Ralph Breaks The Internet didn’t just magically appear in theaters. The film had teams of people working for years to make it something people would want to see. One of those teams members is a lively character himself with a story to match.
Jorge E. Ruiz Cano is from Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Maracay in the Caribbean. He is an animator that has spent almost a decade honing his craft all over the world before arriving at Disney.
You would never guess the years of grinding he went through by the constant ear-to-ear smile Ruiz Cano has. He originally started studying law in college, racking up debt before switching to join The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He worked multiple jobs as a waiter to front desk assistant to get by.
Meeting him in person is refreshing. He speaks his mind and expresses himself in a way that very few can. Ruiz Cano immediately gives you a sincere hug that makes you think “damn, I might have a long lost brother.”
He carries a laid-back attitude to match his untamed hair like he doesn’t have any problems. Don’t be fooled though, animating isn’t a game for him; it is life.
Ruiz Cano’s roots extend further than Disney as he has brought his touch to numerous major studios. In the gaming realm alone, this dude has geek cred from working at places Electronic Arts, Telltale and Activision.
The Ralph movies are heavily influenced by video game culture. Ruiz Cano’s experience of working at gaming studios gave him a dream project in mind, a Mario movie. He talks about the care that goes into Nintendo games from the way they look to how they control.
Do or die animating life
A big aspect Ruiz Cano likes about working at Disney is the amount of trust between everyone. “The only way to collaborate comfortably and healthily is to respect the people, otherwise you hesitate about delegating,” he said.
When working on a project for years, Ruiz believes there is no room for ego or the lack of passion. What he really thinks makes up great animators like those on his team is being an observer.
“Never make something because it’s cool and funny, it’s not enough,” he said. “Always find the why that character has that hat, the ‘why are you even creating this story’. If it means something to you and you’re genuine about it, it will show.
Ruiz Cano’s favorite piece of visual storytelling comes from 101 Dalmatians for its “amazing” design sensibilities. He says the design of the characters is “like fine art.”
It can be difficult to avoid becoming another cog in the machine at certain companies, especially with policies that strangle individuality. Ruiz Cano says Disney is one of the most accepting places he’s worked as they love people that bring different flavors.
“Disney made it very easy for me to become comfortable because they actually embraced who I was . . . [N]ot only do they embrace who I am, but they also celebrate who I am.”
Breaking technology on Ralph Breaks The Internet
Looking at the original Toy Story (1995) to a recent film like Coco(2017) it is easy to see the advancements made in CG animation. The production of Ralph Breaks The Internet has Ruiz Cano thinking back to his favorite and most challenging moments.
The giant Ralph monster made up of smaller Ralphs had my animator friends puzzled on how they did that. Ruiz Cano has some thoughts on bringing that spectacle on the team’s mind, come to life on screen.
“It’s procedural in certain parts but a lot of other parts we had to hand animate a lot of things, do another layer of love,” Ruiz Cano said. “The fact the (giant) Ralph was made and it looks that way is a miracle…it’s another step, another push in what we can make technological wise.”
For Ruiz Cano, the hardest part of making Ralph Breaks The Internet wasn’t the tech behind the animation, but making new characters. The way characters stand, walk and even blink is important to him as they let viewers know who they are before saying a thing.
This is one of the reasons his favorite scene to animate in the movie was the intro to Double Dan and Little Dan. A mobster from the Dark web that has a design made of nightmare fuel along with his cousin.
Ruiz Cano has some advice for aspiring animators and designers saying, “Apply everywhere. Life isn’t going to happen to you, you gotta make things happen.” Ruiz Cano attributes getting to where he his today from his experience at previous different places he worked.
Ruiz Cano references animators having the same tools but there is always that one who takes it to another level. He says they use the same tools to make something you could have never thought of by bringing their heritage and experience into the animation.
The Future of Animation and Beyond
Cycles is the first ever virtual reality short to come from Walt Disney and Ruiz Cano is very excited to be animation director for it.
Ruiz Cano says that every channel will have a VR component in the near future. He added that even his Ray-Bans will have VR. He went on to say that Disney and his team are betting on the future by working on these type of projects.
Cycles will follow Bert and Rae, telling the story of the people that lived in a house from the ’50’s to the present. A household has many stories in it from pictures to scratches on the wall and the team at Disney aim to take audiences on a new experience.
What did you think of Ralph Breaks The Internet? Have any favorite animations you love watching? Leave your comments! Like DHTG on FaceBook and use those fingers to follow me on Twitter @boxesvsbarrels