In the case of Milo, Pomeroy drew heavily from Frank Capra’s movies for inspiration. Milo’s the type of character that tries to take on the establishment and is the sort of role a young Jimmy Stewart might have played, as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Atlantis in Depth
As supervising animator, Pomeroy was responsible solely for the creation of Milo, his look and his mannerisms. It took Pomeroy and 12 animators, along with a large animation “clean up” crew, to bring Milo to life.
For the first few months of production (going back to late 1997), Pomeroy was in sort of a “creative void” while developing the character’s look. He knew the basic parameters of the character and what had been written for him, and he had also seen some of the early drawings that were done by Disney’s “research and development” people. With this basic “working armature” about what Milo was like, Pomeroy immersed himself in the character in order to create a living, breathing – animated – person.
His work even continued while on jury duty, where he’d sketch people in the courthouse as he observed their attitudes, quirks, behaviors, motions, and fashions.
He also surrounded himself with photographs from Capra’s films.
Those varied sources of inspiration were the basis for his first series of sketches and Pomeroy ended up with around 50 or 60 different Milos from which to choose.
By picking out the strongest images, they were able to boil it all down to one character, “the embodiment of all the elements the writers had written for,” Pomeroy said.
After that, Michael J. Fox was cast. “That added a few extra little bits of information in regard to his personality and how that would translate to his graphic appearance,” Pomeroy explained.
“All the time I’m trying to build the character from the inside out; what are his inner workings like, what is he as an individual. And then use that to build things about his face, things about his posture, what he is wearing, what his shoe size is, what his hands look like and how they articulate. All of that information comes after you’ve thoroughly thought out about what his behavior’s like and what he’s like emotionally.”
Pomeroy proudly reveals, “I’ve never come this close to actually animating a self-portrait, but this is it! I have never been so in love with a particular film that I’ve worked on or character as this. It’s really been rewarding; it’s been amazing.”