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Exclusive: Sony Animator Peter Nash Talks About the Foodimals in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”

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.

  • Matt

    Sony has put the toon part back into cartoons that the other 3 studios have seem to of forgotten.

  • Smith

    Thank you for posting this Amid, looking forward to seeing the video! The animation in this film is AMAZING, I was blown away when I saw it. I loved how they treated the smallest of details, like a pupil dilating (re: Barb when Flint opens the door), to add to the acting. And the foodimals are just simply awesome.

  • While nowhere near as good as the first, the Foodimals were definitely the highlight of Cloudy 2. All corny wordplay aside, the designs were just bursting with fun and creativity.

    I’m also glad many of the designs used simplistic dot eyes because it was a nice contrast to the realistic pupils of the human characters. Not only that, but it proves that such design aesthetics can work effectively in CG. Makes me wonder all the more what route SPA will take with the Popeye movie.

  • Tim

    Yes, dot eyes are great in 3D animation! Penguin in “The Wrong Trousers” has dot eyes that flash white when he blinks, and it’s the greatest character design choice for him. So sinister.

  • Michel Gagne

    These were really creative with some good logic behind them. Nicely done.

  • Max C.

    I loved the look of Cloudy 2, from the way the characters are animated to the colourful, imaginative and especially cute Foodimals, but unfortunately it was almost as style-over-substance as Sony’s last fully CG work for me. It was just not that funny, and any gags that were funny were repeated in belief that the audience would still laugh. It felt more like generic blockbuster CG storytelling with poop jokes than the joyful original.