Gilberto Sits Down With PIXAR Animator Gini Santos To Talk Some COCO

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By Gilberto Campa

Besides the usual screener or the occasional sports prediction, today I got the chance of a lifetime to meet one of the people responsible for some of the movies that we have all grown up with and loved for a long time. Gini Santos is one of the supervising animators for Pixar and has been with the company since 1996, meaning that she has had a big part in the expansion and growth of Pixar up to this point. Some of the movies that she has worked on include “Toy Story 2”, “A Bug’s Life”, “Monster’s Inc.”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille” and “Up”, just to name a few. Before she started at Pixar she was an art director at “Bush & Bishop Advertising” where she was responsible for designing everything from ad’s to logo’s and brochures which gave her a lot of different ways to utilize her drawing skills and talents.

Seeing her explain the process of how they create the magical Pixar movies with the type of passion and attention to detail really shows why she loves what she does. Fortunate for us we got to all have a special look at the upcoming Pixar movie, “Coco” which is coming out on Thanksgiving Day, the story surrounds a young boy living in Mexico who dreams of being a musician, all set to the background of the Day of the Dead and also centers on the importance of family.  It was more than just a look; Gini presented us with the overall story and process that they used to animate the film which is different this time around since a majority of the characters are skulls. She was explaining how Pixar has the anatomy, look and feel of a human character down pact, along with animals and other creatures and characters that we have seen in Pixar movies prior, but animating skulls and showing their expressions only using eyeballs and the eyelids shows just how much work and effort goes into these kind of movies. Even though the movie is being released this year, it has been in production since 2012 which goes hand in hand with the process that Pixar has with all of their films. It’s the attention to detail and the authenticity that separates Pixar from other animation studios, like a majority of the other films it also comes down to the characters. She mentioned that on some of the character designs they had personal input from some of the Latino animators who suggested that they animate and present the characters in the movie in a more authentic way based of their own life experiences. That’s what Gini mentioned as the driving force behind the movies that they help create; if the character does not interest you then the story will not hold up.

I was also lucky enough to ask her a question during this presentation that was in a very intimate setting so it was a very friendly and open conversation. I asked Gini “what is the best part about working for Pixar”? And her response really told me a lot about Pixar and why they have been so successful, “They are still very much director driven and very open to ideas and thinking outside of the box even with all of the success that we have had so far”. She is also excited with “Coco” because it’s a new, fresh and original story that gives them such more creative freedom and ingenuity compared to the sequels or continuations that they have been making lately (besides a few).

Overall it looks like “Coco” is going to be another successful movie for Pixar and Disney just based off the clips and the story that it’s going to tell, and I hope that they continue to create more original stories with the attention to detail that is known with Pixar. And it was an absolute privilege and pleasure to meet Gini Santos and to get an insight into the process of Pixar and all of the magic that they continue to create.