MENU

Interview
Tag Archive

11 Fascinating Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Incredibles 2

Brad Bird, Events, Incredibles 2, Interview, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2

Posted by Nia • June 13, 2018

Last Thursday I had the honor of attending the Global Press Conference for the Incredibles 2 at the London in West Hollywood. In attendance was writer/director Brad Bird, producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker, and the rest of the cast which included Craig T. Nelson (Bob), Holly Hunter (Helen), Sam L. Jackson (Frozone), Bob Odenkirk (Winston Deavor), Catherine Keener (Evelyn Deavor), Sophia Bush (Voyd), Sarah Vowell (Violet), and Huck Milner (Dash). The junket was also moderated by film critic and producer Scott Mantz.

(Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

(Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

Here’s everything I learned from the junket about the making of the Incredibles 2, from what went on behind the scenes during production to Brad Bird’s initial story inspiration.

  1. Brad Bird decided to start the sequel right where the first one left off, despite it being almost 14 years, because “I thought it was bold and weird; people take the time that passes very literally and they think linearly that the characters should have aged. But if they age, their super powers don’t reflect that part of life they’re in and their role in the family.” Bird also went on to mention that if it worked for the Simpsons, which has been on the air since 1989, that it could work for the Parr family. And if you see the film in cinemas on Friday, it obviously did.
  2. There have been huge leaps in technology since the Incredibles was released in 2004. The new technology that Pixar uses and pushes with each film, which is super evident in all the minute details from the hair on Dash’s head to the fibers on Helen’s pants, allowed them to make the film “look more like how Brad intended it to look like the first time.” Nicole Grindle went on to mention “the characters are more nuanced and developed, and we were able to build a lot more sets more quickly, we’ve populated the world with more characters, who have lots of hair and clothing – this is all stuff that most of you guys don’t even notice. Actually that all makes the world feel richer and more alive, not to mention all the other visual effects. We also have lots of artists who’ve had 14 years to get better at their craft, and a lot of artists who were kids when the first one came out and it’s a dream come true for them to work on this film.
  3. Believe it or not, the actors aren’t given full scripts when they come in to record, they’re only given their lines and direction from Brad. So most of the actors don’t even know the full story until they see it with everyone else at the premiere, when everything has finally come together. Holly Hunter didn’t even know about the role reversal until about halfway through her recording session with Brad, “I didn’t read a screenplay, because there wasn’t a full script. Brad was the screenplay, he was my walking encyclopedia; he was my instruction manual. It was a while before I truly realized what I was really going to get to do in the movie and I was thrilled.

    (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

  4. There are many layers to being an ~incredible~ director in animation; there’s dealing with the initial story, figuring out what to do with design, and even directing and shepherding the actors during their voice sessions. The actors come in solo and have to act as if their other co-stars are in the room, which itself can seem like a huge challenge. Sophia Bush mentioned that “I know I’m technically talking to Holly but she’s not there, its just me and Brad and I’m yelling into a void. It’s really so much fun, Brad knows what Holly’s done in the room and he knows how our voices are going to sound together, so you just trust your captain when he tells you that you’ve gotten it right. That the tone, volume, is all right – it’s very cool.
  5. Another challenge for the actors, since there is no screenplay, is figuring out just where they are in a scene. That thought alone can change how an actor delivers their lines, Sarah Vowell went on to discuss: “Are we talking to someone a few inches away or at the back of the room? Because that changes what you’re doing vocally. Like is this scene going to be in a car? How loud do I need to be?  You’re trying to get a sense of the literal architecture of where the characters are. Everything has to be drawn from scratch in animation, whereas with live action the actor is actually in the car; so trying to gauge where we are is really important. It’s not that we’re sitting at a kitchen table, its everything that being a family at a kitchen table implies.
  6. Helen being chosen to take the helm and save the day as opposed to Bob seems to have come at the right moment. Others have speculated that Brad and the team at Pixar released this movie now because of the rising tides against sexual harassment and assault, but in reality, Brad always had this idea brewing in the back of his mind. “The idea of the role switch, that the assignment would go to Helen rather than Bob, I had when we were promoting the first film.” Even Holly said, “it’s purely luck of the draw that this happens to be duck tailing with Me Too and Times Up; I feel that way personally and it happens to be serendipitously reflected in this movie and at the same time, it’s character revelation period. Everyone is having revelations, including Jack-Jack; all the characters are revelations to the audience and to themselves.

