlds, and how large they are.”
Even in the crowd moments, there are fun details to look out for as you watch. For example: if a Net User is moving faster down an escalator than another Net User, that indicates a faster internet connection.
Once again, the team at Walt Disney Animation Studios truly thinks of everything. We can’t wait to visit the world of the internet and see all of these amazing characters when we see Ralph Breaks the Internet, in theaters now!