On the technical side, there’s a million challenges. Ideally he feels like a seamless character, but he’s actually this crazy bag of tricks. We’re about to go behind the animation of “Wish Dragon.” – Your wishes will be *ding* “Wish Dragon” is a sort of a re-imagining of the classic Aladdin story, which is actually based on a Chinese folk tale. We’re bringing it forward into modern day Shanghai. – I wish this traffic would just… – Yes, go ahead. – Long, I’m not going to waste a wish on traffic. – There’s this traffic scene, which epitomizes so many of the challenges with Long, which is this 30 foot furry dragon has to get squeezed into a tiny taxi and get stuck in Shanghai traffic.
We had to create a version of Long that could like fit inside this tiny taxi cab, and not crash into everything. We had to basically build this weird one-off taxi cab that was like five times bigger than any other taxi in our set, and just shoot it so you didn’t notice.
That’s just a minute and a half of the movie, but it kind of encompasses some of the challenges that came with having this giant pink muppet, basically, in your movie all the time. – So you’re a wish dragon. – Yes. – The movie’s called “Wish Dragon.” It’s not called “Aladdin.” ‘Cause it’s the genie’s story. When we were thinking about Long, both as a character and as a design, we wanted to sort of pay tribute to some of the classic elements of the Chinese dragon. And so the way he moves is kind of serpentine in that way. A lot of the design choices about his face, – Your face is so soft. (gasps) Can you breathe fire? (imitates breathing fire) – And then you have to go and create this character, this puppet in 3D that can actually do all that. On the technical side there’s a million challenges.
He’s covered in fur, but he squashes and stretches like crazy, which is really technically hard. In order to create good poses you have to sort of constantly compose him. And the end result should be you don’t think about it. It’s just, it looks effortless. It just looks like this living, breathing unique character. Din’s neighborhood is sort of a tribute to these shikumen neighborhoods, which are the historical parts of Shanghai.
They were a reflection of sort of the China that’s changing, that’s going away, and China’s modernizing. Our production designer on the China side, Shelly Wan, she grew up in these worlds, and she just populated all these details. Like the brand of cookies that everyone eats. The types of posters on the wall.
Those are all kind of our little Easter eggs from our crew from their own life. – Let’s make a promise to be best friends forever. – Friends forever. – I traveled to Shanghai about 20 years ago, and I made a really, really good friend there. Even for the next 10 years, I was watching him try to navigate all this complicated stuff about living and growing up in China and with the world changing so fast. – Bye, Din.
Then we were talking a couple years later, I was saying like, “Your life, it seems “like something out of “Aladdin.”” And he’s like, “Oh, did you know “Aladdin” “is a Chinese folk tale?” And I was like, “Excuse me?” – Wait, what? – Pretty much made the movie for my friend. And I wanted it to feel true to him and to speak to his life. – That’s my wish. I want my friend back. – Make sure to check out “Wish Dragon” now streaming on Netflix.