    (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

  7. One of my favorite facts from the junket was that the villain kept changing throughout development. It was left unclear who the initial villain was or what changed about them, but Brad discussed why the finished film is different: The superhero part, the villain part, always seemed to change. When I came to Pixar and said I think I have the other part of the story figured out, that old version got green-lit. Then John and Nicole came on, we got a crew and started spending money, and got a release date and then the release date got moved up a year and suddenly the pressure’s HUGE and that plot doesn’t work and now I’m screwed because I have a release date. The villain plot kept changing, everyone else had to adjust to it constantly, which only gave us more anxiety. But I think we wound up with the right version of the story.” 
  8. Another important element that changed included the Parr’s gorgeous mid-century modern home. Ralph Eggleston, production designer on both Incredibles films, played a huge part in designing the iconic new home. “One day Eggleston came in and we’d already put a lot of effort into that old house and we were under tremendous pressure. He said, ‘OK so I have this idea for this new type of house and you know it’s really going to screw things up for everyone, including me.‘” Eggleston then went on to tell Brad Bird that, “the house should not work for the Parr family; it should initially be impressive, but then you get in there and everything is wrong for the family, these things that are beautiful originally soon become this problem. The house has to be impressive but wrong for the family; they’re not in a comfortable place yet, they have to find their way there.” All these things Eggleston said was right but that also meant it would ruin months of hard work and everyone on the team would have to start over from scratch, but Brad Bird agreed to it anyways, “it totally screwed up the script and everything was a giant problem, but it felt right and what needed to change to help the story and characters.”
  9. Even Winston Deavor, the tycoon and superhero enthusiast who seeks out the help of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone in the sequel, was completely different when Bob Odenkirk signed on to voice the character. Deavor wasn’t always Mr. Nice Guy, “when we first started working with Bob, his character wasn’t so nice. It changed over the course of working on the film and he responded so well.” Odenkirk was just happy to be a part of a Pixar film, he “loved that Winston became more genuine; when he starts out he’s more exuberant, more excited, and as he goes you start to see an innocence to him which is more of a twist and even surprising. Where he ends up, I won’t say…

    (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

  10. There’s a scene in the sequel where Jack-Jack takes on a raccoon, and it’s probably the highlight of the film. Watching it back at Pixar in April and then again last week, I can tell that it’s already an iconic scene, one that will be talked about for decades. The scene and overall inspiration for the iconic battle actually came from the first film: “Teddy Newton had this idea back on the original film – he had a gang of raccoons that Jack-Jack confronts. In his original drawings the raccoons came up and shoved Jack-Jack and it went a lot darker; they fought and went to the bottom of the pool, but the idea always killed me because raccoons vaguely looked like robbers. Teddy did a drawing where he’s watching an old movie like in the Incredibles 2 and he sees a classic robber with a mask and looks out in the yard and something is stealing from him, a ‘robber’ is stealing from his family. It doesn’t matter that its garbage, Jack-Jack doesn’t know that, he knows that he’s being robbed and he must do something about it. So I loved that and it was so visual and clear and it was such an off the wall idea that it was one of the things I couldn’t wait to do if we got another Incredibles going.”
  11. As Brad Bird mentioned, there was a lot of pressure going into the sequel; the tight deadlines and story issues weren’t the only thing that bothered him, he was also worried about how audiences would perceive the Parr family amidst all the Marvel superhero films being released. Brad’s darkest moment came two years ago when he feared if people would be sick of the Incredibles 2 by the time it was released. But Brad started thinking about what truly inspired him about the Parr family and why he made this film in the first place. “What excited me wasn’t the superheroes, it was the family dynamic and everyone’s roles in different parts of their life. Superhero’s are a just twist of lemon you squeeze on top of it all. Families are a continent of fresh opportunities because it’s so universal.

The Incredibles 2 comes to theaters this Friday! Be sure to let us know what you think of the film below and on Twitter! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Read article

The Making of Bao: Story, design inspiration, and more!

Bao, Behind The Scenes, Domee Shi, Interview, Short Film, Shorts

Posted by Nia • April 23, 2018

Bao is Pixar’s new theatrical short that will be playing this summer in front of the Incredibles 2. It’s one of my favorite shorts from Pixar and it goes without saying – the film is full of scrumptious designs and a heartwarming story that will have you begging for more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our review of the film.

