Lin-Manuel Miranda’s love letter to Cuba is his first animated musical in the lead role

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Netflix released the full trailer for “Vivo” on Thursday, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s love letter to Cuba and his first star-studded animated musical, filmed on Sony Pictures Animation (streaming on August 6th). Miranda (“In the Heights”, Disney’s upcoming animation musical “Encanto”) not only invented the idea a decade ago and wrote eight songs of her own, but also the title character: a singer-musician Kinkajou (a rainforest “honey bear”), who makes music with his beloved owner Andrés (Juan de Marcos of the Buena Vista Social Club) in a busy square in Havana. That is, until tragedy strikes and Vivo travels to Miami to deliver a love song to retired superstar Marta (Gloria Estefan) with the help of energetic tween Gabi (newcomer Ynairaly Simo).

“It took so many twists and turns, but at the heart of this story is this incredible friendship between Andrés and Vivo and how it takes Vivo on an incredible journey from Cuba to Florida, where he grows up a lot,” Miranda said in the production notes. Musically he was influenced by music giants such as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and of course the Buena Vista Social Club.

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“Vivo” is directed by Kirk DeMicco (“The Croods”), screenplay by Quiara Alegria Hudes (“In the Heights”), produced by Lisa Stewart (“Monsters vs. Aliens”), Michelle Wong (“Hotel Transylvania 2”) , and Oscar-winner Rich Moore (“Zootopia”), with visual advice from Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (“1917”, “Blade Runner 2049”). Tony and Grammy Award winner Alex Lacamoire (“In the Heights,” “Hamilton”) is serving as the composer and executive record producer, and the film is being directed by Miranda, Golden Globe winner Laurence Mark (“Dreamgirls”) and Louis. produces Koo Tin Lok (“The Mitchells vs. The Machines”).

“Vivo” - Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

“Vivo” – Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation

“We’ve never had a major CG animation that really explores Caribbean color palettes, from the color of buildings to the sun to the sky,” added DeMicco. “We were able to capture the elegance of Cuba and follow Vivo and Gabi into the kitschy, fun-loving world from Key West to elegant, sophisticated Miami.”

The production designer Carlos Zaragoza was particularly inspired by old Cuban travel posters and the animation of the German-American expressionist Oskar Fischinger. He also benefited from a research trip to Havana with DeMicco and other filmmakers to soak up the local architecture, music, dances and colors. “That was immensely helpful in getting things into context,” he said. “Some of the aesthetic decisions in the film are based on these specific realities: the why of the colorful patchwork facades of Old Havana or how an old palace was divided into several small apartments. What is the history of the tres guitar (the instrument Andrés plays in the film) and what makes its sound so unique? A Cuban musician explains all of this in his home studio. We pay a lot of care and attention to the details. “

“Vivo” - Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

“Vivo” – Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation

In terms of animation, there was an eclectic mix of styles used by Sony Pictures Imageworks for musical numbers. Like “The Mitchells”, they were also able to use the technology of the innovative “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” to make it look more like 2D.

Although Deakins consulted on several previous animated films at DreamWorks (the “How To Train Your Dragon” trilogy) and Pixar (“WALL-E”), he said it was very different: “This film was because of its locations,” noted he. “The Havana section is old-fashioned and has a more traditional 50s look. They contrast that with the bright sunlight and almost washed-out colors of Miami, so these elements are great to play with. Then of course there is the Everglades, which go from vivid and green to dark and ominous. “

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