That seed has sprouted into a feature length Pixar film that will hit movie theaters this fall. It is about a young boy named Miguel whose family comes from a long tradition of shoemakers that shun music out of respect for their great-great grandmother.
That presents a big problem for Miguel because he wants to be a musician and secretly worships the country's biggest singing idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.
The bodies were modified slightly to keep clothes from falling through stacks of bones and skulls were designed to show more expression.
In contrast to Mexican folk art, which usually depicts the eyes of calaveras as black holes, Coco's characters have eyes and big brows to show more emotion.
In the film, Day of the Dead is the only time the spirits of family members can return to the Land of the Living to visit their loved ones.
"We came up with the idea that what if there was a literal bridge made of marigolds."The marigold bridge is used by ancestors to cross over into the land of the living on the Day of the Dead."The marigold bridge literally connects those two worlds and that is building on the mythology of marigold petals representing the path to family," said Harley Jessup, Coco production designer.
There are no flowers depicted in Coco's Land of the Dead, except for marigolds brought back by the ancestors.
While visiting Mexico, Coco filmmakers saw marigold petals scattered at cemeteries and used to make crosses in altars.
That made a lasting impression that made its way into the movie."They felt so iridescent, even at night," said Coco story artist Dean Kelly, who liked the way the flowers combined with the glow given off by candles.
Papel Picado Papel picado is the colorful perforated tissue paper that is usually found hanging in Mexican restaurants to provide a festive atmosphere. The paper comes in many colors, but purple is said to represent mourning and yellow signifies purity. The opening sequence of the movie animates images of papel picado to tell the backstory of Miguel's family and why music is shunned.