Clean-up crew keeps the character's essence

Katherine Tolford, Enjoy!

GLENDALE -- Vera Pacheco's mother predicted her future.

From the time she came into the world at Providence St. Joseph Medical

Center, her mother told her "You were born near Disney and you're going

to work there."

"My mother told me that over and over. It became her mantra," said the

46-year-old, who began drawing at 2.

Most recently the Glendale resident served as the clean-up supervisor

on Disney's new animated film, "The Emperor's New Groove."

For the last 18 months, Pacheco and her 120-person crew made sure that

all of Kuzco's and Yzma's movements were uniform, as well as those of all

the other characters.

Their clean-up process involved redrawing each image. After receiving

a drawing from the animation department, they placed a new piece of paper

over the existing image and drew a cleaner, more refined image.

"We're basically the final designers," said Pacheco, whose crew worked

on more than 200,000 drawings for "Groove."

Pacheco said her crew spends about one to two hours on each drawing

and is careful to retain the character's essence, including things like

the life in their eyes or their breathing actions. Then they make sure it

looks identical and that there's a drawing for every single frame.

If there is a frame missing, her department will create a new drawing

to fill in the gap.

"Overall, it's one of the finest samples of clean up -- my crew was

fabulous," she said. "The line and design work is so steady, the look of

characters so consistent."

Pacheco has also supervised clean-up crews on "Mulan," "Fantasia

2000," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King."

Many photographs taken in South America by Disney staff in preparation

for the film supplied the reference material her crew needed to maintain

the consistent look required for "Groove's" stylized Peruvian-esque


Pacheco's crew found inspiration in one photo book that featured

side-by-side images of an object -- one, a photo of the object, and the

other, an artist's "human" rendering of that object.

"There might be a photo of a piece of pottery and next to it would be

a drawing of what the character designer would do if it became a

character," said Pacheco.

Of all the possible characters brought to life in "Groove," Pacheco

said she is partial to Kuzco.

"I love his humor, especially when he became the llama," she said.

She was proud that one of the female characters, Chica, wasn't

portrayed as frail, even though she was at home pregnant.


NAME: Vera Pacheco, clean-up supervisor on Disney's "The Emperor's New


FAVORITE DISNEY CHARACTERS: Belle ("for being different"); Mulan ("she

was so powerful and she saved her father"); "Peter Pan's" Wendy ("I

thought I should be less of a tomboy and more like her").


PERSONAL QUOTE: "As an artist, I always move toward design in my art,

so my job is a dream come true. I don't know if I'd cut it as an

animator. I don't think I'm enough of an actress."

FAMILY: Husband James (he works for Walt Disney Imagineering); son

James, 4.

HOBBIES: Jogging, boating, the outdoors, playing bartender on a

friend's charter sailboat.

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