Who is Hank?
In Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), encounters an array of new and old acquaintances, including a cantankerous octopus named Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill). Directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) and produced by Lindsey Collins (co-producer WALL-E).
Hank is no other than a reluctant, super hero, escape artist. When Dory finds herself in the Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium, Hank—a cantankerous octopus—is the first to greet her and help her navigate the institute.
Fun Facts About Hank
- Hank is an octopus—or actually a “septopus”: he lost a tentacle—along with his sense of humor—somewhere along the way.
- Hank’s face is mirrored after Bud Lucky, a beloved member of Pixar
- Character Art Director Jason Deamer has been working for Pixar for 15 years. Jason said that designing Hank was his hardest character assignment, but Hank is one of his favorite characters that he has designed.
- Ki from the Jungle Book helped them with the movement of Hank’s arms
- It took a year of testing to find a movement that was close to how they wanted Hank to move
- Animators had to visually deconstruct an octopus to figure out how it moved. To do that, they had to spend some time with an octopus or two. The Monterey Bay Aquarium just happens to have an octopus exhibit with several species, including the giant octopus.
- Cephalopods camouflage ability he could make Hank shape shift into many different objects or hide as different things such as a common house plant or change colors.
- Characters Supervisor Jeremie Talbot shared that character animation is similar to puppetry but done in a digital space. His team of artists were responsible for how Hank looked when squished down and how to make his tentacles move.
- Supervising Animator Mike Stocker explained that his team of animators had to learn how to act like an Octopus. Octopuses are a mess…they tangle up and move…but they are a beautiful mess. His team attended “Octopus University” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Supervising Technical Director John Halstead’s team was responsible for the finishing touches of Hank. You’d be amazed at how much effort and time was put into making the suction cups on the tentacles more realistic.
Meeting a Giant Pacific Octopus
I had the pleasure of meeting two of Hank’s cousins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium! I went back stage to meet a giant octopus. Did you know that an octopus can easily escape from their tanks? They are true escape artists! The Monterey Bay Aquarium avoids escapes by putting Astroturf on the edge of their tanks. The octopuses can’t stick to the Astroturf, therefore it keeps them in their tank. As soon as the trainer opened the tank, the octopus quickly swam over to us. It’s like he wanted to “hang out” with us! The octopus was very social and wrapped his tentacles around my arm. In order to “get away” I had to carefully pull the tentacles off me…and with a popping noise of the suction cups he released his grip. I got what I call octopus kisses.
Finding Dory swims into theaters June 17, 2016.
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I was invited by Disney•Pixar to attend an all expenses paid trip to cover the #FindingDoryEvent in Monterey Bay on 3/7-3/8. All opinions are my own.