I had the chance to see Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 a few days ago, and was delighted to see the continued evolution of the studio’s visual language. Their approach to computer animation remains unique amongst major feature animation studios and the film is a triumph of animation, production design and graphic charm.
Among the film’s many visual highlights is the Foodimals, the deliciously insane zoo of pun-derived food animals that look like the fever-dream concoctions of a starving man. The designs of these characters run the gamut from cute and goofy to fearsome and majestic. What ties them together is an allegiance to fun and imagination—take for example, the ‘hippotatomus’ whose got a butter slab-lining inside his mouth and peas for teeth or the ‘crabcake’ who sports cupcakes for eyes. The dot eyes on many of the Foodimals is a great touch that, again, speaks to a contemporary design approach that is wholly unconvential in mainstream feature CG. The whimsical cherry-on-top that made these characters so effective was the contrast between their outlandish designs and their obsessively detailed photoreal textures.
A lesser studio might have blown their wad on the design of the characters and neglected to animate them in an equally unique way. Thankfully, this was not the case at Sony. Each of the Foodimals is accompanied by its own distinctive personality traits and style of movement that takes full advantage of the design. That leads us to today’s video, which was provided exclusively to us by Sony. In it, Peter Nash, senior animation supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, sheds some behind-the-scenes details on the the crew’s approach to the Foodimals, and the considerations that went into both designing and animating these fantastic cartoon creations.