Anatomy of CGI: A Scene from "Tangled"

Chris Higgins

Ever wonder how computer-animated films are made? It's a laborious process, involving an "animatic" (a form of pseudo-animated storyboarding), "layout" (rough positioning of 3D models), reference modeling (in which an actor moves around as the characters will, as a reference for animators), and various additional passes through the material to arrive at a realistic-looking animated scene. In this brief video, animator Jamaal Bradley shows us the making of one snippet of Disney's "Tangled." This is how the digital sausage gets made, folks.

My favorite part? The animated characters lack hair until very late in the animation process, making them distractingly bald (plus they appear to be wearing virtual Spanx). My least favorite part? Listening to that snippet of Disney-singing over and over.

Progression of an Animated Shot: Gothel & Rapunzel Disney's Tangled from Jamaal Bradley on Vimeo.

If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy Frame By Frame, a Tumblr showing brief animated sequences as still frames.

(Via Waxy.) Note: many thanks to reader and animator Janet van Dyne for the tip on "animatics" vs. "pre-visualization" and clarifying who animates the hair!