Immersed in Blu-ray: Planes

Planes goes Blu (Disney Home Ent.) and the first in the Disneytoon trilogy provides a fun family adventure that’s worth picking up for its infectious charm and humor.

For director Klay Hall (an aviation enthusiast) and the Disneytoon team (led by animation director Sheryl Sacket), Planes offered a different challenge from the world of Pixar’s Cars. Though there was “truth in materials” to consider and populating the world with a variety of racing planes to accompany the crop duster, there was difficulty with wings and windscreens and propellers, not to mention sound design.

“We were attracted to crop dusters: they’re forced to fly low, it’s a dangerous occupation, and they don’t get much credit,” Hall explains. “We found out in our research that most of the pilots are in awe of crop dusters. These guys are seat of your pants,  stick and rudder kind of flyers. We knew it was a cool character.

“I can relate to stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s OK to be scared but if you continue to push, you might be surprised what happens.I love how his character affects everyone along the route. At first they don’t think [Dusty] belongs there. As the race progresses, they can’t help but be enamored with who he is. We looked at The Amazing Race and pay it forward. It’s not just about winning — he’s a pretty decent guy. I think that’s another great character trait.”

Then it was creatively challenging to come up with the race. ”When we first started making these planes fly, they felt like little toys,” Hall concedes. “And we knew we were in trouble. That’s where we were able to step back a bit. [Producer] Traci [Balthazor-Flynn] found Jason McKinley [Red Tails] to serve as flight specialist and we were able to get a plan. That was embracing the weight, speed, and size of the airplane. And then the size of the sets. We applied the physics to the actual scope of the set. It had to be physically correct to make it believable.  It took us six months just to get them to fly believably. But once we figured out Dusty’s qualifying run, we cracked the code.”

Meanwhile, the sweeping race that encompasses Iceland, Germany, India, Nepal, Japan, and Mexico was based on actual data. Once they knew that Dusty had a PT-6 engine, they sat down with a group of corporate and civilian pilots to map the routes. “If we had this type of aircraft and we had to go around the world, where would we have to stop to refuel? They said you’d have to stop in Iceland and then in Germany, and that’s how we ended up with our race course and our locations. So then we pitched ideas about playing with different ethnicity and cultures and music and colors.”

But Planes tested so well at early screenings that it fueled John Lasseter’s desire to go theatrical instead of direct to DVD/Blu-ray, validating what Hall and his animation team had accomplished.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, previs, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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