During my most recent trip to Pixar I learned some fantastic things about the making of Bao from director Domee Shi, production designer Rona Liu, and producer Becky Neiman-Cobb.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

  1. Bao has two meanings in Chinese: steamed bun and to treasure something precious. Domee thought it would be the perfect title for a story about “a precious little steam bun.”
  2. Domee’s #1 obsession in life, outside of animation, is obviously food (and I don’t blame her – I think about food 24/7). “I love food, not just eating it, but drawing it as well.” Before the days of Bao, Domee was making art about food and posting it online. You might remember some of the food related gags and little food-centric comics from her My Food Fantasies
  3. Domee was also inspired by food folk tales because “they’re so cute and strange – like the little gingerbread man and that one song, there was an old lady who swallowed a fly.” With Bao, she was inspired to do a Chinese version of all those folk takes she loved.
  4. According to Domee, the first ingredient to Bao was obviously food and the second ingredient was what she knew best: growing up as an only child. Domee’s family was a small immigrant family that moved from China and lived in Toronto. Domee’s father worked a lot and because of that she spent a lot of time with her mom growing up. Her mom would hold her close whenever she could and treated her like a “delicate little dumpling.” When Domee started growing up and doing things on her own, it was hard for her mom to let go and she’d tell Domee,“I wish I could put you back in my stomach so I’d know exactly where you were at all times.” Domee even said, “It’s that creepy sweet love of a mom who doesn’t want to let go of her little dumpling that was the spark that became the heart of the story.”

    ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

  5. Domee wasn’t only inspired by her relationship with her mom, but she was inspired by her. She is a “dumpling Queen.” Food was how Domee’s mom showed her love for her and they formed a special bond making dumplings together over the years for numerous holidays and events. “In Chinese culture, food and family go hand in hand. When you want to show that you care about someone and that you love someone, you don’t say ‘I love you’ you say ‘have you eaten yet?'”
  6. Her mom was involved in the research for Bao. She’d come in to do “dumpling making demos” for the animators and effects and simulation artists.

    (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

  7. The third ingredient for this short was Chinatown, specifically Chinatown in Toronto where Domee grew up. She wanted to honor that setting and the equally vibrant Chinatown grannies. “I wanted to celebrate their bold colors, their keen eye when it comes to picking out the freshest produce, and their determination to get the best deals in town.”
  8. The style of Bao was inspired by 2D Japanese animation, especially the visual styles of My Neighbors the Yamatas and One Piece. Domee “loved how squishy the characters looked and how pushed their expressions were.”

    ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

  9. Though translating 2D designs to 3D was the biggest obstacle Domee and her team had to get past. Some poses and expressions didn’t translate as well when it was created with 3D software, since 3D itself is its own medium. Some of the design aspects Domee wanted to pull from My Neighbors the Yamatas or One Piece were going to be an challenge, like the mother’s massive head and exaggerated limbs, but there’s nothing that a little planning can’t solve, especially in animation production. In the end, after trial and error, they were able to combine 2D graphic design and 3D modeling, which gave Domee range to achieve what she wanted.
  10. Production designer Rona Liu “oversaw all the visuals in the film.” Her job was to work with the different departments to make sure the look was cohesive and adhered to Domee’s vision.
  11. According to Rona, Domee wanted the short to look and feel very, very cute. It was also heavily influenced by Japanese folk art. She loved the “simple and graphic designs and the fact that a slice of life was the main subject… she wanted to borrow some of that philosophy with Bao, while keeping focus on the characters as much as possible.”
  12. The patterns on the mother’s clothes supported her emotional journey throughout the film. When the mother is unhappy and lonely, Rona used muted colors. When the mother is happy, the colors were “bold and red and auspicious.”
  13. The environment also played a supporting role to the characters. The background designs used throughout the short are not perfectly straight; if you look closely at some of the sets in the trailer and even when you see the film this summer, you’ll find that none of edges actually meet perfectly together, lines are wibbly wobbly. The mother’s house in particular had to reflect that she was an immigrant, a “blend of East meets West.” Rona had decided all the built-ins in the mother’s kitchen would be Western, while all the things the mother buys would be Chinese. 
  14. According to producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, the pork filling was the hardest thing for the effects artists to figure out. “It took two months for them to master the look and feel of the pork filling for the short.” What made the food effects so challenging was that, “we’re all experts as to what food looks like.” And food is the star in Bao, so “if it didn’t look perfect or believable it would pull the audience out of the story.”

