'Big Hero 6' Editor Tim Mertens on Finding the Heart of a Robot

"You can create movies that are funny, but I think finding the heart and building the pieces around that is something [Disney does] so well," Mertens says
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The logistics of editing a live-action film and an animated one might seem very different—with the latter giving you much more of a blank canvas so to speak. Yet, the elements of telling a good story remain similar.

“The ability to change elements so fast is what makes animation very different compared to live-action. We’re able to adapt along the way and really discover what’s happening within the story and see a character’s development,” Big Hero 6 editor Tim Mertens tells Sound & Picture. “[But finding the story’s heart is] something that we strive to create in all our Disney films. You can create movies that are funny, but I think finding the heart and building the pieces around that is something we do so well. With Big Hero 6, the relationship between Hiro and Baymax is definitely where the heart lies.”

As with his previous work on Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Mertens credits Disney’s animation success with a script-based approach that includes constant communication between the film’s departments. “We all get into a room together and talk about what’s happening in the entire film. Even before preproduction stages, we’ll talk about what we would like to see happen or what we think the story’s missing,” he explains. “John [Lasseter] has helped us to build an open collaboration at Disney. We are always pushing the boundaries of how far we can go. It’s both a blessing and a curse that we can modify things so much with animation, but in the end, we know the many hours spent editing are going to make the film that much better.”

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