When Finding Dory opens nationwide on June 17, audiences will meet a new, lovable Pixar character that is sure to become a quick fan favorite. Hank the octopus becomes Dory’s traveling companion and is a scene stealer with his plentiful suction cups, dry wit and fast thinking. To celebrate the fact that Hank is actually a“septopus” (an octopus with seven legs), I thought it would be fun to provide you with seven fun facts about this character.
1. Pixar artists did not have a lot of experience (any, really) drawing octopuses, so they had to research the species. They looked at the different types, the way the camoflauge themselves into their environment and other biological and physical attributes that make them unique. According to Jason Deamer, Character Art Director for Finding Dory, he looked for things about the species that would be both appealing and off-putting to inform how he come up with the Hank concept art. He says that nature is far more interesting than he ever would be if he just put paper to pencil.
2. When designers were working on Hank, they created tapered tentacles for the cephalopod. The tentacles were modeled separately from the body, but when they tried to attach them, only seven would fit. Filmmakers later decided that it made sense that Hank would have an affliction, so they worked it into the script.
3. Designers gave Hank 50 suckers per arm for a total of 350 suckers. These suckers, along with the animal’s intelligence and ability to squeeze into very small spaces, make octupuses amazing escape artists. These abilities make Hank the perfect partner to go on a journey with.
4. Jeremy Talbot, Finding Dory Character Supervisor and his team took the drawings of Hank and turned him into a “puppet” in the computer that they then turn over to the animation team who then “acts” with the puppet.
5. Because of Hank’s seven legs, elasticity and ability to squish into different shapes, he was one of the most difficult characters Jeremy’s team ever had to create a “puppet” for. In fact, 11,041 rigging prims were created just for Hank’s simulation. (The average character requires around 20). The puppet took two full years to develop.
6. Kaa the snake from The Jungle Book (the animated version) was a constant reference point for the team creating the Hank puppet. They needed to bring Kaa’s fluidity and movement to Hank.
7. Once Hank was in the hands of animators, they had a lot of exciting challenges to over come in bringing the octopus to life in a believable way. They went back to nature and interacted with octopuses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get a feel for how they would act out scenes with the Hank puppet in the computer. They wanted to make sure that his movements were organic and that those movements matched his personality. The had the added of challenge that for the most part, Hank’s mouth isn’t seen; they had to find ways to really maximize his expressions in his face and eye movments. They also quickly learned that moving all seven of his legs at once was a bit distracting for viewers, so in each scene, Hank primarily gestures (features) only one or two of his tentacles.
Finding Dory is going to definitely be the hit family movie of the summer. If you haven’t already seen the trailer, you can check it out below!
I was provided the opportunity to learn about the creation of the movie Finding Dory at a media event held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was generously hosted by the Walt Disney Company. All opinions are my own.