Make sure you save lots of room for dessert because Bao is coming to theaters June 15th!

Read article

12 Moments From The Cars 3 Press Event That Will Get You Excited For The Film

Brian Fee, Cars 3, Interview, Press Conference

Posted by Nia • June 14, 2017

We hope your nostalgia and love for the Cars universe has moved into full gear, because Cars 3 finally opens in cinemas this Friday, June 16th.

Upcoming Pixar was honored to attend the press event for the film last Saturday in Anaheim. Here are some of our favorite moments from the event that will, without a doubt, get you pumped for Friday.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  1. NASCAR superstar, Ray Evernham, moderated the event and started things off by asking Brian Fee why the Cars films have resonated with audiences for over a decade. “I think it’s the characters and the overall appeal to their realism.  When you walk away from a movie, if you felt anything at all, it’s probably because of the characters. You can see a little bit of yourself in them, see a little bit of someone you know. I think at the end of the day that’s what we take away.”
  2. One of the biggest new characters that’s introduced in Cars 3 is Cruz, a personal trainer to the race cars. She has a massive impact in the story and Lightning McQueen’s own character arc. From Cristela Alonzo, the voice of Cruz,”What I like about her is that she’s very good at what she does, but at the same time she still has doubts about herself regarding the same skills that she uses to coach the cars to become the best they can be. What I like about Cruz is that I think she’s very relatable to both boys and girls. You might have doubts about things, you might not know how you’re going to pull something off, and at the end of the day you realize the only way to make sure you can do your best is to actually just go for it and trust your instincts. I think that’s something we all struggle with at times – the whole idea that you think you can do something and then you have doubts. You realize you’ve got to forget the doubts, it’s going to happen anyways – let’s just try our best and see what happens. And I love that about her.”
  3. You’ll notice that Cars 3 has definitely upped the game in regards to showcasing strong female characters. Not only is Cruz involved, but there’s also Natalie Certain, who works for the Racing Sports Network, and spends some of the film predicting the outcome of the races. Kerry Washington is the voice of Natalie, and said this in regards to the diversity in the film, “I do think it’s fun to see women in the film who are brave, smart, and courageous but also teachable. Women who balance having extraordinary talent and intellect but are also humble enough to learn the lessons they learn at the end of the film. To learn that you have to step into your greatness and that it’s not as simple as numbers. Heart and passion is the most important thing.”
  4. Director Brian Fee listed John Lasseter and the late Joe Ranft, as his professional mentors. “They’ve given me a lot of career advice and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  5. In fact, Fee’s first memory of the Cars franchise was when he started at Pixar in the story department. “My first memory is sitting in story reviews with John and the rest of the story crew, just trying to figure out different ways to make each other laugh around the table. Drawing lots of things, gags and jokes, and pinning them up to the wall. I couldn’t believe I was there, I was trying to absorb everything.”
  6. Fee’s children have influenced Cars 3 a great deal, to the point of including a strong female presence throughout the story, “I want my daughters to never be afraid to try something because they think they’re not good at it. I never want to hear them say something like, certain things are for boys and certain things are for girls.”
  7. Cristela Alonzo definitely had the greatest presence during the press event, and offered many inspirational quotes. This one being our favorite, “I like this movie a lot because I feel it’s a good way to tell kids that they matter. And I think that growing up, when you come from a family that doesn’t have a lot, a lot of the time the parents forget to tell the kids that they matter because they’re too busy trying to survive. I want them to know back home, that it’s possible for them to have a dream and to actually achieve it.”
  8. Owen Wilson and Cristela Alonzo actually worked together, as opposed to recording their lines separately like the rest of the cast. Fee wanted them to record together so that they’d be able to show their relationship and the support, get those real emotions caught together, just like the same support and friendship that Cruz and Lightning McQueen give each other throughout the film.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  9. Cars 3 deals a lot with the old and the new – the racers of the past and the racers of the present, there was a lot of contrast between the use of modern technology in racing and how the younger, faster cars, are replacing the older makes. Isiah Whitlock Jr, who voices River Scott, a Priston Cup racer from the ’50s, gave his thoughts on the heavy themes, “I really feel that we need to pay attention to the pioneers, and the people who have come before us. And some of the struggles, especially with the character that I play. We need to pay attention to that and to see how we got to where we are today. I know with Scott, he did not have the sponsors or the equipment – there were so many obstacles and yet he was able to persevere. That’s the key word there, perseverance, overcoming a lot of those obstacles to be successful.”
  10. Research for every Pixar film is a key element to the success of the story, but Producer Kevin Reher mentioned that research for Cars 3 was especially important since they were honoring the racers of the past. “We were so inspired from these wonderful stories that came forward during our research. The stories of Louise Smith, Wendell Scott, and Junior Johnson. We just felt that we wanted to honor them with our story and their backstory.”
  11. Brian Fee mentioned that he enjoys some of the improvisation that happens during the recording sessions. He’s had to go back to the script numerous times and change dialogue or some of the action by what wonderful reactions and lines comes from the actors.
  12. And finally, Nathan Fillion, who voices Sterling, Lightning McQueen’s new sponsor, gives his reasons for what makes Pixar films so compelling, “Here’s my theory, nothing happens by accident in a Pixar movie. They tell their story one pixel at a time. So, by the time it gets to the point where I’m sitting there in front of the microphone, all of the hard work has actually been done. I rely very heavily on the director, we get to play around a little bit, but in all honesty you’re looking at a thanksgiving meal and Nathan is the pepper. They work has been done, we just need a little extra pepper and we’re done.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Cars 3 is an absolute blast and we can’t wait to see it again and again in theaters starting this Friday.

