In celebration of Disney’s CARS 2 being released today (November 1st) on Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray Hi-Def Combo Pack, I have some cool things to share with you, including delicious recipes, brand new Q&A Interview with Owen Wilson, a video clip from the film, tips from the animators and story supervisor, FREE family-friendly activities and a discount offer for your purchase!
AN INTERVIEW WITH OWEN WILSON
How excited were you to voice Lightning McQueen again in “Cars 2”?
I was very excited to return to Lightning McQueen and the world of “Cars” because it felt like I was working on a completely different movie. “Cars 2” is a fun international adventure that takes place in the exciting world of espionage and intrigue. It’s very different from the first movie and it’s great to see these characters tackling a whole new world outside of Radiator Springs.
How much fun is it to work in animation?
It’s great fun because you get to use your own imagination, just like a little kid does. On a live-action movie, you have to go through wardrobe, hair and makeup and then you walk onto set. Animation is very pure. You go into a recording studio and the scene is explained to you, but there are no props and no actors to work alongside. It’s great fun to start seeing everything in your head.
How did you land the role of Lightning McQueen?
I met John Lasseter at the Academy Awards years and years ago. I didn’t know him, but he told me that he and his sons enjoyed my movie “Shanghai Noon” and he explained that he was working on a film about cars. I didn’t know that anything would come to pass from that conversation, but then Pixar got in touch and it all spiraled from there. I was really excited to work on an animated movie, so I jumped on board.
What kind of a driver are you?
I think I’m a careful driver. I don’t get speeding tickets and I don’t race around. I usually drive a car that beeps when you put it in reverse, so I guess it’s very pedestrian friendly.
Are you a racecar enthusiast?
I really enjoy watching car races, and it’s interesting that “Cars 2” features a variety of race contests. I think there’s more of an interest in oval track racing here in the United States, like stock car and Indy racing. Overseas, they seem more interested in the grand prix, which consists of circuit racing and road racing. I think it’s great that we’ve combined both styles of car racing for the World Grand Prix in the movie.
Do you think the interest in car culture is as big in other countries as it is in the USA?
I think the world’s love of cars is pretty universal. I recently watched a sports biography on the racing driver Mario Andretti. He grew up in Italy and both he and his brother were obsessed with cars from the time they were kids. I think that people all over the world are into cars.
In the original “Cars” movie, you got to work with Paul Newman. How was that experience?
I got to work with Paul Newman for one day during the making of the first “Cars” movie and I’ll never forget it. We went to New York together to record for the film and it was great fun. He was so knowledgeable about racing that he wasn’t afraid to raise points and question things in the story. In fact, John Lasseter took to heart a lot of what he was saying. He went back and reworked the script based on an issue that Paul raised.
Was that the only time you met Paul Newman?
I also met Paul when we promoted the first movie. We went to the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC and Jimmy Johnson was there. He interviewed Paul and me and then Paul told Jimmy that he wanted to take one of the cars for a spin around the track. I asked the race car drivers how he was doing and they said, “He’s great.”
Did you drive with him?
Unfortunately, I didn’t drive with him, but the guys at the track drove me around. I also got to drive around in a racecar shaped like a Formula One car, with a little cockpit for me to sit in.
Was that fun?
It was unbelievable. You’re on the track and you feel like you’re not going to be able to make a turn because you’re going too fast, but then you realize you’re in a high performance car that’s very different from your car at home. It takes a while for your brain to work out that you can turn the corner at high speeds. It’s such a bizarre feeling, but it was very exciting. I loved it.
Tips from the Animators & Story Supervisor:
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ANIMATOR
Want to discover what it’s like to work as an animator on a mega movie like “Cars 2”? Find out as we step into the shoes of Pixar animator June Brownbill for a day.
8 A.M.: WAKEY WAKEY
“My alarm clock usually rings at 8 a.m. every morning. I rub my eyes, stumble out of bed and then get ready for the day ahead. I drive to work and get to Pixar just before 9 a.m., where my first stop every morning is the cereal bar. What’s the cereal bar? It’s a large kitchen area filled with loads of different cereals for everyone at Pixar to enjoy. I grab some oatmeal and fruit and take it to my desk to start the day.”
