There are some animators I work with at Disney Animation that probably wouldn't sweat this shot too much if they were cast it. But this was a big deal for me. I came from a hand drawn animation background and lucky for me, was slowly integrated into the CG department at Disney over the course of a few films leading up to Moana which included Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia. I was never trusted with an epic shot like this haha, until Moana! It was a dream of mine to get an opportunity like this so when it finally was cast to me, my heart was equally thrilled as it was terrified! I wanted to tackle important shots to prove to myself that I could do it. In an environment like Disney, there are so many great animators that sometimes one could convince themselves that there would always be someone else to take on the EPIC shots. I was amazed to get this shot and excited to get started!
It changed so much from where we started. The camera was totally different until the sequence supervisor Daniel Klug came up with an amazing camera animation inspired by Michael Bay - the all that background spinning glory! It was awesome to see this shot develop through the back and forth between animators, supervisors and the directors John Musker and Ron Clements.
I took a bunch of reference of me hugging people. Running into people and hugging them! Over and over and over again! Some of the reference footage was taken and stored somewhere and I will undoubtedly see it pop up one day to embarrass me!
The shot took about a month or maybe even longer to animate. It was a beast! by the time I finished it, I was running on fumes. We were nearing the end of production on Moana. Once I finished this shot, the coast was relatively clear from that point on til the end of the show. Smaller shots were needed to animate which in comparison to this one, seemed like a cake walk! I loved working on this shot and will never forget the lessons I learned. Although, I still look at this shot with a very critical eye and wish I could go back and continue tweaking it more!