Monsters University Makes the Grade
Fans delighted in the announcement yesterday at The Walt Disney Studios presentation in the D23 Arena that Billy Crystal and John Goodman would return to their roles as Mike and Sully in Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters, Inc. Later that same day director Dan Scanlon and production designer Ricky Nierva talked about how they are going to turn back the clock and take these two characters back to college.
“How do you make an eyeball look 18 years old?” Dan said describing the dilemma in making monster Mike Wazowski look younger. “There’s not a lot to do, so it becomes about the subtleties.” The animators at Pixar tried a variety of distinguishing factors that might help the audience see our beloved Cyclops as a college student. They tried hair, baseball caps, braces, and even clothing the creature in a sweatsuit. They finally settled on a retainer!
For James P. Sullivan, they thinned the mammoth monster down, added a mullet and made him shaggier. When they revealed the current design for 18-year-old Sully, there was a collective “Awwww,” from a clearly enamored audience. “That’s the response we want!” Ricky exclaimed.
It was another example of how the D23 Expo audience could see firsthand how much work and attention to detail go into the making of Pixar’s heartwarming classics.
A Brave New World
For the last five years, Pixar artists have been working tirelessly to create the mystical 10th century world of Brave. This morning, D23 fans got an inside look at some of the beautiful paintings, sketches, and sculptures the studio has conceived in its quest to bring the Scottish fairy tale to the big screen. Steve Pilcher, production designer, and Tia Kratter, shader art director, gave the capacity crowd at Stage 23 a behind-the-scenes look at their creative journey.
Whether designing the rugged rock-strewn terrain, a mist-filled forest, or one of the rolling green landscapes you’ll find in Brave, the team at Pixar was careful to make sure that they got every last detail right. To ensure they correctly captured the essence of the Highlands, the production team made two research trips to Scotland in 2006, bringing back hundreds and hundreds of photos and sketches. “The most important thing to me is the emotional tone of the film,” Steve said. The landscapes help set that tone and carry it throughout the film.
For the characters and their costumes, animators drew inspiration from artists such as Gustav Klimt and John Singer Sargent. The designers gave Merida—Brave‘s heroine—a can’t-miss mane of curly red hair. But her locks proved a challenge for animators. “Every film has its technical challenges,” Tia added. “I would say the three for this film are Merida’s hair, the rich landscape and the snow.” But after what we’ve seen of Brave, Pixar artists were more than up to the challenge.
By D23′s Marina Draskovic