'Mary Poppins Returns' pays homage to first film with hand-drawn animations, including penguins

PHOTO: Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disneys 2018 film, "Mary Poppins Returns."PlayDisney
WATCH How 'Mary Poppins Returns' pays homage to first film with hand-drawn animations

Director Rob Marshall loved the 1964 Mary Poppins and wanted to include hand-drawn animation mixed with live action in "Mary Poppins Returns."

Recalling the dazzling Dick Van Dyke dancing penguin scene, Marshall told ABC News, "It's in the DNA of 'Mary Poppins.'"

“The one thing I really wanted to do was the 2-D animation,” he added. “I feel it. It's not perfect. You know, there's an artistry to it.“

PHOTO: Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack, Pixie Davies is Annabel, Nathanael Saleh is John and Joel Dawson is Georgie in Mary Poppins Returns, 2018.Disney
Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack, Pixie Davies is Annabel, Nathanael Saleh is John and Joel Dawson is Georgie in "Mary Poppins Returns," 2018.

Most animation done today is computer-generated so Marshall and his team had to find animation artists skilled in the old-school technique.

The director enlisted Disney veteran James Baxter to do the character animation for “Mary Poppins Returns.” Baxter’s impressive resume includes “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” "Beauty and the Beast" and “The Lion King.”

"I love doing this. This is my thing," Baxter said. "I started out doing this."

VIDEO: The moment Mary Poppins Returns star Emily Blunt learned she got the partPlay
The moment 'Mary Poppins Returns' star Emily Blunt learned she got the part

Baxter joined forces with 27-year-old lead character designer James Woods, who said Baxter has been his "hero" since he was a student. Woods designed several new characters for the “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Woods said the first question people ask is "are the penguins going to be in it?"

And the answer is yes. The penguins are back and this time they have a show-stopping number with stars Emily Blunt, who plays the title character, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack, a street lamplighter.

Miranda recalled shooting the scene: “An animator would walk over, "I think the penguin's a little heavier on the cane when you're bringing him from here to here." And so, it sort of brings all your skills to bear because you have invisible costars.”

PHOTO: Mary Poppins Returns.Disney Pictures
"Mary Poppins Returns."

On seeing the final completed sequence, Blunt said, "It is staggering when you watch the whole thing put together.”

"Mary Poppins Returns" arrives in theaters Dec. 19.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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