Disney's Encanto has a CG secret (and it's kinda freaky)

Encanto; a close up of a girl holding glowing green crystals
(Image credit: Disney)

With every new CG animated movie new tricks are used to bring scenes to life, and this includes Disney's Encanto. Some of these techniques can be through advances in technology, but one shot in Disney's Encanto used a more practical approach.

Disney's Encanto was seen as a box-office flop when it released but found a place on Disney+ where it became the streaming platform's most-watched movie in 2022, with an estimated 269 million views. That's kind of surprising, but what has really shocked me is seeing how one shot was created – it's quite freaky.

Animator Tony Bonilla, who has worked on animated movies such as Moana and Zootopia, took us behind the curtain on how one shot from Encanto was made as he revealed the process on Twitter. "A little behind the camera peek at one of my shots on Encanto," he wrote, sharing the image below.

Encanto; a CG rendered character with stretched arms

(Image credit: Disney)

There's a common belief that because CG movies use rendered character models that they are always anatomically correct, when in fact animators will bend the rules to get the shot a director demands. (There also often a confusion between VFX vs CG.)

"The director went for an emotional feel that went beyond what they could do physically," explains Bonilla. To get the shot the characters arms are broken and extended, creating a fake depth of field in camera.

The animator made himself available to answer questions on Twitter and gave insightful answers to many people who want to make it as animators. "The camera choice was made by the layout artist and directors. I made my animation work with the camera choice," he wrote (there's a list of design choices he made below). 

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I love that Tony Bonilla was so engaged with people on Twitter, many of whom are animators in the making. The shot is unexpected and shows how animating CG movies is a continuous process of creative choices and problem solving. The solution to gain the right focal length in this shot is also used in films, with hands close to the camera and the actor far away often done using fake hands on a stick.

If you want to learn more, take a look at our feature on the 10 best animation tips and tricks and but also don't forget the basics, such as learning Disney's 12 principles of animation

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Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & Design

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.