Los Angeles — It is always a joy to visit the Pixar office at Emeryville, California because we know we are going to meet some of our Filipino animator friends working there, also known as “Pixnoys.”
As soon as we walked in, the first person we saw was Ronnie del Carmen, the talented co-director and co-story writer of the award-winning movie “Inside Out” (2015), story supervisor of the critically-acclaimed “Up” (2009) and director of the short film, “Dug’s Special Mission.”
“I wish Ronnie Del Carmen worked in this movie,” revealed award-winning director Brad Bird who was talking about his latest film, “Incredibles 2,” the sequel to the 2004 film “The Incredibles,” one of Pixar’s the highest-grossing and award-winning animation features.
“He is such a good story teller and a great filmmaker,” Brad continued. “But he has his own story project that he is working on right now.”
The boyish looking director, however, is happy to have not one but three Filipino animators working on his new film, “Incredibles 2”: Nelson Bohol, Paul Abadilla and Bobby Rubio.
He said of the Pixnoys, “They are very talented. It is hard to get into this place (Pixar) if you are not. They are very adaptable and we are very lucky to have all of them. In any case, one of the strengths of the studio is to be able to bring different points of view to A film which makes it richer. We are so blessed to have them in our films.”
Nelson “Rey” Bohol, who is known to have added bahay kubo in the aquarium scene in “Finding Nemo,” was one of the original animators who worked with Brad in the 2004 “The Incredibles” film.
He has also worked as a set artist on “Inside Out” and “Monster University” among others.
Born in Pangdan, Hinabangan, Samar, Nelson is a shy, quiet guy who prefers to be drawing than being interviewed. As the sets artist/designer in the film, Nelson described his responsibility as “to make sure that our sets are consistent with the film’s style or look, which in this case, is the mid-century era.”
Nelson, who studied at the Manuel L. Quezon University majoring in Architecture, joined Pixar in August 2000. He said about working on the sequel, “I was fortunate to work on the original ‘Incredibles’ and so working on ‘Incredibles 2,’ I think makes it very special.”
Nelson admitted that he was inspired to work in the animation industry because “I grew up watching cartoons.”
His favorite scene in the movie that best illustrates his contribution he said was the Parr home “because I helped design the new Parr home. I also designed the DevTech building, the Incrediwagon and lots of the interiors.” His architecture background obviously helped in doing these sets.
Brad proudly told us, “I loved working with Nelson on the first one and I am happy that he is working with me again on the second one.” Brad pointed out that 30 to 40 percent of the people working on the sequel have worked on the first film.
“Partially some people have left the studio and the studio also became bigger,” he said. “Young people also joined us and worked on it as well. Pixar has attracted a lot of talented people so we have old and new talent working on ‘Incredibles 2.’ Newbies have reminded us how excited we were when we worked on the first one and they keep us on our toes.”
As a father of four, Nelson obviously could relate to Bob’s character. “I would like to be Bob” and probably have his super powers as well, Nelson confessed when asked what super power he would want.
When he goes back to the Philippines, Nelson enjoys visiting his hometown of Samar because of “the waterfalls, the beaches, the places where he grew up and where the rest of my family is still living.”
Meanwhile, story artist Bobby Alcid Rubio revealed that his contribution to “Incredibles 2” were “to take the script and draw the visuals for the animation team to later animate to. Also sometimes we were tasked to come up with scenarios and action sequences and show them to our director, Brad Bird, and sometimes Brad would be inspired by our sketches and they would find their way into the film!”
Asked what his favorite scene in the movie is that illustrates his contribution, Bobby disclosed, “It is a scene that I story-boarded where Bob and the kids are at a restaurant and then drama and comedy ensues.”
From Ilocos Norte and San Diego, California, Bobby joined Pixar in January 2007. A very gregarious and funny guy, Bobby graduated from CalArts with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, major in Animation degree.
What inspired him to work in the animation industry are “the Japanese anime like ‘Robotech,’ ‘Speed Racer’ and ‘Star Blazers’ were very influential to me as an artist. They inspired me to draw and to dream about working in the animation industry!”
He said, “What makes ‘Incredibles 2’ so special to me is that I have been a huge fan of the first film and I loved those characters, so much that it inspired me to apply for Pixar (I was at Disney Animation at the time). I was so inspired by Brad Bird’s story of this extraordinary family that had problems just like every family does. It was a fresh idea for feature films at the time. This was, of course, before all the fantastic Marvel movies that have come since.”
