Filed under: Movies
The latest animation film from Walt Disney pictures is BOLT. This is a story of a very special Dog named “Bolt” (voice of JOHN TRAVOLTA), his every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue.When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood sound stage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet—a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (voice of MILEY CYRUS).
Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions—a jaded, abandoned house cat named Mittens (voice of SUSIE ESSMAN) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voice of MARK WALTON) — Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero.
FUN FACTS ABOUT “BOLT”:
Every Dog Has His Day…
- There are a total of 28 sequences in the film comprised of 131,738 frames and1,239 shots. 110 terabytes of data are active at any second in the production.
- An animator can animate 3 seconds of animation in one week (on average).
- It takes 4-5 months to get one shot all the way through production – from layout to animation to lighting (a shot averages 4 seconds in length on “Bolt”).
- The versatile actor John Travolta is the English voice of Bolt.
- “Bolt” serves as the directorial debut for both Chris Williams and Byron Howard.
- The design for the main character Bolt was loosely inspired by the American White Shepherd.
- While making “Bolt,” director Chris Williams also directed his first short film, the film festival hit “Glago’s Guest.”
- Director Byron Howard relocated from Orlando, Florida to Los Angeles, California, to work on Bolt.
- John Travolta, English-language voice of Bolt, is a licensed pilot.
- Producer Clark Spencer has one dog, named Buda, as in the capital city of Hungary– Budapest.
Here, Kitty, Kitty…
- The English voice of Mittens is native New Yorker Susie Essman. Other New York voices are also utilized to add authenticity to the city’s inhabitants (human, animal and bird).
- Mittens, the street-wise alley cat, was originally called Mr. Mittens, because her owners never took the time to figure out if she was a boy or a girl.
- The hamster Rhino is named after the head of story’s cat.
- Director Chris Williams has one cat, named after a rap star.
- Director Byron Howard has four pet cats.
- Directors did not imagine the character of Penny with a Southern accent. But as Miley Cyrus began laying down tracks where Penny is playing with Bolt, her lovely drawl came through—as Miley imagined herself playing with her own dog, she spoke as she would at home. But when Penny is starring in the Bolt television show,
- Miley was directed to record without the accent… providing a wonderful distinction between Penny, the actress on the TV show, and Penny, the girl after the director calls cut.
- John Travolta brings his natural unbridled enthusiasm and sweetness to the character Bolt, which the directors used to their advantage. John’s warmth and his contagious laugh were put to good use in the scenes where Bolt begins to learn what it is to be a real dog, without television cameras rolling. Travolta’s vocal performance even motivated the animators in their acting choices for Bolt, to exploit John’s vocal talents to the fullest. The result is a classic Travolta performance—reminiscent of such films as “Michael” and “Wild Hogs”—where the character’s tough exterior masks a sweet and vulnerable soul.
- The character design for Mittens didn’t happen overnight—in fact, it took character designers and filmmakers approximately eight months to come up with her final “look.” The choice of a black and white coat was not the question—it was how to balance her scruff (from her hardscrabble life on the streets of New York) with patches of smoother fur from all camera angles.
- Animator Mark Walton provides the English-language voice of the TV-obsessed hamster Rhino. Mark’s voice was originally recorded as ‘scratch,’ or temporary, but once everyone heard how perfectly it fit with the character, he became official. (They let him know he’d been ‘hired’ by setting up a mock recording session, with the last line of the script being “…and Mark Walton is the voice of Rhino!”)
- “Bolt” production offices are designated ‘work zones,’ but this doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Things one will find in the offices: a cereal bar; a photo gallery of babies born during production; a photo gallery of production pets (the “other” babies!); plenty of comfy couches and chairs for unwinding at the end of a long, long day.
- The production actually has a pet hamster named Doink! who has become a beloved crew member and is observed as reference for the animators.
- Rhino, the hamster, was originally supposed to be a rat. During the initial story retreat to develop the idea for the film, Rhino was morphed into a hamster riding inside a plastic ball.
- Jenny Lewis, who wrote the traveling montage song, “Barking at the Moon,” was so inspired by a pitch of the story that she wrote the song in one night.
