I would love to introduce you to Hank, the cantankerous, yet lovable, octopus in Finding Dory in theaters June 17th. Actually, he is a “septopus” because he lost a tentacle along the way. Do not feel bad for Hank though because he is just as competent as his eight-armed peers. He has many talents including being an escape artist who can camouflage himself to get out of all kinds of situations. He is the first one to greet Dory when she ends up in the Marine Life Institute but is not looking for any friends. The only thing he is looking for is a transport truck to a Cleveland facility where he’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful life all by himself.
I cannot wait to see how Dory and Hank interact with each other! You cannot help but love Dory, even if you are not looking for any friends.
Now that you know a little bit about Hank, I wanted to tell you some behind the scene facts about the creation of Hank! During our trip to Monterey for the Finding Dory Event we got to chat with the artists in charge of creating him, Supervising Technical Director John Halstead, Character Art Director Jason Deamer, Supervising Animator Mike Stocker and Characters Supervisor Jeremie Talbot. From our interview you could tell that Hank is the character they are most proud of, but one of the hardest they have ever created. The end result is amazing!
- Hank was inspired by a Mimic Octopus. They change the color of their skin and texture of their skin quickly and in real time. They can also imitate species of animals.
- Hank is a reluctant super hero. He can shape shift into things, he is an amazing escape artist.
- A number of artists and engineers were in charge of creating Hank. There is a great mix of mathematics and art that is used to create him.
- Character animation is like puppetry. They had to build Hank digitally like a puppet from his head, to tentacles, to one suction cup at a time so the animators could manipulate the movements.
- Since you cannot see Hank’s mouth, there was a lot of importance in getting the animation of his eyes and brows perfect. They had to simulate the flesh under his eyes to show that he is talking.
- They made Hank a red/orange color because it was a good complement to Dory’s blue.
- It took them two years to make Hank from start to finish.
- The animators got to touch and hold octopi behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as research for Hank. That research was important to help the artists see how an octopus moves so they could mimic that for Hank. One artist was actually holding a 70 pound octopus!
The Monterey Bay Aquarium even gave us a chance to touch an octopus! It was a pretty amazing experience. They walked us to a dark room that looked much like the image above and over to a giant tank. As we walked over to the tank you could see the tentacles of an octopus coming up over the tank. YIKES! The area surrounding the top of the tank was covered with artificial turf because octopi cannot stick to that surface making it hard for them to try and escape. I am sure you have heard stories about octopi trying to escape before!