Pixar Talk @ KLIK! Animation Festival, Amsterdam

At the Klik! animation Festival, which was in Amsterdam at November 7th 2014, there were very interesting talks.  One of the talks given was about Building tools for telling stories, by Michael B. Johnson, also known as Dr. Wave.

He works at Pixar, which merged with Disney in 2006. Pixar is a director driven studio where they inspire the team with obstructive criticism.

It takes 4 years to build a movie. The whole process of story, art and editorial takes 3 years already. The most important elements are:

  1. Designing rich worlds
  2. Creating engaging characters
  3. Tell compelling stories

Johnson gave us more insight about the process of their movies.

He talked about story and editorial. The storyboard artists have to work close together with the editors. Editing movies within animation happens from the start till the end of the movie. Together they take care of the story reels, the moving storyboards including voice acting and dialogue. If a story reel doesn’t work out, the story doesn’t work and t has to be changed. Story reels are made to early find the story’s problems.

“Pain is temporary, ‘Suck’ is forever.”, Jason Dreamer

Color scripts are made to test out the color pallet. This must act on the audience and is sometimes inspired by other live action movies.

After that, animation is done by the animators, supervised by the animator supervisor. At the department of Simulations & effects they animate other things besides characters, like fur, snow and water. After that, the lighting department takes over.

Johnson as a tool maker at pixar writes new software to make life for the employees more easily. When there is a problem he fixes it. they want to make the users visibly better at their jobs. Next to that, they want to be a hero, show up and save the day. The have to be world class at something and to become that work with people who are better at their job than themselves.

Based on notes by Samantha (Nov 7th)

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