- Director Byron Howard served as the supervising animator for the character Cobra Bubbles in “Lilo & Stitch.”
- Director Byron Howard was the supervising animator for the character of Kenai in “Brother Bear.”
- Producer Clark Spencer started his career with The Walt Disney Company in the finance department. Spencer had his first opportunity to produce a Disney Feature Animated film with the hit “Lilo & Stitch.”
About Those Humans
- Both directors Williams and Howard—along with supervising animators—allowed their beards to grow while animating “Bolt,” and shaved them off after the last official day of animation on Friday, August 15. (Well, some cheated a bit and trimmed theirs before the official shearing—wives and girlfriends figured into those style decisions…)
- As animation progressed, every minute detail was examined by the directors in a screening room process called “Sweatbox,” where requested changes were re-examined and either approved (with a healthy round of applause from all!) or sent back for further tweaking (in the nicest way possible, of course!).
- To get a feel for the locations where Bolt and his entourage would be traveling, art director Paul Felix, director of lighting and look Adolph Lusinsky and others packed it up and hit the road. After exploring New York City (Bolt’s first inadvertent destination), the group drove to towns, trailer parks and campgrounds in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, scouting for local detail to add believability to Bolt’s cross-country journey. (One example: the indigenous wildflower called Queen Anne’s Lace—or
- Daucus carota—dots the Midwestern roadside…and now, the roadside in “Bolt”!) They also paid a visit to Las Vegas to get reference for back alleys and desert landscapes.
- Even though “Bolt” is a state-of-the-art, CG-animated film, head of story Nathan Greno and the storyboarding team utilized classic hand-drawn story boards (some on paper, some in the computer) to plot the scene-by-scene action of “Bolt.” In fact, Greno sketches everything—he likes the tactile quality of pencils against paper.
- Director Chris Williams is a huge fan of the popular American soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which stars Ronn Moss, who provides the English-language voice for the TV show emergency room doctor in the film.
- The voice of the villain in the film, Dr. Calico, is provided by esteemed British actor Malcolm McDowell.
- Director Byron Howard was born on Misawa U.S. Air Force Base in Japan, and later went to school to study live-action filmmaking…but rediscovered his childhood love of animation after seeing “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “The Little Mermaid.”
- Director Chris Williams has always wanted to use ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage’s voice in a feature- animated film. “Bolt” marks his animated acting debut—he voices one of Dr. Calico’s henchmen.
- Director Byron Howard’s first job with The Walt Disney Company was as a show host for ‘The Little Mermaid Stage Show’ at the Disney MGM Studios.
- Director Chris Williams is the tallest of the two directors; cuts his own hair; joined The Walt Disney Company in 1994; and attended Sheridan College in Canada.
- Director Byron Howard is less tall than Williams; pays someone to cut his hair; joined The Walt Disney Company in 1994; and attended Evergreen State College in Washington.
- John Powell, the composer for the film, also wrote the scores for the films in the “Bourne” franchise.
- The original story retreat, where “Bolt” was developed, took place in Sonoma, California.
- The creative journey began with the desire to evoke the painterly style of classic Disney Animated Features and American painters such as Edward Hopper,
- George Bellows and other Ashcan School Artists from the early 20th century whose diverse subjects-lonely main streets, diners and roadside gas stations, seafront house–also epitomized a spirit of Americana that supported the cross-country adventure. To achieve a world of painterly qualities that is also believable, proprietary software was developed (and several patents are pending). Director Chris Williams became a first-time father during the making of “Bolt.”
- Throughout production, each member of the crew working on “Bolt” would pin pictures of their pet in the “Production Pets Gallery,” right across from the “Crew Babies Gallery,” showing pictures of artists’ babies born during production. Over the course of the production, 37 crew members had babies.
- The second floor of the Disney Animation building is the designated production floor—all films in active production are housed there. During the building’s recent re-design under John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, Principal Creative Advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering), several of the offices in the center of the floor were taken out and replaced with an open meeting area known as the Caffeine Patch. The Patch is basically an espresso bar and town square, which typifies the free-flowing exchange of ideas at the heart of the Company.