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.Howdy! Today we are continuing our coverage from the press trip I attended out in San Francisco to learn more about the upcoming Disney Pixar film THE GOOD DINOSAUR! Just to recap, hopefully you’ve already seen my post about an evening with Director Pete Sohn, where he discussed the research trips behind the film. Additionally, I also posted about my experience chatting with the art department and animators who worked on the film.
First off, I can’t tell you how excited I am about this film. Exploring the behind the scenes aspects has made me even more excited (as if that was possible) for the film! I absolutely love that it we were able to chat with the minds behind the creation of this film. In this post, I’ll be chatting about my experience with Sharon Calahan, the Director of Photography-Lighting, who worked on picture progression. In addition, I met with Sets Supervisor David Munier, who explained how filmmakers used actual USGS data to create sets. Last but not least, I’ll talk about my time with Effects Supervisor Jon Reisch, who gave us a presentation on effective storytelling.
Creating the Visual Design
So first up, one of the first presentations I attended was given by Sharon Calahan, who I mentioned is the Director of Photography-Lighting from the visual design department. Sharon actually attended the research trips with Pete Sohn. Given that she was from the northwest, she was quite familiar with the landscapes of areas such as the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. She mentioned how films such as THE BLACK STALLION, SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET, and DANCES WITH WOLVES served as visual influences for THE GOOD DINOSAUR.
From the footage of the film I watched, I could definitely see where these other films’ landscapes came into play! For Pete, he really wanted the characters in the film to be appealing in a “world of wonder.” He really wanted Sharon (who is a painter by the way!) to come up with a world that was quite visually rich.
So that not every scene looked the same, Sharon made sure create unique landscapes and areas identifiable in the film. For instance, inspired by Yellowstone, Clawtooth Mountain is the only mountain in the film where you will see snow.
Part of her job was to work on the color scripts. She described the emotional aspect of the film. She saw it as part of her job to support that aspect visually.
I mentioned in my previous post on the creation of this film that Harley Jessup, the film’s production designer, found the firefly scene to be such a magical moment. Sharon felt the same!
A View From Above
Another presentation was given by Sets Supervisor David Munier. When we first walked into the room, we immediately saw all the United State Geological Survey data up on the screen! It was really cool to learn the process of how data is transformed into art.
The data David showed us was actually of the Grand Tetons and Snake River that served as inspiration in the film. Filmmakers actually used 13,600 square miles of mapped area to help them create scenes!
This saved them a lot of time given that they then didn’t have to draw everything from scratch. After collecting the data, David’s team worked with the art team to come up with designs and scene renderings of the landscapes.
Of course the artwork is quite unique to the look of the film. However it is really useful that the data and environment serves as an advisory to the team in the landscapes’ creation!
On this film, Jon worked with a team to create all the natural phenomenons you see occur such as water, mist, and fog to name a few. These effects serve as guiding principals to create believable interactions, and give the characters a sense of existing in the real world. The effects also help heighten the mood, atmosphere, and drama of the film!
Nature in the film is viewed as the antagonist. So for example, let’s take water. If you exam THE GOOD DINOSAUR, the river is actually a character in the film. At first the river is “angry” and aggressive, sweeping Arlo away from his family. The river, as a character, propels Arlo into the second act of the film. At a point though, Arlo recognizes the water as his “Yellow Brick Road”, and it becomes more calm and serene, showing him the path to his homestead.
However, for those first stages in which Arlo nearly drowns, effects are used to create the drama of the scene where Arlo falls into the river. You need the rain, the splashing, the flashing lights all to create a tense scene. This is where Jon and his team come in!
Photo by: Marc Flores. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Again I was totally blown away by the amazing technical and artistic work that goes into Pixar’s animated films. Taking a glimpse behind the scenes gives you a new appreciation for all the hard work ethic that goes into these films.
The Good Dinosaur Official US Trailer
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.