9 A.M.: WATER COOLER MOMENT
“When I get to my desk, I dig into my breakfast while I check my emails, although sometimes there’s a gang of animators congregating in the atrium so I have a cup of coffee with them before I start work. My job at Pixar is a dream come true for me. I realized that I could draw as a kid when people in primary school liked my drawings and asked me to do pictures for them. I never thought that I’d be able to do something like this as a career, though. It’s amazing!”
10 A.M.: THE DAILY EDITION
“We have a meeting every day called ‘dailies’ at 10 a.m. All of the animators get together in a screening room with the movie’s director and animation supervisors. We watch scenes in various stages of animation and the director tells us what he likes about them and what else we need to add. Everyone is allowed to give their input at dailies, so we discuss all of the director’s suggestions and come up with some of our own.”
11 A.M: DESK TIME
“After dailies, I head back to my desk to work on some more animation. If I’m starting a new shot, I’ll try to work out a schedule for the week. It’s hard to be specific, but in a week I will probably animate about five seconds of finished film. It depends on what’s happening in the scene. If it’s really complex, it can take a lot longer.”
12 P.M.: FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“Lunch at Pixar tends to be around noon. We have a restaurant on site called Luxo Café and there’s quite an array of food on offer. The café has a selection of pizzas, pasta, burgers, burritos, salads and soups, but my favorite dish is usually the soup of the day. The lunch hour gives everybody time to relax and chill out. It’s also a great time to catch up with your friends. If it’s sunny, we head outside and sit on the grass in the sunshine. Beautiful!”
1 P.M.: HERE’S HOLLEY
“I’ve got the whole afternoon to work, so I slip on my headphones and listen to some of the characters’ dialogue while I animate away. On ‘Cars 2,’ I was lucky enough to be given a lot of the Holley Shiftwell shots to animate. Holley is a British spy car with lot of cool gadgets and gizmos. She’s strong-minded, career driven and intelligent. An amazing English actress called Emily Mortimer provides her voice in the movie. I’m English, just like Holley, and I’m also a girl, so I think that’s why I was given a lot of Holley scenes to sink my teeth into. It was great to try and find her appeal and add a bit of British-ness to the movie.”
2 P.M.: A CHANGE OF SCENE
“When I get a new scene to work on, I spend a lot of time reviewing the reference material, usually a video recording of Emily Mortimer recording her dialogue in the sound booth. Emily was great because she really expressed her emotion in her face as she worked and she really got into the role. A lot of Holley Shiftwell’s facial expressions came from how Emily acted in the sound booth, but if I have an idea for something new, I go into the acting room at Pixar and videotape myself reading the lines. I do a few different versions and watch them to see which is the best. I also have a mirror on my desk, so I act into the mirror and pull faces for inspiration. Then I copy what I see in my animation.”
3 P.M.: STRIKE A POSE
“After reviewing and creating new reference material, I go back to my computer to work out the main emotional beats and facial poses for a scene. Then I work to refine them to a point where I can show [‘Cars 2’ director] John Lasseter something in dailies. Working with John is great because he’s so enthusiastic and energetic. He cares deeply about the ‘Cars’ characters and he knows everything about the ‘Cars’ world he’s created. Being in dailies with him is very inspirational.”
4 P.M.: A LUCKY BREAK
“If I ever feel like I need a rest from my computer screen I can take a break whenever I want to. There are lots of things to fill my time at Pixar. I like to play pool, but other people head over to table tennis, the swimming pool or the gym. We recently had a shuffleboard tournament in the animation department. I’ve never played shuffleboard before, but I made it to the finals!”
5 P.M.: SEEKING INSPIRATION
“‘Cars 2’ is an international spy thriller that follows Lightning McQueen and Mater as they race around the world. It’s a great story, but if I’m feeling the need for inspiration at work I’m encouraged to watch films for ideas. I might watch a spy movie to get my head into the genre, or check out an Emily Mortimer film so that I can see her in action.”
