“She has this gracefulness and elegance in the way
she moves which you’d expect in a technically advanced robot.”
~ Angus MacLane, Directing Animator
Animating EVE also posed its share of challenges for the group. With only two blinking eyes and four moving parts, she required a lot of advanced thought and just the right subtle movement. Designed to look like a futuristic robot, EVE is the epitome of elegance and simplicity.
“We wanted her to be graceful,” says Stanton. “There are different ways to convey what is masculine and what is feminine in this world and we felt that she should be fluid, seamless, she should have attractive feminine qualities.”
MacLane explains, “While WALL•E’s movements are more traditional with motors, gears and cogs, EVE is this sleek egg-shaped robot who moves through the use of magnets. Every frame and composition has to be cheated ever so slightly so that it’s pleasing to the eye. She has this gracefulness and elegance in the way she moves which you’d expect in a technically advanced robot.”
Hunter adds, “Every plane change, every angle, and even the way her head curved around to the back when rotated had to be posed in a certain way to make it feel right. Everything with her had to be really, really subtle. Basically, she consists of only four parts, and two eyes that blink. We had a lot of discussions about how she would move using her arms. We treated her almost like a drawing in some ways and came up with just the right poses to express emotion. It’s pretty amazing how much you really read into her.”
In addition to some of the other main robot characters – Auto, M-O, the reject bots, among others – the character design team created a catalogue of robots and crowds of up to 10,000 humans to populate the Axiom. A modular robot system was devised using a series of different robot heads that could be combined with a variety of arms and bodies. Painted various colors and otherwise differentiated, countless robots were created.
Co-producer Collins notes, “We created a library of characters with interchangeable parts so that we could do a build-a-bot program. We could choose from different kinds of treads and arms. You could swap them to create different silhouettes and characters. We had close to a hundred variations and about 25 different basic silhouettes that we could mix and match to make the world seem fuller.”
MacLane credits Stanton with inspiring the animators to do their best work. “What makes Andrew such a successful director,” says MacLane, “is his ability to see the film in its entirety at all times. He’s able to zero in on what you’re working on and suggest how to make it better for the sequence. His sense of story is so strong and he knows how to communicate that to the animators. He likened good storytelling to telling a joke. He’s ultimately trying to tell a really good joke over a period of nearly 90 minutes. We have all these building blocks that evoke emotions and he’s trying to figure out the best way to tell it. Our job in animation is to make sure we’re communicating clearly to the audience and that it supports his ideas for the story.”
Stanton sums up his appreciation for the animators on the film. “They were just such champions of this movie, and they really loved the concept, and particularly the challenges and the limitations that we had put upon ourselves for designing all the characters the way we did. They got it from the very beginning.”