‘What would happen if …’: Tote González, the Spanish animator who triumphs in Marvel, reveals how a chapter of the series is built

Months and sometimes years of work are required in an animated film from the Disney giant to create just a few minutes on screen. The man from Madrid, who is responsible for animation in the series, explains how it is done.

More than 140 people working for five months to create just 10 minutes of an animated television series. This is the calculation that Tote González has already assimilated after more than 20 years working in animation. In the cv of Ángel González (better known as Tote González in the industry), titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Angry Birds and Hotel Transilvania 2.

The last adventure of this entertainer born in Madrid and settled in Canada has been chapter 8 of the Marvel series available in Disney + What would happen if In it, parallel universes are proposed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in case things had not turned out as we were told. This Madrid-born, Animation Director at Stellar Creative Lab, has had to take charge on this occasion of drawing the story that answers the question: What would happen if Ultron would not have been destroyed …

As director of Stellar Creative Lab, a studio Marvel hires to make the series from What would happen if… He is responsible for the entire animation process. Explain that to do an episode the work must go through six different departments or processes until the final result is obtained.

“The usual thing is that the animation studio receives the sound of the chapter or the final audio of the story first and they work from that sound and the last thing when creating an animation chapter is the drawing,” he explains from Vancouver to SensaCine Tote González.

With sound as the raw material and after a meeting with the director of the chapter in which they can ask him any questions about what to animate, the animation studio comes into play, dividing his work into 6 phases.


They are the first to come into play. Several cartoonists make the drawings with pencil and paper. In them they must design a lot of characters. “In this case, being characters that already exist in movies or in comics, they are previously designed and defined, but in this department they have to be stylized”, explains Tote González. “And when Marvel approves the characters we go to the next phase,” explains the director.


It is the moment when it is modeled and carves 3D characters from pencil drawing on paper. In this part of the process in which they are given volume to turn them into three-dimensional characters “It is the closest thing to creating digital sculptures, in fact the process is called sculpting them”, explains Tote.


This phase of the process is the one that gives them color and the image is created depending on the type of material that wants to be represented- “Sometimes you need to create a texture that is a type of fabric, or leather clothing or if there is some plastic, for example, there is no department specialized in it,” says the artist from Madrid.


In this department the characters are given a kind of internal skeleton. “That allows us to articulate all the extremities of the body,” says González. In this department, controls are also created on the face to guarantee facial expression. “

For a face of a character like those of Marvel from What would happen if … we have to create 150 control points on a face to be able to draw the expressiveness and phonemes in 3D, if the characters have to speak so that later in animation we can give them life “, he clarifies.


Once the characters have a skeleton to animate them and facial controls, the next step is to go through the Cameran Staging department. “In this phase, the camera movements are designed, the story telling is created and where the characters are and what the different camera angles are is designed,” says Tote.


Once all these steps have been completed under the supervision of Tote González, in the case of the Stellar study, the animator explains that your job is to raise the level of animation. “Basically it is to give the final finish to bring it to the level of the quality that the client wants in the style that they require and that the show required “, concludes the director of the study.

In this process, the person responsible for the animation of What would happen if… note that the last phase it is perhaps the most laborious. “Each frame must be done manually and 24 drawings are one second of animation and to give you an idea of ​​the work behind it, we do 8 seconds per week per person,” he explains.

A very brilliant career in 20 years

But how did a boy from Madrid, the son of a publicist, become the animation director of one of Marvel’s most brilliant series? “I started about 20 years ago in this animation. At that time there was not as much information on the internet as there is today, so I signed up to an animation school in Madrid for a course that lasted a year but in Spain apart from advertising There weren’t many options, so I went to Los Angeles to study for 9 months, “he recalls. There he met professors from the main Hollywood animation companies: Dreamworks, Disney, Pixar.. “It was another league, and at that moment it was clear to me that to work on films that could be eligible for an Oscar I had to leave Spain,” he explains.

When he returned from Los Angeles, he started working in a small company as an entertainer. and there many doors began to open: “At 8 months I entered Planet 51 then I went to Paris to work in the studio of the Minions, from there I go to London where I work for Guardians of the Galaxy“And four films later, Sony hired him, who suggested that he go to work in Vancouver.” I spent four years at Sony animating films and there I began to climb little by little until I was able to set up my own studio, “he says.

Throughout these two decades he is very clear about what has helped him to go so far: “I have done what I liked, so the efforts and work invested in something that makes you happy increases the options to succeed”, he concludes .