×

Pete Docter on ‘Inside Out’s’ Team Tackling Unique Challenges

Pete Docter, director/co-writer of Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out,” says the film presented unique challenges, but the artisans’ demands were often surprisingly similar to live-action work. He spoke with Variety about some of his key team.

Production designer Ralph Eggleston
This was arguably the toughest job on the film, since the entire world was made up. There was no place to look for reference, since it was set inside the mind, rather than the brain. His job was to lead a very small art team and decide everything, from what Anger looks like to their workspaces. Ralph (in the photo above) and the other art folks will sit first to draw. As the process refines, they get more detailed on color and texture.

Editor Kevin Nolting
For 90 minutes of the movie, we have created at least 10 times the amount of sequences. In animation, you start with script; we record ourselves doing dialogue, we do scribbles on paper. Kevin’s job is to cut it together, with music, to make it alive, so you care about what’s going on. As with live-action, you have to select the right take; he’s deciding on coverage, wide shots, he makes a lot of decisions that are the difference between a sequence working or failing.

Cinematographers Patrick Lin, Kim White
A lot people seem to feel animation is just made up: “They type the words ‘make a film’ into the computer and it all comes together.” But these are brilliant creative people who are thinking about composition and storytelling, and what does a visual say. Patrick and Kim were invaluable in creating the look of the film. They created one visual language for the mind world, another for the real world. They’re using the camera to tell the story.

“(Michael Giacchino) composed an eight-minute suite and said, ‘This is the way your movie made me feel. See if I’m on the mark.’ He hit it out of the park.”
PETE DOCTER

Composer Michael Giacchino
He and I both have daughters around the same age — I think the subject matter hit him strongly and he immediately started working. He composed an eight-minute suite and said, “This is the way your movie made me feel. See if I’m on the mark.” He had hit it out of the park. I started crying; he had captured in tone and rhythm, the experience of watching a kid grow older.

Sound designer Ren Klyce
We cast him because he does a lot of David Fincher films. They’re very immersive. I would describe what we were after and he’d say, “Got it.” He created these complex soundscapes; he has no source material, no actual production sounds, because these aren’t real-life places, they’re made out of energy. So he had to think emotionally.

Casting directors Natalie Lyon, Kevin Reher
Kevin and Natalie would hear a description of the character and say, “Oh! Have you heard this actor?” They will grab audio from some other movie or TV show or even an interview, but we don’t want to see the actors. I purposely cover up headshots, because I don’t want to be influenced by the actor’s look. Inevitably, you start working with the actor, and by listening to them, you tailor the part to them and rewrite lines, phrases; you hear these people talking in your head.

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Will Smith Gemini Man Special Effects

    How the 'Gemini Man' VFX Team Digitally Created a Younger Version of Will Smith

    More human than human — yes, that’s a “Blade Runner” reference — yet it sounds like an unattainable standard when it comes to creating believable, photorealistic, digital human characters. But the visual effects team on Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” set its sights on something even more difficult: creating a digital version of young Will Smith [...]

  • Jest to Impress Cartoon Network Virtual

    New In-House VR Program Helps Cartoon Network Artists Add a Virtual Dimension

    Teams of animators and artists from across Cartoon Network’s numerous properties are getting the chance to expand into virtual reality storytelling via the company’s pilot program, Journeys VR. The work of the first three teams — including experiences based on action, nature and comedy — was unveiled to global audiences Oct. 1 on Steam and [...]

  • Frozen 2

    How the 'Frozen II' Artists Created Believable Emotion Through Animation

    “The more believable you can make the character [look], the more people believe how [it’s] feeling,” says Tony Smeed, who, with Becky Bresee, shared the challenge of heading animation on Disney’s highly anticipated “Frozen II.” “Emotion comes from inside and manifests itself into actions and facial expressions. Anything beyond that is movement for the sake [...]

  • Lucy in the Sky BTS

    'Lucy in the Sky' DP Shifts Frame to Show Inner Turmoil of Natalie Portman's Astronaut

    What drew cinematographer Polly Morgan to “Lucy in the Sky” was how Noah Hawley’s script so clearly illuminated the emotional breakdown of astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) in a way that felt very insular: The visual cues were on the page — and conveyed an unusual approach to charting the character’s journey. “When things fall [...]

  • NICKI LEDERMAN and JOAQUIN PHOENIX Joker

    How Makeup, Hair and Costume Team Gave 'Joker' a New Look for Origin Story

    “We’re not in the superhero world,” says Nicki Ledermann, makeup head on Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” which reimagines the iconic comic book villain’s origin in an acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix. “This story is treated as real life, and that’s what made the project so interesting.” In this most recent take on Batman’s nemesis — a [...]

  • Exceptional Minds VFX Autism Training

    VES Honoree Susan Zwerman Trains People on the Autism Spectrum for Film, TV Jobs

    Most of those who have earned the honor of VES Fellow in the past decade have been recognized by the Visual Effects Society for on-screen innovation. But this year’s honoree, Susan Zwerman, is equally distinguished by her off-screen accomplishments. Zwerman is the studio executive producer for Exceptional Minds, a visual effects and animation school for [...]

  • Bullitt Rexford Metz Cinematographer

    Second-Unit DP Rexford Metz Took to the Sky and Water for Memorable Shots

    King of the second-unit cinematographers, Rexford Metz is second to none when it comes to getting shots on the ground, in water or high in the sky.  He operated the camera during the famed 10-minute chase sequence in “Bullitt” on the streets of San Francisco in 1968, and it was his coverage of muscle cars [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content