Read article

The Incredibles 2 Sequel Happily Moves Through Production

Behind The Scenes, Brad Bird, Interview, sequels, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2

Posted by Nia • September 12, 2016

incredibles-2-update-main

It’s insane thinking about how its been 12 years since The Incredibles first premiered in cinemas. For some of us old folk, it only feels like yesterday when we sat in the dark, jaws agape, and inspired as we traveled through dangerous territories following the Parr family. With that being said, fantastic news, as always, regarding one of the most anticipated sequels from Pixar to date! Happy to report, straight from Brad Bird himself, that The Incredibles 2 continues to move smoothly through the production pipeline. From our friends over at Entertainment Weekly, we’ve found that Brad Bird dished some small insights into the upcoming film, careful not to give away any key plot points:

“I don’t like unwrapping presents before Christmas… It’s very actively moving, and we’re excited about it. We’re trying to take it in some new directions. Hopefully it’s the same characters and feel, but going in a new direction. I mean, that’s the trick with a sequel. It’s repeating yourself, without repeating yourself.”

Considering how Hollywood seems to be pushing out superhero films in an assembly line fashion these days, we’re curious to see what new spin on the genre Bird and team will create this time around. We’re also eager to see how the Parr family has been faring all of these years since we’ve last seen them on screen. It’s great to know that despite it being a sequel, Bird is conscious of that aspect and is trying to create a film that will stand alone from the first installment. Back when The Incredibles was released in 2004, Bird helped shape a new form of storytelling both in animation and in the superhero universe; delving into the familial side of superheroes, getting into their psyches, while straying from the cliches that have been notorious with Hollywood’s representation of anyone who wears a cape. Thank God Edna banished those fashion statements long ago. Perhaps this even inspired the darker side of superheros seen in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Regardless, 2019 can’t come soon enough.

The Incredibles 2 is scheduled for release on June 21, 2019.

 

Read article

Here’s Your Chance To Ask The Team Behind Finding Dory Questions!

Andrew Stanton, Angus Maclane, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Interview

Posted by Nia • June 4, 2016

Finding-Dory-Fluke-Rudder-Screencap-Pixar-Post

Upcoming Pixar will have the opportunity to interview the cast, directors, and producer of Finding Dory next week on June 9th. Do you have any questions for directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane? What about any inquiries for the cast on your favorite fishy friends? Not only will you have the chance to ask them questions, but you’ll also be featured in a future post. Tweet us your questions or leave us a comment below about what you’d like us to ask them or know about their 17th feature film.

Don’t forget to check out Finding Dory when it splashes into theaters June 17th!

Just… keep… swimming!

Read article

Upcoming Pixar Interviews Peter Sohn For The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Release

Blu-Ray, Bob Peterson, DVD, Interview, Pete Sohn, The Good Dinosaur, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Nia • February 19, 2016

It’s easy to get carried away during the excitement of the award season here in Hollywood. Amid the buzz of the upcoming Oscar ceremony, Disney/Pixar held a press day in Los Angeles to celebrate the Blu-ray and Digital HD release of their 16th feature film The Good Dinosaur.

