So the first day of San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) saw the beginning of the weekend's vast schedule of panel discussions, starting off with talks on upcoming Disney animated projects "Toy Story that Time Forgot," and "Big Hero 6."
See this poster? This was done for Toy Story by the comic book artist/writer Mike Mignola of "Hellboy" fame. I really wanted one, and they actually did gave them out, but inexplicably gave them out at the ABC booth in the Exhibit Hall, right as the panel was ending, thus insuring that virtually no one could get down there fast enough to get one before they were all out. Sigh.
That was, however, the only disappointment as Director Steve Purcell, Producer Galyn Susman, Head of Story Derek Thompson, and Moderator/Composer Michael Giacchino showed off some impressive clips and art assets from Disney-Pixar's "Toy Story that Time Forgot."
Initially planned as a six minute short, John Lasseter was impressed enough with the footage that he asked them to expand it to a half-hour Christmas special. The basic story is that Bonnie, the recipient of all the toys at the end of "Toy Story 3," takes them to a friend's house where they encounter a new set of toys--the "Battlesaurs"--who do not realize they are toys.
The leader of the Battlesaur society is the Cleric--the spiritual head of their culture.
There are a number of different types of soldier Battlesaurs, because they are constantly needed to fend off the Outland Beasts, like the Goliathon.
(All the inhabitants of the Battlesaur world have been mutated from...conventional dinosaurs, through irradiation from Zeta Rays.)
Our lead Battlesaur is Reptillius Maximus, who is of the Champion class, and wielder of the mighty Star Talon, a sacred weapon. He is voiced by Kevin McKidd.
Our lead of the familar Toy Story cast is Trixie, played by Kristen Schaal. As a surprise, when her character was introduced, Kristen Schaal herself joined the panel.
(When asked why she thought Trixie was chosen as the star toy for this outing, Schaal responded "...Tom Hanks is really busy, but I am completely available.")
As part of the Christmas setting, a new Toy Story character is also introduced, the mildly disturbing Angel Kitty. ("I am armored with goodness.")
For those who want to recreate the story afterwards, there will also be actual toys on sale of the various film characters in their battle gear.
The special "Toy Story that Time Forgot" is schedule for broadcast on ABC, December 2, 2014.
Next up was a panel on "The Art of Big Hero 6," the upcoming feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS.)
The panel, which did not allow photos or video of the displayed art, featured Producer Roy Conli, Visual Effects Supervisor Kyle Odermatt, Production Designer Paul Felix, Director Don Hall, Character Designer Shiyoon Kim and Visual Development Artist Lorelay Bove.
The project came about when Hall developed an interest in creating a project that would join both WDAS and the recently acquired Marvel properties; the relatively obscure "Big Hero 6" seemed to fit the bill, and with Marvel's blessings, became the studio's love letter to Japanese culture.
The creation of the film's setting "San Fransokyo" took an enormous amount of work, requiring the animators to start with a geographical map of San Francisco, and then increasing the hill size and skyscraper density to give it the feel of Tokyo. Combining the detailed ornamentation of a Japanese city with the Painted Lady architecture of SF, and throwing in some quarter of a million trees and one million streetlights, they created an image of a city that had both depth and energy.
Kim then described some of the process he went through while trying to find the character Hiro, the 14-year-old genius protagonist.
Looking to his own childhood for traits like perpetual bedhead, Kim also tried to incorporate elements of today's youth, making him an expert multitasker.
Hiro's inflatable robotic sidekick Baymax, a health professional turned superhero, came out of multiple visits to various robotic departments at a number of different universities. Wanting a huggable robot, Hall finally found a prototype for a robot composed of vinyl balloons that he thought was perfect. Baymax's face, a simple two circles connected by a line, was derived from the openings on a bell, his walk from a penguin, and his general shape language from a rice cooker (adorable, but with hidden technology.)
To introduce some clips from the film, the panel was joined by Hiro's voice actor, Ryan Potter.
Subsequently, we were treated to a brief description of each of Hiro's other teammates:
Of course, the Big Hero 6 experience didn't end with the panel--there was already a reasonable amount of cosplay anticipating the movie.
Attendees of the panel were also treated to a small Kaiju!Fred! as a giveaway.
Downstairs in the Exhibit Hall, "Big Hero 6" had their own booth, where a limited edition armored Baymax was for sale.
On display were other toys and figures that will be on the market closer to the film's opening.
Guests were encouraged to #MeetBaymax and take a photo with him, at which time they might be given a smaller Baymax of their own (until the booth ran out for the day.)
"Big Hero 6" is scheduled to be in theaters November 7, 2014.