Although his background is in engineering and not in animation, Inigo Quilez has found a home at Pixar.
In “Brave,” the studio’s new animated film about a young Scottish princess who must undo a curse that has been placed on her kingdom, Quilez was placed on an animation team in charge of creating the grass, trees, forests and all the other greenery seen in the film’s background.
During an interview with me, Quilez talked about his work with Pixar and what it takes to make an animated film come to life.
What has your experience been like working on your very first film with an industry giant like Pixar?
I have been working on “Brave” for three years. It’s amazing to work and make movies. I am an electrical engineer, actually, but I always wanted to do something a little more artistic. It was a dream to come to Pixar. It’s a really unique place where I can use my technical skills and help make something very beautiful.
As an animator on “Brave,” you have a very specialized job. Tell us more about what you do.
I am responsible for making everything that looks like plants or vegetation. I worked with a small team of three people. Normally, for a movie like this you would have to go to a computer and create every flower, but instead we approached it in a different way and used more mathematics. We taught the computer to create all these things for us. We developed a lot of new techniques to help with that.
In terms of research, did Pixar send you out to roll around in the grass?
(Laughs) Well, I joined the team a bit late, so I didn’t get to go with them to Scotland. They brought back a lot of images and real plants. We didn’t want to create reality, but we wanted something inspired by reality.
Over the years in animation, it seems like plants and trees and other objects in nature like water have gotten a lot more realistic. But that’s not what Pixar is trying to do?
Well, you have movies like “Avatar” where things look completely real. But that doesn’t really work for us because are characters don’t look realistic. They look more like toys. So, our backgrounds have to match with the characters. We want things to look complex and organic, but not really real.