Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pinoys @ Pixar and Disney

If you are Filipino, don’t you ever wonder how it seems like every Pixar (or Disney) Animated Film feels so close to your heart? Most times you might feel like it's something you may have grew up watching. And it could feel so ordinary, you might think you are watching a local Filipino film.

Well stop wondering, this is all maybe because behind every one of these films, behind every lovable character, behind every setting, behind every facial expression, and behind every little nuisance is a Filipino (or Filipina).

The PixNoys

Yes Virginia, there are a lot of Filipinos working at Pixar Animation Studios (and Disney) and other Hollywood Animation Studies. At Pixar, they are even called by their moniker, the “Pixnoys” (short for Pixar Pinoys).

Let’s meet a few of them:

Virginia "Gini" Cruz Santos

Gini is a Filipina animator involved in a ton of Pixar films.

In “Toy Story 2” (1999), she did Woody and Jesse the Cowgirl (as an Animator).

In “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) she animated Sulley and Mike, (Layout Artist, Animator and Character Developer).

In “Finding Nemo” (2003) she made Dory come amazingly alive (Animator).

In “The Incredibles” (2004), she worked on Helen (Elastigirl), Dash, Violet, Frozone and Edna Mode, (Animator).

She also did animation for these popular animated films: “A Bug's Life”, “Cars”, “Toy Story 3”, “Up”, “Lifted”, “Brave” and “Wall-E”

She is probably well known for her portrayal of the family members of “The Incredibles” and of the lovable character of Dory in “Finding Nemo”.

Gini stated in an old interview that she injected the Filipino sense of humor and facial expressions, particularly for the character of Dory, which in Tagalog can only be described as “mali-mali”.

Gini finished Fine Arts, Majoring in Advertising from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Computer Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

All the other Pixnoys have said that their natural sense of humor and willingness in story telling was fully demonstrated and made a strong impact in many Pixar films especially that of  Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) ,The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006) , Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), and Up (2009).
The Incredibles

Pixar (Disney) Filipino Trivia
  •  Nelson Bohol added a “bahay kubo” (a native Filipino hut) to an aquarium in one of the scenes of “Finding Nemo”.
  • Nelson also added a miniature volcano inside the aquarium which was inspired by the Philippines’ arguably most well-known volcano, Mt. Mayon.
  •  The name used for the fisherman in “Finding Nemo” is P. Sherman. “Pee-Sher-man” is how a typical Filipino would actually pronounce the word “fisherman”. The Filipino language does not include the letter F.
  • Monsters University’s library is called the “Bohol Hall”, of course it was named after Filipino Nelson Bohol who designed it.
  • In “The Incredible”, there is an island called “Nomanisan Island”. Only a Filipino would come up with and actually use a name like that. Get it? “No-man-is-an Island”.
  • It seems suspicious that the baby in “The Incredibles” is named Jack-Jack. Filipino nicknames and terms of endearment are normally single syllabled and repeated.
  • In much the same way, it is a bit odd that the dog in “Up” is named Dug. It isn’t a coincidence that certain Filipinos from the Southern and Middle part of the Philippines would actually pronounce dog as dug. And yes dogs normally dig up dirt.

Ronaldo “Ronnie” Del Carmen

Ronnie has worked in various capacities for Pixar, among them as Story Artist, Story Supervisor, Character Designer, Illustrator and of course as all around pest (his own words).

Before Pixar, he worked at Dreamworks and Warner Bros.

His films include:

The Inside Out (2015) (Co-director), Dug's Special Mission (2009) (Director/writer), Up (2009) (Story Supervisor), Wall-E (2008) (Story/Character Design), Ratatouille (2006) (Story), One Man Band (2005) (Production Design), Finding Nemo (2003) (Story Supervisor), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) (Story Supervisor), Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) (Storyboard), The Road to El Dorado (2000) (Story Supervisor), The Prince of Egypt (1998) (Story), Freakazoid! (1995) (Director), Batman: The Animated Series (1991 to 95) (Storyboard, Character Design)

Ronnie was born in the Philippines in 1959 and graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts. Incidentally he has two other brothers who also work in animation --  Louie, a Story Artist at DreamWorks Animation and Rick who works as a Storyboard Artist and Assistant Director at Fox Animation.

Dug's Special Mission (2009)
Pixar Short CGI Film  Directed by Ronnie Del Carmen

Ricky Vega Nierva

Ricky Nierva's been working for Pixar for a long time. On one of his new films "Up" where he was the Production Designer, he introduced Pixar's first major Asian-American character -- Russell, the wilderness explorer.  Pixar casted an Asian kid to play Russell.

