How Katie Vision Makes ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ Stand Out in Animation

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The Mitchells vs. the Machines blends the innovative new style of Sony Animation with a heartfelt family story. Michael Rianda took his childhood experience and turned it into a hilarious, creative family film.

One of the highlights of the movie is the way that animators went back and added 2D animation on top of the film to make it look like Katie Mitchen was the one that made the film. It’s the equivalent of animation Inception. It makes sense that the home disk release of the movie wouldn’t be created in the “Katie Vision” style. The Katie Mitchell Special Edition looks like a freshly burned playlist and even includes a page of the director’s (Katie Mitchell) notes and doodles. Plus, you get a ton of bonus features you’ll only see when you buy the film.

I spoke with director Michael Rianda and production designer Lindsey Olivares about Katie Vision to learn more.

“Katie Vision was an idea on a whiteboard,” Director Michael Rianda says, “We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to match ‘… because we’re sort of like film students, we didn’t have no business making a movie. That’s another lesson. If you really want to do something, just do it. Don’t wait for somebody to be like, ‘now you are allowed to do this thing.’ But anyway, Katie Vision… We got really excited, like, ‘what if we mix 2D with 3D? Oh my god, it’d be incredible!”

Rianda shares that Lindsey Olivares started playing around with the idea that brought them closer to Katie as a character to make it appear that Katie was editing the movie.

“It was funny how that was talked about, and I was seeing because I’m working closely with the art and the look of the movie, and then there’s the story team,” Production Designer Lindsey Olivares said. “Whether it was seeing their ideas for Katie’s videos and conversation with Mike and Mike’s ideas. I felt like it was so important to see Katie as a filmmaker. When we were figuring out and getting the whole studio to kind of agree with the look of our movie, it felt like we had this missing piece.

We had the look of what our human world is and its imperfect look, and then this kind of slick, cool, bold robot look. And I always felt like there’s this Katie world to address. And so we had a lot of ideas from seeing these fun puppet videos and all these explorations that the story team was doing. I found this way that like, ‘let’s bring that into those moments.”

Katie Vision
THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES – Abbi Jacobson as “Katie Mitchell.” Cr: ©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.

Rianda pulled out his puppets from the film and showed them to us. (Seen in the video above)

“Somebody with only a few dollars to go to Michael’s on the weekend and make some weird stuff,” Rianda says. “It reminds you of what’s great about being a kid is you’re not like, ‘oh, is this the official way that someone needs to do something?’ No, it’s fun. That looks funny. Look, it’s a weird cheese ball with a face on it. I guess you’d say, ‘Don’t be ashamed of your ideas. They’re cooler than you think.'”

“Part of the spirit of some of this stuff, too, with technology, things are so accessible,” Olivares says. “You can film things on your phone. There are apps that are way more affordable than even the ones we’re using. It’s like that’s the spirit that we’re tapping into because we talked about cell phones in our movie, and a big part of that is like the creative stuff you can do on them. For you guys, what you can do by filming something on your phone, bringing it into another app, and making things, that’s the spirit of what you can do. Make your own stories, make your own films. It’s something that we were kind of playing with. It’s fun.”

Katie Vision
THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES – (L-R) Maya Rudolph as “Linda Mitchell,” Abbi Jacobson as “Katie Mitchell,” Doug the Pug as “Monchi,” Mike Rianda as “Aaron Mitchell” and Danny McBride as “Rick Mitchell.” Cr: ©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.

Get The Katie Mitchell Special Edition Now.

Bonus features:

  • Katie Mitchell’s Special Edition – available on Blu-Ray and digital- features over 2 hours of new content, including an all-new short (Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter) and Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut.
  • The Blu-Ray edition is made as if Katie Mitchell would have made it herself, down to the packaging, menus, and even a “surprise and delight” insert booklet from Katie herself.
  • Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut includes over 40 minutes of deleted scenes.
  • In addition, the Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital versions of the film include fun activities to enjoy as a family and that kids will love: How To Make Sock Puppets and How To Make Katie Face Cupcakes.

THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES will release on Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on Tuesday, December 14th.


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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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