6 P.M.: HOME SWEET HOME
“I tend to leave work around 6 p.m., but if I’m really getting into a scene I’ll work late into the night to make the best animation possible. I love my job! Being able to tell stories and make people feel things, whether it’s sadness or happiness, and make them laugh, is awesome. I love being able to create characters and bring them to life, especially when it’s someone like Holley Shiftwell. She’s the best.”
Calling all wannabe animators! Want some expert art advice? Follow the top tips from the artists and creators of “Cars 2” – and get creative.
ART TIP ONE: LEARN THE BASICS
“Cars 2” director John Lasseter says: “One of the things I always tell young people is to study the basics. You have to learn to draw, even if you’re using computer animation. I use those basic foundations every day of my career. Learn the basics of art and understand the rules of animation before you jump onto a computer.”
ART TIP TWO: NEVER STOP DRAWING
Story Supervisor Nathan Stanton says: “If you want to become a better artist, practice as often as you can. I never stopped drawing as a kid. I would draw at school, at home, on the bus… I’d draw wherever and whenever I could. It’s important to keep practicing because practice makes perfect.”
ART TIP THREE: BE VERSATILE
Supervising Animator Shawn Krause says: “If you want to improve your artistic skills, get involved with all aspects of art. Study claymation, create some flip-book animation or take your camera and make animated shorts from photographs. Immerse yourself in different styles of art, and learn as much as you can.”
ART TIP FOUR: INVEST IN SOME DVDS
“Cars 2” Producer Denise Ream says: “There’s a wealth of information available on the extras that come with DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Often, a director will give a commentary on how he or she made a film or how they tackled a scene. Study the filmmakers and study their processes if you want to improve your skills.”
ART TIP FIVE: KEEP A MIRROR HANDY
“Cars 2” Animator Julie Brownbill says: “I always keep a small mirror on my desk to help me with my work. There are loads of times when I need to draw a facial expression as part of a scene and it’s a lot easier to look in a mirror and mimic my expression than imagine it in my head.”
ART TIP SIX: LEARN THE LINGO
Story Supervisor Nathan Stanton says: “If you want to be an animator, arm yourself with as much knowledge about animation as possible. Read books about animation, study cartoons, get online and research anything and everything to do with art. Learn the lingo so that you know what people are talking about.”
ART TIP SEVEN: STUDY THE CLASSICS
Supervising Animator Shawn Krause says: “I watched a lot of animation when I was growing up and that’s definitely helped me in my career. I loved the classic Disney and Warner Brothers shorts as a kid and I would study them closely to figure out how they were made and how they were animated. They really helped me learn more about animation and art. Watch and learn, people.”
ART TIP EIGHT: KEEP AN EYE ON TECHNOLOGY
“Cars 2” director John Lasseter says: “The basics are important because the tools you use will change throughout your career. Software will always change and evolve, but technology never makes a movie. It’s what you do with the technology that makes the film. Keep an eye on new technologies but never forget your foundations. Never forget the basics.”
ART TIP NINE: MAKE YOUR OWN COMICS
Story Supervisor Nathan Stanton says: “When I was growing up, I devoured comic books. I would get my hands on any comics I could and I would study them from cover to cover. I also made a few comics of my own when I was a kid and I learned a lot from creating these fun characters and cool stories. Try it out for yourself and see what you come up with.”
ART TIP TEN: NEVER GIVE UP
Supervising Animator Dave Mullins says: “Sometimes people can be very mean and laugh at your dreams, but don’t lose your focus. I had a lot of people laugh at me when I said I wanted to get into movies. They never believed I’d make it, but here I am today working at Pixar. Follow your dreams and never give up.”
CARS 2 Film Clip:
FREE Activity Pages
Save $5 On Cars 2 5-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack
Don’t forget to read my Cars 2 review for more fun information!