The film will finally be coming to Blu-ray and Digital HD on the 23d of February. I had the opportunity to interview director Peter Sohn about the The Good Dinosaur‘s overall production process and it’s Blu-ray release.

Image via Disney/Pixar

Image via Disney/Pixar

What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process? And more specifically, what’s your favorite part about working on an animated film?

My favorite part has continually been getting to work with all of the amazing artists up at Pixar. On every film there you’re collaborating with a lot of talented and creative people, and for me I live off of it. I can’t tell you how much fun it was, from department to department, to get to know what people love, what people don’t like, and trying to find ways to make the best film that we could. My favorite part of making an animated movie definitely is the world building and the character building. There’s nothing that comes for free in animation. You literally have to build everything from the ground up and in doing that, there are so many “what if” questions and exploration you can do that’s really fun. Once you get down to making a character come to life there’s nothing more exciting.

And what is the most challenging aspect of making an animated film?

I think it has to do with the same thing I’ve always said: trying to tell the best story possible. The story reels in an animated movie have to be very tight because you have to draw every shot out. It’s all going to be made and then worked on, so you don’t want to get that wrong. You really focus on those reels and trying to tell a story within the reel. You’re just constantly putting it up and then taking it down, putting it up and then taking it down again, and that’s very difficult. It’s an important one for animation.

What are some inspirations for you as a storyteller?

I love watching other movies, diving into other art, and being inspired by what other people have done. When it comes down to it, the more I’ve been doing this job, the more living my own life has become a real inspiration. Finding out about other people, other cultures, other traditions; finding out about who I am and how I fit in the world has all been really great.

Were there any westerns that inspired the overall look of The Good Dinosaur?

There were locations that were really an inspiration for the movie. In Shane, Dancing With Wolves, and Heavens Gate there was beautiful cinematography. There was a lot of inspiration that came from stories as well, different types of stories, like E.T. or Black Stallion. But when it came to the true Western inspiration, nothing beat the real thing. We did a lot of research going out to Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho; that gave us our greatest source of inspiration.

How long did it take to develop the look of The Good Dinosaur? What type of new technology was used in developing the backgrounds, FX, etc?

I can’t give an exact date, but I can tell you this whole film was made in less than two years. When we first started talking about this, one of the things I wanted to try was making nature a real character in this movie. I don’t mean it had eyes or a mouth, but that Arlo could feel it and nature would become an antagonist throughout the film. It was really interesting because if you make nature a character, you really have to focus on it. The Good Dinosaur is a movie about Arlo and how he is growing. It was always about that back and forth between Arlo and nature; how nature tests Arlo and how Arlo learns to love nature. There’s a lot of technology that was involved in bringing that to life. First of all, water is very difficult to do in computer animation and the river would become Arlo’s yellow brick road that he needed to follow back home. So we had a lot of water in this film! There was a lot of new technology to bring that to life and all of the characteristics of water. For example, when Arlo was terrified or scared we really wanted the river to be kind of broiling so that it was almost parallel to what Arlo was going through. When Arlo got closer to nature, closer to Spot, the river would be peaceful and calm. We wanted to create a world that was big in scopes so that we could really dwarf a creature as large as a dinosaur. That meant kind of making the world feel 500 miles bigger in all directions. That was no easy feat. There was new technology built in terms of pulling out geological surveys, and understanding how the river erodes in nature. We also started building tiles. We started building hundreds of square miles of tiles that we would kind of stamp out into the horizon line and from there propagate rocks and trees. The technicians at Pixar came up with math that said, “OK from 400 feet high it will be snow. From 400 feet below it will be this type of tree, and then below that it will be water.” That’s just a really simple way of describing how the artists came up with ways to fill out the world.

What sparked the concept/initial story?

It was really Bob Peterson’s first pitch about a boy and this dog, then flipping it where the boy is the dinosaur and the dog is this human boy. That was the initial pitch and that kind of set everything off. Bob would ask me to come help and soon after that we talked a lot about how this relationship could work, and how the evolution could work. It’s impossible to have humans and dinosaurs together so that opened up the bigger concept about what if the asteroid had missed the earth. So it all kind of stemmed off there and we continued to dig deeper to find the story.

Is there a character you see yourself in the most? Why?

I see myself in Arlo a great deal; in all aspects of my life, from growing up to even making this film. Funny enough, when I was asked to direct The Good Dinosaur I was terrified, I was really scared. With the great support of friends and other directors I felt more confident, and the love for these characters and this movie kept me going through it.

