Sunday, June 28, 2015


With 'INSIDE OUT' taking over the world I'm dredging the memory bank for some of the multitude of ideas that didn't get into the final version of the story. For every idea in the movie there must be a hundred that remained on the story room floor. These are a fraction of the visual thoughts generated not only by the Story team but the Art Dept. would follow up with countless designs and suggestions.

This is a VERY early visualization of 'Headquarters' (late 2010) where I was playing with the Emotions literally plugged into Riley's Mind as they monitor her physical state. That purple figure was Pride who was the fifth emotion before Disgust came into the picture instead.

 More early Headquarters beat boards where I was trying out the physiological controls and a control room similar to the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek.

This next one I called 'Emote Control'. You can see Anger was a blocky, little square from day one and Joy was always more humanoid with a wisp of hair like a flame. Sadness was much bigger, like a large, lumbering mattress. She gradually shrunk over the production and gained hair and glasses (and clothing!). Fear was always a slender, worm-like form. Hope kind of merged with Sadness while Pride was dropped altogether.

What would a 'flood of emotion' look like?

How does 'memory recall' work?

In the early days of story development we had Short Term memory and Long Term memory. Below I envisioned all 6 emotions encountering a clerk or librarian who organized memories and sends them up a vacuum shoot.
 Short Term was for sorting and Long Term was for storage. Long Term memory held deep, important memories from Riley's life. Here I was playing with floating memory 'boxes' or display cabinets.

In an early version of the story Joy and BingBong originally entered the film-set or 'Dream Productions' through a back door and passed through a warehouse where all the props that made Riley's dreams were stored.

 Joy and Bing Bong enter the 'Center for Boy Research' - my attempt to incorporate some Freudian symbolism.

 This must have been a riff on BingBong's 'bottomless' backpack. 'Core memories' started out in the film as 'golden memories' and BB was hiding them . . . somewhere . . .

In his earliest incarnation BingBong was more of a fugitive, on the run from 'Mind-Police'. I imagined his arrest photos.

Existential angst . . . 

Joy and BingBong being chased by the 'Mind' police.

Joy and Bing Bong disguise themselves to evade capture or sneak into different parts of the Mind.

Having retrieved all the golden memories Joy climbs out of the Memory Pit like Robert DeNiro in 'The Mission'!

The structure of 'The Mind' was constantly re-thought; should it be vertical, horizontal? Should Joy's journey be down or up? At one point it was depicted as a fantastic city.

Here I was thinking of multiple 'Trains of Thought' that might converge in a cerebral cortex 'Grand Central Station'.

There was some exploration of areas in the Mind that were more like natural environments; the Frozen Forest of Amnesia, the swamp of Inner Demons etc.

We considered musical instruments as a way of expressing emotion. Sadness would obviously have a harp or violin but I imagined Anger dwarfed by a giant percussive/organ instrument - like a one man band!

If I remember correctly this was an assignment to see if we could give the memory balls some of the attributes of the characters; big, HEAVY sad memories; skittish little fear memories, disgusting memories etc.

The Mind's Eye -a kind of mobile CCTV - 'always watching. . .'

Below: Doodles of Blue Sky Thinking, a Train of Thought and a Brainstorm.

I found Joy rather hard to draw, especially that elven hairstyle that was brushed down and up. She was more humanoid than the basic shapes of the other Emotions (even Disgust was a triangle in an early incarnation). The others artists like Domee naturally had great appeal in their drawings of Joy but I struggled. In an effort to capture her spirit better I once had one of our Gesture models assume poses that were relevant to the story and drew her (or him, I can't remember) as Joy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jaws at 40

'Quint's Workshop'
Watercolour & gouache

To celebrate Jaws at 40 here's my visualization of Quint in his workshop - steaming shark jawbones and crushin' beer cans!

Monday, June 22, 2015


My first credit on a Pixar feature - I worked on this film for the first 2 years of story development. The first team were myself, James Baker and Jim Capobianco working with Michael Arndt. Story Supervisor Josh Cooley joined after he finished work on 'Cars 2'. Sam Hood joined the team with Tony Rosenast, Valerie Lapointe and Domee Shi. Shion Takeuchi came on board after she finished on 'Monsters University'. Garett Sheldrew rounded out the 'first wave'. I remember Emma Coats joined us briefly before leaving.
We worked initially with Michael Arndt before he went off to write 'Episode 7'. After Pete, Ronnie and Jonas took a trip to NYC to go behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live they invited staff writer Simon Rich to join us. He left SNL and worked at Pixar for a year or so. Arndt and Rich were fascinating collaborators and really liked working with Story Artists.
Meg LeFauve came on board with the 'second wave' of artists; Dan Chong, Yung-Han, Tony Maki, Vlad  and Tony Fucile helped out before he joined the animation dept. to consult on the character posing and do draw-overs.
L-R: Writer Simon Rich, Editor Kevin Nolting, Director Pete Docter, Producer Jonas Rivera

Bill Hader in the story room.

Pics from the wrap party May 2nd Oakland.

The wrap party was a blast-the Fox theatre had lobby posters from Dream Productions!

Story & Editorial at the crew wrap party!

The opening weekend at Disney's 'El Capitan' theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

For a long time the working title was 'The Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You Inside The Mind' and crew T-shirts were made with a spoof logo.

Inside the Storyroom. Valerie and Emily work out the plot structure.

 Pete Docter wanted those of us who were 'newbies' to see the 'Hidden City' café in Point Richmond. This is where the historic lunch happened where the first film ideas were dreamt up. Sadly the place closed down not long after- fittingly to reports of a rat in the kitchen!

The team was so small here-10 people! Very early days-around October 2010.
L-R: Jonas Rivera, Pete Docter, Matt Jones, Ronnie DelCarmen, Samantha Wilson, Elissa Knight, Stacey Newton, Kevin Nolting, Ralph Eggleston, Jamie Baker.

I tried to brainstorm an idea for a film at the very table where A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc. and Wall-E were conceived!

Being permitted to observe Pixar's fabled 'BrainTrust' sessions on 'INSIDE OUT' (believe me, we often pitched 'BrainTrust' as a title for the film!) was an honour and a privilege. Although at times frustrating; Bird or JL would often make suggestions that the Story team had been banging on about for 6 months! Stanton was preoccupied with JCOM in the early days of 'Inside Out' so wasn't present at the first BrainTrust sessions. But it was fun to watch him get worked up on later occasions. If you weren't at 'the' table you had to sit along the wall, listening not talking. Delicious lunch buffets would be put on and those in the second tier without the benefit of 'the' table would awkwardly eat off our laps. This was the 'long' table before Ed made it square. Inevitably sketches were made amongst the note-taking. . .