I have a secret to tell you, fish freak me out. I never told anyone outside of my family about this secret because I know it’s weird to not like fish. If you ever want to freak me out, just take me to a fish hatchery and leave me there. It is the creepiest place I’ve ever been with my children.
When I found out that I was invited to the Finding Dory press event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium I was excited to attend because the fish are in enclosures and everything would be fine. But then I found out that I would get the opportunity to touch….yes that’s right…touch a Giant Octopus.
Why an Octopus? Well, in the new movie Finding Dory we are introduced to Hank. He is a grumpy, yet lovable, Octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill) that helps Dory on her adventure to find her family.
Giant Octopus Experience
Our blogger group was led backstage behind the Octopus exhibit.
The trainer explained that the Octopus is strong and likes to play. He also said not to be surprised if he reaches out of the tank to touch us. My inner dialog at the time was something like “this sounds lovely, but I think I’ll pass”
While we were standing there listening to the trainer, I saw this Octopus hanging out in an enclosure. Even at the sight of this guy, I thought I was going to pass out.
At first I didn’t want to do it. I was just going to film my friends touching the Octopus. But with encouragement from my friend Gayle, I did it. The Octopus was slimy but it was a once in a lifetime experience. The good news is, I didn’t faint, I survived. The whole experience was actually pretty cool.
The trainer was right, the Octopus loved “playing” with us. Once you touched him, he instantly grabbed on to you and attached his suckers to your arm. He would also pull on you like he wanted to take you into the tank with him.
In my video below you can hear the pop of the suckers as the trainer moves the Octopus off my arm. It was an unreal experience
All About Hank
During my trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium I also attended a presentation by the Finding Dory team to learn all about Hank.
Hank is an octopus—or actually a “septopus”: he lost a tentacle—along with his sense of humor—somewhere along the way. When Dory finds herself at the Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium, Hank reluctantly agrees to help her navigate the massive facility.
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.
While doing research for how to design Hank, Jason stumbled upon the Cephalopods and knew this type of Octopus is what he was going to base Hank’s character on.
Cephalopods, are known as the quick-change artists of the ocean. Check out this amazing video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium with some fantastic images of Cephalopods in action.
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. They discovered that Octopus are a mess, but a beautiful mess. His team attended “Octopus University” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The animation team went backstage to study how the Octopus move. They were able to spend time with the Octopus, touch them and interact with them. This helped them to learn more about how they move.
Supervising Technical Director John Halstead’s team was responsible for the finishing touches of Hank. They concentrated a lot on the suckers of Hank’s tentacles to make sure they were making the correct impressions and that his tentacles were making the correct shapes to make Hank’s performance believable and fun to watch.
About Finding Dory
When we last saw Dory, she had just returned from her big adventure with Marlon to find his son Nemo. It’s now 6 months later and they are all living together on the reef, but Dory starts to have memories of her parents and where she came from. She begs for Marlon and Nemo to help her get home and soon their journey begins.
Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” reunites everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory, with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?
Directed by Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”) and produced by Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”).
Finding Dory features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton.
“Finding Dory” Trailer
Finding Dory swims into theaters June 17, 2016
Visit the official site at www.disney.com/findingdory
Disclaimer: Disney/Pixar has invited 5 Minutes for Mom (and me) to Monterey to attend the Finding Dory Event. All expenses have been paid by Disney/Pixar, but all opinions are always 100% my own.