I received the following information as a blogger via Walt Disney Publications. While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to the press events for The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, and Miles From Tomorrowland, all opinions are 100% my own.Last month I posted on my blog about an evening with Pete Sohn, the director of THE GOOD DINOSAUR, where he discussed the research trips behind the film. We are once again diving into the creation of the movie. While 24 other bloggers and I visited Pixar Studios, we had the privilege to meet with the filmmakers and creative minds behind the film…. and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing to see all the hard work that goes into just one film. No wonder it takes around 3 to 5 years! However, even from the 30 minutes of #GoodDino footage I watched, this film is absolutely breathtaking and I’m sure their hard work will definitely pay off!
Today I’ll be discussing my experience with Harley Jessup, the film’s production designer. He taught us all about how the art department worked on designing the various characters in the film, and their surround environments. I’ll also go into detail about our meeting with the film’s animators, Kevin O’Hara and Rob Thompson. They gave us a pretty amazing demo on the movement of the animated dinos.
Designing a Big World
As I mentioned above, one of the creative minds who worked on the film was Harley Jessup. Harley is a production designer in Pixar’s art department.
Did you know Pixar films often taken 3 to 5 years to create due to all the in depth research that goes into making sure the studio accurately captures the feeling and vibe of the film? Harley described how when sculptors from the art department when creating the characters, they went on actual dinosaur digs to be able to study the structure and body of the dinosaurs. He shared with us various stages of sculptures that were created before finalizing the look of each character. It was very cool to see the progression right there in person!
For example, Harley showed us the difference in Arlo’s family. The males had more boxy, sharp framed heads and faces, while the females’ faces had more soft curves to the shape. You’ll notice that Arlo is in between the two. He’s obviously male, but was given a less box shaped head to separate him from the other male dinosaurs of his species.
Characters weren’t the only responsibility of the art department! Harley describe how another responsibility in the film was to create the landscapes and settings in the film. He mentioned that Arlo’s house and farm was inspired by a Montana homestead of the 1950s. He raved about his time spent in Wyoming doing research for the film. Since the previous night we had spent time with Peter Sohn learning about the research trips, I’d have to agree! Wyoming and the north west are absolutely breathtaking landscapes in America.It wasn’t just the landscape though that Harley had to think about. THE GOOD DINOSAUR takes places over the span of three season, spring to fall. The art department had to take that into consideration in detailing each scene.
One of Harley’s favorite scenes when it comes to the art direction is the firefly scene you can see in the trailer. This is when Arlo moves his tail and is able to push the fireflies through the grass and into the clouds. Harley describe this as a truly magical moment in the film.
Acting as Dinos
During our day at Pixar Studios, we had the pleasure of meeting studio animators Kevin O’Hara and Rob Thompson. They gave us an in depth animation demo highlighting the reference used by animators to create the movement of the dinosaurs. It was actually pretty interesting! I had no idea that they actually look to the zoo for inspiration!
So animating a human? That’s pretty easy for a seasoned animator. A dinosaur though? That’s a bit different! Since obviously dinosaurs are no longer around, the challenge was finding an animal they could imitate as a dinosaur. This is where the zoo came in! The animators actually took a trip to the local zoo to observe animals, soon discovering that it is elephants that could probably inspire them the most, between the scale and how they walked. Who would have thought! Kevin explained to us that animating a “quadruped walk” is quite difficult. Luckily though, the animators were able to break the walk down to four basic move positions. For instance, position one includes “head up, chest down, hips up.” While position two includes “head down, chest up, hips down.” For positions three and four, those are mirrors of the first two, but with different legs. They showed us on the big screen how they created the walk, by demoing Arlo climbing up a mountain. It’s pretty high tech stuff! But you could tell these animators definitely knew what they were doing.It was really interesting to hear them talk about Spot. Since Spot is a human, they originally had him walking in two, but then decided to move to his character to someone who walks on all fours. Interestingly enough, as the elephants inspired the dinosaurs, it was dogs, and actually racoon that helped inspire the movements for Spot!
As for the movements of the T-rexes and raptors, the animators studied horses, and people riding horses. Who would have thought! However, once I go back and watch the movements of the T-rex, I can definitely see the inspiration of a horses gallop.
It really is absolutely amazing all the technical and artistic work that goes into animated films such as THE GOOD DINOSAUR. What you then see on the big screen is just absolutely stunning.
The Good Dinosaur Official US Trailer
Don’t forget to connect with THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube!
THE GOOD DINOSAUR opens in theatres everywhere on November 25th!
Now if your little one is excited for THE GOOD DINOSAUR as much as my little guy, you may want to check out these fun coloring and activity sheets to download and print! Plus check out my Dino Fossil eggs tutorial! This fun activity was inspired by the film as well. My son had such a blast creating the eggs (and eating them too!).
Want to see more of my adventures in San Francisco? Take a look at my Twitter (@AshBG) and Instagram (@ashb4211). Make sure you follow the hashtags #GoodDinoEvent, #InsideOutBloggers, #MilesEvent, and #Waltagram.