1. All of the guitar playing in “Coco” is technically accurate. Filmmakers videotaped musicians playing each song and strapped GoPros to their guitars to give animators reference footage. New code was written to simulate how guitar strings vibrate to make the motion blur of guitar-playing look good.
2. The Rivera family’s shoemaking facilities were inspired by a real shoemaker’s shop in Oaxaca, Mexico. To showcase this generations-old business, artists included details like rolls of leather in the back of a truck, defunct shoemaking tools stored in the attic, and even an old Rivera Family Shoemakers sign near the entrance to Miguel’s attic hideout.
3. Filmmakers were so dazzled by the vibrant alebrijes they saw in their travels throughout Mexico, they wanted to incorporate the folk art into the story. The alebrijes are brought to life in “Coco” as dynamic spirit guides throughout the Land of the Dead. A secret nod to Mamá Imelda’s spirt guide Pepita appears on the Rivera family’s ofrenda: a cat alebrije near Imelda’s photo is painted in the same colors as Pepita.
4. When Miguel stops to check out a table of alebrijes in Santa Cecilia, Pepita is visible to his left. There are also two small clownfish alebrije on his right that were inspired by Marlin and Nemo from “Finding Dory.” Other veteran Pixar characters, like Kevin from “Up,” were used as base models for the animated alebrije characters in the Land of the Dead.
5. Miguel meets legendary artist Frida Kahlo during his journey in the Land of the Dead. Filmmakers used various references—including the artist’s own work—to create the character, designing a variation of the Tehuantepec-style costume Kahlo often wore. Inspired by Kahlo’s pet spider-monkeys that appear in many of her self-portraits, filmmakers created a monkey-alebrije for Kahlo’s spirit guide.
6. Food is a big part of Día de Muertos celebrations—and can be a challenge to create in animation. Getting the right sheen on the turkey leg that Miguel throws for Dante was tricky, as was creating the plate of molé negro that Dante eyes on the ofrenda—making the color and texture appealing wasn’t easy. Filmmakers purchased a lot of “reference” along the way to ensure authenticity (a welcome task), and even made tamales together early in the production.
7. Miguel creates his own ofrenda in a hidden attic corner. Dedicated to Ernesto de la Cruz, the ofrenda includes candles and marigolds, as well as pictures of the performer. Miguel uses a beat-up TV and VCR to watch old movies starring Ernesto himself. In fact, Miguel has watched the videos so much, he taught himself to play the guitar. The room also features several of Ernesto’s albums. To keep Ernesto’s career straight, filmmakers created a backstory for Miguel’s beloved idol that includes a full timeline of his movies, songs and albums.
8. Artists embraced the skull motif, utilizing the iconic shape in creative ways. The headstock of Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar is perhaps the most memorable skull in the film (other than the skeletons featured). The motif also appears throughout the Land of the Dead, including the gate to Marigold Grand Central 4 December 5, 2017 Station, the windows in the Department of Family Reunions, the doors on the funiculars at Ernesto’s mansion, the lights on the stage where Miguel sings “Un Poco Loco,” the light fixtures in the clerk’s office, and even the DJ station at the party. The synchronized swimmers who perform late in the movie provide yet another example.
9. Twins run in the Rivera family. Miguel meets his twin uncles, Tio Felipe and Tio Oscar, in the Land of the Dead. He also has twin cousins Benny and Manny, who are about 4 years old.
10.Miguel’s loyal canine companion Dante is a Xolo dog—short for Xoloitzcuintli—the national dog of Mexico. Nearly hairless, Xolos often have missing teeth, and for that reason their tongue naturally hangs out. Filmmakers included this detail in Dante’s design— his tongue behaves like a character itself. To achieve the look, they borrowed the rig used in “Finding Dory” for “septopus” Hank’s dynamic tentacles.
11.The song “Remember Me,” heard multiple times in the movie, was written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the team behind the Oscar®-winning song “Let It Go” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2013 feature “Frozen.”