Bringing the Magic to the Magic Kingdom
As Disney continues to evolve their brand, expand their parks around the globe, and integrate their latest stories and characters into these classic experiences, they have turned repeatedly to Mirada to help realize their ambitions, and turn these dreams into magical reality...
Rediscovering the Happiest Place on Earth from Bold New Perspectives
When it came time to announce the largest park expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom, Disney once again turned to the team at Mirada.
The vision was to introduce Disney’s New Fantasyland to the world across mediums—including a film, an online experience, and print—illuminating the park’s magic by making each viewer the hero of a storybook journey. Mirada saw it as the ultimate merging of reality and fantasy, of live-action and animation. The goal was to make audiences feel they’d been magically transported to the park, steeped in the excitement inside – exploring its incredible destinations first hand.
THE ONLINE EXPERIENCE
Working with Disney and North Kingdom to create the online experience, Mirada set out to turn audiences loose in a heightened first-person storybook adventure – inspiring them to become part of New Fantasyland and discover the legend behind it.
Disney’s animation style and aesthetic informed each aspect of Mirada’s approach – which was built on a philosophy of balancing advanced CG and beautiful stylized photorealism.
From this foundation, the team built an experiential world—a recreation of Fantasyland crafted from 3D CG—using the park’s actual architectural CAD geometry as a road map to ensure authenticity. Likewise, the team relied on tried-and-true previz techniques to help plot the journey, establish camera blockings—which included two distinct camera views (i.e., the 180-360 degree First Person View and overhead Fairy View)—along with timings and transitions.
Animation and texture shading were developed to provide a heightened storybook visual quality that highlights all the beautiful features and details of the park, and the unforgettable characters that inhabit it. Every frame was carefully considered in this respect – full of the thousands of tiny-yet-crucial details that reveal a different facet of the Disney experience, and help make guests feel like they’re immersed in the worlds of their favorite fairytales. Most frames, for instance, have a hidden Mickey somewhere or another, embedded in the background for sharp-eyed viewers to spot. The result is a deeply engaging experience that—whether they’re exploring the park for the first time, or returning to revisit their favorite parts from home—always offers visitors something new.
To explore the interactive magic of New Fantasyland, visit the Finding Fantasyland website:
When it came to revealing New Fantasyland in print—to be featured on billboards, web pages, posters, and online venues—Mirada drew from signature moments seen in the film and interactive experience to create iconic images.
For Mirada artists, the goal was to honor the classic Disney iconography in a series of images that encapsulated the experience of New Fantasyland. Specific hero frames included Beast’s Castle, Gaston's Fountain in Belle's Village, and Maurice's Cottage—each from Beauty and the Beast—along with Prince Eric's Castle from the Little Mermaid, the Storybook Circus from Dumbo, and a hero bird’s-eye-view encompassing the entirety of New Fantasyland.
Drawing on the wealth of visuals created for both the film and the interactive experience—including the epic CG park flythroughs—Mirada print designers used a vast array of 3D elements and passes to provide a layered foundation upon which the final print images were built.
From there, every aspect of these individual frames was created from scratch – first sculpted in Maya and Zbrush, then meticulously painted in Mari. The layout, lighting, and rendering was done in Maya 2012, and rendered in vRay. Next, these rendered images were composited in Nuke as a base and Photoshop delicately painted in the final details. This level of painstaking layering and attention to detail contributed to print images that resonate with everything we love about Disney – every image finely iconic and pristine; each its own idealized, emotional portrait of wonder contained within the park.
WORLD OF COLOR
To unveil the new World of Color nighttime prismatic water spectacle, Disney—along with Mcgarrybowen—reached out to Mirada.
Directed by Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone, World of Color channels The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the 1940 animated classic Fantasia; here, the mischievous, wizard-cloaked Mickey Mouse magically unleashes a kaleidoscopic explosion of water with his magic wand. At first he tries to stomp out the initial little spurts of colored water, like leaks in a boat hull, but the water show takes over, instantly escalating into its full effect. Mickey revels in the event, and literally conducts the symphony of luminous dancing liquid with his magic color-life-giving wand/baton. Classic Disney characters emerge from the dazzling fountains of colored water and light, miraculously forming into flowing liquid shapes that move with the animation and music.
The World of Color production spanned February through June, 2010. The visual effects teams were charged with conceptualizing and designing the story for all animations – including directing Mickey's animation with lead animator Tony Bancroft from Duck Studios, and depicting Pixar characters in 3D water form. To re-create the characters as liquid entities, and have them interact with the elaborate 3D water fountains and environments, the team rendered over 150 fluid and volumetric mist elements with cutting-edge beta software to produce a massive amount of 3D fluid simulations. The resulting scenes were a complex mixture of 3D water effects, background mist projection screens, and real fountains of water that shot 150-200 feet into the air.
Cullen and Leone approached the blocking and design of the animation with a live-action sensibility wherein the camera angles, lensing, and movement would highlight both Mickey's personality and the epic scale of the water spectacle. Led by Andrew Ashton, he compositing team integrated 2D and 3D elements, synthesizing the best of both mediums in a way that allowed them to shine together in perfect harmony.
The World of Color film was an exercise in overcoming the challenges of integrating traditional 2D animated characters into a photo-real 3D world. The key was striking that unique balance—finding that critical space where the two styles could coexist aesthetically—while retaining the fantasy edge that makes the Disney brand so magical. Mirada pushed the boundaries of CG fluid simulation technology to meet these challenges.
To celebrate the incorporation of Pixar characters into Disneyland Paris, Disney partnered once more with Mirada to show the arrival—literally—of these new characters at the Parisian Magic Kingdom. This was the first time classic Disney characters and Pixar characters had ever been seen together on film.
Directed by Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone—the same filmmakers’ who helmed World of Color—“Parachutes” shows Pixar characters parachuting out of the 'Dinoco' helicopter from Cars, down into Disneyland Paris, where they "introduce" themselves to their new Disney friends...in familiar dynamic Pixar fashion...
The sudden mass descent/arrival includes Sully from Monsters, Inc. crash- landing through the thatched roof of the Seven Dwarves’ idyllic cottage, happily surprising Snow White and the Dwarves, frightening off the Evil Witch lurking outside, and scaring the heck out of himself. Lightning McQueen from Cars races through the streets of Disneyland and screeches to a stop right beside Cinderella's royal pumpkin carriage. Buzz Lightyear flies past Donald Duck, inches from his face, as Donald screams down a rollercoaster. And the grand finale brings this new Pixar family together with Mickey and his troupe in a magnificent parade down the center of Disneyland Paris' iconic Main Street, trumpeting the arrival of the new characters.
Cullen and Leone wanted to capture as much of the adventure in camera as possible, so all the animated characters, new and old, would integrate perfectly and naturally into the live-action world. The spot was shot over four days at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and combines live-action, 2D, and 3D animation, with beautiful, subtle visual effects.
The project was a collaborative effort between multiple studios. Cullen and Leone shot all the live-action, and Mirada artists—led by Danny Zobrist, the project's CG/Animation Supervisor and Character Lead—handled character previz, CG environments, 3D elements, and compositing. Mirada also worked with Disney's Duck Studios to craft hand drawn 2D cel animation for Disney characters, and with Pixar/Pencil Test Studios to animate Buzz and Woody. The result was a magical, seamless bonding—a joyous collision, of sorts—between the classic Disney ensemble and the new Pixar crew.