Wreck-It Ralph's 8-Bit Animation Was a Downshift Disney Had Trouble Making

Illustration for article titled Wreck-It Ralph's 8-Bit Animation Was a Downshift Disney Had Trouble Making

Wreck-It Ralph comes out this weekend. The film, Disney's newest animated feature, seeks to do with video games what Toy Story did for toys of the non-digital sort, and tie into nostalgia for the 8-bit era.


Pulling off a retro look seems simple but was deceptively difficult for the studio, the filmmakers explained to the New York Times. Animator Wayne Unten recalled explaining to the director, Rich Moore, that pixels rule the 8-bit world. "I was seeing things where, instead of two pixels wide for the eyes, it was one and a half pixels. And to break a pixel into a half was a big no-no for me. That's not how it was in the games. I would say, jokingly, ‘We have to respect the pixel.'"

Jokingly, perhaps, but a touch that no doubt purists and viewers who remember the 80s will appreciate. Throughout production, 8-bit images consistently had to be scaled back: made less realistic, less curved, less fluid. Moore said that at first, that didn't sit well with the animation team: "They're used to classic, realistic animation, and this style goes against everything that they've ever learned about what makes good animation."

Eventually, though, squarer heads prevailed. From trailers, it seems that inside his game, Ralph—and his nemesis, do-gooder Fix-It Felix—do indeed feel like they fell out of a thirty-year-old arcade. As for how it works in the film? Most of us can find out this Friday.

Disney's New Hero Is So 1982 [New York Times]

(Top photo: New York Times)


Pavement clawing maniac

They look more 16 bit. Even though the 8 bit NES had a 256 color palette, it could only display 16 colors at once, I think... Unless the game had special chips in the cart or did some cheaty stuff between scanlines. The super Mario sprite was only 3 colors after all. Ralph is so detailed the he has stripes on his shirt, which are only a subtle shade away!