One Day at Blue Sky Studios with the Ice Age Collision Course Team (SO COOL!)

A few months ago, we were invited to a tour of Blue Sky Studios, the location where the animated movie Ice Age is made. This is the only animated studio on the east coast, located in Connecticut, about 30 minutes from NYC. The studio is equipped with top of the line technology in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. There is a complete section where the lights are turned off; the concept is that the darkness soothes the eyes for those who work all day with graphics and 3D imaging.

During our time on-site, we were given a first look at the newest edition in the Ice Age series, Collision Course. At this point, it had not been fully edited so we were only able to see a handful of scenes. After each scene, the director, writers, producers and designers were able to answer questions and show us how the scenes were created and the technology they used to do it. It was the first time we had ever seen how an animated film gets made and we thought it was incredible. Even better, we realized that there was an abundance of Latinos working on this project which made us very proud.

After the preview, we sat with the artists in charge of designing the animated characters. They talked to us about the creative process and how some of them spend hours watching cartoons to get inspired. They have an unmatched passion for what they do and seem to love coming to work each day.

So how do they do it? Great question! It is an exhaustive process focused on precision, creativity and fun, all of which are reflected by the team.

The first step in the process passes through the art team where the entire film layout begins. The characters, the set and even the lighting of the film is planned from the outset before it is passed on to consequent phases.

Once planning is complete, the sculpting team gets their shot at bringing a 3D replica of the characters to life. Some of the models are handcrafted while others go through a 3D printing process. You can find the grayscale figurines throughout the studio.

With the carefully designed characters and setting complete, the story team takes control to make the film’s vision a reality. This includes putting a bit of their own personalities into the quirky nature of each character.

Now with personality, the characters must have the anatomy to visually reflect their rambunctious attitude. This is where the character development team comes in. They are a group of diehards! They have been known to even study how llamas move in the wild. CRAZY (but COOL)!

We then take a journey into the real vs cartoon spectrum for which Ice Age falls somewhere in the middle. This part of the process looks to strike a balance between an animated saga and real life. Extensive research is done once again, analyzing real-life materials using photographs as reference points to go back to later.

Now the team is ready to make these bad boys shake, rattle and roll through the animation team’s ingenuity. The team is made up of nearly 80 members that work tirelessly to get perfection out of the characters. Some spend as long as 3 months on just one sequence! WOW!

What is a feature film with our great special effects? The FX team now rolls up its sleeves and gets to work. In reality movies, these teams are usually limited to the surroundings where the movie is shot. Not so for our friends at Blue Sky. The team tries its best to make the special effects match the message of the movie. You can feel their work throughout the movie as each aspect makes you feel like the apocalypse is nearer.

We then venture over to the Stereoscopic team to get, first, a definition of what stereoscopic means and then watch as each scene from the film is set up on storyboards to for its 3D transformation. The stereo team, as they have been known to be called, is in place to make sure that the 3D integration evokes strong emotions from the audience.

After all is said and done, the compilation of this hard work goes to edit and finishing to provide you with the final product. We had a blast with our friends at Blue Sky Studios and enjoyed learning about how animation is brought to life. Make sure you check out Ice Age Collision Course in theaters now (if you haven’t already).