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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.

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