He said he could relate to the characters in the movie because “I also have three kids and I know what it’s like to juggle raising a family and having responsibilities outside of our home. I know that it’s a constant struggle to try to do what is best for your children. Sometimes you succeed and other times you fail miserably, but that’s how real life is.”
If he had a super power, he confessed, he would like to fly. “Although I’m scared of heights so I’d probably just hover around,” he said and laughed.
Last but not least is “Incredibles 2" set designer Paul Abadilla, who is from Manila and a graduate of San Jose State University with a BFA in Animation and Illustration.
Paul admitted that he was inspired to work in the animation industry because of the first “Incredibles.”
“The first ‘Incredibles’ definitely had a role in inspiring me to work in the animation industry. I was in college when I watched the first film in theaters, and I remember just being at the edge of my seat, cheering, and kicking the air from excitement during the ‘100-mile Dash’ sequence. ‘The Incredibles’ deeply moved me as an aspiring artist, and made me hungrier in my quest to be a part of that film-making process at Pixar,” he shares.
Paul, who joined Pixar in June 2008, described his responsibilities as a set designer: “I contributed in the making of ‘Incredibles 2’ in various ways. During the development stages of the film, I was tasked to illustrate and design certain key moments of the earlier drafts of the story, including an earlier version of the new Parr home interior. As production ramped-up, I was casted full-time on the project, mainly as a Set Designer.
“To better understand my role as a designer, I have to acknowledge that it takes a tremendous effort to put up the images that the audience sees on the screen. Drawing and painting certainly is a part of my job, but what is more important, and vital in making sure that the designs and ideas end up on the final frame, is collaboration and communication."
He looks at his role in two parts, with the first involving research and generating artwork will describe "the aesthetics of the props, and interior and exterior spaces. Once the designs are approved by our director, we head out to the second part of the job" which is executing the designs with set modelers and set dressers.
“Fostering an open line of communication is key to make sure that the ideas and designs translate well digitally, and further into the pipeline. This back-and-forth usually involves addressing fixes and providing art direction through working sessions, and draw-overs. As the layout department apply their cameras into the set, it was also my responsibility to make sure that the set dressing is visually appealing, but most-importantly, doesn’t distract from the characters in the scene," he continues.
Paul, being a multidisciplinary artist, has worn many other hats in Pixar. He was a shader designer, "providing color and surface information to technical shader artists and collaborating with them to ensure the surfaces respond well to the digital lighting." He also took part in assisting lighting design for various sequences, as well as generating artwork for 2D-animated end credit titles.
Paul says he cannot talk about his favorite scene, but shares "it was very fulfilling to oversee the development of the set, from its initial planning stages, research and design, to collaborating with the many technical artists who built, and made the set a reality on-screen. It’s a thrilling sequence to watch, and is definitely one of my favorites – can’t wait till everyone sees it!
“Another segment that I had a significant contribution to was the 2D-animated end credit titles. I was responsible for designing a number of the backgrounds (and even some key animation poses) that were used for the sequence.
Paul said Elastigirl taking center stage makes “Incredibles 2” so special. “I think representation matters, and it’s very exciting and inspiring to see more female characters take lead roles and be as strong, fearless and independent as their male counterparts.”
Paul revealed that he can definitely relate to the story of “Incredibles 2” in many ways because “I grew up in a family where my both of parents worked long hours doing hero work. Consequently, as the eldest sibling, during my years in high school and college, I had to take on parental responsibilities to make sure my four younger brothers were taken care of in my parents’ absence. Much like Bob, I had to make sure that 'the kids' were picked up from school, finished their homework, there was dinner to be had, the dishes were washed, etc.”
If he had a super power, he confessed he would love to have the ability to manipulate time. He would probably manipulate it so he would have time to go back to the Philippines and visit Tagaytay, one of his favorites to visit when in the country.
He confessed, “The surroundings are beautiful and lush with vegetation. It’s definitely a refreshing place to be to beat the heat, and to get away from the busy city life. Taal Volcano, a volcanic island in the middle of Lake Taal, is a popular destination to visit and reminds me of Nomanisan Island (from the ‘The Incredibles’).” — LA, GMA News