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Canadian artists bring Pixar’s first Black lead character to life in ‘Soul’

There are expectations that Pixar films will be executed with the highest level of innovation and there are many Canadians who deserve to create the complex world of The soul, to be released on Disney + on Christmas (December 25). The soul includes the first black lead character for the studio.

Trevor Jimenez, one of the stories continues The soulwho lived in the Hamilton and Toronto areas of Ontario Yahoo Canada It’s “exciting” that Pixar finally has a Black protagonist in one of its big films, but it also acknowledged the need to allow a wide range of people to be seen in films of this caliber.

“[I am] I am so proud to be a part of this film and work with some of the amazing people like Kemp [Powers] “Co-director, we had incredible cultural trust in the film,” Jimenez said.

Emily Gule, who is the animator of the film, a native of Montreal, Que., Echoed Jimenez’s comments, saying that this was the “necessary” step that Pixar should take.

“[It’s] it is also an honor to celebrate this culture of which I am not a part, “Gule said. “To hear my colleagues tell their own stories, to tell how they would go through their own lives and talk about it, I grew up working so hard on this film in every way.”

“Soul” will debut exclusively at Disney + on December 25, 2020. Disney / Pixar.

From New York to the Great Before

The history of The soul followed by protagonist Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a band teacher in New York who dreams of being a professional jazz pianist.

After being given the opportunity to play professionally for a lifetime with one of the greatest jazz musicians, an unfortunate event led Gardner to find himself in The Great Before, a place where new souls are trained to acquire their personalities before leaving. on the ground.

Jimenez played a significant role in the scene when Gardner landed in The Big Before. He initially tells the story of the critical moment in the film, “unofficially”, directing it with a small team, including fellow Canadian Kyle McNatton, who is working on much of the visual art that inspires appearance.

Somehow we knew we had this vague scene where Joe was on the sidewalk, and he had to run away and end up in The Big Before, and I just thought he couldn’t just get there, he couldn’t just jump, … he has to go through something, ”Jimenez explained. “It set the tone for this afterlife of this world, something like an eerie mysterious tone.”

“We just [wanted] to catch something like math, cold and unforgiving, and clumsy. “

“The Big Before” is where Gardner meets 22 (voiced by Tina Faye), a soul with an attitude reminiscent of a capricious teenager who has never been interested in human experience on Earth, and initially helps Gardner try to bring your man back to life in time for his big concert.

Gule, animated in The Big Before, is a particularly emotional scene towards the end of the film, as the film explores questions about what makes life meaningful and what makes people feel fulfilled.

“I think just the abstraction of this whole world was a challenge, but at the same time extremely satisfying and satisfying,” she said. When you sit in the diaries, at the meetings we have, and show repetitions of your work, at one point … it’s like “okay, that’s it,” everyone in the room feels [an emotional impact]. ”

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx's voice) meets Terry (Rachel House's voice) and advisers at The Great Before.  Disney / Pixar

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx’s voice) meets Terry (Rachel House’s voice) and advisers at The Great Before. Disney / Pixar

Just like previous Pixar movies Inside out,, The soul handles existential questions in a way that will sometimes make you cry in your eyes while giving you comedic moments that make you laugh out loud. Pixar takes him completely out of the park in terms of animation, which is incredibly realistic in the human world and also captivatingly abstract in places like The Great Before.

The film also demonstrates a unique visual technique for the advisors, who in “Big Before” help to confront all new souls, combining them with mentors to prepare them for Earth. They are 2-D animations made in a 3-D way.

Another Canadian Pixar talent, artist Deanna Marsigliese, worked with Jerome Ranft to create an initial version of the wizards with wire to see how they would “interact in 3-D space,” as Jimenez describes.

These characters, which almost look like a drawing, are a surprise from a visual point of view, adding another dimension to the existing visualizations of The soul. Unique aspects like this really take Pixar animation to another level in terms of visualization.

“What most animators have done is to make a drawing pass,” Gule explained. “The first shots that were animated in this way, none of us knew what it would look like, even in [CGI.]”

“So there was a lot of research and trial and error before finding the perfect look.”

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx's voice) on the New York subway.  Disney / Pixar.

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx’s voice) on the New York subway. Disney / Pixar.

“Authentic” experiences in New York

Although The Great Before is much of the film, much of it is still unfolding in the animated version of New York. With co-director Camp Powers (One night in Miami) a leader who grew up in the city, he was particularly committed to showing the Gardener in places that are culturally authentic, presenting New York as a “melting pot” of people and influences while working with Pete Doctor.

The scenes, which take place in New York, were also an opportunity to explore places that feel particularly important to the protagonist, from the jazz club to the tailor shop owned by Gardner’s mother (voiced by Philicia Rashad).

There were also a number of consultants in the film who provided feedback on Pixar’s efforts to ensure that they demonstrated real-life storytelling experiences, including David Digg (Hamilton), which also expresses the character of Paul in The soul, a Gardner neighborhood friend he often sees at the local barber shop.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson also made a big contribution when it came to the music in the film, in addition to voicing the character of Curly, one of Gardner’s former students who became a professional jazz musician. Questlove made a playlist of songs he believed would play against a variety of scenes, such as 90s hip-hop, which he thought would play in the barber shop.

The directors also want to make sure that New York’s landscape is as authentic as possible, a busy city with visible “wear and tear.”

Gule animated part of the film, which takes place in the subway in New York, where he mentions his experience of being in the subway system in Montreal.

“My anchor, the way to calm me down and find a reference, was to remember how I felt on the Montreal subway, even though it’s completely different from New York,” she said.

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