What kind of behind the scenes footage do we except to see on the Blu-ray?

You know what’s great is that you will be able to see some of the footage of our research trips that really inspired the look and the characters of the film. There’s one in particular that’s close to my heart, and it’s the documentary on the McKay’s – this Oregon family that we met and I can’t tell you how much they changed the feeling of the movie and changed my life.

Thanks again to Peter Sohn for his time and for all the folks at Pixar for inspiring us all with The Good Dinosaur. The film is out on Blu-ray and Digital HD on Tuesday, February 23rd. Be sure to check back with us at Upcoming Pixar for a Blu-ray giveaway!

Read article

Pixar President Jim Morris Gives Insight Into The Studio’s Creative Process

2D Animation, 30 Years of Pixar, Animation, Behind The Scenes, Ed Catmull, Interview, Jim Morris, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Nia • February 9, 2016

Courtesy of Time Out: Hong Kong and Disney/Pixar.

Jim Morris has been president of Pixar Animation Studios since 2005. He came to Pixar after working for a lengthy period at Lucas Digital. While at LucasFilm, he helped make a slew of films including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars; just to name a few. During a recent interview with Time Out: Hong Kong, Morris gave readers a little glimpse behind the scenes of Pixar and what it takes to create the animated films the studio is most famous for.

One of the main discussion points during the interview was the fact that Pixar, for the first time in the studio’s history, was able to release two feature length films in 2015. According to Morris, Pixar’s original plan was to have at least one original film every other year, followed by a sequel every other year.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge this year. We’re actually finishing films every eight months. We have enough production capability, but unfortunately that is not the issue! The issue is having the stories developed to the right point so we have enough content to make the films. That is the tricky part. It’s worked out fine so far. It does make a crunch with publicity; everyone gets spread a bit thin. But we’re feeling okay, we’re not at the point of regret, yet!”

The most important aspect behind every Pixar film is undoubtedly the story. Each Pixar film has been able to stand alone because of the unique characters that come along with the blend of animation and technology. In the scheme of storytelling at Pixar, the first step to launching a thousand feels is the emotional core behind each story.

“Usually the first thing that comes is an idea that engages the director. I would say there is some emotional core that motivates them to want to tell a story, and later we can infer a theme from that. Inside Out is an easy one to talk about – [director] Pete Docter was wondering why his daughter had changed. It started out as that core idea, but it evolved. It went through so many iterations. After we have that starting point, the characters get forged from that, and then more about the setting and the world gets forged from that.”

Storytelling aside, actually getting the film up on it’s feet after the initial concept is approved is tough enough. Most of the hours put into a film at Pixar exceed Walt Disney’s standards for his classic, 2-D animated films.

“Something most people don’t realize about our films actually is that, even though the computers are doing the animation, our average film takes 20,000 person-weeks to make. And that is probably a little bit more than most traditional, hand-drawn Disney films took. The amount of labour it takes to make a film like this is huge – the textures and scenes are painted by hand. Our joke used to be that we are where high-tech and low-life collide.”

There has been some criticism towards Pixar for it’s lack of women directors. Brenda Chapman has been the only female director to take the helm of a feature film for 2012’s Brave, but due to creative differences she was replaced by Mark Andrews halfway through production. Morris brought up that Pixar is indeed trying to fix this problem and make the company more diverse in regards to more opportunities for female storytellers.

“One thing we’re trying to do is to expand the roster of directors. We’re trying to build the next generation and make the company more diverse, to get a breadth of voices to tell a range of stories. We’re 37 percent female at the moment, and we’d like to be 50 percent. We don’t have a lot of turnover at Pixar though, which makes that somewhat challenging!”

Before concluding the interview, Morris was able to dish that there is some NEW original content in the works for a series of films on top of the already scheduled (and very anticipated) studio line-up.

“We have a bunch of confirmed titles. There’s Finding Dory later this year. We’re working on The Incredibles 2Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. Dan Scanlon, who did Monsters University is working on an original film. Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, is working on one, too. We have a new director called Brian Phee, who is working on a new movie, and we have a few shorts that are in the works. I can’t say much more than that or I’ll get in trouble!”

It’s certainly strange thinking that far into the future about films at Pixar, but exciting to know there is some awesome content brewing at the studio and a new director in the loop. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Jim Morris over at Time Out!

Read article