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Fun Facts About Pixar Coco Skeletons

By October 04, 2017 ,

When I first saw the Disney*Pixar COCO trailer, one thing that stuck out to me Miguel's skeleton family (and the other land of the dead skeletons). They looked and acted just like real people. Except you know, they had bones. LOL.

While the skeletons looked great in the trailer, turns out animating them wasn't so easy.

Note: Disney and Pixar invited me on this all expense paid trip for the Disney*Pixar COCO Event. While I will share different events and activities during the trip, any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

As part of my #PixarCocoEvent trip to San Francisco, I had the chance to meet the team behind the animated skeletons: Daniel Arriaga (Character Art Director), Gini Santos (Supervising Animator), Byron Bashforth (Character Shading Lead) and Emron Grover, who each shared their role in bringing skeletons ALIVE.

A few behind the scene facts they shared:

This was the first time that Pixar has animated skeletons. While skeletons was some of the hardest characters they had to create, after much research they found ways to bring skeletons to life for Disney*Pixar COCO.

To get the anatomy correct, they studied skulls and skeletons bodies. They wanted to try and find the appeal and to get different characteristics for each one. They also studied how cloth and clothing would fit on a skeletons.

For the animation of the face, they didn't want the face to be scary or creepy. They wanted clear expression so the audience would understand each character emotions. Having skeletons was a challenge since there's no "face" to show the range of emotions.

A work around was to have "eye balls and eye lids". Adding shape in those area helped to amply the expressions for the character. They also added lips to have clear "mouth" shape and dialogue.

They had to come up with rules and guidelines to give the skeletons expressions, emotions and personality. They start with a "rig", a 3D model that has controls to figure out how the skeletons would walk and move, how the spine moved against the ribs, etc

The directors watched a lot of movement "tests" to see if the personality and behavior of each skeleton was coming through. They loved seeing the tests the animators would bring. It would add more ideas about each skeleton character.

The Hector skeleton walk was inspired by a character named "Ratso" (played by Dustin Hoffman) in the movie Midnight Cowboy. Ratso limp was an injury that healed over and became a part of this walk. But it symbolized his broken-ish as a character and the animators really liked that detail. So they wanted that as a part of this character.

After watching a preview of some of the film, I can honestly say they did a great job adding life to the skeletons! They are one of my favorite things about Disney*Pixar COCO.

Can't wait to see the finished film when it opens in theaters.


Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt).

Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”).

To learn more, visit - www.movies.disney.com/COCO

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PixarCoco
Twitter: www.twitter.com/pixarcoco
Instagram: www.instagram.com/pixarcoco

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