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Wreck-it Ralph animator urged movie director to 'respect the pixel' for character designs

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Disney's video game-inspired movie Wreck-it Ralph had at least one artist who respected the sanctity of pixel art for the film's 8-bit characters. Animator Wayne Unten, according to a New York Times report, urged director Rich Moore to "respect the pixel" in designing the lo-fi iterations of Wreck-it Ralph and Fix-it Felix.

Unten says he turned to 8-bit heroes like Mario, Donkey Kong and Mega Man as inspiration for refining Wreck-it Ralph's 8-bit look. He helped refine Ralph's pixelated look by making him visually simpler and cutting out excessive sprites that would have been inappropriate for the era. Unten says he took the rules of 8-bit graphics seriously.

"I was seeing things where, instead of two pixels wide for the eyes, it was one and a half pixels," he said. "And to break a pixel into a half was a big no-no for me. That's not how it was in the games. I would say, jokingly, ‘We have to respect the pixel.' "

The Times' report has a look at some before and after versions of Wreck-it Ralph's 2D progression.

Wreck-it Ralph opens in the U.S. on Friday, Nov. 2. The movie features cameos from 8-bit video game characters including the Q-bert, Dig Dug, Pac-Man and Bentley Bear from Crystal Castles.

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