Director Rich Moore has spent his entire career working with some truly brilliant animated material, but has never really gotten the recognition he deserves. Working in the industry since the late 80s and holding a number of positions, his career on television has included a number of great shows, including both The Simpsons and Futurama. But now Moore is getting set to receive a great deal of deserved attention, as his directorial debut, Wreck-It Ralph is getting ready to hit theaters.

While on my visit Walt Disney Animation Studios and going behind the scenes of the new movie (which will be in theaters this weekend) I was given the wonderful opportunity to sit down one-on-one with the filmmaker to talk about his first feature. Check out our conversation below in which we connect due to our mutual love of the short-lived television series The Critic (on which he was a producer and director), and talk about the challenge of jumping from 2D to 3D, the new film’s nostalgia factor, and the project’s epic scale.

I need to start by saying that while I love The Simpsons and Futurama, I don’t think there’s a show that I think about more than The Critic thanks to this job.

I loved working on that. That was a show that I think was before it’s time. Because a lot of people say, “Family Guy is so much like The Simpsons” – I think that Family Guy and The Critic come from some of the same kind of seed. I don’t know what it is. The Critic was so absurd and I loved that. I loved working with Jon Lovitz, I think he’s got a great, great voice for animation. Thanks for bringing that up, man! I love those characters!

Absolutely! All the time I get shirts and other pieces of clothing with movies branded all over them and I can’t help but think of all those gags in the show where Jay Sherman would rip his pants and it would say “Armageddon” or something on his underwear.

[laughs] I saw one like six months ago, I can’t remember which one, and I forgot how funny it was. There’s a lot packed in there. “I forgot that joke!” There’s a lot of great stuff and a fun show to work on.

To talk about Wreck-It Ralph, you have spent all of your career in television and you’re making the jump to film now, but you’re also making the leap from 2D animation to 3D. What was that experience like?

Pretty great. We did a lot of 3D animation on Futurama, so I was already kind of in that mindset of what that’s like. And there’s a lot in The Simpsons Movie too, and I was a co-director on that movie too. But ultimately at the heart of everything we’re all talking about the same thing, and it was really important to me that when we started designing the rigs for the characters – the “Sugar Rush” world, we knew we wanted the characters to be cartoony, like classic squash and stretch animation, so let’s really build these rigs so that they can be deformed in 2D animation, so that it looks like that kind of golden age Disney stuff from the 50s, like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and that era. What they, on the technical end, did to give the animators the ability to deform the characters and animate using that kind of path of action, classic animation style – it’s amazing. Glen Keane working on Tangled, he and the directors, Byron Howard and Nathan Greno, they set up a great way of sitting with the Cintiq and reviewing dailies, and Glen kind of going, “Well, if you give it this shape…” That’s why Tangled looks so great. So I’ve inherited a great team of animators and a great process and I feel like we really built on that with this movie, where we took it to a whole other level.

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