Among his Pixar credits are : "Toy Story 2" (1999), "Monsters, Inc. (2001)", "Finding Nemo (2003) and "Up" (2009).

Ricky was born in the United States to Filipino parents from Camarines Sur. He graduated from the Cal Arts in Valencia, California. 

Nelson "Rey" Bohol

Nelson has a long list of films he was involved in including "Monsters University" (2013), "Toy Story of Terror" (2013 TV Short), "Brave" (2012), "Wall·E" (2008), "Ratatouille" (2007) and "Cars" (2006).

In fact, he has over 31 films credited to him by the IMDb website.

Several Filipino Pixar bits of trivia is attributed to Bohol. It might not be coincidental because he probably may be one the biggest Filipino names in Pixar today, and having worked there the longest wouldn't hurt.

He designed the idyllic town of Radiator Springs in the movie "Cars" and have worked in many past animated favorites such as several "Rugrats" films, "Anastasia" and "Titan A.E."

Chris Chua

Chris is a young Filipino American animator who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2-D Animation from Cal Arts. , explained the look of “Wall-E,” which is unlike other Pixar movies: It is monochromatic at times and has almost no dialogue in some scenes—an animator’s dream, or nightmare.

Chris was born in Manila to a Chinese father (William Chua) and a half-Filipino mother (Juliet), and finally moved to the United States at a young age.

His other work include animations in the Dreamworks’ films: “Sinbad”, “Shark Tale” and “Flushed Away”.

Other Filipino Animators Include:

Ruben Aquino, a Filipino who worked at Disney as Art Director, Animator and Supervising Animator.

His animated credits include Dr. Dawson (The Great Mouse Detective, 1986), Fagin (Oliver & Company, 1987), Ursula (The Little Mermaid, 1989), Maurice (Beauty and the Beast, 1991), Mc Leach (The Rescuers Down Under, 1992), Adult Simba (The Lion King, 1995), Powahatan (Pocahontas, 1996), Li Shang, Fa Li (of Mulan, 1998), and Pacha (Kingdom of the Sun, 2000).

His filmography includes, Tarzan (1999), Fantasia (2000), Lilo and Stich (2002), Brother Bear (2003) and Meet the Robinsons (2000).

He won an award at the 6th Annual International Animated Society’s Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation of Shang (in Mulan, 1998).

Mars Cabrera is an Animator, Layout Artist and Storyboard Artist in Vancouver, Canada. Among the companies he worked for were Wildbrain, Dreamworks TV, Walt Disney TV, Hahn Film, Nelvana and Cinar. He was a two-time daytime Emmy winner for his work on “Arthur” the TV series.
His filmography includes: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Silverwing”, “Joseph, King of Dreams”, “Sabrina” the TV series, “The Mask” and “Pirates of Dark Water”.
He is a graduate of Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas.

Ralph Fernan is an Animator at Walt Disney’s and is the Filipino behind Chicken Little. His filmography includes: “The Pagemaster”, “Once Upon a Forest”, “Quest for Camelot” (1998), “The Iron Giant” (1999), “The Tigger Movie” (2000), “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” (2000), “Eight Crazy Nights” (2002) and “Chicken Little” (2005).

Ralph is a Fine Arts graduate from the University of the East, Manila.

Armand Serrano is a Visual Development Artist at Sony Pictures Animation. He worked with Sony’s very first animated feature, “Surf’s Up” (2007).  He was also involved in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009) and “Open Season 2” (2009).

He previously worked at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios.
Armand’s film credits include “Mulan” (1998), Tarzan (1999), “Lilo & Stich” (2002), and “Brother Bear” (2003).

Armand finished Civil Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas.

Anthony Ocampo worked at Stargate Digital, a visual effects studio where he won a Visual Effects Society Award in Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Televised Program, Music Video or Commercial, for his Trojan horse work on the USA Network Productions special, “Helen of Troy”.

Anthony is a fine arts graduate from the University of the Philippines.

Among the Awards of Pixnoys Include:

For “Finding Nemo”

Ricky Nierva - Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production         

Gini Santos (nominated) - Outstanding Character Animation, The American Screenwriters Association

Gini Santos - Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture (for "Speaking Whale"), Visual Effects Society Awards

For “Cars”

Carlos Baena and Bobby Podesta (nominated) - Best Character Animation in a Feature

For “Ratatouille”
Pixar Won Best Animated Feature

For “Wall-E”

Ronaldo Del Carmen (nomintated) - Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production, Annie Awards

For “Monsters, Inc.”

Ricky Nierva - Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films

For “Monsters University”
Ricky Nierva (nominated) - Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Annie Awards

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