Mill Film partnered with director James Bobin to bring a childhood favorite to the big screen in Paramount Pictures’ Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
Technicolor’s Mill Film collaborated on one of this summer’s most charming big screen adventures, Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
From Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, and Nickelodeon Movies, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is the first live-action treatment of the popular Dora the Explorer animated series. Mill Film worked on many of the big screen version’s most memorable scenes – from the opening sequence that pays homage to the original series – through to the epilogue’s montage of animation shots.
Debuting on Nickelodeon in 2000, Dora was the first series to feature an animated Latina character in a lead role, and became the longest-running American TV show with Spanish-speaking characters. As a tribute to the show, director James Bobin embraced the idea of merging its classic 2-D style of animation into the “real world” version he was creating.
“The old Chuck Jones cartoons were a great source of reference,” says Lindy De Quattro, Production VFX Supervisor. “We pushed the physics for our CG characters on broad actions just slightly beyond reality, giving them a couple of frames more hangtime or making them arc through space with a little more zip.”
Bobin supports creative expression on his films, which encouraged the animation team to come up with gags and other ideas to elevate the live action – all while supporting the story and character arcs of Dora and her friends.
“All of the animals in the film have an underlying personality,” explains Matt Everitt, Animation Supervisor, Mill Film. “We gave them backstories and attitudes, even if they only appear for a couple of shots. They all behave as animals, but they also have a point of view on the scene; some are aware of the camera, some are aware of the actors and listen to the conversations happening in front of them.”
Among the trickier tasks was getting the design just right for series' antagonist Swiper. “The aim was to find the balance between a real and cartoon world,” says Mill Film’s Adam Paschke, Head of Creative Operations. “One in which our hero can interact with a mask-wearing fox without missing a beat. We pushed the design of the characters and the physics of the performance to be a blend of these two aesthetics."
The team also ensured that Dora's best friend and confidant Boots would reflect the original series’ character, even as they researched real monkeys – such as capuchin and squirrel monkeys – to influence his overall look.
“We often described Boots as part monkey and part cheeky, 9-year-old boy,” says De Quattro “sometimes he moves like a monkey and sometimes he might have slightly more anthropomorphic mannerisms. The three prongs of hair on the back of his head were often used to help sell his mood – sagging a little when sad and springing upright when happy or attentive. Overall, the movie was a joy to work on and that really shines through in the work.”
Visit MillFilm.com to learn more about the team and their full range of work on Dora and the Lost City of Gold.