Growing up in Kearney, Nebraska, "in a city of football and agriculture," Darrin Butters was "that child, "one who is more likely to carry a puppet than the old pigskin, the more likely to spend his time in a flip book than in the fields, the more likely he is to know a magic trick than anything that might awaken the interest of his colleagues from the Midwest.
But, well, it turned out that it was fine: Butters has spent more than two decades as an animator in Walt Disney's animation studios. His first credit was in "Dinosaur" (2000), the first characteristic of the study in using computer generated images; His work has appeared in Disney films such as "Tangled" (2010), "Frozen" (2013) and "Zootopia" (2016), a film in which his animation Flash, a lazy person working in the Department of Mammalian Vehicles it was so memorable it inspired the disguise of a real DMV employee in California.
His latest work appears in "Ralph Breaks the Internet", the follow-up to "Wreck-It Ralph" (2012), nominated for an Oscar, in which Butters also worked.
The sequel began on Wednesday, after Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his best friend, Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), as they escape from their comfortable videogame houses to venture into the immense world of Internet in search of a missing part for the game of Vanellope, Sugar Rush. As often happens on the Internet, chaos and adventure ensue.
At a conference at UMass Boston earlier this month, Butters told students that animation combined his interests in drawing, puppetry, magic and theater.
Similar presentations were held at the area's universities, including the College of Art and Design in Massachusetts and Harvard, during which he offered the students behind-the-scenes footage of his work on "Ralph Breaks the Internet." In addition, of course, a photo. of him as "that child" with his puppet on his back. The students also had the opportunity to ask questions after the conference.
His multiple interests and talents, Butters enjoys carpentry, cross stitching and fly fishing, in addition to visual art and performance, they also offer him inspiration in a way that just watching animation does not, he said.
"We find inspiration in all kinds of things. "If you go to the animation to inspire you, you're just going to repeat the same thing," he said. "But I go to the theater, I watch live action movies. You never know where you're going to get these inspirations. "
As a character animator, Butters' work does not focus on how the world looks, but on how the people around him move. In "Ralph Breaks the Internet", which includes Ralph and Vanellope, as well as the millions of users of the network (avatars that represent the people who surf the web) and characters who live on the Internet and serve users of the net.
The animators can request the scenes in which they wish to work and animate all the characters in a certain scene. Butters chose "people from the car" and claimed "the first to draw" by animating the high octane chase scenes that take place in Slaughter Race, an online game not unlike Grand Theft Auto, in which the ultimate goal is stealing a hot rod from Shank (expressed by Gal Gadot).
Butters' character preferences lie in the strange and unusual: the more extravagant, the better. He has a particular affinity for his work on a resident of the dark Web called Cachas, pink with bugs and bulging eyes, a character that Butters said the animators wanted to make "as strange and disturbing as possible."
"I like bizarre characters," Butters said. "Maybe the director does not know what they want for [those characters], but you can explore, for example, how far can I put my eyes until they look like a fish? You know, and what would that elastic arm look like? Those peculiar characters are some of our favorites. "
Also a favorite of Butters is the KnowsMore of lavender, egg-shaped and round glasses, which works like a search engine with an overzealous autocomplete. Expressed by Alan Tudyk and perhaps more like a reference librarian with more caffeine than Google or Bing, the KnowsMore animation style goes back to the 1950s and 60s, a style that Butters is a "big fan".
Because the animators work on specific scenes instead of specific characters, Butters said the animation process involves a lot of collaboration, both with fellow animators and with character designers in charge of physical characteristics, such as Ralph's body shape. or Vanellope's hairstyle.
"We found it together, because nobody owns a character, it's a group effort," he said. "They will build the character, model the character and put the controls on it, we will animate it and, suddenly, there are many notes, questions and revisions because now you are seeing that in the work."
"It's an iterative process," he said, which translates into memorable scenes as one of Butters favorite of the film, in which Gord hands the papers to Ralph and Vanellope, his wrinkled arm stretches reluctantly to meet the fist of Ralph.
"[Gord is] so strange and different from everything I've encouraged before, "he said." Get a character [like Gord] That is unclear and maybe a little out of place is very exciting. It's refreshing and challenging, and it's fun, because sometimes we do not know what it's supposed to be, and someone takes a picture of a scene and suddenly solidifies that character. "
You can contact Kaya Williams at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kaya_Noelle.