luca making of

The team behind Luca were facing a unique challenge: water. It wasn’t a matter of making the water in the upcoming Pixar film look realistic and detailed — Pixar animators could probably create photorealistic water in their sleep. It was a matter of making it less realistic.

It’s a strange problem for Pixar to have, right? The animation studio had perfected 3D animation to such a degree that their films have started to look almost too realistic. But it’s a problem Luca director Enrico Casarosa was happy to have.

“The tools of the trade are getting better and better at capturing realism,” Casarosa said at a press presentation /Film attended for Luca earlier this month. “We wanted to work on stylization and beautiful shades and lyricism. So, that is the bit where we pushed the tools to do something a that they don’t necessarily want to do.”

It was a new challenge for Casarosa’s team: to go against their instincts toward realism (and against what Pixar’s programs were designed to do) and pursue the kind of stylization that Casarosa, through his playful watercolor storyboards, was aiming for. So they dedicated themselves to one major direction: capturing “the hand of the artist.”

“The hand of the artist, of course, starts with Enrico’s drawings,” production designer Daniela Stijleva told /Film. “They’re very gestural. they’re very imperfect, in the best possible way. They have life to them.”

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