Disney’s forthcoming Zootopia represents a big leap in animation, utilizing piles of innovative new tech and concepts developed by the famed studio. The film, which opens next spring, depicts an alternate earth where animals rule — and humankind never happened — and focuses on a meter-maid bunny (Ginnifer Goodwin) and a scam-artist fox (Jason Bateman who team up to crack a case. In their hunt for clues, they traverse the tailor-made neighborhoods of their shining, multi-species metropolis of Zootopia, including Sahara Square, which is populated by desert animals; Tundratown, which houses cold weather creatures; and Little Rodentia, a neighborhood for tiny animals.
Yahoo Movies recently got an ear-and-eyeful from the makers of the movie. Here are five cool things to whet your appetite before Zootopia comes out on March 4, 2016:
‘Zootopia’ directors Rich Moore, left, Byron Howard, middle, and producer Clark Spencer explain Polar Bear fur tech in August
1. It’s Fur-filled.
Remember how they painstakingly created Rapunzel’s hair in Tangled? Now Disney animators have improved on the technology, building the fur on each fuzzy creature in Zootopia with thousands of individual follicles. Animators worked with specially made computer programs to match the sheen and texture to each animal’s real-life counterpart. The coolest example, fittingly, is the way they made Polar Bear hair: The animals have transparent follicles, which only appear white when reflected with light — and that’s exactly how the bear hairs were created for the film, with animators amassing a huge amount of clear hairs reflected with artificial lighting they developed. The end result: (Nearly) real-life polar bear fur! If that’s not enough, the team also devised new wind-tunnel technology to make strands move believably.
Concept art of Tundratown
2. Hey, That’s Frozen Snow!
Disney animators utilized snowmaking tech from their 2013 blockbuster Frozen for the animal city’s Tundratown. (Psst: They also revealed to us that there are some hidden Easter eggs from Frozen nestled in the wintery Zootopia suburb. Keep your eyes peeled!)
An animal lineup comp used by animators
3. The Animals Are To-Scale…
Generally, animated animal characters are sized similarly, so they all fit in a given film’s frame in a uniform way. But for Zootopia, Disney animators decided to make each animal the same size difference as they exist in nature. (Fun fact: One giraffe is the equivalent of 95 mice!)
Concept art of a subway made for rodents
4. …And So Is Their Transportation.
Zootopia creators were tasked with dreaming up a whole new way a city would function when it’s filled with various-sized creatures. Even the critters’ modes of transport are tailored for each type of animal. There’s a main rail that incorporates diverse seating sizes. But rats, mice, and hamsters also have their very own line (pictured above).
A frame from the film
5. Each Frame Is Jam-Packed With Info.
Utilizing new rendering technology, each frame of Zootopia holds the equivalent of all of the digital data in Disney’s 2014 short film Feast. Now that’s something to feast your eyes on!
(Images and Photos: Disney)