Making 'The Incredibles'

Strenuous Sequences

The Incredibles at dinner
The Incredibles at dinner
Photo courtesy Disney

For Sayre's creative teams, one of the toughest challenges was a scene at the family dinner table. "That scene brought us to our knees," he shudders. "You've got every character on screen, they all have simulated hair, they have simulated clothing, they're sitting on chairs so they're sitting on their clothing but all that stuff has to recede into the background because you have to believe that they're just sitting around having dinner," he explains.

On top of that, "The food has to look appetizing. It can't look like plastic. But you don't want to blow the budget on a piece of broccoli. You want to put it where the audience goes, 'That building blew up, cool!' Nobody's going to say, "The macaroni looked awesome.' What looked like a completely innocent scene to begin with ended up being so challenging."

Outdoor sequences posed other challenges. "We had every element--air, water, fire, we had them all," says Sayre. "Lots of stuff blows up. We had fluid dynamics, volumetric renderings, compositing tricks. It's a whole mix of skills that the visual effects artists will apply. Powers like Violet's force field, Dash's super speed -- we had to figure out how to render that, and things like the clouds out the window when they're in the airplane."

For animation supervisors Alan Barillaro and Steve Hunter, it was easier to blow up that plane than have characters touch, "like when Helen puts Violet's hair behind her ear and touches her face," notes Hunter, reiterating the simulation problem. Using high-capacity IBM systems, the animators worked with a virtual puppet of each character. "It's as if you built a stop motion set in the computer," Barillaro compares. They got inspiration by watching videotapes of the voice talent as they recorded their dialogue.