The Amazing Effects System Disney Had to Invent In Order To Pull Off Moana’s Ocean Scenes

It's no secret that movies have often led the way when it comes to technical innovation. George Lucas has often found himself heralded as more of an inventor than a filmmaker. That phenomenon has only increased with the growing prominence of computers in the world of animation. With the upcoming release of Disney's Moana, the studio didn't just perfect certain digital techniques, it invented wholly new ones as well.

Moana disney

According to a brand new report from IGN, it appears that Disney actually invented a new effects system in order to truly bring the ocean scenes in Moana to life. Known as Splash (obviously) the effects helps the tech animators make sure the water depicted in the film to looks just right with less effort. Anyone who has ever worked in animation (or even watched an animated film) will tell you that water is one of the most difficult elements to work with, but Splash streamlined the process and made everything easier.

It's all a bit technical, but the brand new software allows certain water-based shots (which used to be almost impossible) to be accomplished with considerably more ease by the film's crew. By innovating this new technology, the Moana crew had more time to focus on more important aspects of production -- such as narrative.

For a movie like Moana, getting water right wasn't just important; it was necessary. The film takes place on a South Pacific island, surrounded by water. Beyond that, the Ocean itself is an actual character in the movie. When all is said and done, effects shots reportedly make up roughly 80% of the final film, and water appears in most of them. Water's a fundamental aspect of Moana's animation process, and as such the production could not cut any corners when it came to bringing it to life.

Check out a recent trailer for Moana to get a glimpse at some of that cutting edge technology in action:

Getting the overall effect of water right in animation isn't just a problem for feature films. The crew behind Netflix's hit series, Bojack Horseman -- which uses a more traditional "cartoon" look to its animation -- recently featured an underwater episode that was reportedly a nightmare to accomplish as well. As technology continues to advance, it appears that many of the hurdles animators once faced won't be nearly as problematic. This will lead to smoother, better animation.

The hard work appears to have paid off, as the CGI water depicted in Moana looks good enough to drink. We will keep you up to date with all of the latest and greatest news related to Moana as more information becomes available to us. The next animated Disney adventure will hit theaters later this fall on November 23, 2016. Stay tuned for more details!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.