Several animators who worked on Disney’s Animated musical Encanto speak out on the creation of the popular “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” sequence.
A couple of animators who worked on Disney’s animated musical Encanto have spoken out about the creation of the popular “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” sequence. Met with universal acclaim from critics and fans alike, the song, one of the seven that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for the film, became the longest-reigning chart-topper for Disney in US Billboard Hot 100 history. Miranda is known all over the world as the highly praised songwriter for projects such as Hamilton, In the Heights, and Moana.
In Encanto, the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” sequence arrives a little before the halfway mark. Mirabel Madrigal, the main character voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, is trying to learn information about her uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), whose gift of foresight caused him to be estranged from the community. The Madrigal family members, including Mirabel’s aunt Pepa (Carolina Gaitán), cousin Dolores (Adassa) and sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero), share their stories of how Bruno’s visions did them wrong.
In an interview with THR, two of Encanto‘s animators – director of cinematography layout Nathan Detroit Warner and animation supervisor Michael Woodside – express how they were instructed and inspired to create the scene. Warner explains that they wanted it to feel like a number from a Broadway show, with each character having their own solo before they all converge in harmony at the end. According to Woodside, their production process was a bit unorthodox. Read their words below:
“Very early on, we got together with [the animation team and said], ‘We really want this to be a giant dance number. We want this to feel like Broadway,’ ” says director of cinematography layout Nathan Detroit Warner. They teamed with Jamal Sims and Kai Martinez, who choreographed the sequence with dancers that Sims shot in one take with an iPad. “What made a difference is that we had excellent reference from the choreography,” says animation supervisor Michael Woodside. “They were able to give us great authentic movements that we were able to replicate.”
No performance capture was used, but Woodside says they did go “a little bit against the norm” in their production process in that the camerawork and animation — starting with a rough animation — were “working in tandem,” whereas more typically one would follow the other.
“They were putting in a lot less detail [in the rough animation] but kept the necessary footsteps and how the head might turn because the choreography could motivate a camera [move],” he explains. “We also went back and reshot all of the little individual bits of choreography for reference for the animators.” They shot the sequence with and without the skirts, which “allowed them to study the body mechanics and how the costumes would move,” adds Woodside.
Since its Thanksgiving 2021 release, Encanto continues to be talked about by fans to this day, with fun facts behind the making of the film rolling out frequently. Recently, Jared Bush, one of the film’s directors, revealed that Mirabel’s birthday is on March 6 – one she shares with Colombian Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel García Márquez. The animated musical has been nominated for three Oscars: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score (composed by Germaine Franco) and Best Original Song (“Dos Orugitas,” performed by Sebastían Yatra). The movie received these same nominations at the Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Animated Motion Picture. With those accomplishments, things are looking bright for Encanto‘s Oscars chances.
Seeing as “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is the most popular song from Disney Animation’s newest film, the process of how its scene was created should spark the interest of fans around the globe. The unconventional method the filmmakers used should motivate aspiring animators to think outside the box. When Woodside describes how the song’s emotion played into the camerawork, it’s a reminder that filmmaking consists of many different elements converging and harmonizing with each other to create something truly special. For Encanto, it created the most popular musical sequence Disney has had in quite some time.
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