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Wreck-It Ralph - Renato Dos Anjos interview (exclusive)

Wreck It Ralph

Compiled by Jack Foley

RENATO Dos Anjos – Animation Supervisor on Wreck-It Ralph – worked in a similar capacity on Walt Disney Animation’s 2008 animated feature Bolt, as well as on the multiple Emmy® Award-winning 2009 holiday TV special Prep & Landing.

Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dos Anjos started out wanting to be a comic book artist, but fell in love with and started working in animation as an intern in 1987 at the age of 14. With Wreck-It Ralph being released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, June 3, we chat to the talented artist to discover more about the hilarious, arcade-hopping animation and the amazing artistry behind it…

Q. How would you describe your biggest challenge on Wreck-It Ralph?
Renato Dos Anjos: In Wreck-It Ralph, our main character travels from one game to another, so we used different styles of animation for each game in the arcade. One style that I specifically want to mention refers to the Nicelanders; the little guys who live inside the Fix-It Felix, Jr. game. This game is based on the 1980s era where everything is super simple and the animation is very simplistic – but one of the challenges that we had to conquer was to get these simple characters to act and convey emotion. How do we get our animation in this 8-bit world to carry the emotional content of the film?

Q. How did you conquer that challenge?
Renato Dos Anjos: We played a lot of 8-bit video games! We actually had a couple of game days at work where we played Super Mario and various other 8-bit games to get us in the mood and to prepare us for the 8-bit animation. We spent a long time refining the animation and reworking sequences to make sure they worked.

Q. How long did it take to design the 8-bit world of Fix-It Felix, Jr. and the other worlds in the movie?
Renato Dos Anjos: We spent many months working on the various styles. Whenever we felt like had something right, we would go and show the director what we’d created. That’s what happens in the dailies. We get of the animators in a room and we show our progress. We spend between three and five hours a day working on shots and showing the director what we’re doing.

Wreck It Ralph

Q. Did you attend any of the voice recording sessions for the movie?
Renato Dos Anjos: I attended a few of them, which was great. After a while we got so busy that we couldn’t go anymore – but the producers were definitely open to us going along and watching. I think this was the first time our CG department was able to attend several of the sessions, and bring in some of the animators. We did that as often as we could.

Q. How much input did John Lasseter have in the movie?
Renato Dos Anjos: There’s nothing that went by that [Wreck-It Ralph director] Rich Moore and John Lasseter didn’t have a hand in. They worked close together and they had thoughts about everything in the animation. We were seeing John about once a week, so he was heavily involved.

Q. What’s it like to work with John Lasseter?
Renato Dos Anjos: It’s very inspiring. He definitely knows what he’s talking about. Every time he says something, it’s inspiring. You think to yourself: “That’s awesome.”

Q. What practical art tips would you give to people who want to get into the animation industry?
Renato Dos Anjos: Personally, I think everybody’s learning process is different – but I would really encourage people to spend a lot of hours drawing and learning and training. This is a very hard profession to learn, so you need to dedicate yourself to animation. Train, animate things, draw things – and if you’ve got access to computers then use them to animate, too. Animate as often as you can because you learn through training and through making mistakes.

Q. Do you keep a mirror on your desk at work so that you can look at yourself for inspiration when drawing people?
Renato Dos Anjos: Yes, definitely. That’s another good tip. You are your best reference because you’re available all the time. Hands are very hard to draw, so I was always looking at my hands and trying to draw them. I’d do a pose and try to copy it.

Q. How often did you draw as a child?
Renato Dos Anjos: As a kid, if I wasn’t studying, I was either outside playing or I was drawing. Whenever I had the opportunity, I would sit down and draw away or doodle.

Wreck It Ralph

Q. What’s your top piece of advice to youngsters who want to get into Disney?
Renato Dos Anjos: Just study and work hard. It’s a challenging job and it takes a while to learn, so spend as much time as you can animating and drawing.

Q. Wreck-It Ralph is set within the colourful world of arcade games. What do they mean to you?
Renato Dos Anjos: Personally, they mean a great deal of my childhood because I spent hours and hours on arcade games. I’ve been playing games ever since I can remember. In fact, whenever I think about video games from my childhood, I remember waking up in the middle of the night and turning on my old Atari. I’d turn down the volume and try not to wake up my parents!

Q. What games did you play as a child?
Renato Dos Anjos: Back then, Asteroids was very challenging to me – but I also played PAC-MAN and all of those other classic games, too. It’s great to see some of these classic characters on screen again.

Read our interview with screenwriter Phil Johnston

Wreck-It Ralph is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, June 3, 2013