disney zootopia

The Making of Disney’s Zootopia

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Some people have really awesome jobs. Astronauts, panda nursery caregivers, travel writers, and animators all rank pretty high up there on the “cool” job list. Of course, each of those jobs comes with it’s own set of cons, but overall it’s still a great job. Recently, I spoke with the Art Director of Disney’s Zootopia, Matthais Lechner, about the making of Disney’s newest release, the role he played and the advice he gives to anyone that wants to know how to live their dream.

(Pictured) Matthias Lechner. Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia is a place where no matter what you are—from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew—you can be anything. But when rookie officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with Nick Wilde—a fast-talking, scam-artist fox—to solve a mystery.


The amount of work and attention to detail that goes into the making of a Disney animated movie is just impressive. There is so much behind the scenes work to be done that it takes YEARS for a movie to be completed. Zootopia took 4 years from concept to completion. That is a lot of sweat and tears in the hopes that the public loves it as much as those that are vested in the project.

The making of an animated film goes much further than creating scenes. Hours and hours of research go into the making. For Zootopia there was research on architectural structures, animals, research trips to NYC, Vega and Africa, meetings with weather scientists from NASA and more.

Filmmakers conceived and built the vast and detailed world of Zootopia, populating it with 64 different species of animals that retain what makes each animal so amazing in the real world—but these animals talk and wear pants. “The team spent 18 months just researching animals,” says producer Clark Spencer. “We met with animal experts from all over the world, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Matthias said “There are always little stories happening in the background. You will discover a lot in zootopia.” There are so many little treasures to be found that you will spot something new each and every time you watch it.

disney zootopia

One of the goals in the making of Zootopia was that the movie be just as entertaining for the adults as it is for the kids while creating “a fantasy world that you believe in” said Lechner.

About 80% of what was created for the movie ended up on the cutting room floor, but when the directors and film makers were done cutting we are left with a fantastic film that perfectly came together. I watched a number of clips and I have to say I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie.

At the end of our conversation I asked Matthais what advice he has for people who want to live their dream and he said this:

“Don’t worry so much about where you want to go, but be good at what your are currently doing and make sure you are doing the absolute best job possible.

Good advice for all of us to follow.


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