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Wreck-It Ralph And The Development Of An Animated Epic

Those challenges are a lot of the reason why Wreck-it Ralph was the first movie to use bidirectional reflectance distribution functions (BRDFs). BRDFs allow us to create surfaces that behave and appear more consistently with the laws of physics than we could using previous shader technologies. That's helpful when you're trying to make appetizing-looking candy.

With the experience and perhaps wisdom from successful animated features you have worked on, what does it take to get nominated for best animated feature?

Shannon McGee: Story. It doesn't need all the prescribed twists and turns a lot of movies have, but the story it has needs to be tight and it needs to be good. No animated feature with a slow story has ever been very successful.

It also needs to be emotionally legitimate. It needs to have the blissfully depressing first ten minutes of Up, which can be relied upon to leave room after room in shambles, emotionally devastated. Then balloons make everything right again. It's cliche, but a good tragedy needs a couple of balloons.

Disney's Tangled is a breathtaking and beautiful picture. You were the senior technical director for lighting and color. Can you share any technical knowledge of how such a spectacular picture was achieved?

Shannon McGee:  The design on Tangled was very organic - watching it is like being inside a synthetic, heavily saturated painting, and it's a truly beautiful film.

The Tangled crew began by studying paintings from Rapunzel's era. Much of their early inspiration came from the works of painters like Jean-Honore Fragonard. Disney has a way of focusing on the artistic merits of their films like no other studio.

Large portions of my work took place in the forest chase sequence at the beginning of the film. That sequence is set in an overgrown forest with scores of trees, millions of leaves, horses kicking up particles of dust, leaves and rocks every time they step, and an endless assortment of grasses, flowers, and shrubbery. It is a lot of geometry to consider. 

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