Guilherme Jacinto – Up

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

As a young, aspiring animator, Guilherme Jacinto moved from his home country of Brazil to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art University in 2003. With zero credits to his name, he hoped he could break into the very competitive animation industry on talent alone. You could say he started his career on the right foot when his very first professional job came to him by way of Pixar Animation Studios. His assignment: to work on a little film called “WALL-E.”

Now, Jacinto, 23, is ready to show off his second animated film also from Pixar. In “Up,” Jacinto works in the animation department and helps create a number of characters in the film including Carl Fredricksen, a retired 78-year-old balloon salesman who journeys to South America via floating house, and Russell, an 8-year-old Boy Scout who becomes a stowaway for the aerial adventure.

Was animation something you were always interested in?

I always liked drawing comic books and stuff like that. When I saw “Toy Story” [in 1995 when he was only 10 years old] I got interested in animation. I really didn’t know how the process worked, but later I wanted to study it and ended up coming to San Francisco to do that.

When you were younger, where would you draw inspiration from for your work? Where do you draw it from now?

I used to read a lot of comic books like “Spider-Man” and watched a lot of cartoons and movies, but nothing specific. As I got older, I drew from my own experiences. Now, instead of referencing movies and other things I always draw from life and whatever feels natural. I always base my ideas on people that I know.

How did you connect with Pixar?

During my third year of school I got an internship. I submitted my reel and they accepted me. I had to go back to school for a year to finish. When I graduated, they called me and offered me a job.

You were an animator fresh out of college and you landed a job with Pixar. That had to have been surreal for you.

Yeah, pretty much. (Laughs)

What exactly did you do on “WALL-E?”

I did the same thing on “WALL-E” that I did on “Up,” which was basically working on a little bit of all the characters. At Pixar we’re not character specific. We get to work on different characters and different sequences.

What would you credit as the reason Pixar is always leading the pack with their animated films?

We work on the stories for so long and try to make them original. We try to makes them really special and so different than everything else that is out there. Everything just feels very authentic. It never feels like we are referencing anything else. We’re not trying to copy anyone else.

How was working on “Up” different from your previous experience with Pixar?

I felt it was very challenging because the style of animation was different than what I had done before. It was way more stylized. I worked on a lot of different characters that I had never done before. We had to do a lot of research to get everything looking right.

I think the worst thing in an animated film is when a voice doesn’t match a character. Is that a priority for you as an animator?

Yeah, I think that one of the most important parts of our job. We want to make it feel like the character’s really saying what he’s saying. For example, we would watch tapes of Ed Asner doing his voice work and study everything – how he stands, how he talks, all the subtle things, just to get a better sense of how we wanted to make the character. We don’t necessarily want to copy the actor, but we always try to find a good balance.


May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: (voices of) Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai
Directed by: Peter Docter (“Monster’s Inc.”) and Bob Peterson (debut)
Written by: Bob Peterson (‘Finding Nemo”)

While Pixar is far from perfect (“Cars” could have used a major overhaul), there’s no other animation studio doing the type of impressive work on such a consistent basis.

Add “Up” to the equation that has made the subsidiary of Disney Studios such a delight to watch ever since introducing us to Woody and Buzz Lightyear in 1995’s “Toy Story.” Fourteen years later, Pixar is still the animation groundbreaker.

In “Up,” directors/writers Peter Docter and Bob Peterson take on a species Pixar hasn’t experimented with before: humans (without superhuman powers, of course). The film follows retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) as he journeys to South America via a house attached to thousands of helium-filled balloons.

The trip was an adventure he and his wife Ellie always wanted to take together but was never meant to be when they were younger. Although they always saved money to move to the South American sanctuary known as Paradise Falls, something always came up that forced the happy couple to dip into their savings and put the vacation on hold.

But when Ellie passes away (an adult theme Pixar has never used before, which is probably why it earned only the second PG rating in its history…gasp), Carl wants to make their dream come true by traveling the only way he sees fit – in a floating house. He’s also not very interested in being forced into a senior living facility by city contractors who want to bulldoze his cherished home to make room for new buildings.

In an attempt to save his home and honor his wife, Carl drifts “Danny Deckchair”-style to start a new life in Paradise Falls. Unlike the 2003 film starring Rhys Ifans, Carl is not alone. Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young stowaway Boy Scout hoping to earn his Assisting the Elderly badge has ended up on the house’s porch and instantaneously becomes part of Carl’s long journey.

“Up” is a sweet story filled with touching moments especially when we watch the loving relationship between Carl and Ellie during the film’s first 15 minutes. Animated films usually never take the time to build characters this well. Once you wipe your tears away and are up in the sky with Carl and Russell, the comedy stays steadily fresh between the little boy and the old man.

Even when the story stutters during a not-all-too-interesting rescue mission on the ground, there are enough fascinating characters, smartly-written dialogue, and some subtly amazing 3-D effects (it is Pixar’s first, you know) that never play out like a cheap gimmick (see “Chicken Little” and “Fly Me to the Moon” for that). Instead, Pixar lets the work speak for itself. With “Up,” the film has a lot to say about loss, friendship, personal ambition, and living life to its fullest all in a deeply moving and enchantingly animated package.